Calling All Astronauts Interview
Current Single Give Them A Leader''
Interview with David and Paul from Calling All Astronauts
Can you tell us about your childhood,when did you discover music and how did you decide on a career in music was for you?
D - I was into music as early as I can remember, my parents used to buy lots of 7”s and I used to play them all the time and dance around the lounge, Both my parents were involved in performing arts, my Mum taught ballet and tap, and my Dad we in a musical comedy society they used to perform the Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals for a week every year.
P - Most of my childhood Summers were spent at my grandparent at the seaside, I’d be about 7 or 8 yrs old walking along the beachfront by myself singing at the top of my voice pop songs so I could be on my favourite TV program ‘Top of the Pops’, I think I kinda knew then that music was my first love.
When your career finally comes to an end what one song would you want to be remembered for and why?
D – I think I’d like to be remembered for my lyrics, I’m a bit like Nostradamus, I write songs and what I’ve written comes true further down the line, like in our song “Red Flag” I as good as predicted Trump’s election and Brexit in the line “place your X in the box now, do you really know what you’re voting for?”
P – I don’t think it’s a song I would like to be remembered for specifically (maybe I just haven’t written it yet) but more a ‘this guy can really play’ or ‘that’s a great groove/riff’ or ‘what a great performance’
Tell me 3 things about yourself that people might not already know?
D – I’m a massive Preston North End fan, I watch nearly every game, I have a Cat named after Noodles from the Offspring, we’d just got the cat and were trying to think of a name, when he messaged me saying we should meet up at Reading Festival, and I just said “that’s it, Noodles”. I have an IQ of 150, but still only managed to leave school with 3 GCSEs.
P – Well if we’re talking football, I’m a Brentford FC supporter, never miss a home game (I live ten minutes walk from the ground), we always (David and I) have a bet between us to see who will finish above the other, if the season were to end now that’s £20 to me lol! I own a vintage Kawasaki 900 and have a new addition to the family, a red Lurcher puppy called Genie, although i think the Ginger Ninja would be a better name as she’s all teeth and claws at the moment ☺
Sum up your love for politics in one sentence and if you ran the country for a day what changes would you make and why?
D - I just want to live in a society free from Racism, Xenophobia, Sexism, Homophobia, Transphobia etc etc, I would never be PM as I’d be all over the Sunday papers in the first week.
P – I can remember Thatcher in government when I was a kid and wishing I was old enough to vote, I was heartbroken watching mounted police attack members of the mining union as if they were an invading enemy, I think that s were I got a sense of social injustice from, If I were pm for the day I think I would like to re balance society in a fairer way, so the gap between rich and poor was not so large, you could still work hard and earn decent money and get on in life. But look at someone like Richard Brandson, the guy has got plenty of billions stashed away never to be spent and he can still turn around and sue the nhs which is massively underfunded as it is, there has got to be something wrong with that.
Tell me one story from after a gig……
D - We don’t riot or particularly party after gigs nowadays, we are all family men, it’s kind of get on stage, perform to the best of our ability, chats to people who want to chat to us after the show and then go home to bed, it sounds boring, but the best way to be productive, is to avoid excess.
P- What happens on tour stays on tour lol! Seriously though, we’re much better behaved these days, but you can’t just step of stage and go to bed, it doesn’t work like that with all the adrenalin etc, but after a while most of the after parties blend into one. Although I do remember playing Whitby Goth festival back in the 90’s with the Marionettes and when the venue closed, everyone (it was then billed as Night of a thousand Goths) traipsed up to the ruined abbey with candles and red wine and partied in the graveyard, I think that one will stay with me till the day I die (hey maybe I could be buried up there and get to join party twice a year ☺ )
What has been the best gig you have done to date and why?
D - I’ve enjoyed all our shows, but I did particularly enjoy playing Alan Magee and Danny Watson’s “Death Disco”, it had moved from Metro to Notting Hill Arts Club, and had a lot of those Made In Chelsea types in, the place was sold out, we were seriously loud, I thought they would hate us, but they went mental.
P – This is a tough question as I just love to play, so as long as the stage sound is good I’m happy. I suppose overall I always love to play festivals, everyone seems up for it if you know what I mean, you get to hang out with loads of bands and get to meet lots of fans but sometimes small intimate venues are just as cool.
If you could perform a gig at any venue where would it be and why?
D – I would love to do Wembley Arena, when I was managing J’s old band Caffeine, we played there, and there is just something magical about being involved in a show at a historic venue like that.
P – For me it has always (since I first laid eyes on it) the Pyramid stage at Glastonbury festival. I think it’s fair to say that probably won’t happen being as CAA probably aren’t the kind of act that would be invited to play it but...stranger things have happened ☺
What do you like best about being a musician and why?
D – I kind of feel a fraud being described as a musician, I program, I kind of hold a tune as long as it’s in a key I can sing, I’m more of a noise creator/sound designer than a musician, ask Paul.
P – Yea, that’s a strange one as I’ve never had a guitar lesson in my life, I just picked it up and never put it down, my house is full of Guitars, if anyone calls over and they can remotely hold a tune an acoustic gets shoved in their hand and we’re off. I have a teenage son who started playing, I told him there is no substitute for putting in the practice hours, he has and wow can that boy play, he’s over taken me technically for sure but I still have a few tricks up my sleeve ☺
If you were not in the job you are now what would you be doing?
D – I’m actually Daddy Day Care to my two year old daughter Daisy by day, my wife has a very good job at a record label and went back to work when Daisy was 5 months old, so I make music in-between changing nappies
P – Gardening, I just love it, I love cooking too but I don’t think I could spend those long hours in a hot restaurant kitchen. I think I just love being creative. I overheard someone ask a friend what my cooking was like, they answered ‘Experimental’, haha, I’ll take that.
What has been the best gig you have been too as a fan and can you tell us about it?
D - I’ve been fortunate enough to have been to many fantastic gigs, I’d fins it impossible to pick just one, I think these are the highlights, but if you asked me another day I’d probably say differently, Sepultura at The marquee, Faith No More/RHCP also at The Marquee (though in a different location) Tad, Mudhoney, Nirvana at The Astoria, The Offspring on a boat on The Thames, Mark Stewart & The Mafia/Tackhead/Keith Leblanc at The Forum, Nine Inch Nails at The Astoria, are the ones that come to mind today
P – Wow, just too many to mention, but if I keep it just to recent years I think The Cure at Hyde Park stands out, they were unbelievably good, I had a lump in my throat several times during the show as the beauty of some of their songs was so emotional.
What would your ideal festival line up be and why?
D – I’m not going to pick a running order, but in one day I’d have, Ministry, Sisters Of Mercy, New Order, Pop Will Eat Itself, Pendulum, Neds Atomic Dustbin, The Stooges, The Offspring, Psychedelic Furs, Editors, Pantera, Nine Inch Nails and New York Dolls
P – Yes most of what David has listed, maybe add Alice in Chains and the Cure, Mercury Rev where great when I saw them in London too. We were booked to play a brand new Goth and Metal festival 5 or 6 years ago, and each week they would add more bands to the line up, I was in heaven as they were all bands I wanted to see all in the same place at the same time, I can’t list them all but Marylin Manson was headlining one of the nights, it was called Altfest but it fell through with just a few weeks to go, I don’t know what happened, something to do with money no doubt. I know that a lot of fans lost money on tickets and travel costs, such a shame, it really would have been awesome. I live in hope that one day someone might pick through the ashes and resurrect it.
What would you say is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
D – Don’t sit down with a lightbulb in your back pocket
P – I remember as a small child my dad – ‘If a dog chases you....don’t run!’
What things make you happy and what things annoy you?
D - Acts of selfless kindness, bigotry in any form pisses me off
P –Good food, good wine and a nice fast action on a fret board/ Social injustice
What things do you like to do when you are away from music?
D – I watch football, lots of football and have fun with the family, Daisy loves Legoland, so we’ve been there many times
P - Spending time with family and friends. Listening to music , watching a movie, did I mention the mighty Bees (Brentford fC ☺ )
Do you think social media and the internet are a good thing in the music industry?
D – It’s a two edged sword, you can interact with fans, you can introduce new people to your music, but so many major label artists use social media to cynically manipulate people it’s really offensive, you see their manufactured arguments, and you know it’s all contrived but kids just lap it up. Lots of them don’t even run their own twitter accounts, it’s just fake, like their fake streams, fake views and fake followers, I guess the internet has elevated false as the new norm.
P – I’ve always thought the internet is an amazing thing, the information superhighway and all that and great for music in the sense you can reach so many people all over the world.
It has made it harder for musicians to make a living out of selling records however, as people are gonna find your music online and download it for free, it’s hard for a band like CAA who are not constantly touring to earn a living from it, we’ll have to get more merchandise, maybe we could advertise on the internet ☺
How important do you think you look and image is when it comes to being in the music industry?
D – We are back to the contrived ord here, people should wear what they feel comfortable, I feel very uneasy when I see a girl band dressed provocatively when I know that their target audience is young children. There is without a doubt some marketing guy, yes guy, somewhere who manipulated girls into thinking dressing provocatively is empowerment and they are not using objectification to sell records, more fakery.
P- I don’t think you can play in a Goth band and not be a bit image conscious, I tend to wear black all the time anyway, saves time in the morning.
Can you tell us about any tattoos you have and the significance of them to you?
D – I have no tattoos or piercings, I’ve nothing against them, but I think I’m more unique in this game not having them.
P – I got one when I was a teenager, but you’ll have to get to know me better to see it!
What would your ideal day consist of?
D – I would love to have a day in bed, just watching movies and eating chocolate and crisps and drinking tea.
P –Breakfast with all the family like a kind of Chrismas lunch, then up to Wembly stadium to watch Brentford FC win the FA cup and then over to the o2 arena for a sold out CAA headline gig and after party haha.
Can you tell me one thing about each member that people might not already know?
D - Paul has a Kawasaki 900, J has written for UFO magazine
P – David has unfeasibly large calves!
How would you answer the question Who are Calling All Astronauts and what are the differences between you as a music artist and you away from music ?
D – We are just three dodgy old blokes with a social conscience, who like making records that break the mould, what you see is what you get with us, just humble normal guys.
P – No one Rages Against The Machine quite like CAA! It is hard to separate that from everyday life.
What was the first record or song you purchased and why?
D – Slade Alive, I thought Slade were just amazing when I was a kid, and was certain that a live album would be the album to end all albums, I must dig that album out and see if it’s any good…. No it’s not its just pub rock
P - I remember saving all my pocket money for weeks to buy Metal Guru by T.Rex 7inch, my mum had one of those monogram record players with that arm thing that if you pulled back would play on repeat, it would play 10 or 15 times in a row, it must have driven them mad but they never complained, CAA covered it on the influences EP, check it out, it’s dark.
What would say to someone thinking about becoming a musician and getting into the music industry?
D – Make music for yourself, make the music you want to make, don’t try to be the new Arctic Monkey’s or Beatles, they already exist, work really hard on making the best recordings you can before sending them off to a label, you can’t expect an A&R man to use his imagination, when he is faced by a load of high end demos verses a demo sounding demo
P – As an artist, make music for yourself, if others like it, it’s a bonus.
As a session musician, learn your trade, be the best you can be, practice ,practice, practice.
If you could collaborate with any other band/singer or musician who would you choose and why?
D – Im not really sure, I would want to collaborate with anyone else, I’m happy working with these guys, well maybe Chuck D to do vocals instead of me
P – I’m lucky enough to have worked with some really great musos over time and you learn from each one so I would be open to working with other people maybe as a guest on some new tracks – Trent, are you listening? ☺
If you could have written one song from history which would it have been and why?
D – At last night’s clapping for the NHS one of our neighbours played “I Vow To Thee My Country” I would love to have written that, though it is in a key I struggle with
P – God save the queen – The Sex Pistols! Just such an exciting time for popular music.
What things make you uncomfortable?
D – Somebody once sent me an interview that was asking me loads of questions about my sex life, I was like, I make music not porn movies, and refused to answer the questions, I thought it was really inappropriate
If you wrote a book about yourself what would it have in it?
D – Words and pictures, and loads of stuff my parents wouldn’t want to read
P – I have so many stories to tell maybe I should write a book, I just don’t know if I could describe it well enough to make it interesting to the reader, maybe when I retire, if I retire!
We are currently going through a lockdown situation, can you tell us how you are coping with it and what things are you doing .Also how do you still get on with being in Calling All Astronauts? Also, could you give a message to the country and all your fans?
D – My wife has been working from home for a couple of weeks, I kind of went into lockdown at the end of February, we stopped going to playgroups and playgrounds then, I’m being kept very busy doing promo for the current single. I just hope everyone is social distancing and staying safe of course, it’s hard for everyone, don’t be selfish, you wait for the party when this shit is all over
P – We are pretty much staying at home, so glad we finished the album in advance of this horrendous virus which means we are able to get the time to do some of this promo, but we can’t do any shows to support it which sucks, but it is what it is. Everyone should stay in as much as possible and keep washing your hands.
What music can we expect from you in the future?
D - We have the current new single “Give Them A Leader” it was mixed by Alan Branch (U2, NIN, Depeche Mode) he’s an old friend of Paul’s he came round and gave us a load of help mixing the new album “#Resist” which is out on June 5th.
P - I can’t wait for the album release, there are so many tracks on it that could be released as singles
What has been the highlight of your career so far and what would you like to achieve in the future?
D – It’s a really small thing I suppose, but a couple of year ago we knocked Adele off the number one spot on the Hype Machine Twitter music charts at 11.59 on Christmas Eve to have the Christmas Number One
P – Yes that was fun but for me it’s the new album!!