Man Or Astroman? Bio
There?s some undeniable connection between the South and occurrences of extra-terrestrial origin. From eclectic jazz guru Sun Ra to German Rocket Scientist, Wernher von Braun, Alabama has always had more than an ample share of connection to outer space and matters with extra-terrestrial origin. Such is the case with Man or Astro-Man?, arriving/crash landing (whatever you wish to call it) in a small college town in Alabama some years ago. Realising that in order to integrate into human society, they would have to downplay their true identities and take on aliases, most conveniently in the form of college students. Studying either industrial design or television, the group began formulating for a mode in which to learn more about their new earthly environment. Quickly becoming attracted by pop culture and independent music, they decided that the long-tried cliché of a rock band would realistically be a perfect vehicle in which to traverse the globe and further their research. Full integration into Earth society could thus commence for what was soon to become known to the world as Man or Astro-Man?
Rediscovering record collections long stashed away in forgotten attics or hidden behind racks of magazine back issues at numerous dilapidated thrift stores in Alabama, the entities of Man or Astro-Man? Became enamoured with the scratched up sounds of Link Wray, The ventures, Dick Dale, The Shadows and Duane Eddy - namely instrumental guitar and surf music of the late fifties and early sixties. For them, instrumental music provided great escape from the sappy, pretentious lyrical drivel emanating from the (then) newly christened commercial alternative FM radio. At the same time, bizarre stage designs and performances by Kraftwerk, Sun Ra, Devo, Frank Zappa, The Sputniks and of course the Residents had great impact on the rapidly developing troupe. None-the-less, it was a forced existence in a hopelessly conservative small town environment that led Man or Astro-Man? To leave behind the overt and become much more affected by what they hated, than by what actually appealed to them. In essence, you could say that Man or Astro-Man? Was far more influenced by college football and muscle-bound fraternity loons than science fiction. The band impelled itself, especially in the live setting, to be as ridiculous as possible, mocking serious ?alternative? acts and, along with them, the music industry itself.
At this time, Man or Astro-Man? Became friends with like-minded noisemakers such as Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, The Mummies and the Phantom Surfers. Developing around the liberating resurgence of surf and garage music, the band soon caught the attention of Estrus records mogul, Dave Crider: He was taken aback by their youthfulness (18/19 years ol in Earth years) and caffeine-induced energy. The band?s debut full-length, simply titled ?Is It?Man or Astro-Man?? (1993) was the result. The Estrus Records ideals for packaging and artwork by Art Chantry fit exactly with the Man or Astro-Man? modus operandi. ?Destroy All Astro-Men? (1994) and ?Project Infinity? (1995) as well as numerous 7?s and Eps were all on Estrus.
Due to certain licensing difficulties through Estrus in Europe, the band contemplated working with a new entity where their records could come out simultaneously worldwide. From the then recent shows with the Jesus Lizard, Tar, the Mekons and recording with Steve Albini, the band learned how Touch & Go records operated, being extremely artist-based. Never having met one major label record rep that they thought of as a genuine honest human being and opting NOT to be MTV?s Week In Rock novelty band for the week, the band decided that if Touch & Go wasn?t interested, they would just release and license the records themselves. Luckily for all involved, be it Astro-mind control or just plain old mafia style intimidation, the band launched into yet another era of existence, this time with Touch & Go.
?Experimant Zero? (1996) was their debut Touch & Go album. Recorded in three days at Man or Astro-Man??s own studio Zero Return in Alabama with Steve Albini, it stands as one of the great modern surf-influenced guitar instrumental records. Wanting ?Experiment Zero? to stand as their masterpiece of the long evolution of surf music, Man or Astro-Man? began to evolve at a greater velocity than ever before. They further morphed their sound, extending the use of their samples, computer programming, keyboards, electronic gadgetry and experimental analog tape cutting and pasting. Both the ?1000X? EP (1997) and ?Made From Technetium? (1997) were darker steps into futuristic soundtrack music and a move away from more campy aesthetics. While widely critically acclaimed, long-time fans had a lot of adjusting to do. Where most bands would have grown tired or simply tread-milled the same album over and over, Man or Astro-Man? have continuously reinvented themselves and their live performances.
Along with their innumerable global journeys, Man Or Astro-Man? has played and toured with, besides other aforementioned bands, the Cramps, Yo La Tengo, They Might Be Giants, Spiritualized, Trans Am, The High Llamas, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Come, Flay Duo Jets, Dirty Three, Zen Guerilla, Mudhoney, Brainiac, Southern Culture on the Skids, June of 44, Cash Money, Archers Of Loaf, , grandmothers of invention, Pansy Division, Six Finger Satellite, Dick Dale, the Delta 72, Superchunk, Cheap Trick, Poster Children, Guided By Voices and Ween. They have also done countless bits of film and soundtrack work specifically for Nickelodeon and the cartoon network, most notably for the world renown cartoon to human talkshow, Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
In addition to their incessant tour schedule and profuse TV and film scoring, the members of Man or Astro-Man? all have numerous other band projects that fill in the space where normal humans have to sleep. They operate their own website (www.astroman.com) and design all their own merchandise ans artwork. Also, the band?s main studio operating facility, Zero return, is currently moving to Atlanta, Georgia - Man or Astro-Man??s latest centre of operations. Finally, they have built science displays and Tesla Coils for several institutions and universities, and set up an independent music web distribution service (www.zerotec.com).
Presently, the band has recorded perhaps its strangest and most diverse record to date, ?EEVIAC: Operational Index and Reference Guide, Including other Modern Computational Devices?. Recorded in Brazil after their winter tour, the album is yet a further leap into the bands future, blending an intriguing mixture of electronic experimentation and energetic live band dynamics. To call the band a surf band at this point is both grossly inaccurate to the band and the genre itself. ?EEVIAC?? is also a further link to the band controlling almost all facets of its creative process. From recording themselves at their own studio to creating the 3D modelling and packaging for the album, Man or Astro-Man? is truly an astoundingly prolific and autonomous presence. An EP (EPIAC) and a prolific and autonomous presence. An EP (EPIAC) and a remix album (REPIAC), including mixes by Kevin Sheilds and Mark Mothersbaugh are planned for later this year: The ?EEVIAC?? album is yet another defining point in both Man or Astro-Man??s existence as well as music of the 20th Century, quite possibly even much further into the future?