Saturday, October 30, 2010

From the Archives - Man or Astro-man? Interview

Songs To Learn And Sing - Man or Astro-man? Interview

Man or Astro-Man? European Tour 2000 - Flyer (front)

Birdstuff: "It's the opposite of Milli Vanilli – we're a live, loud, rowdy, rock band that is trying to make people think that the music is being controlled by a computer."

Man or Astroman? played Dublin on 23 January 2000. I spoke with Birdstuff, the band’s drummer and spokesperson before their show and he told me it would also probably be their one and only gig in Dublin. The band's ultimate plan was to stop touring and get people to come and visit them. “There’s this place called Branson, Missouri in the United Sates where they have all these general run of the mill country acts that perform in a theatre there seven months of the year and people come to them,” Birdstuff explained, “We’re thinking of setting up a venue in Atlanta, Georgia where the Man or Astroman? headquarters are located and we’d just play there three or four months out of the year. If anyone wants to come and see us they can come there, because we are going to quit coming to see people. I think that it’s going to start working the other way around.”

The band’s entrance was preceded by five astronauts stumbling around the stage in slow motion, setting up the equipment. The stage eventually resembled a laboratory from a fifties b-movie, lots of green screens, obsolete computers and tape machines. Man or Astroman? plugged themselves in and we were transported on a voyage back in time, via three huge projector screens, where UFOs were saucer shaped and calculators took up entire rooms.

Man or Astro-Man? European Tour 2000 - Flyer (back)

The band moved in choreographed robotic harmony, but according to Birdstuff they don’t really control anything. “At the base of our spines, if you can call it a spine, there’s a little port and we have no control over any kind of muscular coordination functions at all.” Halfway through we were introduced to the supercomputer that controls the whole Astroman? show. Earlier Birdstuff had given me a detailed explanation of how everything works. “We plug ourselves into the supercomputer, the EEVIAC (Embedded Electronic Variably Integrated Astro Console) and it basically controls everything that we do in the show, which is why this tour is a little bit more relaxing and we can get a little bit more sleep because we don’t have anything to do with the music.”

The band took a long hiatus in 2001 and regrouped for Touch & Go's 25th anniversary shows in 2006. They also played at this year's SXSW and are playing a short US tour in November 2010.

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