Interview – Astralnaut

Ireland’s premier doomsayers Astralnaut have just released their debut EP, ‘Back To The Bog’, a storming stoner rock voyage deep into the very heart of The Riff itself. M3 got in touch with the band to talk about the band’s influences, digital and physical releases, and what the future has in store for music distribution…

M3 – First of all, could you tell us a bit about yourself, and what it is that you do?
Astralnaut – We are Astralnaut, a recently formed stoner metal band from Ireland. What we do is play hard rocking stoney blues with some flourishes into doom and other riff-tastic breakdowns! Currently (like most stoner rock bands) we’re in employment solely for the purposes for fuelling the habit of hard rocking!

What inspired you to form Astralnaut? What is your own musical background?
We formed in November 2011 after the demise of our previous bands and decided to go balls deep with Astralnaut. We began with constantly jamming and begun recording 2 months after our inception. Inspiration behind the music comes from our surroundings, our musical surroundings and nature itself. As regards to our musical background, it’s quite vast, although some of the guys had a background of playing
stoner rock before, our musical tastes vary so much. Ranging from Sabbath to Sleep and even more traditional roots such as Kila and The Dubliners.

What would be your preferred medium to listen to music (eg. Vinyl, CD, tape, MP3 etc.), and why?
Our preferred medium would have to be Vinyl, it beats all else quality wise. Practically though in this day and age MP3’s are just so handy. With MP3’s you have the potential to hold thousands of songs in your pocket.

Why did you decide to release your debut EP ‘Back To The Bog’ digitally via Bandcamp? Are there any plans for a physical release too?
We released ‘Back To The Bog’ digitally first as we had our songs up to stream already. In terms of networking and availability we thought digital was the way to go. Bandcamp is an amazing way to give fans the chance to instantly own their own copy of the EP. We have recently just released a physical copy of the EP, available on eBay, Facebook and for sale at our live shows.

Do you feel the idea of an album, as a piece of art that people will listen to from start to finish, has been undermined or forgotten about in the digital age?
Yeah it’s certainly been forgotten about, people are more interested in downloading the most ‘popular’ song these days. However there are still many true music fans out there who enjoy the artists creativity and will still buy CDs or vinyl to get the full artistic vision the artist created. With our first release we have tried to create a fully rounded piece of art. Things that we’ve had to consider were how the songs work together and how they represented us. Then of course great consideration went into the art work for the itself.

Many people have claimed that there is no longer any money in record sales, and that touring is the most efficient way to earn an income as a band. How much truth do you think there is in this sentiment?
Coming from a recently formed band we can only agree with this statement, the only way we can generate any income is by constantly playing and promoting our band and EP. There is no point in sitting about and expecting people to find our band and buy the EP, we have to go and generate our own fan base….and we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Much has been made of the supposed death of the record store in recent years. Do you believe the digital age has killed the record store, and if so, do you think that this is a necessary part of progression, or a tragic loss?
It’s a bit of both really, I mean no one likes to see record stores closing down as they are a great place for music fans to congregate, discuss and purchase records. They’ve played their part in history, which should be recognised and celebrated! That said the digital age makes it easier for people to have direct access to music and to download it instantly, without even having to get off their holes!

Do you think traditional copyright laws are still enforceable in the digital age, or do you think we will have to rethink the concept of copyright itself?
It’s hard to say, it’s so easy for unaware musicians to upload their songs online basically just giving their creative work away for free. There are so many ways to share files and download tracks for free, it becomes a difficult argument. From our own perspective we obviously want as many people to hear our music as possible but we run the risk of not making a return on the blood and sweat we shed during the creative process! A rethink of the concept could be very positive as it seems the main thrust for enforcement of copyright laws online these days seems to be coming from big business!

What do you personally believe the future of music distribution will look like?
It’s fair to say we are already in the digital age of distribution, it’s a great time for up and coming bands. It makes it easier to self distribute, which is great, as it gives you complete control. Websites such as Bandcamp have helped develop this and will continue to do so but gigging will still be as great a distribution point as it ever was.

Finally, what does the future hold for Astralnaut?
The plan is to continue gigging and promoting our EP throughout Ireland. Then towards the end of the summer hit up the UK for a tour! So keep an eye out for gigs in your area. We have also recently been back to the studio, putting some drums down for our next release. It’s all go in the Astralnaut camp.

For more information about Astralnaut, you can visit their official website, and find the band on Facebook, Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

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About M3 Event

The music industry is rapidly changing. The internet has enabled widespread piracy, as well as a variety of new business and distribution models. We want to offer an engaged audience in and around the Euregion an opportunity to develop a coherent and detailed picture of the future of music distribution. On the 31st of May 2012 a music conference in Maastricht, consisting of oppositional debates, creative workshops and lectures, will provoke opportunities for intellectual stimulation, debate, as well as networking. We hope to utilise the skills and ideas of some of most forward thinking minds and operators in the industry in order to highlight some promising new ideas and areas which can be improved upon.

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