Since they first came to Earth in the early 1990s, the aliens known terrestrially as Man or Astro-Man? have spent long years attempting to integrate into human society. During their exile, the band's sound has evolved from sci-fi-themed surf rock to experimental electronic, supported by legendary live gigs featuring Theremins, Tesla coils and general chaos. After spending the first decade of this century on hiatus, the band reunited for several gigs in 2010, including a memorable show at South by Southwest, and is embarking on a three-date tour of the Lone Star State later this month.
We caught up with MOAM? guitarist Star Crunch via e-mail to discuss this island Earth and what to expect when the band hits Fitzgerald's.
Man or Astro-Man?
8 p.m. Thursday, December 15. Fitzerald's, 2706 White Oak Blvd., 713-862-3838 or fitzlivemusic.com.
Houston Press: MOAM? has been relatively quiet since those early, frenetic touring years. Have you given up on ever leaving Earth?
Star Crunch: Upon crash-landing on Earth, we immediately began scouring the immediate area to gather much-needed parts to return to our grid sector. We greatly underestimated the size of the debris field. MOAM?'s initial bouts of touring in the '90s were initially planned solely to re-gather those materials from various places around your globe...The Smithsonian, The Louvre, Disney World (Hong Kong) and the International UFO Museum, to name a few. Those were easy. It was the items that found their way to eBay that have taken us the most time. Part of the reason the band disbanded in 2002 was to focus on our home-based research. Just yesterday, Coco secured our aft silicon air deflector for a Buy It Now price of just $29.99 with free shipping.
HP: Have you considered joining forces with Gwar to escape the planet? Or are there...philosophical differences?
SC: Three-fourths of MOAM? is vegetarian. Need I say more?
HP: Last year's tour relied heavily on 1996's Experiment Zero and 1997's Made from Technetium. Will there be a different focus this time around? Perhaps a return to your sci-fi/surf rock roots?
SC: We create our set list just moments before the show by having all members complete a multiple-choice Scantron quiz and then tally the results. For some reason, the tracks from Experiment Zero and Made from Technetium are always answer "C."
HP: Will we be seeing the Tesla coil?
SC: What most folks don't realize is that we are just an opening act for Tesla Coil. It has chosen us to warm up the crowd for its electrifying performance. I think the only time Tesla hasn't performed with MOAM? is when it found brown M&Ms backstage before the show. Hopefully Fitzgerald's will be mindful of Tesla Coil's rider.
HP: Facebook seems to be the best way to keep up with you guys. Have y'all given up on MySpace and your own Web page?
SC: The general feedback we have received was that our Web page was too complicated for the average human user to utilize properly. We then attempted to "dumb it down" a bit with our MySpace effort. That was also over the heads of most. Facebook seems to be a good avenue at the moment, although we are now considering using only Twitter in 2012. We have plans for a few more tours next year and will announce the dates one Twitter at a time.
HP: Birdstuff appears to be handling the main FB chores. What did he do to deserve that?
SC: He's just showing off. Birdstuff had a small cameo in The Social Network.
HP: Is there a new album in the works, or perhaps a tour-only limited release?
SC: It's just a short tour. The Houston show is just one of three Texas shows. If we don't get in some fight and break up over that weekend, we'll definitely have a new album out in '12.
HP: This would be your first album in ten years. How have y'all been getting back into studio shape?
SC: Well, to give a bit more straightforward of an answer, we've all been pretty active with other musical projects during our Astro-hiatus. Birdstuff worked with Polyphonic Spree, St. Vincent and many others and has recently opened an awesome music venue in Birmingham called Bottletree. Coco has been playing with the Subsonics. I performed with The Archers of Loaf and Crooked Fingers and have been working in the studio quite a bit for film/TV pieces as well as producing recordings for my label, WARM. I'd say that we are probably all in better studio shape now than we've ever been.
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HP: If you could use only one word to prepare the audience at Fitzgerald's for a MOAM? show, what would it be?
SC: Since your rule stipulates that I can't use a symbol, I'll just say "Prince."
HP: What is Tesla Coil's current relationship with Theremin?
SC: This is beginning to sound a lot like a Gwar interview.