I was introduced to Astronoid a few months after my significant other saw them open for Zeal and Ardor, a show I was unfortunately out of town for. When their self-titled album dropped February of this year, we found ourselves playing it often. Their songs are melodic and accessible, yet incredibly complex in composition. Seamlessly blending all manner of influences, Astronoid manages to create something that’s unique, genuine, uplifting, and cinematic. Few metal bands are able to tout such versatility in their ambiance, equally mellow and heavy they have created their own parodoxical genre, filling a space we were unaware of prior that is unlikely to be overlooked since.
Earlier this June I had the pleasure of going to see Astronoid at Reggie’s in Chicago while on their headliner tour with Infinity Shred and reached out for an interview via email the following day. I find myself at a loss of words for further introduction, and feel it’s best to simply let this interview, and their music, speak for itself.
Brett Boland is the lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter for Astronoid, currently based out of Boston, Massachusetts.
So firstly, I’d like to ask how you guys met and formed the band?
The band was started as a studio project that was mainly just Dan and I. I played everything but bass on the first 2 ep’s and right around Stargazer we started putting a band together to play the songs out. Dan and I met at Umass Lowell, Casey and I have been in bands together since 6th grade, and Matt was a good friend from the scene as well.
Astronoid is genre bending in a variety of ways. With thrash, metal, punk, progressive, and shoegaze influences to name a few. “Post metal” seems to be the most effective descriptor, but what’s your favourite mashup name for yall’s genre that you’ve come across so far? What’s the goofiest?
I haven’t really come across a perfect descriptor for it. It’s hard to categorize your own music. I think we are a progressive rock band when its all boiled down. There’s heavy stuff in there, there’s dream pop in there and everything else we love. “Dream Thrash” has always been a funny one to us. It gets the point across for sure, and it’s just a descriptor so who really cares. Some other ones to note are Technical Shoegaze, MewMetal, and Post Blackgaze.
What bands do you find yourselves most influenced or inspired by?
We pull inspiration from all different directions. Everything that enters our ears has had an influence on what we write. For the Astronoid album, Peter Gabrial was a big inspiration, as well as Gojira’s Magma. The record, I think, overall is a more sombre record than Air with a different mood. I was also listening to a lot of Mew’s Visuals. It’s more of the life experiences that we have had that inspires Astronoid.
Seeing you guys live, the sound was absolutely incredible, but I found it extraordinary how y’all managed to maintain perfect energy and synchronicity throughout the show, can you tell me a bit about how you prepare for live shows?
A lot of planning goes into our live show. We have the lights that sync up to the set, and we really want to make sure that the show has a good arc in energy and flow. We try to pick the songs that our fans want to hear, and some that we really enjoy playing. This tour, in particular, was important to us because we could play some stuff that we probably won’t play again for a long time. It’s the first time that we have played a lot of these songs live. We generally practice on our own and then come together a few days before the tour for technical rehearsals.
What is the creative process like for writing y’all’s songs?
I generally will work on an idea and flush out a song and then send it to everyone to tear apart and start to refine. I am a drummer first, so the drum parts are very integral to my songwriting process. I like to get a full idea of what the song is going to be before sharing it. It’s like a short story in a way, if I send something incomplete it can be taken wrong, and first impressions are important. I probably had about 40-50 ideas for the Astronoid but only 9 were good enough for the record. Id rather overwrite and get all the ideas out rather than leave something unfinished that could have been something really cool.
I was introduced to Astronoid primarily via the self titled album that dropped early this year, which definitely has a dreamier quality to it compared to the more black metal vibe of previous releases. As a band, do you guys plan to maintain a specific sound or are you more interested in being experimental and playing with it a bit?
We have never put any boundaries on our writing, so I expect that we will continue to experiment with our sound. I like that we are a band that can do that. I have no idea what the next chapter for us will be, but whatever it is we will continue to push our songwriting and ourselves as players.
When my boyfriend and I met Matt, they got into a conversation about old school video games. I’ve also seen Astronoid pop up in quite a few music threads on tabletop gaming forums lately. There’s a lot of overlap with fans of progressive metal and those with nerdy past times, do y’all have any common interests as a band in that realm?
We are all into video games in the band. I dabbled in some D&D with some friends too. We love film, and music, and books. We all have ps4’s and switches and are playing something new all the time. Also, we are HUGE Simpsons fans. Sometimes we get WILD and play some Simpsons Trivia at home. We are pretty good.
Any games/books/TV shows you’re really into right now?
Before I left for the tour I finished Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. I am an enormous FROM SOFT fan and they are pretty much my favourite band of Video Games. I’ll play anything they put out. I am also on the 3rd book of the Bill Hodges trilogy by Stephen King, End of Watch. He’s pretty much the only author I read. I just can’t get enough. Before that, I read The Stand, Desperation, The Regulators, Pet Semetary, The Outsider, and probably a couple of others. I haven’t watched too many TV shows lately because I don’t like to get sucked in, but I’m very excited for the new season of Dark.
You guys are currently on your first headliner tour and have opened for some really big bands including Between the Buried and Me and Ghost, what are some of the differences between playing large shows vs smaller venues and what are your favorite parts of each?
The big shows are fun because you are hanging out with all these bands and crew and you form a little community throughout the tour. We have been lucky that everyone we have toured with has been very laid back and easy to work with. We only usually get 30 min to play, so we have to cram our best stuff in and really prove ourselves to new people, which is really fun! With our headliner tours, the crowd is more concentrated to people who really love us. It’s a smaller room, but it’s full of people who just really love our band and that feels really good. It’s amazing we can come to these places and have people come out just for us. We get to play longer, play some weirder songs that we couldn’t play on other tours, and really put on a good show without any constraints of time or other tour packages.
Are y’all working on anything currently? What can we look forward to from the band in the future?
We are very focused on supporting Astronoid currently. Getting ready to hit the road in November with our friends Periphery and Plini in Europe. We have never played over there, so that will be very exciting. As for what’s going on after that, we will see. 🙂