God is an Astronaut - interview with Niels Kinsella

 Astronaut Band Interview Ireland Kinsella Niels

As promised and as a follow up to the article God is an Astronaut - Suicide by star, here is an interview with one of the members of the band, Niels Kinsella.

Speculum: Seven years and four albums later, what has changed in the band, in the meantime?
Neils Kinsella: To be honest, it has been eight years playing together, but each of us has been playing for a long time. Torsten and I since 1994. In 2002 when we released The end of the beginning we thought that would be our final bow in the music world, our farewell. We just wanted to end with a release we were proud of, with no other expectations. But it worked... Today, the band remais the same and the priority is still to release music we love. The only thing that has changed is that we've become wiser with a few circles in the music world.

S: Do you have a masterpiece, from your point of view?
NK: To be fair, we don't have a favorite record, we like them all. Something in the process of making music changed with All is violent, all is bright, when we introduced a live component, that wasn't there for our first album. It was also the first time we worked with full live performances and not only loops, something that set the tone for our following recordings, a hybrid between electronics and live instrumentation.

S: I read an interview in which you said the GIAA's biggest influence is heavy metal, bands like Metallica. How does this kind of influence interfere with the band's music, which is very different from this type of music?
NK: We grew up listening to a lot of heavy metal/heavy rock and still listen to it a lot. I think it's because we never really tried to emulate the music we like and listen to. In the late 90s we made a lot of music. GIAA's style has more to do with the music we've played in our former bands, which ranges from jazz to rock, to electronic music.

S: In another interview, you stated that the movie Nightbreed is a reference to the band's name. In a way, has the movie's atmosphere, its story, seeped into the band's music? The oppressive, melancholic mood is undeniably present in GIAA's music...
NK: We just liked the name, it suited the apocalyptic and melancholic sound we had and the visual concepts we had in mind, that's all.

S: Something that intrigued me was the fact that GIAA's sound is different from anything I had ever heard from Ireland.
NK: Here in Ireland there are a few instrumental bands, but I think we are the first band to have some success outside of the country. But to be honest, even today I think we are ignored by Ireland's music scene. A lot of good music is made here, but most of the music the media showcases is worthless rubbish, that a lot of people outside won't swallow.

S: What about the writing process? Someone gets an idea and the boat sails from there?
NK: No, most of the time the ideas start from a melody in the guitar or the piano and we work on the full sound in the studio. We never write music through jamming, as other bands do. Because of our dance/ electronic background, we're a studio project, actually. We take a sound engineer on tour with us and reinterpret the songs, so they fit a live environment.

S: Rock's history is full of stories of bands with siblings who spend most of the time fighting. Does that also happen with GIAA?
NK: Now everything's perfect, but when we were younger things could get ugly. But now we're happy with the music we're making and, on the whole, we have a good vision of how things should sound.

 Astronaut Band Interview Ireland Kinsella Niels

S: GIAA is still little known in Brazil. How would you describe the band to those who aren't familiar with your music?
NK: Ambient, electronic and rock, with emotional melodies.

S: A lot of people say that lyrics, in rock music are quite helpful. You add a "yeah" here and there and everybody sings along. Since you don't use lyrics, what devices do you use to reel the audience in during live shows?
NK: Our music won't please everybody. The average music fan won't like what we do. We will have nothing to do with "yeahs" during a show, that's for idiots. Live, we have a visual show, and our main goal is to engage the audience emotionally, spiritually and visually. Our live shows are not programmed like the ones from most bands with of our style. Our show tends to please fans that aren't into post-rock.

S: I watched a few GIAA videos on the Internet and realized that you use them to illustrate your songs during live performances. How does that work? What's the connection you create?
NK: The goal of the visual components is to increase the emotion and structure of our live songs. Although the songs don't need a visual aid, I feel that in a live environment, some highlights are lost when compared to our recordings, for instance. The visual adds an extra layer and gives, in a simple way, a sense of entertainment to the performance.

S: GIAA is an independent band, with a loyal following. In this digital age, how have downloads affected you? Can you live off the band?
NK: We're an Internet band, because most of our fans discovered us through the Internet. We don't get a lot of attention from the traditional media; it is all based on word-of-mouth and piracy. We do this because we love it and you can make a little bit of cash out of it, but it's impossible to live off it. But we're optimistic about it and things are improving from one year to another. At live shows we sell a lot of material. In order to survive, you have to think outside the box and sell not only CDs or MP3s, but also shirts, vinyl records, buttons, etc.

S: If you were to recommend me an Irish band, which would it be?
NK: Butterfly Explosion! Torsten is producing their debut album, which should be coming out soon.

S: And what have you been listening to?
NK: DJ Shadow, Fear Factory, Nicker Hill Orchestra, Parhelia, Leech (from Switzerland) and Metallica, as usual.

S: What are your plans? New album, tour?
NK: Next September (2009) we are going to tour Europe and we're going to Finland in November. If everything goes well, we'll stretch it to Russia as well. In February 2010 we should release new songs, but I'm not sure it will be a full album, yet.

Article by Danilo Corci

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