Band of the Week: Ex-Astronaut

Band of the Week: Ex-Astronaut
Photo by Dan Price

MEET THE BAND: Pat Gang (bass), Christoper Hoke (vocals, guitar, Christopher Kochera (drums) and Pete Jennings (guitar)

THE NAME GAME: Even though indie rockers Ex-Astronaut only came into existence last January, the band has existed under a different name, albeit with a different lineup, since August of 2009 when it was known as Field Trip. The band had started to record and mix its latest album, No More Dreams, when other bands with the name Field Trip came to the group's attention. One was in New York and one was in Minneapolis. The Minneapolis group toured through Cleveland and the venue was confused about which band was playing, the Minneapolis one or the Cleveland one. "It became a pretty big problem and we had a good opportunity to change the name," says Jennings. "We wanted to make the change and start fresh. We played stuff that was more of a fuzzed out indie rock kind of sound." In February of 2010, Chris Hoke came in as singer and guitarist. The group added Kochera and Gang on drums and bass in 2013. "With the current lineup, we have shifted away from the fuzzed out Dino Jr. stuff and started playing the shoe-gazer stuff we play now," says Jennings. "We want the guitars to not sound like guitars."

A TWO-YEAR PROCESS: Engineered and mixed by John Delzoppo at his locally based Negative Space studio, No More Dreams was mastered by Ryan Morey at Ryan Morey Audio Mastering in Montreal. "It was a two-year process of recording, playing shows to raise money, mixing, playing more shows to raise money, changing the band's name due to some very odd circumstances, mastering and playing even more shows to raise money for pressing," says Jennings. "We try to save as much money as we can from playing shows to finance our recordings." A grant from the Panza Foundation, a local institution that helps fund projects by local bands, made the recording possible. "That helped us finish the record," says Jennings.

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Songs such as "Falling Apart" feature woozy vocals and trippy guitar riffs that escalate into bursts of noise. Jennings and Hoke split songwriting duties. "He'll have a riff that we jam on or he'll record at home and text us the sound files," says Jennings. "I do the same thing and send things out to the guys and we come together at practice to arrange the songs. Chris handles all the vocal duties. With this album, we wanted to expand our sound and try new things. It's certainly fun writing Dino Jr.-inspired guitar rock but you can only do that so much. For all of us, bands like My Bloody Valentine, Ride and Slowdive and older alt-rock act like Nirvana or Smashing Pumpkins speak to us." The album will be released digitally and on vinyl. One special colored vinyl version from locally based Wax Mage Records will be raffled at the release show.


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Ex-Astronaut performs with Hiram-Maxim and Above This Fire at 9 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 11, at the Happy Dog.

About The Author

Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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