Thursday, January 10, 2013

Music of the Moment - Men into Space

Oh wow Kids - are you in for a Friday night treat !! Captain John from sensational band 'Men into Space' has taken the time out of his busy flight schedule to tell us all about the formation  of the kooky, atomic 50's sci-fi band. Honestly folks, you cant get any better than 'Men into Space' for that sample of the atomic era.....die hard retro muso's and space cadets, you are gonna love this ! AND they are playing at Ballarat Beat this February - get along all you rocketeers ! Now its over to Captain John......

Well, where to start? Like many, as a kid, I loved the old movies the tv stations would play on Friday nights and as 'midday movies' on the weekends. They were very often B-grade 50's sci fi flicks but to me they were a very real 'alternate universe'. I don't know why, but when I learned that these movies were fictional and made as entertainment often on a tight budget, well, for some reason I just liked them more.

I guess when I started the whole transition into 50's-dom as a teenager at school, I was attracted to the normal stuff.. music, cars, fashion but also maintained a real passion for those old sci fi movies. Hollywood made hundreds, maybe even thousands and I think I've seen most of them a few times! At that time, it never occurred to me that cool 50's music and these movies could somehow be mated together.

I was playing electric bass back then, trying to emulate Steve Garvey from the Buzzcocks. Changing to Upright bass in 1987 was a major milestone in my life. Soon after I was playing with fellow Men into Space member, Rupert Jenner in The Shakin' Quavers (Check out this link kids - you Quavers were awesome !). Somewhere in the mid 90's I travelled to to Sydney to attend a gig. Restless were playing with the Space Cadets. I didn't know the Space Cadets at the time, but that was the most fun I had ever had at a show to date. Until then, I hadn't crowd surfed. I'll never forget that show. I think the seed was planted in my mind that evening. At this point I'd like to stress that we're not copying the Space Cadets. We're doing our own thing with this Space/rockabilly genre. It's a genre that is represented by quite a few bands around the world. And more broadly, 'themed costume rock n roll' is huge among our community. Examples are Man or Astroman, Los Straight Jackets, Neanderthals, Go-Nuts, Red Elvises..

Around that time I'd formed The Chrome Daddies and was busy with that for a few years. After that I was playing with different bands but was keen to front a band that was a product of my own imagination. Finally in 2006, Men into Space were formed. We were a three piece back then. Myself, Dan Nosovich (another Chrome Daddy) on guitar and Rupert, a fine guitarist, on drums. Before we could gig, I needed costumes and instruments to suit the theme. Ah, ebay.... Costumes are pilot flight suits with a collection of appropriate space themed patches attached. If anyone took the time to look closely, there's some pretty cool patch-action going on, haha. We always wear black engineering boots on stage, too. The helmets are toy space helmets from 1960. It took quite a few months of searching to acquire enough of them. I had to modify the inside of them considerably as they were designed for children.

Then came the instruments. I wanted them unique yet uniform in theme so they looked like they belonged to Men into Space. Starting with Dan's first guitar, I used a Danelectro he owned. I mixed a metallic blue that I liked and sprayed the guitar using car paint. I added pinstriping and different knobs. It was pretty simple way to get a MIS guitar happening, looking back on it. The bass was a different story. It was in instrument I brought back from the 'States after using it on a Josie Kruezer tour. I decided to give it a 'cutaway' similar to the one found on my favourite model guitar, the Gibson ES 295. I thought it took a lot of guts to take the saw to perfectly good upright bass. I reinforced the neck joint at the same time to compensate for the lack of body around it. The f holes got reshaped and i painted it the same blue. I think the end result is pretty cool. The drums are pretty standard except for the illuminated bass drum. We also use the drum kit to hide the smoke machine and strobe lights behind. Here's an early gig.. Men into Space Live

After a few years I decided to make the band a four piece. Coojee Timms joined on drums and Rupert joined Dan playing guitar. This was another definate turning point for the band. It gave me the opportunity to build some pretty kooky instruments. Dan is a proficient steel player so to his already massively modified Stratocaster (the Danelectro got stolen at a gig) he got a lap steel grafted. Rupert's guitar was 'crafted' from the bones of a death metal ebay item. A signature sound of Men into Space is from the theremin added to Rupert's guitar.

I've always been focused making sure the music is as good as it can be. A band is it's music. It was and still is extremely important to me that the quality of the music comes first. The costumes and associated props and things are an added layer to what I think is a good band. About the music we play... Our bones are absolutely rockabilly but musically we venture a little further out than many trad bands might. A lot of originals. Most our set is original material. We have songs about UFO abduction (or more precisely, using the threat of UFO abduction to woo a girl). A song about being jealous of Spock. A song about a girl made even more attractive due to her exposure to radiation. More about hot rod rockets, building satellites.. three eyed girlfriends... all sorts of fun stuff. We're working on some new songs at present. I think they'll go well.. pretty kooky.

Hey Rocketeers!

Don’t miss the next MEN INTO SPACE show!

We're a full tilt rockabilly act and we're all about havin' a good time.
We use The Space Upright Bass, 
The Astro Guitar/lap steel and the most awesome Thero-guitar!! 
Sparky's on his Drums of Plutonium.
We play hard rockin’ space themed music. 
We wear old-timey space suits and helmets. 
We are an originals band. 
If you really want to know how MIS came about.. 
It’s like this... And here’s no lie...

100 years ago, man climbed from the dusty earth and drove his first automobile. 
Just 50 years later, he threw down the shackles of gravity and conquered SPACE....
While on a routine space flight, The ship "Mr Vanguard" was bombarded with a field of cosmic radiation. Aside from transporting the crew of four instantly into the future, it also gave them super-rockin’ powers. 

With their home far away, MEN into SPACE have no choice but to fly by their instruments alone. MEN into SPACE continue their quest to find home in the unfamiliar world they find themselves in today. In the meantime, they just want to Rock, Rock, Rock. 

These guys sing about the moon and the stars.... not sitting under them... travelling to them! "Give us a girl on Mars and a rocketship to Venus - that’ll be fine!" 

To see MEN into SPACE play, you might think you were on a movie set. " Yes, we do use a lot of things from the ship in our show. Our instruments are all unique (to say the least) and we always play in our space suits and helmets... you never can tell when you are going to play a venue with no atmosphere"

Captain John "Comet" McCauley( Jon Flynn ). Upright bass, Vocals. 
Astronaut Dan Ray ( Dan Nosovich ). Guitar/Lap steel-o-tron, Vocals. 
Space Ace Lance Link ( Rupert Jenner ). Thero-guitar, Vocals. 
Pilot Sparks ( Coojee Timms ). Drums of Plutonium, Vocals. 

All four members of Men Into Space are seasoned Brisbane musos, each with overseas pro touring credentials. Each also has an impressive history in Brisbane live music.

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