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Niels Kinsella (GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT): A voyage intro astronauts' world

Niels Kinsella (GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT): A voyage intro astronauts' world
BANDS : God Is An Astronaut

A shift in style is not always rightly valued, especially with a band that got its fans accustomed to an certain sound. Still it seems that Irish combo God Is An Astronaut picked a winner with Origins - an more dynamic album that brings in a lot of new elements compared to their previous releases. I wouldn't say this is their best album yet, but it certainly has and will have a lot to say, since the promotional tour will expand into the next year as well. So I took advantage of Niels' kind disposition and I found out lots of interesting stuff about the bands' early career about, their latest album and a possible return to Romania for a gig. Be my guests:

Metalfan: Hello Niels, and welcome to Because this is your first interview for our website, I’d like to ask you about the early days of the band. Tell us about how the band came to be and who are the people to blame for it, haha? 
Niels: Torsten and I started playing music back in the early 90’s, our first album The End of the Beginning in 2002 was intended as a farewell to the music business, we wanted to release something we were proud of after 10 years of playing in various bands. Lloyd joined the band on drums in 2004 just before we released All is Violent, All is Bright in 2005. Jamie joined the band on keyboards in 2010 and finally Gazz joined us in 2012 on guitar. We have released 7 albums in 11 years.
Metalfan: When did you decide to become a musician and how did you pick up the bass? Was it your first choice or have you tried other instruments before settling on the bass?
Niels: I started playing bass when I was 11 years old which was way back in the 80’s. My influences were Cliff Burton from Metallica and my Dad who was also a bass player; he taught me how to play. I swapped onto the guitar for a few years in the 90’s but came back to the bass for God Is An Astronaut.
Metalfan: Why is God an Astronaut? What does the name represent?
Niels: We got the idea for the name from Clive Barker’s film/novel Nightbreed. We just liked the sound of the name and it gave us the freedom to make the music we wanted without restriction. There is no religious significance to the name.
Metalfan: What type of music are you playing? Some people categorize your music as post-rock, others as post-math, while some other persons call you a space-rock band. What is the truth?
Niels: We never really thought about music genres when writing for God Is An Astronaut. The first album definitely had its roots in trip-hop and electronica. The post-rock tag was a welcome tag back in 2002 as we were still classified as a dance act here in Ireland. I think there is a wide range on musical influences everything from electronica, trip hop, metal, rock, jazz and ambient styles. 
Metalfan: The first album - The End of the Beginning - has been recorded at a moment when the band was yet unknown and unsigned. Were there any notable difficulties, financial or of another nature, in the way of this process? 
Niels: We recorded the album with limited equipment; I think all we had was an xp80 keyboard sequencer, an Akai S3000 and a Yamaha mixing desk. The equipment was more suited to writing and recording dance/electronic music. Since then we have really built and expanded our recording studio. The process is still very similar in that we still are involved in every aspect of God Is An Astronaut from the writing/recording to the final CD and touring etc… it is still very independent.
Metalfan: How would evaluate the reception of this album by the fans and media? 
Niels: The End of the Beginning album was largely ignored by the critics but started to build an underground/internet fan base. Interestingly we actual got quite a bit of night time airplay in Ireland which was ironic.
Metalfan: In the next five years the band released four subsequent albums. According to general opinion, All Is Violent, All Is Bright (2005) is the best of the lot, but personally I hold God is an Astronaut (2008) as your representative album, from your whole catalogue. What do you think about those remarks and what is your favourite album?
Niels: All is Violent, All is Bright definitely was our breakthrough album, a lot of people were introduced to our music through this album. It still remains are most popular album to date. Looking back I think the self titled would be my personal favourite along with the new album but we are very proud of all our albums.
Metalfan: The band has introduced a new keyboard player - Jamie Dean and a new guitar player - Gazza Carr. What caused this change of line up? How does the band work as a quintet?
Niels: This was the first record Jamie Dean has worked on with us, he co-wrote Strange Steps and Gazz Carr (Butterfly Explosion) also got involved and he wrote and performed the vocals on Reverse World. The sound live now is colossal; I think the band is the best it has ever been. 
Metalfan: Origins is an excellent album, a little different from what you've done before, with many new elements including vocal parts. How did you come to the decision that your music needed lyrics?
Niels: We wanted to expand our sound on this record and vocals/lyrics seemed an obvious thing to push along with experimental guitar sounds and other instruments like brass and acoustic guitar. We also changed our writing technique on this record, on previous albums we would write the songs on a piano, acoustic guitar or electric guitar and then add the other worldly textures after, but this time we began with them. We created interesting noises, riffs and soundscapes and turned these into compositions, it felt more like sculpturing.
Metalfan: Were you at any point concerned about a potential negative reception of these changes?
Niels: We knew some of the fans and critics would not like the changes but it was never a concern, we write the music the way we want it to sound, it is always a very natural process. It is the same with every new release some will love it, some will hate it.
Metalfan: This album has been received very well in the press. Why do you think that happened, haha? 
Niels: Yes there have been a lot of good reviews for Origins but we don’t think why “did it happen?” Either way we are very happy with the new album, getting good reviews from both fans and critics is always a bonus.
Metalfan: The band has played in Romania twice already, in 2011 and 2012. How did you enjoy these two adventures in our country? 
Niels: We loved playing in Romania; the fans are amazing, full of energy and enthusiasm. Definitely some memorable shows in Bucharest and Cluj-Napoca.
Metalfan: Are there any plans for a third trip to here to present us your last studio masterpiece?
Niels: Yes we will be there in April for 1 or 2 shows; we are looking forward to bringing the new songs to our fans live.
Metalfan: What bands have attracted your attention lately? 
Niels: Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to listen to much music as my wife and I have been busy with our son who was 1 year last month.
Metalfan: Are you familiar with Romanian underground movement? We have a very good post-rock band named Valerinne, have you heard them yet?
Niels: No, but I have been listening to them as I write this, love it.
Metalfan: What are your future plans?
Niels: We will be touring the album over the next 2 years or so. There are also plans to release a new E.P. at some point next year.
Metalfan: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, and we hope to see you again on Romanian stages. Good luck in the future!
Niels: See you in April! 
Autor: Klawz, Fantotzii
   November 02, 2013  | 0 Comments  | 8082 Views « BACK

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