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Astrosoniq - Constructing trips triggered by music
Astrosoniq, the leading spacerock band in the Benelux, has just released one of the best albums I’ve heard this year, entitled Quadrant. Reason enough for me to send them over some questions by e-mail. Here’s there result, with answers from bassist RJ and drummer Marcel. Enjoy the read!

Hi, how are you?
RJ: ‘I’m laying sick in bed with probably a Mexican flu. I’ve been complaining for weeks that I didn’t have the flu, but now I can finally and honestly lay in bed. It was about time!’
Marcel: ‘No flu here, so I guess I am good, haha.’

For the people that have been living under a rock for the last ten years, could you introduce yourselves to our readers?
Marcel: ‘Well Ron and I started this thing 10 years ago, all we wanted to do was to make a record with some friends, no plans to start a band at all, just make some songs for ourselves. But quickly the quality of the material became evident and we decided to turn the whole recording project into a band, which has lasted for 10 years now. We still only make the music we want to make and albums we would buy ourselves and we try to have as much fun as possible doing that. This band is all about friendship and enjoying yourself, we are pretty tight. I can honestly say my best friends are in this band and its crew, so I guess you could say we have found a lifelong pastime in Astro, which hopefully will last for years to come.’
You’ve just released you new record Quadrant, what are your feelings about the end result and how have the reactions to it been in general?
RJ: ‘For me personally this is the first record I recorded with Astrosoniq. It feels like I’ve known the guys for decades, but for real it has only been a couple of years till now. The combination between exploring new routes through the musical world called “Astrosoniq” and using my own creativity c.q. personality, is something that I find very special and therefore I feel good about it. I enjoy reading reviews, most were extremely positive, I listen carefully to the opinions of all my dear friends around me and I would never close my eyes for the opinions of the general Astro-listener.’
Marcel: ‘This album has been received very well. Of course having some 20 years of experience, we know by now if an album is any good and up to our own standards. The newest album is certainly a worthwhile addition to our discography. Since we have 5 albums under our belly it differs which album people like best, but I would rank this one together with Speeder People as one of our best.’
Could you guide us through the writing and recording process of Quadrant?
RJ: ‘There's Ron and Marcel. The only thing I had to do was keeping up with their extremely, ridiculously fast recording and writing skills. I could write books full of RJ-craptalk, so please allow me to skip this question for the sake of the not that fanatic “Metalrage” - reader.’
Marcel: ‘Ron overlooks the songwriting and he himself contributes most songs, but on the last record there are also songs initiated by RJ and Fred. Writing is a collaboration, with input from all. Recording is my responsibility and I try to find the best possible way to record a specific song. Methods differ a lot, from live in the studio to meticulously overdubbing every part. Ron and I bounce a lot of ideas of one another, once we are in the studio recording we do not shy away from experiments.’
What is the thought behind the album title?
RJ: ‘When it comes to Quadrant I could use the following syllogism: first there’s Astrosoniq, Astro (άστρο) means star and soniq stands for sound or soundwaves. You could say Astrosoniq produces sounds of stars. Second there’s the last song of Speeder People as a connection to ‘Faustian Bargain’, the opening song for the new Quadrant album. Altogether, this for me personally mirrors Quadrant. A new album where several creative and universal well thought-through connections, suiting the world of Astrosoniq and its musical need to combine and explore the world between these uncontroversial lines, are released to the world as we know it. An album in which each precious listener can find or hear, deeper layers feeding Quadrant than just the ordinary, medieval heavy rock syndicate wants to admit to most of the time.’
Marcel: ‘As you can see in RJ's answer it can mean whatever you want, I believe very much in personal interpretations of titles and lyrics and do not want to dictate my own or the band's opinions about them to the listener, who should be able to let his imagination run free and construct his own trip triggered by our music, that is what spacerock is about imo.’
Where do you draw your inspiration from (musically and lyrically)?
RJ: ‘I’m always searching for balance in my life emotionally. So in the first place, people could call me abstract, cold and not speak-active. Once you know me a little better, I guess I’m not that person anymore. I consider my duties cold and sometimes even useless and I find my own freedom in creativity, which for me is music in general. I am a huge fan of the Russian hero Vladimir Vysotsky. Check out his song Koni Priviredliviye’ on YouTube and I guess you will understand what I mean. Real, true, heroic songs from the heart, with more expressions of an inner conflict towards, or responsibility and respect of, his Russian grounds than I’m used to experience in general. No crying pretenders inspire me, who got spoiled so much, they actually found the ability through time to bore me with their fake emotions. Truth can only be found in creativity and emotion and that is what inspires me. Still I can’t deny the fact that I am not that big that I can be always true myself, but I at least I try… I’m sure Marcel will have a more straight answer than me. Again I wrote too much blabla, haha.’
Marcel: ‘I think there is no single source of inspiration within the band, we all have our own taste, and of course there is an overlap. And there can be so many possible reasons why a song has been created, an abstract idea, a story that has to be told, a musical idea, etc.’
For the record release show you did a special thing in your hometown of Oss, could you tell us what went down here exactly for those who missed it (like myself unfortunately)?
RJ: ‘As I said, I’m always running to keep up with Marcel and Ron. And I’m a pretty big guy, so it costs me lots of energy.. I know what we did of course, but surely Marcel has the bigger concept stuck in his mind, for you to read and understand.’
Marcel: ‘I guess you are referring to the premiere of 'Zero', which we played simultaneously with Zeus. Since this song got some attention in the media, we just had to play it live. The only way to do justice to this concept is to perform it with two bands at the same time. All is good and well on record, but performing this song was a complex undertaking and we did not know if it could be done. After the first rehearsal with Zeus we knew we could play it, but still there was the issue of separation of bands to the left and right side of the PA. Our FOH technician Robi was sure it could be done, so it was up to him to make it work live as the original idea was intended. According to the reactions we got he did a great job!’
The last time I saw you guys perform, drummer Marcel was not able to use his feet. He managed to solve this problem in an interesting way, will he keep playing like this or has he recovered from his illness?
RJ: ‘Amazing huh? I’m still trying to understand how he does it…’
Marcel: ‘I can say this about it, I started playing this way because I do not want to be in a position where I have to wait for a cure and depend on those results. So I took things in my own hands, found a creative solution and am able to function as the musician I want to be. It is a combination of creativity and will-power, if you want something bad enough it can be done. I remember an inspiring quote by Gene Hoglan on a making of SYL DVD, as he points at his very big legs he says 'these are not made to go fast, but they do because I want them to!’
What do you guys consider to be the highlight of Astrosoniq’s career so far?
RJ: ‘For me it was a personal thing in Cologne, Germany, where we did an acoustic song to finish the concert. But in general the highlight for me should be the fact that Astrosoniq still stands as a creative stronghold, uncompromising, focused, creative and stronger than ever. Astrosoniq has become an underground institution, stronger than short-term ideas about how to pollute the world with crap.’
Marcel: ‘There are so many, all our foreign trips, several great supports for bands like Hawkwind and Monster Magnet, playing the Roadburn festival several times, every CD presentation, I particularly enjoy recording the albums, it has been a big string of highlights thus far.’
Bullshit question; in movies, who do you prefer, Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sylvester Stallone?
RJ: ‘Pff, difficult. I think the Terminator 2 was one of the greatest movies ever, but in Rocky III, Sylvester fights B.A. of the A-Team. So they both did extremely good jobs as actors. I guess I can only answer this Bullshit question in a political way. Schwarzenegger became the Californian governor as a republican. Television mostly destroyed my devotion to Arnold, by exposing and explaining his stupid ideas and actions. If Arnold stayed true to himself, he would have realised that he’s not a man about compromises and politics, but a man about death and destruction.. Mmh, this is a pretty cynical line to end this interview..’
Marcel: ‘I dont have an opinion about them, I dislike them both...’

Thank you for your time, do you have anything to add to this interview?

RJ: ‘I want to apologize for my lack of ability being short and strict in my answers…’
Marcel: ‘I want to apologize for RJ's lack of ability to formulate short and more straight answers.’