Spaceship Days

Spaceship Days

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our Journey to the Center of the Universe

 Los Angeles!

  While we had, in fact, traveled to the birthplace of all things hip before, it had been as athletes not as artists.  Back then, there had been curfews, and square meals, speedos and chlorine.

 Lots and lots of chlorine.

  This time around though, things were quite a bit different.  On this trip we saw bright lights, pec implants (yeah, seriously), and $75 t-shrits. We noticed that every other person in Hollywood seemed to have a guitar strapped across their back, little black dresses are mandatory, and people take limousines to nightclubs instead of taxicabs.  There was no bed time, and the only speedos we saw were on a particularly daring street performer who we thought might have been modeling for someone.

  We drove fast down a winding road that shares a name with a movie we like. We climbed (almost) mountains. I stood in John Woo's footsteps; Greg chose Bruce Willis'. I found out I'm taller than Batman, Greg dueled with Zorro, and we both avoided the lure of a free Celebrity Home Bus Tour--provided we could secure the 'entertainment'.

 We got some out of focus pictures of the world  famous Whiskey A Go-Go as we drove by at 30mph, and a few ( even more blurry ones) when we got a good laugh while trying to lean out the window to get the Roxy. We came to a complete stop to take pictures of the Capitol Records building, but as we were still on the road that caused us a little bit of grief.

  We ate Chinese food by the pound, cupcakes the size of softballs, and the biggest, best(est) hamburgers in the history of beef. Although we never did get to go back and try the Guinness milkshake we had a few grown up drinks while we were there too.
   All in all, it was an early morning flight missing good time.

 Our trip was no mere vacation however. Instead, it was firmly centered around the Hollywood Music in Media Awards. Spaceship Days was nominated  in the Best Alternative category for our single "Shadow Walking"   

  We lounged in a four star hotel in sight of the award show's venue feeling like we should do some exercise, but unable to muster up the motivation. As members of the Glass is Half Empty clan, neither one of us was sure to expect, so we eventually came to the agreed upon conclusion that we should just turn our brains off, get dressed, and show up.

 So that's what we did.

  The event itself was a pleasant surprise. Greg and I (and all the nominees) were made to feel very welcome--or rather, like we were every bit as cool as every one of of the artists we all listen to and adore.  This came largely in the form of the red carpet strut at the beginning of the show, but it extended to everything that happened throughout the course of the evening. We had a very cool guide who told us where to stand and smile for photos, where we had to go next, what microphone to speak into, and answered probably 95% of our thousand and one questions about the way the world turns in that far away western land (Thanks Bretagne!)

  Besides meeting lots of other enthusiastic men and women 'in the club' of music making, we were able to trade smiles with some very clever (and disarmingly approachable) people who stand on the other side of things.  Yeah. You know, that side.  Not a single person we came across (and we came across many) was wearing one of  those flashing  red neon top hats that say: I'm Too Cool For You. Everyone had a firm handshake, a ready business card, and ten minutes to chat with us while we tried to pick their brains.

  Our category was the next to last of the evening. By then, the grins were a little bigger, the double Windsor knots had come undone, and most everyone's speaking volume had gone up a couple of dozen decibels or so, courtesy of the very diligent and speedy bar staff. Greg and I had somehow wound up on opposite ends of the room. When they announced the winner --who had just completed an exceptional performance-- we managed to catch each other's eye. It was one of those neat, silent 'hey, we made it here anyway' sort of moments. 

  Suddenly our uncluttered, uncomplicated we-make-music-for-its-own sake adventure was that much more excellent.   It never occurred to us to be disappointed, or feel 'beaten'; we'd been invited to be a part of something that none of us had ever imagined we'd actually have the opportunity to--and our imaginations are quite fertile.

  I met an older man in the VIP just before the show. Cool hair. Crazily expensive suit. Supermodel for a date. Killer shoes.  The man never introduced himself, but I got the impression later that people don't usually just sit down and start talking to him. Glad I did though, he was a very congenial fellow. Before I took my leave, he said to me "No matter how trite it sounds, every one of tonight's nominees is a winner. Watch. You'll see."

  I believe him. 

 And who knows? Maybe next time Spaceship Days will return to Chapel Hill with a tall shiny trinket to go along with all the great memories.


*Thank you to everyone for all of your well wishes and support while we were on the left coast

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Particulars of Inspiration:"Last Kiss on Earth"

   You might not know this, but the members of Spaceship Days take their entertainments very seriously. We watch a lot of movies. Some of us (OK one of us) reads a lot of books--some of which don't even have pictures.

 Early one lazy evening, Chuck and I were watching one of our favorite post apocalyptic/sci fi vehicles. As we tend to do in times like that, we started talking about how we'd do things in our movie. It would involve a spaceship called The Minerva, and possibly monsters--or maybe aliens. There was some talk of a comet too. Usually we never make it much farther than that point because we  get to chatting about music.

 This time, I got a picture trapped in my head.

   Songs are born of many things... a personal tragedy, a passing melody, a happy accident.
"Last Kiss on Earth" was born of that reoccurring image.
 Two people locked in a slow motion embrace as the world around them "literally" fell apart.
Burning palm trees, ash-choked sky, violent-otherworldly winds... burned out buildings that stood like tired fossils, heaving in the skyline. I tried to imagine what their story was... not the world around them (save that for another song) Why would they chose to spend their last moments together?
And even if their life together had been "less than perfect" at least maybe it meant something. At least they felt something.

And as the world comes down around them they find eternity in a kiss.
"and if the sun burns out without a sound / put your lips against my mouth / hold your breath dear / no one's left here"

Who would you choose to be with?

And would they choose to be with you?

* For maximum enjoyment the members of Spaceship Days recommend one rock out to this song with headphones set to the highest volume.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ask Spaceship Days #5

 As you can see, this question is far to heavy duty for a video--especially since I have about a 2:45 threshold of talking to my computer before it starts to feel a little odd. On top of that, K.V. was kind enough to share with us a very personal and deeply inspiring story about how music helped her make it through some very tough times.

Art is mad cool that way.

 First: The Albums. These are the ones that did the most to shape the way we approach our respective instruments, our songwriting, and pretty much everything else that happens when we put our heads together to do something.

Duran Duran - Rio
Depeche Mode - Violator
Catherine Wheel - Adam and Eve
Radiohead - OK Computer
Mew - No More Stories...

Faith No More - The Real Thing
Stone Temple Pilots - Purple
Smashing Pumpkins - Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness
Catherine Wheel - Chrome
The Police - Zenyattà Mondatta

Jane’s Addiction – Ritual de lo Habitual
U2 – Actung Baby
Catherine Wheel – Ferment
Toad the Wet Sprocket – Dulcinea 
Radiohead - OK Computer

As for The Song:

The single most influential song (to me as a songwriter) was "Flower To Hide" by Catherine Wheel. At the time my musical world was ruled by keyboards and pasty European men with heavy eyeliner and sucked in cheeks. It was going to take something powerful to knock me off that course. Then one day Dan(the drummer of grey.)  popped in a "cassette" (you'll have to dig into the archives of Wikipedia to understand that reference). Out of his stereo poured walls of lush guitar (both elegant and abrasive) and voice both manly and angelic. "Flowers to Hide"  opened me up to new genres and styles of music that I never would have allowed myself to explore and because it showed me that supernatural, space-curving landscapes could be created with four chords (more or less)... and as a burgeoning songwriter four chords was about all I knew. 

As for most influential song on my musical development, I’d have to reach way back to the mid 80’s Duran Duran tune “Save a Prayer”.  That song was Beauty and Pain delivered at the same time by the same music --pretty powerful stuff if a preteen boy can pick up on it.  Minor keyed, with a prominent music counter melody, and simple haunting vocal melody it made me feel something; that was a thing music alone hadn't done for me at that point.  The chorus “Don’t save a prayer for me now, save it till the morning after…” was dissonant and tense and  the song had this incredibly sensual ebb and flow. Again, 'sensual' wasn't something I was hip to at the time, but the song created a mood too powerful to be denied.  All those qualities, especially use of minor keys, counter melodies on guitar, and slight dissonance are things that stuck with me. Those methods color everything I do as a composer to this day.

Two words: "Bohemian Rhapsody"  I remember sitting stock still for literally an hour while I played  Queen's magnum opus over, and over, and over. It was as though my whole life up to that point I had been listening to music without any ears. I was flabbergasted, awed, amazed, and a little bit incredulous that something so insanely creative, and bombastic hadn't just caused the earth to suddenly spin on its axis in the opposite direction.  The song sent a powerful knowing straight through me. Suddenly I knew that there were no rules - music could be whatever its creator damn well wanted it to be. The parts didn't have to match. It didn't have to 'make sense'. It could be as far over the top as one dared to reach; all that mattered was that it was done with conviction. "Bohemian Rhapsody" forever changed the way I turned and ear toward music, and what I expected of it as a listener.

What about you?  Whats the song that changed things forever after?

M, C, & G 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"Who are you again ?"

"Who is Spaceship Days?"

That was the question we saw hanging in a comment box on a popular social networking site. It looked like an accusation of sorts, poised just below a link to our first Promo Video  like a finger in the face. "How dare you post this!" it seemed to say " Because I've never heard of you!"

  It only took a moment's consideration for us to unclench, and approach the question from an entirely different direction. It was a fair one, after all.

"Who are we?"

Well, there are people who know about the music, but it occurred to us that some of those same people might want to know a little bit more about the band's dynamic: our processes and pet peeves and such; the-which-guy-does-which-thing of it all.

 So we decided to share.

First, we should probably tell you about the absolutes. Every band has them, some artists even get documentaries or tried and true rock & roll anecdotes about theirs. Ours aren't terribly dramatic, nothing about no brown M &Ms or some such, but we take them seriously nevertheless.

We are absolutely...

fanatical devotees of the Great Yarmoth, England band (The) Catherine Wheel, and eagerly await the reunion tour--for which we'd gladly be the opener.

We absolutely...
...enjoy watching movies together. We really, really like movies: Back to the Future, Aliens, Karate Kid & Anything with Indiana Jones to name a few. It can also be noted, that between the three of us we've probably seen the Star Wars films more times than George Lucas.

...have a difficult time keeping a drummer. We are unsure why this is, except for the fact that we may not truly understand how much effort goes in to actually playing said instrument.

...will not perform in a Sports Bar, or in any venue with big TV's that have sports playing (where we can see them). Its just too difficult to handle band business while simultaneously trying to see who won.

 Spaceship Days itself is a three headed monster,but if you pry them all apart, you're left with a trio fellows who have spent more time with each other than most anyone else in the world. 


Age: Eldest
Height: 6'
Build:   Adonis-like
Role in Spaceship Days: Multi Instrumentalist, Engineer, Producer, Logic Center
Favorite Bands: Pink Floyd, Radiohead, Our Lady Peace, Counting Crows, Coldplay
Influences: David Gilmour, Peter Buck, Brian Futter
Little Known Fact: Daydreams about smoking celebratory cigars
Guilty Pleasure: Sailing at high speeds (windsurfing and Hobie catamarans)
Historical Figure He'd Most Like to Hang With: Thomas Jefferson
Musical Figure He'd Most Like to Hang With: Rob Dickinson

Greg is the wizard behind the curtain that's behind the great green glowing spaceship. He's solely responsible for the overall production of every piece of Spaceship Days music.  He tweaks the knobs. He pushes the buttons. He sets the all the levels and works the sonic magic that brings forth our Exo-pop sound.


Age: Middle
Height: 6'4.5"
Build:  Chiseled
Role in Spaceship Days: Bassist, Blogger, Manager, Monkey Wrench
Favorite Bands: Queen, David Bowie, The Beatles, Bjork, Smashing Pumpkins
Influences:  Paul McCartney, Robert Deleo, Colin Greenwood, Dave Hawes
Little Known Fact: Refuses to watch any DVD not in widescreen aspect
Guilty Pleasure:  Never feels guilty about them
Historical Figure He'd Most Like To Hang With:  Miyamoto Musashi
Musical Figure He'd Most Like to Hang With:  Robert Nesta Marley

Chuck is The Man. He is a rock-star in every sense. When he walks into a room the atmosphere changes and everyone wants to be his friend.  He makes the Master Plans and spreads our musical seeds far and wide. Never lacking for words, he gives the pep talks, and the pitches. He steers the spaceship in the direction we all want it to go.


Age: Youngest
Height: 6'3'
Build: Distance Runner Athletic
Role in Spaceship Days: Vocalist, Lyricist, Chief Songwriter, Devil's Advocate
Favorite Bands: Duran Duran, Mew, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Silverchair
Influences: Chuck & Greg
Little Known Fact: Terrified of Clowns
Guilty Pleasure: John Denver & The Muppets Christmas album
Historical Figure He'd Most Like To Hang With: Carl Sagan
Musical Figure He'd Most Like to Hang With:  Bono

Matt is the voice, the mind, the heart, and all the guts of Spaceship Days. Without him, all the songs would be dueling bass and guitar solos twisted around weak melodies with nonsensical lyrics and punctuated by crappy singing. He is the one who gets up in the middle of the night and pulls out an acoustic guitar to create another pop masterpiece.

That's us in a nutshell, three average guys with an exceptionally cool side job. Now--the next time some one asks you who we are, you'll know exactly what to tell them.

M, C, & G