It can be a hard task to get your music heard when you’re pretty much going at it alone. Nick or rather Thrifty Astronaut got in touch with Cat On The Wall back in 2009 and it was only until the release of his debut album ‘Caffeine Heartache’ this August that we really sat up and listened. We really should have paid more attention the first time around. To make up for our ignorance we contacted Nick who was more than obliging and gave us a rather lovely interview….
Cat On The Wall: First up, for those of our readers who have yet to discover Thrifty Astronaut, can you introduce yourself? How did the band/project come about? You’re pretty much a one man band though aren’t you?
Thrifty Astronaut: Yeh, right now I’m the only member of Thrifty Astronaut. In the past, a few different people have helped me out for live shows but for the past 9 months I’ve been playing live completely by myself. It has been a natural move for me, because I wrote and recorded all of the songs by layering each instrument myself. I have tried to take that same feeling and transpose it to a live setting.
COTW: We’ve been really enjoying your debut album ‘Caffeine Heartache’ here at Cat On The Wall! Can you tell us about the making of the album? How/where was it recorded?
TA: I’m very happy to hear that you like it. All of the songs were written and recorded in my bedroom on a reel-to-reel tape machine over the past 18 months. When I started off, I wasn’t even thinking about really trying to get other people to hear it. Eventually, I had dozens of songs that I had recorded and I started to lay them out and create an autobiography of sorts. I hope that intimacy shows through in the music, if only in the imperfections and peculiarities.
COTW: What is your creative process when writing songs?
TA: My songs usually are born from a lyrical idea that floats into my head. From there I find a guitar riff, drum machine beat, keyboard parts, the occasional bass line and whatever else I can think of as I begin recording it on cassette. I almost always forget to finish the lyrics until it comes time to record a vocal, and even then I change it all around. Since I only do home-recording, the finished songs end up being expansions on the demos, instead of wholly new recording. I think it always sounds a little half-baked, but part of me prefers that.
COTW: In a video on your myspace and in many of your photos you look like a mad musical scientist! Do you have a favourite instrument or piece of equipment that you couldn’t live without? How did you acquire so many instruments and what do you look for when you go out on an instrument hunt?
TA: I have plenty of musical toys that I buy at thrift stores and pawn shops, but the one that I use the most is made out of a computer speaker and a broken keyboard. I took a keyboard that wouldn’t play anymore and began using the microphone input to amplify my guitar. When I found all the cool noises it could make, I put the innards into the shell of computer speaker and shoved that inside of an old make-up case, so that it looks like a tiny amplifier. I use it whenever I play live to get the brittle guitar tone that I’ve come to like so much.
COTW: What are you listening to at the moment?
TA: Today I’ve been listening to Brand Nubian and Casiotone for the Painfully Alone.
COTW: Finally, what are your plans for the near future?
TA: My plan is basically to get my music in the hands of anyone who might like it. I don’t know how many people that might be yet, but for now it is exciting enough to find one at a time.