ASTRONOID (from l-r): Casey Aylward (guitar), Dan Schwartz (bass), Brett Boland (vocals/guitar), Matt St. Jean (drums)
INTERVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
From the American city of Boston, Astronoid are a rapidly-rising four-piece specialising in a thrash metal sound that is both dreamy and dynamic.
The band’s debut album, 2016’s ‘Air’, was an instant hit with critics and fans, and resulted in live sets supporting the likes of TesseracT, Ghost, and Zeal & Ardor.
With a hectic couple of months ahead, what with the upcoming release of their eagerly-anticipated self-titled second offering, and embarking on a US tour with Between The Buried And Me, and TesseracT once again, the quartet’s frontman, Brett Boland, spoke to me about what can be expected from all of that, as well as the whirlwind journey that him and his bandmates have been on these past few years.
How did the band form?
Astronoid formed in 2012 when Dan and I were asked to do a project for school. He
needed to record a band, and I had a song or two that I thought we could do. We recorded the songs, and they came out really great.
We then threw them online under the Astronoid moniker and just sort of forgot about them, but a little while later, they started to pick up some steam online, and we decided to keep making some music, and here we are now.
How did the name Astronoid come about?
While recording our debut EP, ‘November’, Dan and I were both playing Mass Effect 3. I don’t really remember exactly what we were talking about, but I screwed up saying either “astronaut” or “asteroid”, and Astronoid came out. We laughed, we then named a song after it, and then we named our band after it.
What are the band’s main musical influences?
Our influences have changed over the years. The most prominent influences have
been Mew, M83, Devin Townsend, Coheed and Cambria, and everything else we
listen to, but what makes the band special to me is that we can pull from our entire
catalogue of the music that we love.
What would you say was your approach to songwriting?
The general approach is that I will start a song and see it to the end. Sometimes, I will start with a drum beat from my V-drums, or a guitar melody, and chase the idea from there.
I’ll then send a complete demo (drums, bass, guitar, vocals) to the band, we will pick it apart, and then see how it can be improved upon.
What inspires the band lyrically?
I would say the primary inspiration to my lyrics are my observations and experiences in life, as that’s what just comes naturally to me.
The music determines the mood or what the song is about, and that’s why I never start with lyrics, as I need to have the lyrics be an extension of what the music is saying.
After bringing out two EPs, in 2016, the band unveiled their debut album, ‘Air’,
which was an instant hit, both with fans and critics, and has so far had over three million Spotify streams. Honestly, was the response, and the volume of it, expected from any of you at all?
Before putting out ‘Air’, I had a really good feeling about it, as I felt it would resonate
with people in a new way. I’m so proud of what we have accomplished with that
album, and I feel so fortunate for all the support which we have gained over the past
And the success of the album enabled you to tour North America with the likes of TesseracT, Periphery, Ghost, and Zeal & Ardor. How were they as experiences?
It really is incredible getting to play with bands that you look up to. TesseracT was
one of the bands that I looked to when we were thinking of totally dropping the
screaming from the music.
I also remember hearing all the music nerds in college talk about Periphery before they put out their first full-length, I went to Ghost’s first US show, and Zeal & Ardor put their record out around the same time as ‘Air’, and I remember listening to it on Bandcamp for the first time.
All these bands have special memories attached, and it was incredible to be able to perform alongside them. They are all incredible people, and incredibly-talented musicians, and the memories we have from these tours will always be cherished.
Also, how is it overall, for the band, performing live?
We love to perform live. This is the first band I have toured in as a lead vocalist and it has been a learning experience.
You find things that work for you, and what doesn’t, and the more the band plays together, the more we feel like a unit, as when we play live, it isn’t about the individual, it’s about performing these pieces with emotional intensity as a group.
The music then takes on a life of its own, and we serve the songs for our fans.
Next month, you will be bringing out your self-titled second album. How has the
recording process been for that?
The recording process for ‘Astronoid’ was way easier than ‘Air’. We had a bit of a
time crunch at the end, but it all worked out.
We recorded the drums at Futura Productions in Roslindale, Massachusetts, and we did the rest of the recording at our home studios, with both Dan and I mixing the record, and Magnus Lindberg, of Cult Of Luna, mastering it.
We came into recording this album at an advantage, because everything had already been demoed fully, and when it was time to record, we just played the parts for real, being able to point back to the demos for reference.
And how will the upcoming release differ to ‘Air’?
The way that I’ve been seeing it is that ‘Air’ was more of a surface level of myself,
and the new album is more of an introspective. I feel very confident in this release, very similar to how I felt when we finished ‘Air’, as every decision made on this album was with the music being the main priority.
The band hail from Boston. How is the contemporary music scene in the city, in
I feel like we have always been the outlier in our area. There are a lot of great bands
in our area that have had a huge impact on our development as musicians.
Our old band used to play a lot around Boston and Lowell, and that helped make us become who we are now as musicians. Our surroundings absolutely had an effect on us, as we wouldn’t have become who we are if we had started in a different area.
You’ve so far played every one of your live sets in North America. Is there any plans to come over to Europe any time soon?
Right now, we have no confirmed plans about coming over, but we are working hard
to make it happen. I’d love to bring the band to Europe, as we have had a lot of support from overseas, and it would be incredible to finally play there.
Aside from that, and the album, what else does the band have planned for 2019?
Right now, our priority is to get out there and support our new record, going to play
as much as possible, and to have as much fun as possible. I’m not sure what 2019
holds for us, but I’m excited to see what it brings.
And finally, you’ve already achieved much over the last couple of years. What
would you, as a band, like to accomplish over the next few years?
I’d just like to see this album reach as many people as possible. We are just going
with our gut and play music that we love to play, and hopefully, other people can find something in our music as well.
THE SELF-TITLED SECOND ALBUM FROM ASTRONOID WILL BE RELEASED ON FEBRUARY 1, VIA BLOOD MUSIC.
THE BAND WILL ALSO BE SUPPORTING BETWEEN THE BURIED AND ME AND TESSERACT ON THEIR US TOUR BEGINNING NEXT MONTH, FURTHER DETAILS OF WHICH CAN BE FOUND BELOW:
FURTHER INFO ON THE BAND CAN BE FOUND THROUGH THE FOLLOWING SITES: