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FM Goes to Red Rocks | Part II

Posted in Fucking Monolith by fkngmtns on August 25, 2008

Welcome to Fucking Monolith. Stay tuned week-by-week as we countdown to the “biggest festival” (their words, not ours) ever to come to Red Rocks Amphitheatre. We’ll be picking through the Monolith line-up and posting reviews and interviews from select festival-bound acts. It won’t always be pretty–but it’ll always be honest.

_THIS WEEK’S CLOSE-UP: ASTRA MOVEO

Photo By Mark Clevenger

Photo By Mark Clevenger

Astra Moveo, translated from Latin, means to “shake the heavens. ” Which, for its sheer grandiosity, is the kind of bull’s-eye band name that exactly describes the mentality of the four members in it. “We want to own it,” James Cromwell emphasizes. “Like every single one of us wants to come up on stage and own it. Like, whatever our part is, it’s on.”

We are sitting in the group’s tiny recording studio. The room is claustrophobically filled with high tech equipment, lo-fi instruments, and tangles of chords. Later they will escort me to their house-slash-practice-pad; it’s an expansive manor in the Highlands, replete with glass chandeliers and mirrored hallways, and naturally dubbed The Mansion.

This is the world of Astra Moveo. The four—comprising multi-instrumentalists Cromwell, Chris Eagleton, Tyler Hayden, and recent addition, Brandon Paluska—lead a rockumentary-in-the-making lifestyle. And it can be a bit, well, exhausting.

This band is way too good-looking, too coordinated, too hyped up. All this effortless effort is too much, frankly. But, for all its gross self-indulgence, it’s also sort of the point.

“We want to bring the rock star back,” Cromwell further declares. The boys laugh. He is clearly the mouth of the outfit, the big talker, the big dreamer. Eagleton, meanwhile, is the producer, the one tinkering behind the computer screen perfecting every riff and vocal. Hayden is the frontman, the overly-thoughtful guitarist/vocalist. And Paluska is, for now, the polite and subdued new guy.

Astra Moveo has all the personality and idealistic motives of a young band. And on the surface is not unlike others of its musical ilk. Its tracks are awash in rock-cum-dance licks, layered in electronics and hipster guitar effects. Think DFA-era Rapture but with deeper beats, less brooding, and more spontaneity. It’s not new in this decade, certainly, but it is fun and kinetic and unabashedly sexy.

The group is also decisively modern in its technique, namely in skipping the trials of playing out live in favor of working out its songs in preproduction and then sending it out into the blogosphere for critique.

“We record first,” Eagleton explains. “Some people consider that a backwards approach, rather than jamming in a band room and organizing it into a live thing.”

“When you play dive bars back to back,” he continues, “you’re expending a certain amount of energy [and] we’d rather expend that in the studio refining the sonics.” Which, for some local critics, sounds completely absurd.

“They are offended by it. People freak,” Cromwell says. “But the thing is that it’s very tongue-in-cheek—which this band is, by the way, we’ll take the piss out of anything, ourselves included—but, at the same time, it’s very masterminded. I’ve done the garage band thing and toured and played in shitty venues—I’ve done that. We don’t want that.”

“Wouldn’t it be rad,” he continues, “to have some sort of Andy Warhol Factory party where we could invite all of our friends and there could be photographers and videographers and DJs and, whoops, we’re going to play at the stroke of midnight? Something like that, something that people can definitely experience—that is what we’re about.” [Tuyet Nguyen, reprinted from FM02]

Astra Moveo plays 1:45 p.m. Sunday, 9/14, New Belgium Stage at Red Rocks

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