AN INTERVIEW WITH 2 INCH ASTRONAUT
Sam Rosenberg and Matt Gatwood met in 6th grade after both being recruited by a mutual friend to join his “street punk” band. Since then they’ve played in a “litany of other projects that no one will ever remember.” Andy Chervenak who plays bass for Two Inch Astronaut has been in a handful of other projects such as Cascade In Blue, Watch Man Walk, Grass Is Green, Dogs Without Borders, Sloganeers, Ovlov (bass on “Moth Rock”), Dirty Dishes (bass on 2011 tour). As Andy joined the band, Two Inch drifted away from being a quieter guitar and cello driven project to the Two Inch we know now.
Personal Life, Foulbrood and Bad Brother have all been released by Boston based record label, Exploding in Sound. On top of that Sam and Andy have been featured on countless EIS releases and bands. What is it like being a part of the Exploding in Sound roster, what are some unique experiences you all have gained?
ANDY: I met Dan Goldin in Boston when he was attending Northeastern University. He came across the first Grass Is Green demo that we put up on Myspace (back when it was still relevant) and reviewed it when Exploding In Sound was just a blog aimed at discovering new rock music. That was the first time I had ever had any music of mine reviewed by any sort of media outlet. EIS didn’t transform into a record label until Dan moved to NYC, so technically Exploding In Sound Records is an NYC based record label. EIS also happens to be the only legitimate record label that I, personally, have ever released music on. In 2012, Grass Is Green, released an album entitled “Ronson” and that, along with Pile’s record, “Dripping,” were the first two EIS releases. A year or two later, Grass Is Green decided to do a split 7” with my favorite band, Two Inch Astronaut, called “Split Dicks.” They came up to Boston and both bands recorded in the same session engineered by the bass player of Grass Is Green, Mike Thomas (“Am” by Ovlov). I can’t speak for the other two guys in the band, but I, personally, don’t see any reason for myself to ever seek out another label to release my music (unless Dan called it quits). Exploding In Sound feels like a good home for the work that I put out. It’s a community that I am honored to be a part of. I trust Dan Goldin’s judgment. He’s got a good grasp on the ins and outs of the parts of the music industry that I don’t quite understand (or find interesting). He has integrity. He throws great shows (sometimes 12 hour long ones). And, most importantly, he’s our buddy. Exploding In Sound Records has birthed a lot of great (hopefully lifelong) friendships for me and I will be forever grateful for that.
Last year Two Inch toured the UK and Europe opening up for La Dispute. What was it like playing venues overseas to large crowds of unfamiliar faces?
ANDY: It was fucking crazy. For our first time ever playing overseas, we were traveling in a fancy tour bus being driven around Europe by this guy from Oxford who grew up with the dudes from Radiohead. We had bunks on the bus that we would sleep in while we drove through the night. We would wake up in the morning parked out front of the venue (often times in a completely different country). Every day, Kirk (La Dispute’s manager) would print out a new day sheet that had set times, dinner time, suggestions of shit to do, and the time we had to be back on the bus. We had greenrooms. We got to mooch off of La Disputes rider. Full sound check every day. Two band bills every night. We had to sort through various currencies. It was unlike any tour any of us had ever been on. Very fancy. We became good friends with the La Dispute crew. We miss hanging out with them.
What is like to be a band in the 21st century and how is it intertwined with social media, and having an online presence in general?
ANDY: I’d imagine it’s about the same as being a person in the 21st century as far as the ratio of ups and downs are concerned. Having internet at your disposal at all times makes booking shows, keeping contacts in order, working on recordings and mixes and stuff like that much easier. Putting out music and promoting it is at the click of a button. Getting the word out about your various projects, in general, is much easier. That all being said; sometimes I can’t help but wonder if I would be a more productive musician if it were 1996 and I wasn’t plugged into all this shit.
Upon seeing you guys at the DZ Tapes show at Hole in the Sky, Sam mentioned that you feel like you’re “over the hill” (which I don’t agree with) as a band. Can you elaborate on that? How has each album been received? How does the reaction to each release differ from each other?
SAM: That was mostly said in jest, I just meant that I felt old at that particular show in comparison to the bands that preceded us. There seems to be some incredibly fertile and precocious creative stuff going on in the DC/MD zone with kids in their teens and early twenties, which is really awesome and scary.
I’m not sure the reaction has been vastly different for any one release, but it’s kind of hard to quantify that stuff. All I know is we never in a million years expected any of the things we’ve been lucky enough to come by through doing this band, so we feel pretty lucky in that way.
When I try to describe the sound of Two Inch Astronaut to people I think of very oddly phrased angular guitar driven rock that’s complex while having these clever poppy vocal hooks. How does the writing process work with two inch and how do you guys come up with such intricate song structures?
SAM: It used to be that I’d just sort of demo the songs and we’d hash them out in practice with the other two putting their own spin on things. When Andy joined the band, we started ‘jamming’ a lot more which is something I used to be against, but that’s how the majority of the songs on Personal Life came together. The newer stuff is sort of a combination of those two methods. As far as being, I’m not really sure why it turns out that way. I know I’m pretty impatient and generally agitated, and between the three of us we have an almost non-existent attention span, so maybe that has something to do with it.
by NATHANIEL SALFI