Philadelphia’s The Asteroid No. 4 takes dreamy shoegazer pop and mixes in elements of ’60s psychedelia and latter-day space rock to create a folk-rock sound that falls somewhere between The Byrds and The Stone Roses. – NPR
Talking records and quarantine with formerly Philly and now Bay Area based band Asteroid No. 4! Their new album Northern Songs is coming in July via Cardinal Fuzz/Little Cloud Records. In the meantime two singles are available for streaming via Bandcamp – Northern Song and The After Glow.
Earlier in the year the band put out Under My Umbrella / House of the Seventh Moon 7″ single via Hypnotic Bridge Records. Throughout years the band also contributed to compilations from Rocket Girl and Darla Records (to name a few labels).
What’s in a name – why did you decide to call this new album “Northern Songs”?
It is just a nod to us being in Northern California and even though it’s been several years now, we’re finally feeling as though we’re a west coast band not a Philly band on holiday. These songs are the first batch where they were all written while living here and even though we’ve released two prior records while CA residents, they both had songs, or at least fragments of, written while we were still living on the east coast.
The new single – I almost instantly heard The Byrds in that one (along with a bit of REM circa 80s/jangly sound). Would you say any of those were influences? Who else has influenced your music?
The Byrds are arguably our biggest influence. And that is not only because of how much we particularly love their music, but that they were essentially the blueprint for every band to follow that are also our influences, and early REM included. The Byrds were quite possibly the first “shoegaze” band in that they weren’t about any stage theatrics or virtuoso-level playing, they were dark in image, but emotionally driven in song. It’s hard to imagine a My Bloody Valentine or Slowdive without the Byrds and that includes hair styles. We have many influences and they’re too many to mention. Immediate responses are those mentioned above, The Church, House of Love, Catherine Wheel, Moose, The Kinks, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Chameleons, The Stone Roses….
Was the writing of songs on this new album affected by current events? What were the main themes, events or ideas influencing your work for these new tracks?
We’re always affected by what’s happening politically and socially, but honestly what we’re experiencing lately is a different level. We will not shy away from making our opinions known either in lyrics, what we say on stage, or on social media. Some people seem to want us to not speak our minds and keep politics out of music. Such nonsense. Although in lyrics it may be more subdued, there’s always some underlying social message.
How has the current lockdown and subsequent riots affected your band and affairs in general? Any advice for other musicians dealing with quarantine/lockdown?
Well it’s certainly been influencing a lot of songs we’re currently working on as they have been written during the pandemic and recent issues of police brutality and racism. Although when have the latter not existed? Our country is an absolute mess, so any band or musician not feeling that or allowing it to translate into song at this very moment seems to be missing an opportunity. We wish there were more bands with larger audiences that would use their voice to speak to what’s going on. All of our influences did it and it’s as important now than ever. We get so many “fans” on social media pleading with us to leave politics out of it and the “can’t you just be musicians and keep your opinions to yourselves?”, and it’s like, ummm, no we can’t.
I understand that you are working with two labels and PR now as well. Can you tell us about the team that you’ve assembled to get this music into people’s ears, wherever they may be?
Well we have always worked with different labels for each release because it brings a new level of enthusiasm each time. With that said, we are at a point where maybe sticking with the same label for more than one release sounds intriguing and hopefully that’s Little Cloud. We have been admiring what they have been doing for some time and we’re really excited that they’re partnered with Cardinal Fuzz overseas because they too are solid. All around good people that are in this for the same reason as we are; a passion for music. No strings attached.
PR has always been something we’ve not been satisfied with and we always have our releases not get the attention we feel they deserve. So Shameless Promotion PR has been perfect for us and although it’s only been for the first two singles, the feedback has been positive, the coverage has been international and we’re excited about what can be done when the full length comes out in a couple of months.
What have you been listening to lately? Can you recommend something new and something old to our readers?
No shortage of music to listen to, especially now when at home for so much time. That’s been a positive about having to shelter in place in California; much more time to read and listen. I wish I had a lot more new stuff to suggest, but we are pretty limited to what we’re aware of that’s “new”. We listen to modern bands, that’s for sure. Definitely ANYTHING from Tim Presley/White Fence. He gets our absolute respect. Been listening to those Aussie folks, Bananagun. Recently been turned onto The New Lines out of Brooklyn who are/were just phenomenal, but not sure they’re still at it. Definitely like Trees Speak for some dronier vibes. However, we always seem to fall right back on what we love the most which is either 60’s thru to the 90’s. I’ve personally been digging back into The Chameleons, The Dentists, Hangman’s Beautiful Daughters, and one of my all time favorites, Flying Saucer Attack, which I have listened to at least once a week since 1996.