Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Five Questions with Nathan Calhoun of WE Are The Asteroid

If you were at the Melvins show at Wooly's several weeks ago - and I'm sure you were, because any useful human being who thinks of him/herself as a punk would have bellied up for this show - then you might have seen one of the more unique bands that's come through Des Moines in recent memory.

Now you are probably like, really? The Melvins unique

I get your point. Aside from Buzzo's hair and maybe Steven McDonald's shoe size, there isn't really anything rare or remarkable about what the Melvins do. (Fight me.) There's hundreds of bands that create volcano sludge rock, and while the Melvins are exceptionally good at it, especially with McDonald on guitar and Jeff Pinkus on bass, it's not necessarily groundbreaking in terms of what's been coming through Des Moines over the years.

Photo by Troy Church

I am referring to WE Are The Asteroid, the band that played in direct support of the Melvins. If the apocalypse has a soundtrack, WE Are The Asteroid is composing it. 

Now look. I completely understand if you've missed opening acts at Wooly's because you were preoccupied taking shots at the Locust Tap. (God knows I wouldn't pay Wooly's prices for alcohol either.) But if that was the case at this show, then you made a terrible mistake.

WE Are The Asteroid deserves your attention. ALL of it. 

One part kaleidoscopic mindfuck, one part dramatic freebooter, and one part Godzilla crushing Tokyo, this three headed monster has the grit and melodrama of those old black and white horror films you used to stay up late and watch as a kid when you spent the night at the neighbor's house. Imagine The Valley of Gwangi put to a non-visual musical score... That's pretty much what you get with WE Are The Asteroid. Only it IS visual... Audiovisual. And it's fantastic. 

I'm not sure what kind of trouble these fellas got into growing up before they formed this band in Austin, Texas, but they certainly don't fall in line with the artists who have made Austin famous. Cowboys, rednecks and bluesmen in cowboy hats? This ain't them. You're not going to find their music in the Good ol boys section of the record store.

WE Are The Asteroid is drummer Frank Garymartin, guitarist/singer Gary Chester, and bassist/singer Nate Calhoun. Nate Calhoun took some time after a recent tour in Japan to answer five questions. 

Can you tell me about a personal paranormal experience you've had?

That’s funny you ask. Just recently, on tour with The Melvins, I was backstage reading “Chariots of the Gods” for the umpteenth time, when a bright flash of light emanating from the bathroom startled me from my book. I jumped to my feet and rushed into said bathroom with no regard for the privacy of its occupant. As I entered , two glowing orbs were exiting the room via the HVAC duct. Then, in horror,I noticed at my feet, disintegrating before my eyes, the fancy suit and gorgeous (I stress gorgeous) hair of Steven McDonald, melting into smoke along with his very large tennis shoes. I ran to the WATA van and didn’t say a word. This is the first I’ve mentioned this to anyone, due to the concerns for my mental health it may cause. When I saw Steven the next night, he gave me a very unsettling wink.

For Joe Sixpack, who only listens to FM classic rock radio, how would you describe your band? 

I would say, in my best Texas accent,  “Joe, it kinda sounds like your favorite band from the classic rock station fell down the stairs and just weren’t “right” anymore. I mean they can still play and everything, but they seem like they lost their fucking minds” 

Why did you name your band We Are The Asteroid? What does it mean?

I heard a science story on the radio about the upcoming 6th extinction event on planet earth. The 5th one being the dinosaurs, caused by an asteroid. The scientist said “This time , we (humans) are the asteroid.” I immediately jumped on that. It resonated with me.

Nate Calhoun. Photo stolen from Facebook

Do you have a good Steven McDonald story?

See the answer to the first question! Steven and all the Melvins were really kind and generous on tour. It was a real privilege to play them all.

What's the nuttiest thing you remember about touring in Japan? 

I can safely say that everyone in WATA really loves Japan. We’ve been there twice in our short (3 year) existence. And the band we’ve toured with (here and in Japan) Tsushimamire is so fucking awesome. They’ve been a great eye opener to us in many ways. That being said, everything about Japan is super nutty. It’s just so different in obvious and subtle ways, that it’s totally psychedelic even when stone cold sober. 

 "Mushrooms" is a great song. Do you have a weird mushroom story? 

Hmmm. One time (a long time ago) I was in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. On the street, I ran into a guy I knew from Houston “Ricky the thief” . He had a big bag of home picked mushrooms along with the more traditional dried commercial variety. After taking some of the commercial ones , we set off to find a place to turn the big bag of fresh picked ones into a tea. I guess they had been in the bag for a while. When we piled them into the pot and started boiling them , maggots just came pouring out and boiling alive. (And yes we were tripping at this point). But we strained them really well with a t shirt and didn’t hesitate to drink that gallon of mushroom maggot tea.

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