Samuel Barker: Alright, weíll start with the name and your duty with this band.
Q-beam: My name is Q-beam and Iím in charge of lighting and merchandising.
Samuel: Well, being with Man...Or Astro-man, lighting is a huge part of the show...
Q-beam: It is a huge part of the show. It makes me a very intrical part of the performance. [suddenly a great deal of people come through talking and what not]...so, uh, yeah, I do lighting and merchandising, two important parts of Man...Or Astro-man? I try to satisfy the fansí demand for take home product.
Samuel: So doing both, do you have to shut down the booth when the performance begins?
Q-beam: I try to get somebody to cover for me, usually the bands we tour with cover it, we trade off.
Samuel: Do you handle the video effects as well?
Q-beam: Thatís what I used to do, but we recently got a new projectionist who has yet to receive his Man...Or Astro-man? name.
Samuel: I read in an article that the band has a "tour" CD and you actually did one of the songs on there.
Q-beam: Yeah, there is a tour CD. Itís kinda like the KISS solo records, except itís all one record. Itís everyones side project. Everybody has their own songs they recorded individually or in pairs and those tracks are on this record. Itís pretty good, itís pretty soundtracky, more textural, less guitar-driven than any other Man...Or Astro-man? album.
Samuel: Any major changes in the set up of the stage and props on this tour?
Q-beam: Well, itís a 3-piece now instead of a 4-piece. Except for one brief time period where it was a 3-piece, the band has never been a 3-piece before. Thatís definitely a major change.
Samuel: Wow, so who left?
Q-beam: Blazar The Probe Handler. He went Hollywood. Heís living out there.
Samuel: Acting or music soundtracks?
Q-beam: Doing editing.
Samuel: Not too flashy.
Q-beam: Well, heís happy.
Samuel: So how long are you all out on the road this time?
Q-beam: Just till the 19th of December, so itís a 2 or 3 week tour.
Samuel: Wow, so you guys are slowing down some I used to see you guys out all the time.
Q-beam: We still tour a lot. Weíre still essentially touring on the Spectrum record, so weíve been touring on the same band for the past year and a half or so.
Coco The Electronic Monkey Wizard: You got it under control?
Q-beam: Iím sure your input would be accepted and appreciated.
Coco: This is the Q-beam youíre talking to. You know how few people get to sit backstage with the Q-beam?
Q-beam: With their clothes on.
Coco: With their clothes on...I donít want to interfere with the interview though...
Samuel: Itís okay, come talk with us...
[tape recorder begins squeeking]
Coco: Whatís up with the tape recorder?
Samuel: Iím not sure, is that it squeeking?
Coco: I think so.
Samuel: Well, it doesnít matter as long as itís make out quality I can use it.
Coco: Make out quality? You want it to make out.
Q-beam: I like make out quality.
Coco: Weíre greasing the oil...weíre greasing the wheels with the oil.
Samuel: Anyway, how do you guys choose your openers?
Coco: We make them joust for it. We take them to those medieval themed restaurants, Medieval Times. What we do is that we put out the word that weíre having auditions for the tour and we make the bands who really want to go on tour with Man...Or Astro-man? joust each other in one of those places. We pre-arrange it. We actually go to the Dallas location and we meet there twice a year and bands joust it out. The winners become the opening bands. So, Trans Am and The Oxes are the survivors of the tournament. [points to Trans Am member] If he lifted up his shirt you could see the bruises, sustained injuries that put them over the top. So thatís how we do it, itís fair, we figure itís a fair way to do it.
Samuel: How has it been consolidating down to a 3-piece?
Coco: Itís more money.
Coco and Q-beam: Mercedes Benz, Mercedes Benz, Mercedes Benz.
Samuel: Does it make it more...
Coco: more room in the van? Yeah, there is more room in the van.
Samuel: Do you have to add in anymore...
Coco: We have to play better. We used to have 4 people out there making an ass out of themselves and it was okay. Now itís a drag because if someone is slacking and youíre not making an ass out of yourself 100% of the time, someone was making it up for you, but NOW, only 2 other people are out there. So the odds of falling on your face increase.
Samuel: So itís more pressure?
Coco: Itís a little more pressure. We like pressure though.
Samuel: Album wise, you guys have spent a year since the last one was released...
Coco: Well, weíre going through members like itís the end of the world. How can you get anything done when you are constantly dealing with paperwork? Just to get someone on the payroll and fill out their W-4s and all that shit and to actually get them into the system and the database, that takes 6 months, then we decide to kick them out of the band and you have to do all the paperwork that comes with letting someone go. Very little time for music writing in there. Always something taking up time.
Q-beam: Going to court over non-competition agreements.
Coco: Yeah, and we have a very strict silence clause, you canít have the inner working of Man...Or Astro-man? leaking out. So we have to keep constant surveilance on ex-members for 5-10 years, so that takes up more time. The more members weíve gone though make you see the exponential growth in all the bullshit work we have to do to keep them in line and keep them quiet. So it does take itís toll on the songwriting.
Samuel: So you get lost in the paper trail?
Samuel: Are you guys considering adding a new fourth member?
Coco: No, once again it comes back to all the paper work and then it wouldn't be 'Mercedes Benz' anymore, it'd be Honda Civic, Honda Civic, Honda Civic...
Q-beam: Toyota Corolla
Samuel: Have you guys written anything at all thatís new lately?
Coco: Yeah, we have a bunch that arenít fully gelled yet. We have 6 or 7 songs. After this tour on the 20th of December and through January and February are going to filled with writing an album and weíll record it in March.
Samuel: How does the songwriting work? Do you write it as a group or do individuals come in with ideas and you build upon them?
Coco: All of that. There is no formula. It could be songs someone comes up and presents to the band or it could be something we came up with while messing around or someone comes up with an idea for a song and it becomes a conceptual piece. Itís not an set pattern.
Samuel: The new album is heading towards a more electronic sound less surf feel, more...
Coco: More techno?
Samuel: Yeah, I guess.
Coco: Yeah, before you know it there wonít be any instruments on stage, just a laptop and a DI box.
Samuel: So have the crowds been changing or are the same people still coming to the shows?
Coco: Well, you know the problem with this, weíve noticed people who were into ĎMade From Technetiumí have come down with cancer because it was, in fact, made from Technetium. Thatís unfortunate, so the demographic has shifted. We really liked that record, and a lot of people really liked that record, but a lot of people, because of the exposure and not taking proper precautions, has caused an epidemic within the demographic that is Man...Or Astro-man? So it has changed the demographic a little bit. Weíve got a lot of sick fans, but we expect the numbers to decrease soon. The thing is that there is a half life thing with Technetium and we need to address that now. We do expect the number to drop due to a large number of Man...Or Astro-man? fans dying from cancer.
Samuel Barker is Senior Editor. Contact him at email@example.com.