by Doug VanPelt
No, it's not the latest new breakfast cereal; and no, it's not a reunion of The Partridge Family after a long acid trip. It's that creative band from Houston, Texas, that one rock critic wondered aloud, "Why did Metallica cross Abbey Road? So it could become the Galactic Cowboys!" After releasing the debut of debut albums and receiving little of the sales and accolades it deserved, these four lads from the Johnson Space Center area went back into the studio with new songs to unleash Space In Your Face. Check out the dialogue with cosmonaut / bassist Monty Colvin as he lets the moon dust settle and speaks to me.
How long did it take to record Space In Your Face?
MC: I think it took us about five or six weeks to record it, and then we mixed it in New Jersey, and that took two or three weeks.
You know the old rock 'n' roll adage: "You have your whole life to write your first album, but only six months to do your second." Was that true at all for you guys? MC: Well, actually some of the songs have been around for a few years and we just kinda re-worked 'em, like "Blind." Even "I Do What I Do" was not quite ready to go on the first album. There was kind of a different version of it. We re-wrote some of the stuff on it. So, it wasn't real hard, because there was such a long time in waiting for the first one to come out that we did a lot of writing in between there. It actually worked out good, because we had a lot of time to write.
How did you find Rivendell Studios to be?
MC: We liked it. It was a little more comfortable than Rampart. We enjoyed it. It was close to home and real cool.
On the press release I got from Geffen, it sounds like you and
Ben disagree about the origins of the "Circles in the Fields." What do you
guys really think about those?
MC: Oh really? I don't know what he said. I don't know where they come from. That's kind of what I was saying in the song. I saw a deal on 20/20 or something like that on TV, and they were talking to scientists and all kinds of people. They didn't really have an idea where they came from. I still don't know. Some people think it's kind of a hoax or something. I don't know where they come from, and I's just assume probably not know. I think they're cool.
What are your ideas on why your debut album didn't get more
attention or sales than it did?
MC: Well, there just wasn't . . . once the album came out we really didn't tour like we thought we were going to. We didn't get really any, very much radio play or the video didn't play much. I don't know. There wasn't a lot of exposure on it. I don't know whether it was the fault of it not being radio-friendly enough, or that it was just bad timing or something like that. Probably a lot of things.
You guys have been compared to "The Partridge Family on acid" and
you certainly have some creative musical ideas that could possibly be termed
as "90's psychedelia." How do you balance the silliness with being serious
rock 'n' roll musicians?
MC: Oh, we don't really think about it, I guess. We just have fun. It's nothing that's calculated. It's just who we are. There's a time for everything, I guess. That's part of who we are. We're never probably completely serious all the time, so we just . . . we like to have a lot of fun, whether it be on stage or in the studio, or wherever. We're just having a lot of fun. That just usually comes through the music.
In the song "I Do What I Do," you seem to be telling people that
you do what you do- kind of "No apologies." Have you received criticism or
questions from Christian people who ask you, like, "Why don't your albums
say 'Jesus' on the cover?" or "Why don't you have altar calls like everyone
else?" How do you respond to those type of attitudes?
MC: That kind of thing is . . . I mean, we're artists. We're musicians. We're not preachers. I don't know. We write about things that are on our minds. We have a responsibility to be creative and be artists, but we're not going to put Jesus in there just so we can please a certain crowd or serve one particular audience. If we do, it's going to be because the song calls for that. We do what we do, and we write about things that we're thinking about or doing at the time. I guess that's how I'd answer that.
...The song is actually about not being intimidated by what people think. That's what "I Do What I Do" is about: Just doing what you do.
...One thing that's bothered me is how some people react to U2, The Call, or bands like that. It's like, "Okay, we can listen to them, because they have some lyrics that kinda sound Christian or something." To me, it's like, "They're a good band or they aren't." I think that both of these bands are great bands, and I think because somebody's heard, "Oh, one of those guys is a Christian or something, so now we can listen to 'em or something." That's just the idea I get from it sometimes. I would hope Christian people would listen to us just because it's good music and it's artistic, and hopefully there's nothing in there that offends 'em. Maybe that's a reason. That's why I want people to listen to us- because we've got something to say and it's good, or it's something that really excites 'em to listen to; not just because we say we're Christians, which we are.
The song has a (pardon the expression) classic pop harmony chorus
line. Is this an attempt at airplay, or is this just another side of the
Galactic Cowboys emerging?
MC: Yeah, it's just a blatant attempt at . . . (laughs) No, it's really a good melody, good harmonies that we like to do in every song. It's kind of reminiscent of The Beatles or something like that. As far as radio or stuff like that, I hope it is, but if it's not, then we still like the song.
I don't know if it's just the tape I have or not, but have you
lessened the impact of your low end a few notches? Or have you made an
effort to take your bass out of the mix?
MC: I changed a few things on it. It's less distorted on this album. We wanted the guitars to come through more on this album. With so much distortion on the first album, it really ate up a lot of Dane's frequencies and stuff like that. So, we backed off of the distortion some. Overall, it made it more powerful, a little more in your face. It serves a purpose. As far as the low end, I think it's still there. In fact, it's a lot better on this album, but as far as the high end of the bass, it's a little more defined, probably.
I know I get a real shot of joy whenever a new Galactic Cowboys
record comes out. How does finishing an album project feel to you?
MC: It's good to sit back and hear it when it's finally done. It gives you a real good feeling. The actual recording isn't one of my favorite things to do. I'd rather be either writing or playing live or something. The studio's cool, but it's not my favorite part of it. I'm usually glad when it's over and you can sit back and hear it.
I understand you're scheduled to open up for Dream Theater on some
dates next month. Do you have any further tour plans after that?
MC: We're going to be out with them for two and a half months, and that should take us all over. After that we're hopefully either going to pick up with somebody else or we're just going to keep touring on our own. We plan to stay out quite a bit this time. We've got a new booking agent. We're looking for some good changes on this album.
What are the single choices for this one?
MC: The first single is "If I Were A Killer," which is going mainly to metal radio, and we may do a video for Headbanger's Ball or something like that. The video is in the talking stages right now. We haven't really picked a location yet. The second single will probably be "I Do What I Do." That'll just be for more regular mainstream radio and everybody to enjoy it.
Was that you that closes the song "Space In Your Face," or was
that really E.T. in the studio?
MC: Well, that could've been me or E.T. in the studio. I think E.T. was a big inspiration on that.
It could've been those guys that cut the circles.
MC: Yeah, it could've been a hoax. We don't know where that voice came from.
I could see how E.T. would be an inspiration for this album,
because when he was in your face, he would take all of your peripheral
vision and it would be "space" in your face.
MC: Yeah. We'd like to thank him right now.
I understand that Sam Taylor will no longer be your manager.
There seemed to be a real brotherhood, fraternal-type relationship in the
Wilde Silas groups (King's X, Galactic Cowboys, Atomic Opera). Has there
been a break-up and/or what do you want to say about all this?
MC: We're still real good friends with King's X and everything. I went out to dinner with Ty and his wife the other night. They're still good friends. There's no bad blood there between bands. In fact, we're all much happier now. Things are just starting to get better. That's pretty much where it ends. We're not some big group, we're just individual bands that are doing their thing. We are friends. We'll support them and I'm sure that they'll do the same.
Do any of you guys earn a living at this right now?
MC: Well, we're trying. We're working at it. It's been difficult, but times are hard, I guess. We're hanging in there. It's not like . . . we sure ain't rich or anything. We're trying to make ends meet.
What are your thoughts on this whole David Koresh ordeal?
MC: Well, it's just a sad thing. I mean, it's just sad when people get sucked in and are controlled by people like that. But, you know, I look at the people that were in there too. They were reading the same Bible that he was, and there should've been something in there that told them, "Hey, things aren't adding up. What he's saying here doesn't add up with what the Bible's saying." While I pity the people that were sucked in there, you have to, I think, also be accountable for yourself. You can't be sucked in by those kind of people. It's a very tragic thing.
If you were given a chance to speak at your high school reunion,
what would you say to your class?
MC: (Laughs) What would I say? I'd say, "Hey, it's good to see ya! How ya been? Missed ya!" (more laughter)
I knew you were going to say that. Why Space In Your Face,
instead of Hi Ho Cinema?
MC: Space In Your Face. I don't know. I think we were just sitting around just thinking about titles for the next album and what-not. That just kinda popped into my head and I threw it out, just kind of like, "I wonder what they'll think. They'll probably shoot this down." Everybody was kinda like, "Yeah, that's cool." For that we were actually in the practice room when we came up with it. After we came up with a name we rose to our feet and wrote the song, which Alan had the music for. We were like, "Hey, maybe if we yelled this over top of it?" So there it was, we had a song!
It kinda reminds me of "Pump Up The Space Suit."
MC: They were kinda both the same way. We had these jams we were working on and ended up being something we wanted to put on the album.
You did something unusual, as far as the way you usually do things-
you played at Greenbelt last year. What was that like?
MC: Well, it was really cool. I'd love to go back. They had just a wide variety of bands and things that were a lot of fun. The people were really cool. It was kinda weird. It was a huge crowd and a lot of fun, a huge stage and everything. We had a blast, but I wished we could've played after the album came out, because I don't think a lot of people knew who we were at the time. It was a blast. I wouldn't mind playing again.