The Frontier Brothers have landed. Nobody can deny this fact, but from where it is exactly they originate is still a mystery. Their debut album Space Punk Starlet is proof that there is far more to them than any other American Indie Rock band out there at the moment. In fact, upon hearing the 14 gems on what is an album with no fillers, it is hard to confine them to the indie box. Could this trio really be from a different planet? I spoke to Marshall Galactic to find out a little bit more about what we can expect from this latest space invasion.
First off, tell us a little about your background…
My name is Marshall Galactic. I am from Texas, I live in Texas. All of my life I have lived here. But my spirit animal is from outer-space. Travis and Brett are the same.
How did the group come together?
Brett and I wrote “T.E.S.S.” together. That was our first song. We also did a Meat Loaf cover and a song called “Face Up At The Funeral”. We went with the lighter theme. Travis joined a few months later. He is my real brother.
What first got you into making music?
My brother started playing guitar. I got one, too. I don’t remember why I started writing songs. Must have been too young. I was 14 or 13. At that age, we can think and solve problems and believe we are people. But I was not sentient then. I was not a real person, not yet. I hadn’t seen death. So that is why I don’t know the precise reason why I wanted to make music. I guess the whole thing seemed natural. I never listened to a lot of music. I just liked guitar.
Who out there has really influenced you?
Mostly simple, melodic stuff, like Weezer. I like them. I’ll defend them too, and get mean about it. A lot of publications liken us to D. Bowie or Randy Newman. I don’t know too much about the people we sound like. It’s all just natural to me, same for Travis and Brett. TFB is a team thang. Vocally, I’d have to cite Steve Malkumus as a big influence. So many singers get behind the mike and sing. You can also announce things, and also yelp like a dog if it seems right. A vocalist might choose to thank their parents in a song. Anything is permissible, because freedom is kick ass and all too rare. Being free is different than sounding free, just singing.
Was there a moment which led to you each wanting to write and perform your own music?
Brett must’ve been playing piano since what, age 8? I think that’s it. Music is his blood. My brother and I always did things together, we played in many bands. Again, I have no anecdote. We’ve all been comfortable with it. There was no decision to make, not as far as our spirit-animals were concerned. The decision has been made and now is just a question of going through the motions to play and perform what is already done and completed.
What kind of journey has it been to get your debut album released?
Lot’s of recording. We had to tour as well, to get the money for the recording. The album has made us all better musicians. The guy that recorded our album, Stuart Sullivan, also recorded Sublime. So we learned some neat facts. Like that the leader sing used to jack off his dalmation dog in the bathroom. The album turned out wonderfully. Some new ideas came out during recording. I had a steady diet of Bourbon and Honey. Thank the gods I came out a sane man.
Can you tell me a bit about the thinking behind the album?
We’re not ready to completely abandon the idea of an album. Most modern albums aren’t really albums, in that they are not meant to be taken as a whole, but instead as a collection of singles. Space Punk Starlet is an album. It borders on being a concept album. There is definite beginning, middle, and end, both in theme and musicality. Starlet is for how glamorous we are. Punk is for how tough and pissed we are. And Space is for our hugeness. A weird story goes on in the 14 songs. Ahh we talk about drugs and girlies and disorders and fantasy shit.
Who would you be proud to be compared to?
We all have a great deal of respect for My Morning Jacket. Everything they do is epic. Of course, Wilco does everything in such a delicate and refined way, everything they do is perfectly prepared. They are bands that exist outside a specific scene and just exist because they produce great music. TFB is forced to live and work in this indie scene, but we are not interested in it, because indie is just a fad.
What is the thinking behind the costumes?
It’s about our mythology. We like to put on a show, a real show with bombast. There used to be a time when bands that dressed up and acted out made good music as well. Now, it’s one or the other. If you take a chance in your presentation, something goofy and wild, people assume you suck. The Frontier Brothers make good music and have this bizarre image. Back to the good ole days.
What inspired the aliens from out of space theme?
It was inspired by a simple, spur of the moment idea. TFB doesn’t have a lot of boundaries, so we ran with it. Personally, I’m very interested in cosmology. We have a lot to draw from. We wanted to introduce our music from a different perspective, and treat its back story with the same radical origins as the music. As we are alien, we want to convey a new thing, a gospel. A truly revolutionary thing never comes from your backyard. Even if it does, you’d never of guessed it would.
I actually wrote a full manifesto – our past, present, and the stories behind our songs. If so inclined, you can find excerpts at our blog, thefrontierbrothers.com. You can also find me doing some poses.
Starlet is for how glamorous we are. Punk is for how tough and pissed we are. And Space is for our hugeness.
How do you reproduce your music live?
Our music is at least 175% more powerful live. Live, we play mostly the same parts. However, I never sing a song exactly the same. The energy is much more magnetic. It takes a lot of effort for the audience not to care.
Would you rather commercial success or artistic integrity?
Well, both, if I had a choice. I don’t see artistic integrity being an issue. I don’t see a big label grabbing us up and seeing dollar signs. But integrity is a tricky issue. For those bands that do choose to follow a more commercial path, I wish them luck. This is a job as much as it is an art. Anyone who deludes themselves into thinking that the music that makes it to their ears has done so without the taint of money is a fool. And anyone who gets on people for selling out has never been in a band, I can guarantee that. They have never had a rash on their ass after a month of touring and three days without a shower. Some guys just get sick of having only lint in their pockets. We don’t mind too much. It’s simply not an issue. However, I do respect anyone who writes their own songs and rides their own tours, no matter who they sell the music too. If you haven’t been in a band, you won’t understand.
How have the crowds responded to your music?
Always wonderfully. We turn heads around the nation. I’ll tell you again, our live show is 175% more powerful than the record. We sincerely enjoy ourselves. The time on stage is like a vacuum in that no ennui or pain gets to you there. People see that, I think. Even if we end up playing a filler show on the road, say at a biker bar or something- one person leaves a fan. One hardcore fan is better than ten mildly interested drunks.
Are you playing any festivals this summer?
We aren’t playing any festivals, but we are playing lot’s of shows around Austin and even doing a small east coast tour! Go to myspace.com/thefrontierbrothers for dates.
Are there any plans to come to visit the UK and Europe soon?
We dream of it everyday. The people must be nice. And now for some reason it’s cool to be from the U.S. We hear the pay is good. We’ve got plenty of stories about riding our horses to school and battling indians, interesting stuff.
Where would you like to be this time next year?
On tour, maybe playing with Pavement after they’ve reunited for a summer rockathon. I’d like to be enjoying a good steak and have a new album, maybe listening to a message from a girl I spent the night with in last town. Anything, so long as I’m not dead or seriously injured.
Finally, if you could collaborate with one person/band, who would you choose and why?
Ouch, that’s tough. Probably Rick Ruben. Get my solo career going. Just kidding. To be more realistic, I’d have to say we’d most like to collaborate with a version of TFB from an alternate reality. I would be Jewish, Travis would be 5’ 4”, and Brett would really like guns. (I really like guns)
The Frontier Brothers’ debut album Space Punk Starlet is out now on Final Frontier Records.