Man or Astro-Man?
Some years ago, a young collective of extraterrestrials arrived on this planet and happened upon a small college town in Alabama. Home to both otherworldly jazz guru Sun Ra and rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, it is clear that Alabama is a direct linkage to outer space. In order to integrate into human society, these aliens would disguise themselves as a rock band, the perfect vehicle in which to traverse the globe and further their research. They would soon be known to the people of Earth as Man or Astro-Man?.
Unearthing thrift store records by the likes of Link Wray, The Ventures, Dick Dale, Duane Eddy, The Marketts & The Safaris – Man or Astro-Man? began to formulate their own blend of the retro-futuristic inspired by their offbeat musical discoveries. Innovative stage sets and designs by Kraftwerk, The Spotniks, The Residents, Devo, Sun Ra, and The B-52s also had an impact on the emerging ensemble.
Man or Astro-Man? began playing countless shows in the Southeast with bands like Southern Culture on the Skids, The Woggles, Hillbilly Frankenstein, The Subsonics, and The Flat Duo Jets. The group soon caught the attention of Estrus Records' owner Dave Crider who released their full-length debut, Is it...Man or Astro-Man? (1993). The label's design aesthetic revolved around the other-wordly concepts of designer Art Chantry whose works melded perfectly with the Astro-minds. Destroy All Astro-Men (1994), Project Infinity (1995), and several EP's were also released by Estrus.
Touch and Go Records released all later Astro-transmissions. Experiment Zero (1996) was recorded in three days with engineer Steve Albini at Zero Return Studios in Alabama. Now drawing influences from the future (as well as the past), the band began to extend their use of samples, computer programming, homemade instruments, electronic gadgetry, tape splicing, and other bits of Earth technology. Both the 1000X EP (1997) and Made From Technetium (1997) were darker steps into the futuristic soundtrack realm.
Now, Man or Astro-man? have returned to Earth and unveiled their finest recorded work to date. Defcon 5...4...3...2...1 is here now with a striking validity that the band is unquestionably as both tuneful and energetic as they ever have been. The record combines ever-familiar Astro audio tones and the well-established playing ferocity that the band is known for, but yet now, there is an undeniably evolution to the band that is both intuitive, logical and well crafted. Man or Astro-Man? has arrived in the present (and future, of course) with imminent purpose. And of course, they still bring an over-the-top, sensory overloaded show, which has always gained them a reputation for always being an undisputedly amazing band to see live.
The Jacuzzi Boys’ practice space is like most any other—crammed with gear along with one of the guys’ record collections. But their band room happens to be located in a trailer tucked just inside Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on gorgeous Key Biscayne, FL. Just a few feet from their amps: tropical paradise. This is an area home to weird animals and buttonwood trees, located on an island just outside of Miami. “Miami is not known for producing many good bands,” bassist Danny Gonzalez concedes. “So, quite frequently we get asked, ‘would you ever consider moving?’ Our answer is always, ‘No!’ This is where our friends and family are from. Miami is such a part of the Jacuzzi Boys, as important as any musical influence.”
The Jacuzzi Boys are guitarist/vocalist Gabriel Alcala, drummer Diego Monasterios, and bassist Danny Gonzalez, three dudes from South Florida, bright as neon and fun as hell. After forming the band in 2007 and accruing a handful of 45s, the group released the LP No Seasons on Florida’s Dying (located in nearby Orlando, FL) in 2009. Now, in 2011, we have Glazin’ – their second full-length, and the first for Hardly Art.
For Glazin’, the group traveled to Key Club Studios in Benton Harbor, MI where they spent twelve full days recording and mixing. The Jacuzzi Boys used this as an opportunity to dig deeper into the production of each song. “If the first record was the Everglades, the follow-up is Dadeland Mall,” says Alcala. This is also true sonically – while No Seasons was a primal wallop, Glazin’ has the slight sheen of a studio environment. Moving beyond the beauty and harshness inherent in a life spent within a single climate, Glazin’ instead offers a take on the culture that surrounds that environment: girls, cruising, air conditioning, and “raspberry feelings.”
Crisp hand claps, tambourine shake, zip gun guitar and sneaky lazer keys are all here, alongside rolling bass lines, the sharp-snap drums of the unshakable Jacuzzi Boys’ sound, and Alcala’s cool, breezy vocals winding through it all. The trio offers up 10 new tracks of outré power pop, occasionally roaming into surf territory (“Lebras and Zebras”) as well as some heavy metallic glitter (“Silver Sphere”). Despite having been recorded in Michigan, nearly every track on Glazin’ circles back to Miami through love ditties about crushing and glazin’, big anthems dedicated to waiting on a bus, and miniature neon glam rock opuses about a death dream and erections.
While it conjures images both sweet and sexual, those looking for specific meaning within the term “glazin’” will be disappointed. When pressed for details, the band confirmed that there is no concrete definition for the word. Alcala made it up, and the band instantly knew what he meant by it. It could be a state of mind, it could be a way of life, it could be about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll. However it is meant to be taken, with any luck, Glazin’ will soon become synonymous with Miami: “The Gun Club and X are so L.A., and Television is so New York,” says Gonzalez. “It’s such a part of what makes them who they are, you know? I always wanted to have a band like that, birthed from its environment.”