Let the speculation end: Asteroid are back together. New material is in progress for a 2016 release and they’ll hope to tour next year as well.
The Swedish heavy psych rockers ended on a fade after Move a Mountain/One Foot in the Grave (review here), a final 7″ single that followed what remains one of the finest fuzz-jam releases of this decade, 2010’s II (review here), and about two months ago, the Örebro-based trio of guitarist/vocalist Robin Hirse, bassist/vocalist Johannes Nilsson and drummer Elvis Campbell began to tease the prospect of a resurgence via social media, posting on Thee Facebooks vague notes like “Is there anybody out there..?” and photos of setlists, and so on.
This week, news came of their first-announced show as a reunited band, which will be Feb. 27 in Athens, Greece, supporting the inaugural European tour for All Them Witches, and today I’m pleased to bring confirmation that will be the first of hopefully many to come. Five years after II basked in warm tones and the ultra-natural chemistry of Hirse, Nilsson and Campbell on tracks like “Edge,” “Garden,” “Towers,” “River” — hell, all of them — Asteroid have begun work on a follow-up. Whether that will be a full album or something else by the time it comes out, it’s early to say, but when Asteroid start jamming, good things happen. They’ve got one new song done and more taking shape.
Fuzzorama Records — the label helmed by fellow Örebro fuzz specialists Truckfighters — released II and the 2007 self-titled Asteroid debut (discussed here), may or may not continue to handle their work when the time comes. In 2012, the band signed to Small Stone on a deal that ultimately fell through, so it’s entirely possible they could wind up working with their neighbors again or with someone else. Maybe that’s putting the cart before the horse, but it’s easy to be excited about the prospect of a third Asteroid LP, both because the second was such a landmark and because it showed so much potential for them to move even farther forward, and I’m thrilled to be able to bring you the first interview they’ve done to confirm the reunion is taking place.
It’s a quick Q&A and it follows here. Please enjoy:
Alright, let’s do this. Take me through the story of getting Asteroid back together. How did it happen? Was it always going to happen? Was it never going to happen? What came together that allowed a reunion to take place?
Yep, let’s get to it. First off, we never said: “This is it, it’s over!” So there was always a chance that it was going to happen. Even more likely than not. We’ve been good friends all along so there were no burnt bridges or anything like that. One day I just called up the guys and asked them over for coffee and said something like, “So, what do you think, do you wanna give it another go?” And they said, “Yes of course.” I think the thought had crossed our separate mind at least a thousand times since we “parted ways.”
Tell me about bringing Elvis back into the lineup on drums.
Well, let me put it like this: No matter how many drummer we’ve had, Elvis is the drummer of Asteroid. He’s always been. When he joined we found our sound, our real groove smile. Henke [Jannson] was with us for a lot of shows and on the 7” and we love him dearly and we had Martin [Ström] in the beginning, on the split with Blowback and on the debut album. But as I said, the three of us playing together make the magic that is Asteroid. Nothing else even comes close.
What led to the breakup/hiatus in the first place?
We were just tired… Tired of sitting in that tour bus mile after mile, tired of each other, tired of all the long nights and the endless party. Don’t get me wrong, we love playing live, but it takes a toll on you. The last tour we did before the break (which was with Elvis, by the way) was really hard on all of us, mentally and physically.
It all gets very personal and close when you’ve been a band for as long as we have. And since we hang out in private too it felt like a break was the right thing to do. And that gave us time to get our heads straight and rest our souls a bit.
How did it feel to pick up your gear and jam Asteroid songs again together for the first time? Where was the rehearsal and how did it happen?
Like coming back home, I guess that would probably be the best way to describe it. Like things were beginning to fall back in to place… Honest and true, like music is supposed to feel. It was such an awesome feeling! But I won’t lie, it was a bit harder, and it took some getting used to after all that time. But after the second rehearsal the muscles began to remember the motions and our vibe began to return for real. Great fun to say the least!
We know almost all the bands in our hometown, so getting a place to test our wings wasn’t hard. And a couple of weeks ago we found a nice rehearsal space that we’ve been getting in order with all our lovely gear and all our lava lamps and Persian rugs.
Have you started to write new material? Will you work on a new album first or something else?
We had some song ideas, maybe three or four, that we began writing before the “vacation,” that we’ve started putting together now and I actually think we finished the first, an all-new one, yesterday [Nov. 25]. But you never know, we may change some things around. It’s got kind of a groovy “Zeppelin”-vibe to it… We really dig it! As for the rest of the “buried treasures,” they most certainly sound like Asteroid. Spacious, trippy, soft and heavy as hell! So as soon as we got some more song that we are happy with done, an album will be recorded. Or an EP, or a 7” or a double album… We’ll see how it goes, but we promise that new music will be released sometime next year!
It’s been five years since the second album came out. How do you feel Asteroid’s sound will progress moving forward?
I think we’ll continue to do what we’ve always done: Write stuff that we would want to listen to ourselves. And since that can be anything from soft jazz and strange whale sounds to crazy black metal from the deepest woods of Norway, anything can happen. We never ever strive to write an “Asteroid song” it’s more like all the songs we write become “Asteroid songs” because of the three of us and what we individually and collectively bring to them.
Fuzzorama reissued II last year. What do you think it is about that record that resonated so much with listeners?
I personally think people can tell when something comes from the heart. It’s heavy and fuzzy mixed with raw and fragile… We’ve always been very proud of that album, but we had no idea that it would have an impact on as many people as it has. And that’s what makes you the most proud. That just goes to show what music can do!
But it’s still weird when you think about the fact that at least one or two of those riffs or lyrics were written while I was sitting on the toilet. It’s a good place to think, you know.
You’ll be playing with All Them Witches in Athens, Greece, on Feb. 27. What else is in the works for shows? Will you tour?
That’s gonna be great fun! I really like their style. And it’s gonna be nice to meet Elina [Kemanidi, show promoter] at last. She puts on a lot of great shows there and we’re looking forward to finally seeing one.
Sadly nothing else can be said right now about what has been booked for the next year, but it’s going to be a fun year that’s for sure! We’ve got our No. 1 Dude working around the clock, so yes, we will be touring in 2016.
Any other plans or closing words you want to mention?
Well with everything that is happening all around the world right now it would be great if everyone could just try to remember that we are ALL in this together.
And of course: Long live love, fuzz and hard rock… and all that is good!