Interview with Torsten Kinsella (God Is An Astronaut)
Having just toured the U.S., and sold out most of their 13 shows, God Is An Astronaut’s vocalist/guitarist Torsten Kinsella is clearly in a good mood. He jokes about mosh pits in New York, which at their shows are “a little bit rare”, and talks about the more “youthful feel” they’re currently bringing to the stage since the inclusion of Michael Fenton on drums.
There’s more cause for celebration as headliner Devin Townsend (“it would be great to get him on our next record, you never know”) has been singing the band’s praises, something that will no doubt encourage a few more people to check them out; not that Torsten is worried about pressure. “We’re going to go in with the intention of putting on the best show of the festival,” he states calmly “…I think [people] will be pleasantly surprised with how heavy the music is; it’s not like the record, which had a more ambient feel to it. Live it’s pretty furious.”
Talks of the best show on such an eclectic and talented line up might smack of arrogance if it wasn’t coming from a band who have been perfecting the craft of the live show over the years, a band who were part of the reason MTV brought the ‘120 Minute Show’ back. Taking the focus off the visuals which dominated GIAA concerts before (“people were saying it’s really cool but we’ve seen it before…and I thought it was taking away from us as performers), and now only having short films for certain tracks and more ambient pieces. Not to mention the aforementioned inclusion of Michael Fenton and the hiring of keyboardist Jamie Dean which has “lifted the shows to a new level” and an increase in energy and enthusiasm on stage rather than, by his own admission, concentrating on how tight they are as a band all means they’ll bringing one hell of show to silence any doubters.
Making sure their sound is as faithful as possible; the band will also be bringing their own sound equipment, something Torsten takes very seriously as part of the band doing their own thing. “I think the only way you can make money these days is if you have everything: the publishing…” touching upon the fact that the band own Revive Records, “…and the live shows.” It’s this insistence on bringing their own equipment that drives the band through their heavy touring schedule, which includes dates in Belgium and Holland before flying over to Leeds. “Financially it makes the most sense to play a few shows before we come out. We bring our own front of house engineer, our own stage tech…it’s an eight man crew, including the band. We just need to do a few shows to actually pay for the equipment we take on the road.”
Obviously the aforementioned Revive Records has allowed the band the freedom, both musically and within the live setting, to do what they please. “We enjoy been able to put out whatever we want…and for us this is the future of the music industry, it’s completely independent. We get paid every month so you can’t really beat that, and that’s the way forward; complete independence.”
Beyond their own furious, multi-sensory attack and their continuous work as a completely independent band, Torsten gives his thoughts on the bands playing this year and the festival as a whole: “I’ve heard a lot about Altar of Plagues…I stuck on one of their songs and it was really, really good…Ulver as well, I’m looking forward to seeing them”. As for why the festival seemed perfect for GIAA? “I think it’s a great idea, it’s something that sorely missing in Ireland. A lot of fans over here just don’t get catered for, and it’s unusual because it’s so stylistically diverse; a lot of festivals are just an indie festival or a metal festival so it’s very rare to get a festival like this.”