Music at Home: An Interview with Lonely Astronauts

Photo by Scott Hunter

Lonely Astronauts are a Belfast based rock band that have been on the scene since 2018. I had a chat with them about their new releases, the local music scene, and how the lock down pushed them out of their comfort zone on their new track ‘Better Days’.

So you guys have had two releases throughout the lock down ‘Balboa’  was quite early on and then you’ve had another single ‘Better Days’ which came out at the beginning of June. Can you tell us a bit about these tracks?

Matthew: ‘Better Days’ isn’t our typical style, it’s much more stripped back than what we normally do. I wrote it quickly, but it was so cathartic, I felt like it lifted a weight off of my shoulders. Recording it at home meant that I was using a totally different set up too, it’s a much more personal track. 

Ruán: ‘Better Days’ is a home demo, which I think is what sets it apart from our catalogue of music. It’s one of the things that’s kept us active through this lock down. 

Scott: The songs are so polar opposite: ‘Balboa’ is probably our heaviest and ‘Better Days’ is the softest track we have done. I feel like we probably wouldn’t have done a song like ‘Better Days’ if we were not in this position, it made us strip everything back and step out of our comfort zone. 

How have you found the reception has been to the singles? 

Matthew: I think we’ve actually got more attention on the back of these two singles than we were expecting. It feels like more attention than what we got after we released our EP. 

Ruán: Yeah, I think so too, ‘Better Days’ was received really well, maybe because it sounds so different to what we normally do, and the message of it feels appropriate for the lock down and the hope that we can return to normal soon.

Scott: And that was without a launch party, or being able to go out and gig and promote it. It just makes me wonder how well received it would have been had we been able to do promotion and keep that momentum going. 

Scott, Matthew, and Ruán playing live. Photos by Shaun Carlin

Considering you guys have played across so many of the independent venues in Belfast and you know them all quite well, what impact do you think this situation is gonna have on the Belfast music scene as people who are in it?

Matthew : I think it’s gonna end up being quite detrimental to some venues, a lot of them thrive on live music. Our favourite venue, Voodoo, is actually part of the national #saveourvenues initiative. It’s worth checking the initiative out and donating to show some support if you’re financially able. For local bands it’s the same kind of struggle. I’ve seen local bands I love announcing they are going on hiatus as they can’t function as a band throughout this.  

Ruán: I’m raring to get back into the music scene. I’m sure you guys are the same, I can’t wait to get jamming again, I can’t wait to see local bands live again. The music scene here is integral to my life, I really hope it will be vibrant coming back, I hope all the bands will want to gig right away and all the fans will want to watch them.  Most musicians know how hard it can be to get a big crowd going at your gig, it takes a lot of hard work and promotion, hopefully after this people are more excited about local gigs. 

Scott: I really hope that once the pubs and venues are opened up again everyone is like “Right, lets go and really support local music, see local bands.” And for all the bands in the scene, I hope it encourages a sense of promoting each other’s music and supporting each other as musicians rather than seeing each other just as competition. 

What’s your future plans as a band?

Matthew: I think by the time this lock down is over we will probably have an album ready to go. I think I’ve been the most creative I’ve ever been during this. 

Scott: I think we’re going to be working on more acoustic songs in the future. ‘Better Days’ has shown us how great those songs can be.

To support Voodoo Belfast you can check out their #saveourvenues initiative page here.

You can keep up to date with Lonely Astronauts on Instagram and Facebook, you can also check out their music on Spotify.

This evening (17th of June) at 6PM Lonely Astronauts will have a special mountaintop performance available on their Facebook page.

Interview by Sam Dineen


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