There is a comic book series called ‘God Hates Astronauts’ and it’s now the name of a Littleport group of talented musicians, keyboard and lead vocalist singer Christopher France and drummer Jordan Powell aged 17 and 18 respectively.
Christopher and Jordan explained that the name of their group doesn’t portray their opinions or their genre of music and they don’t wish to be pigeonholed either.Jordan says he prefers not to have their own music-making labelled, but that they can produce some ‘mean cover versions’ which apparently go down well at their live college gigs.
“I can’t stand today’s chart music. It really has no meaning. We make music for us, and if it pleases other people, then that’s fine by us.”
The band was initiated while they have been attending Cambridge Regional College. They told Littleport Life that they have excellent and supportive music tutors including Ben Pringle of the Time Team signature tune fame who had expertly and skilfully mixed and matched these young musicians together. Three bands were formed, one of which was ‘God Hates Astronauts’ that also comprises bassist, 17 year old Nathan Jackson and 20 year old guitarist, Alex Penny. They were originally fronted by a female singer who shared vocals with Christopher, but when she left to work outside of their particular musical circle he just stepped up as lead vocal which now suits their style and sound of music. These innovative music makers are wary of the music industry. They have their feet firmly on the ground and are very grateful that they have had the backing of their families.
“The important thing is that we have always focused onour musical education. We want to learn the best we can before performing in front of an audience,” emphasised Christopher, who first started playing the piano at the age of 4. Although he lost interest and concentration for a while, when he was fourteen his interest was reignited and “It’s been the best thing that I’ve ever done,” said Christopher.
They told us that their current Level 3 course is made up of three diplomas, where they study Grade 5 theory that sees them spending most of their course work analysing classical pieces; what instruments to use; how the textures form, as well as transposing music and making their own arrangements and compositions etc.
It is no surprise that Jordan was destined for musicdom. His father Matthew was a pretty good drummer himself who fed his young sons Callum and Jordan on a healthy musical diet of The Who and AC/ DC considering the late great Keith Moon to have been a legend in his life time. Callum despite being a good drummer decided to become a chef, so with the appropriate catering qualifications under his belt he moved into the catering business where is now a chef at the Newmarket Race Course restaurant.
“I was raised on music like Genesis, Pink Floyd, and that is where my interest of the keyboard came from. Then in my early teenage years I became a bit rebellious, but now being less hormonal, I started to listen to stuff like Metal. As a child one of my influences was keyboard player Keith Emerson, of Emerson Lake and Palmer, but I can always happily sit down and listen to a Sex Pistols album,” revealed Christopher, who’s now developing his voice to work with rock music.
Asked what makes ‘God Hates Astronauts’ different and unique from any other groups today. They replied, “We don’t like to be musically limiting, but we are really still discovering ourselves. For instance, we have five songs and those songs are each very different in their own way.” They will be working on putting out an EP soon which may or may not include the first song they wrote ‘Jump Suit’.
“You know I purely write songs so I can get ‘Distinctions’ on my course,” joked Jordan. Jordan’s bedroom at home has been transformed into a small studio where they record demos and jam together. Their stage dress is the shirt and tie look. “We like to be presentable, but usually it ends up being a very sweaty kind of gig… We have done a few gigs including the Manea Gala. There were five other bands who played music like either Country or Ska, but we were the youngest group there, and although we felt a bit intimidated, the audience really appreciated our music,” said Jordan.
“It is surprising how popular we are with the all – round universal music,” said Christopher which prompted Jordan to interject, “I don’t want to fit in to what the music industry is producing.”
Christopher then continued, “We have our own originality, and when we do cover versions of songs. We try and make the music more interesting and challenging, but the audience are still able to recognise the song and they really like it”.
“Our college audiences are very clever because they do recognise that the group have altered a certain popular song, but they do enjoy our arrangement or rearrangement of the song”, commented Jordan who is thinking of pursuing a career in music as therapy.
On a more sombre note, both musicians spoke for their group members and every other budding musician when they said how lucky they were to have got into the music courses when they did because there is every likelihood that these courses will be phased out.
They said, “In fact there is a dearth of cultural activity generally, and we are really worried that music courses will be dying out. We did look into this in one of our Musical Outreach lessons where we looked at everything else, and not the music itself. We watched a documentary about how much money is being pumped into primary schools for them to have access to instruments. It was £250 for the whole school for a year. What does that buy? An expensive guitar case.”
They are hoping to travel to New York in the New Year.
God Hates Astronauts have their own Facebook page and you can catch them at Babylon Gallery, Ely on Friday December 18th.