Check out the jangly, Stones-y guitars and Dylan-esque vocal delivery on the Space Bums’ single, Crumbs from the Cake. Or how about that slow, yearning intro to I’ll Be Your Lover, a beautiful bass-driven song with delicate twinkling guitars, warm sleepy keys and vocals that start quiet and surge? So good. Space Bums Alex and Sam were good enough to take off their pressurized helmets (once safely inside the shuttle cabin) to answer some of my questions.
How’d you get into playing music?
Alex: I took piano lessons from this old angry lesbian when I was in elementary school. She used to hit our fingers with a ruler and make us pet her cat. I had an immediate connection to playing music.
Sam: Alex and I met when we were 15 through a mutual guitar/bass teacher named Kevin. He said to me, “I have a student who might be good for you to play with. He listen to all sorts of music, like right now he’s really into Barry White.”
What would you recommend for a newbie trying to get into playing music?
Alex: Don’t attempt to do too much. Start small and push experimenting when you’re ready. Elvis didn’t sprout out of the ground like a daisy.
Sam: Look for people who you want to sound like and be like and learn from them. Eventually you’ll start to form your own identity.
How do you go about writing songs?
Alex: Lately we build a jam as a group and I’ll record a rough demo on my iPhone. We’ll listen to the demos on Soundcloud and revisit the ones we dig.
How’d you get your band together?
Alex: Joe, Sam and I have been playing together for over 8 years in many different groups with dumbass band names. We recruited Tim, AKA Rick Cashman, 2 months ago when we decided the band needed a change.
If someone were trying to get into starting a band, what advice would you give them?
Alex: Buy a moog and grow your hair out. Get fat and only wear sweats.
Sam: Make sure you have a really sweet logo first.
Did you experience anything forming up a band that was a complete surprise to you, or something that people starting a band would find surprising?
Sam: The best thing is to play with your friends who you already know so there hopefully won’t be too many surprises.
What do you use for practice space?
Alex: We share a space in Lynn with our good friends, The Fat Creeps.
How often do you practice?
Alex: We try to fit in two days a week. In an ideal world, we would practice everyday.
Any horror stories or funny things happen during practice?
Alex: I’ve definitely gotten taco stains on my work slacks before. Other than that, not really.
Is there anything that was a surprise to you about the experience of practicing for gigs?
Alex: It really depends on the show and what it means to the band. Some shows we will take a super serious approach and make sure we are well practiced leading up to it. Other times, we will prepare a themed set list and try to be as loose as possible musically.
What was your first live show–what was it like?
Alex: Our first gig as Golden Retriever was a little over a year ago at the Cantab. Someone got sucker punched.
Any horror stories or funny things happen up on stage?
Sam: Not really. Joe once insulted the owner of a club by saying his place smelt like piss. He didn’t mean any harm, but the guy obviously agreed because he lit some incense after that. We haven’t been invited back.
Is there any advice you’d give to someone who hasn’t played out yet and is trying to get over stage fright or just the overwhelmingness of playing live?
Sam: Don’t be scared. None of this matters. The more you play live the less of a big deal it is. Most people aren’t paying as close attention as you are.
How do you record?
Alex: We record ourselves with laptops. We recorded some demos at Side Two Studios in South Boston as well, but we kind of prefer to do it ourselves and take more time with it.
Any advice for a newbie trying to get into recording his or her stuff, either professionally or as an amateur?
Alex: JUST DO IT.
Any bands you’d recommend that are from the Boston area?
Could you recommend one album by some other artist?
Alex: Thee Oh Sees out of San Fran.
Sam: I really love Spider Bags Shake My Head right now.
What do you think is the most interesting thing about your experience with music?
Alex: There is never a lack of creativity with my dudes. If we are feeling uninspired, we naturally take a break and don’t force writing new music. Our biggest challenge is having the attention span to work on more covers.
Sam: I would agree that just the way we improvise together is really powerful and probably the most exciting thing about playing music. Those are my most aggressive moments. I’m pretty low key most other times. So I need that.
What’s most important to you about playing music?
Alex: The community, the free beer, the blisters on my finger, the soul crushing riffs.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Alex: I’m about to board a plane to Zurich.
Sam: I’m about to go to town on a pint of ice cream.
Finally, is there anything we can do as writers to help you out?
Alex: Just keep supporting all the great local bands. Thanks for being interested!