I think everyone has a weird relationship with cats. Even if you really like cats, you’re bound to feel like they’re going to turn on you at some point. A cat threw up on me once—and I cried. But I consider myself lucky that a giant feline has never followed me through space, threatening to tear apart my body with its refrigerator-sized paws. Because that’s what happens in Spaceships‘ new video for their single “Ghost,” and it looks like a real buzzkill when all you’re trying to do is enjoy a leisurely trip to the cosmos.
The video also features a magical couch, an evil little brother and planets made of money set on fire by stray cigarettes. Spaceships are Jessie Waite and Kevin LaRose: a self-described “noise-pop-bedroom-garage-punk” band, so you know they like hyphens and also that their sound isn’t strictly in one space—outer or otherwise. “Ghost” is like a rollercoaster perpetually about to drop. Dripping in reverb, it spins the listener around in raw, mangled guitars, sweat-inducing drums, and Waite’s confidently apathetic vocals. Spaceships’ debut full length, Cool Breeze Over The Mountains, drops July 23 via Mock Records. CMJ caught up with the duo to talk being in a band forever, filming secrets, and um, Keanu Reeves?
Spaceships is such a celestial name and Cool Breeze Over The Mountains is so earthly. Intentional, or just words?
JW: I used to and still do dream about going into space and staying in a motel or going to some space island where I meet nice people, or I go grocery shopping sometimes. Both of us really like to think about UFOs, and space looks pretty cool from the photos I have seen.
KL: Also, Cool Breeze Over The Mountains is the word “Keanu” translated from Hawaiian. In general, I think we are always exploring earthy and celestial though. Me and Jessie are so different, but we both have spacey and earthy shit going on inside us all the time.
You guys do everything (mixing, producing, even designing your merch and album covers) yourselves, right? I’m assuming part of it is necessity, but do you plan on DIYing everything even if you someday have a team of 50 people?
JW: Well in the beginning we did everything ourselves, and it was a lot fun scrambling around getting supplies and learning how to screen print, it was worth it cause it’s fun to screen print. With recording, we did it all ourselves, that part was out of a necessity to be in control of the sound, but yeah we had no money too. But when I was a little kid I recorded like 20 tracks at a time on crappy tapes in my bedroom, and that was the most fun I had growing up, doing it ourselves seemed like more fun. But yeah, if we can get just like a life team of 50 people to help us with the band and to live our lives that would be great!
KL: But even with a team, we would still want to do all of the recording and artwork ourselves. Though it’s cool collaborating. My brother, Peter, designed a really awesome poster for our record release show.
I read that you both got kicked out of your dorm freshman year of college and then led a bit of a nomadic existence until settling in Echo Park. Can you tell me a story about this pre-band era?
KL: Once we were walking down the street in San Francisco, and this crazy dude was like, “One tall, one short” in regard to us. In a way he was kind of right, but also totally wrong. We’ve always written music, but we didn’t get it together to start a band until it finally hit us, we looked around at everything that was going on and we were all like, “Let’s roll.”
JW: When I first met Kevin, we went to a party together and I asked him if he wanted to be in a band forever, he said maybe.
Is there anything you tried to do on the full length that you couldn’t do on the 7″s or your EP?
KL: I wouldn’t say it was intentional, but the lyrical content of the album came together in a way that seemed more cohesive, almost like it was telling a story. Unbeknownst to us, the LP ended up becoming a record of our own break-up from each other, which is actually pretty intense if you think about it.
Do you guys write the songs together? Where does your song content come from? I think one of the tracks on your upcoming album is “Gandalf”…
KL: All of our songs end up being a collaboration in one way or another. Sometimes we’ll each either bring a song we wrote in, work it out and turn it into a Spaceships song, and sometimes they are written on the fly. “Ghost” was written on the fly. Right now our songs come from processing shit that’s happening in our lives. Sometimes everyone feels a little like Gandalf.
JW: My lyrics a lot of the time are about dreams I had or things that bother me, and I want to be happier. “Ghost” is about trying to be less crazy and hoping to have support, I guess.
At first, the video for “Ghost” seems like it’s gonna be pretty standard fare and then things take a turn for the wacky. How’d you come up with the concept?
JW: My friend Thad talked to us about doing a video a while back, and he knows us pretty well. We like cats, space, hanging out, and playing music. So he did a pretty good job with combining all of that. I’m really happy we went to pretend space, that part is my favorite part.
Whose cat is the star?
JW: The cat is Thad’s cat. His name is Pocket, and he was really scared but luckily they caught some moments that make him look totally confident. We all talked about using my cats but my cats didn’t want to act.
KL: Do cats really even belong to anyone?
What was the process like? Did you use a green screen for the flying couch scenes?
KL: I don’t really remember, I was really drunk and tired that whole weekend. I kind of thought we actually went to space, but my memories have been strange lately. Film is magic, we shouldn’t ask questions. It will just ruin the illusion.
JW: Let’s just say, I don’t act very well after two shows in a row. But when you’re on a couch in space it’s kind of easy to just sit there and let the stars look cool.
The video’s a little apocalyptic. Do you think the end of the world is in our not-too-distant future?
KL: No. I don’t. Shit sucks right now, but it’s also great. Just like every other time in history. I don’t buy into nowist bullshit, people have been saying the world is going to end since the beginning of time. Now, having said all that, GLOBAL WARMING. So idk, maybe it will.
JW: There could be tidal waves, crazy earthquakes, meteors approaching us, but I think it’s better to not dwell on it too much, unless you like to watch disaster movies at night alone like I do, I’m admitting this to the public.
What would be a Spaceships dream-come-true? Musically or otherwise.
JW: I want to do this band forever, that would be way cool. I just want to keep releasing stuff, and see what songs we end up creating. If one day I can borrow a spaceship, I want to record on one of those.
KL: We’re leaving the bassist position open for a certain actor whose first name starts with a K and last name starts with an R.