My most prized possession is a small scrap of paper onto which Mark Astronaut once wrote his name and telephone number after a gig he was singing at. I’m not sure why he gave me it, and I was too star-struck at the time to ask. I’ve never called the number, probably never will. The scrap of paper has lived in a frame on my wall ever since.
“Who the fuck is Mark Astronaut?” you’re probably thinking. I tend to get that a lot when I tell people who my favourite singer is. He’s the only person I’ve ever put on a pedestal who never toppled off. He never sold out his ideals, never started producing crap just to make money, and never starred in a TV advert for fucking butter. All of which probably contributes to the fact you’ve never heard of him.
He is the singer/songwriter of a band called The Astronauts, who have been around on and off for over 30 years now. During that time they put out seven albums and three and a half singles (plus a digital/download single last year). Mark has been the only constant band member throughout that time, with the result that each album has a completely different sound.
During the period in time my book is set, they toured a lot with The Mob, Zounds and Androids of Mu, which would have been around the time I first noticed them.
Zounds and The Mob you’ve probably heard of through Crass Records. Androids of Mu you might know about through Planet Gong or Here and Now, even if you’ve never heard their album Blood Robots.
So why have you never heard of The Astronauts? One reason, and one reason only – they never had a single released on Crass Records. If they had, they would be your favourite band too and someone would re-release their entire back catalogue on CD. But since they didn’t, you’ll have to either save up mega-money and pay Ebay prices for the original records, or make do with the pirate copies that are available on that there internet thing.
Just don’t get them mixed up with that surf band from America.