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Torsten Kinsella (God Is An Astronaut)

Interview with Torsten Kinsella from God Is An Astronaut
by Jean-Francois Poulin at 11 June 2018, 6:20 AM

GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT was founded by twin brothers Niels and Torsten Kinsella. Their powerfully-atmospheric and emotive new album ‘Epitaph’ is their ninth and comes a decade and a half into a journey that began with 2002’s ‘The End Of The Beginning’. ‘Epitaph’ marks the band’s debut on independent label Napalm Records and is a record that both sees a progression in their sound while still remaining true to their ethos that helped define the band. Metal Temple Writer Jean-Francois Poulin recently chatted with Torsten about the band and the newest album.

How was the recording and writing process different from your past releases?

The album is written in memory of our 7-year-old cousin whose life was tragically taken. It is dedicated to him, our way to say goodbye and for us to come to terms with this most tragic incomprehensible loss. The record was mainly written in the immediate aftermath. All of the songs are about the different aspects of the tragedy. This is by far the darkest and most personal record we have ever written. The album doesn’t transport the listener away like some of our previous releases, its intention is to take you to the dark, traumatic and somber moments that we had experienced.

Rob and Conor (Xenon Field) helped us a lot with post production and sound design. We wanted the style to reflect the subject matter by making them more imperfect. We put the sounds through various tape devices with bad tracking, the notes warbling in and out tune, helped it feel more haunted. Using lots of tape saturation, made it feel more stressed. The piano for example was processed in a way to sound fat more vintage and broken, we recorded it onto an old 4 track Akai recorder, some even onto Ferric tape. They were further processed putting it through a tape echo unit. We wanted the sounds to morph and develop and not be stagnant, we wanted the piano to move sonically throughout the different parts of Epitaph using distortion and filters etc

We worked tirelessly on the textures using devices like the Niio Iotine core, Mutronics Mutator and Snazzy FX Tracer City to try to give the sounds a real Analog flavour. We also used experimental plugins liked unfiltered audio Spec ops to really make the textures unusual and unique. Vintage amps were used, amp simulation equipment didn’t quite fit the style. Jimmy Scanlon who owns Jimi’s music store helped me out by supplying lots of old vintage amps and also played on our record. We used ribbon mics to keep the sound warm. We used the lowest tunings (drop A) which we never used before. The drums were miked with a pair of Ribbon Coles 4038 which is something we never used before, it gives the drums a dark sound that the music craved for. It’s the first time we did Analog mastering, we wanted something more vintage and authentic.

Nine albums in 16 years is one hell of an accomplishment, what still drive you guys after all these years?

Our drive to write music is down to the necessity to simply express ourselves during tough times, it is has always been therapeutic for me if I’m fully content, it translates into writer’s block or going through the motions. In general, if I was deprived of writing music, I would be very unhappy.

What were the bands that influenced you guys growing up?

We grew up listening to Heavy Rock and Metal music mostly, Metallica, AC/DC, Nirvana, Alice In Chains, NIN, Tool etc…

I gotta ask, how did you guys come up with the name GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT?

We chose the name while watching a Clive Barker movie back in 1999 in the early hours of the morning called “Nightbreed”, I just loved the whole quote “God is an Astronaut and Oz is over the Rainbow”, Niels shortened it to “God is an Astronaut”.

You guys toured extensively after the ''Origins'' album in 2016, and even went to China, Russia, Brazil and all over Europe. How was that experience on a personal and professional level for your guys?

It was great experience traveling to all these places, and seeing a large audience turn up to see us was a proud moment for us. The downside it’s always hard to bring our equipment with us with all the airline hand luggage limitations, certain things you can’t put in the hold because it most likely would turn up on the other side broken due to rough baggage handlers.

What has Robert Murphy brought to the band since his inclusion and the departure of longtime member, Jamie Dean? How did you guys find him persay?

Robert is extremely professional and his work ethic is second to none. He is a perfectionist and is always striving to continuously make improvements. I’ve known Robert for many years, he has always programmed our Mainstage synths for us even when Jamie was in the group. Jamie simply lost interest, he expressed to us that he was getting tired of touring. The music business is not as glamorous as some may think.

Who does your album covers, I think they are totally original and fits with the mood of each of your albums?

Thank you, Niels has designed many of them with the exception of Epitaph (Fursy Teyssier), Origins (Derval Freeman) and the S/T and Age of the Fifth Sun (Dave King).

You guys produce and mix your albums, how does it feel to be touch and go with your material, is there a lot of changes to be done when you guys produce, are you more meticulous and critical being it’s your material you are mixing?

We feel it’s a necessary part of the creative process, for someone else to mix or produce it would feel like someone else painting part of the picture for us. I mix as emotively as I can and really tune in to what the music wants to convey.

What is the importance of the visual aspect of the band, the live performances are breathtaking and everything seems to be chosen for a specific reason, lighting and the videos for the songs, how did you guys come up with all of those ideas on the forefront?

When we used visuals in our shows, Niels would spend a long time to match the imagery to the sentiment of the song. After many years of using visuals, we simply didn’t have the source material to keep it fresh. Derval Freeman is our lighting engineer, she is in artist and approaches lighting in a different way to others, when she listens to our music, she can see the colours that match, her work is very emotive and we are very fortunate to have her on board.

Any bands you guys would love to tour with for the upcoming release of your new album?

We would love to tour with so many groups, (NIN, The Cure, Tool, Sigur Ros etc)

What are you guys plans for 2018 and the upcoming future?

Our plans are to support this album by touring over the next 2 years. Beyond that we will really have to wait and see.

Thank you so much for the opportunity of interviewing you guys for Metal Temple and I wish you guys all the best!

Thank you very much for the interview.



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Edited 17 August 2018
 

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