Man or Astro-Man?
If you intend to get anywhere at all playing instrumental rock and roll in 1997, you'd better have some serious chops or a snazzy gimmick. Since the overeducated fools in Auburn, Alabama's Man or Astro-Man? couldn't fake their way through Walk Don't Run or Miserlou if the life of Nikola Tesla depended on it, they shrewdly adopted the identities of super-intelligent beings from another dimension (Grid Sector 23-B6-1, to be precise) who crash-landed near Auburn in 1992.Ever since, undercover extraterrestrials Star Crunch, Birdstuff and Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard, posing as humanoid rock band Man or Astro-Man?, have been traversing the Earth with fellow space delinquent Dexter X-Man from Planet Q, using the hypnotic effects of their music to control the minds of unsuspecting humans while surreptitiously gathering fragments of their spaceship, which was scattered upon atmospheric descent.Due to an embarrassing 30-year error in the group's time conversion calculations, the original Man or Astro-Man? repertoire -- captured on sound laboratory documents like the recent Experiment-Zero (Touch and Go) -- mirrors the twangy surf tunes and squelchy sci-fi movie themes that were common on Earth in the early 60s.Such an obvious anachronism could've been disastrous for the crew had it not been for the coincidental extraterrestrial fad, not to mention the left-field success of Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, whose surf-hyped soundtrack re-acquainted mainstream tastes with the simple pleasure of chugging riffs from a thickly strung Mosrite guitar.Just when Man or Astro-Man? had all but given up hope of enslaving the human race, the renewed hipness of instrumental rock has suddenly given them all mind-control access they never imagined -- although the cumulative effects of Coco's hypno-beam device shouldn't be discounted."At this point," reasons percussion-popping Moog 1995 Intravenous processor Birdstuff in a professorial tone from his home base outside Birmingham, "there have Continuum been enough Man or Astro-Man? shows to generate as much electromagnetic radiation from our nightly use of the hypno-beam as all the cellular phones around the world combined."And recently, instead of keeping the beam set on wide dispersion to try and cover the masses, we've hit on the idea of focusing the beam and aiming it at television executives and the heads of various marketing agencies. That has proven to be very successful."An introductory radio commercial for Coca Cola's Mellow Yellow soft drink is apparently just the beginning of a full-scale Man or Astro-Man? multimedia invasion. This past week, the group completed recording a selection of eerie sounds and spacey jams for the Cartoon Network's animated television chat show Space Ghost Coast To Coast. An X-Files cameo can't be far off.ZORAK'S BAND "We originally talked about redefining what we normally do in Man or Astro-Man? to accommodate the Space Ghost show. But then we thought we were hired because we were Man or Astro-Man? So, unfortunately, Zorak's band of alien insectoid creatures will sound exactly like Man or Astro-Man?"Space Ghost may be upset with us because we came up with a lot of new sounds for the show (Photon Sandwich, Space Balls Part II), and that might have some effect on the power band. I don't know if he'll be too pleased with us fooling with the sound of his destructo-ray. In any case, we're having a lot of fun burning your Earth money."Apparently, there are limits on the Man or Astro-Man? media infiltration plot that go beyond potential monetary gain and mind-control access. When representatives of the notorious oil dispersal corporation Exxon requested the use of Man or Astro-Man? classic Clean Up On Aisle 9 for a commercial spot, the group refused on moral grounds.It's a somewhat strange, socially responsible stance for a bunch of oscillator-waving cosmic commandos bent on conquering the planet. The way Birdstuff sees it, though, the decision wasn't so much a matter of morality as simple competition. If anyone is going to rid the planet of human life, it's going to be Man or Astro-Man?"When I got the Earth transmission from Exxon on my telephone unit, all I could think of was some guys wiping oil off penguins to the tune of a Man or Astro-Man? song. It was just weird."To be honest, it would be hard to explain to anyone who heard about the commercial that the money we earned from it allowed us to buy some new stage projection units and build a new recording studio. People naturally make assumptions, and I would hate for anybody who really liked the various sounds and modulations we've been making on this planet to jump to the wrong conclusion about our band's motivations.JUMPSUIT THRILLS"After looking for the missing parts to our ship and not finding any, we're getting pessimistic about ever getting off this planet. So our goal is to kill everyone here and have the entire Earth to ourselves. But for the time being, we'll continue to put on our jumpsuits and play in front of people who really care about music -- and throw snack cakes at them."