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Space Invaders from Alabama

By Kate Peterson

Space Invaders are coming here and bringing a great night of spacey entertainment our way. Man or Astro-Man? is a surf, space-rock band who’s been bringing their unique blend of music to audiences since the ‘90s.

Just to get an idea about this group, their names are Star Crunch (Brian Causey) on guitar, Birdstuff (Brian Teasley) on drums, and Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard (Robert DelBueno) on bass guitar and electronics. As you can tell they have an affinity for the unusual. This transcends to their music style—a loud surf rock sound with some outer space elements mixed in. They often dress up in space suits, have a space/NASA theme on stage, use sample space sounds and references from movies and have an out of this world light show.

IN was able to tune in the right frequency and reach Brian Teasley, aka Birdstuff, founding member and extraterrestrial drummer for the band. Recently, he opened a music venue in downtown Birmingham, Ala. Bottletree is a café and bar venue where he is able to bring in people he has played with over the years. Bottletree is just where Teasley was when we had a chance to chat.

IN: How did the band form?
TEASLEY: Star Crunch [Named after the Little Debbie snack] and I were doing a lot of different things musically. It was a time when people were uber serious, everyone was into holier-than-thou indie rock that seemed it was sillier than being silly. We were home for Christmas from college, and got into my parents’ old records; Dick Dale and others caught our attention. Punk music appeared because it was fast, a no bullshit genre. No singing about girlfriends—punk rock mitigates that and is the perfect vehicle.

IN: Have you ever played with Dick Dale?
TEASLEY: We have played with him a few times. He is a trip. He came from another era of entertainment. He is boisterous, but he invented what we take for granted. He deserves the respect. What annoys me is those that are non-legends who act the same way.

IN: Have you heard that Gulf Breeze is known for its UFO sightings?
TEASLEY: Yes, I have heard of the UFO sightings. We were very much into UFO sightings—it was the topic of the ‘90s with “The X-Files.” We evolved as a band a bit; we were 19 when we started. We like to play around with the imagery—you can’t one-up sci-fi.

IN: Speaking about sci-fi and space sounds, what is your resource for those?
TEASLEY: We have used so many, we forgot where they came from. We would watch sci-fi movies with an Akai S1000 sampler hooked up to the VCR to record the sounds. Not to overinflate what we do, it is not rocket science. There is a whole website dedicated to finding out where stuff came from. We have gotten away from pulling sounds from movies. If a movie wants to use a song then we have to find the source of the sound clip. We started making our own stuff. We record sound effects during live shows.

IN: Why choose this particularly hard/fast/surf/punk genre?
TEASLEY: It was an evolution from a traditional surf band. A, we were not good at it; we were not the guys in suits with synchronized moves. B, we toured so much, the same band opened every night, and we decided to move away from that a little bit—do so much more. Evolve. We were glad we moved to Touch and Go records—much more punk surf rock. Many thought that was a sell-out move because the idea was that the label was outside the scene. Our band is what it is, we are proud and we worked hard. Seems disingenuous to wave a flag or be about just one thing.

IN: What are your musical weapons of choice?
TEASLEY: People think we carry around printers and other stuff because our performance is a little odd ball, mad-scientist like. That is part of the show from time to time, but we are really a rock band—two guitars, bass and drums. I grew up in an age of Keith Moon from The Who, guys were Midwest guys, we played Ludwig’s. Kids look into what other people play. John Bonham played Ludwig’s. I was into weird Japanese knock offs, kooky off brands with made up names. We are a loud rock band, tone is not important. I don’t believe in capital punishment except for stealing band equipment. There has been a rash of equipment being stolen; Tom Petty recently became a victim. Just unforgiveable.

IN: What is one of your shows like?
TEASLEY: We give it our all. We always wanted to be entertainers. The influence of punk rock is that it connects to the audience. Some elements of comedy are mixed in. We self-destruct and pull it off. We like to highlight mistakes versus hiding them. We bring a lot to the table, not a parody of being baby-faced kids going crazy, an acceptable range of what we present. Harder, more intense—we handle ourselves on stage. Rock and roll is a game of youth. We bring yesterday’s technology tomorrow.

MAN OR ASTRO-MAN?
WHAT: Man or Astro-Man? with The Octopus Project
WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, October 27
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox Place
COST: $15
DETAILS: astroman.com; vinylmusichall.com