Secret supergroup Bad Astronaut, featuring members of Lagwagon and Sugarcult, have announced their Universe boxset will be released April 23 via Fat Wreck Chords, and with it comes their first new song in 15 years, “Wide Awake”.
The Universe boxset will include 2002’s Houston: We Have A Drinking Problem and 2006’s Twelve Small Steps, One Giant Disappointment on vinyl for the first time, along with a re-pressing of 2001’s Acrophobe, which hasn’t been on wax since 2010. All three albums have been painstakingly remastered for maximum fidelity, as Marko DeSantis says: “Sound quality is a really important thing. The fans of Bad Astronaut are headphones listeners.”
Even more exciting though is the brand new 7-inch included in the boxset, Inner-Space, featuring a never-before-heard alternate version of “Violet” as well as the brand new song “Wide Awake.”
Joey Cape says of the boxset:
“My favorite thing in the world is when bands make three records, break up, and then years later, there’s an anthology or a box set. And you’re immediately like, ‘Why? But also, ‘I’m gonna buy it!
“It’s like a missing link in my life. When I have that box set in my vinyl collection, I’ll feel like, ‘Okay, I can finally move on.’”
“Wide Awake” was written by keyboardist Todd Capps, and was borne out of (what else?) a pandemic-necessitated Zoom hangout in which the remaining members of Bad Astronaut — Cape, DeSantis, Capps, and multi-instrumentalists Angus Cooke and Thom Flowers — caught up with one another.
“Todd Capps has been doing scoring with virtual instruments forever, so he was able to put forth something that was pretty much done. I wrote the lyrics, but Todd wrote the melody. I think it came out really cool.”
DeSantis says of the inspirations behind Bad Astronaut:
“We were always talking about indie music or classic music we were re-discovering. No disrespect to current punk music, but our musical vocabulary was so much more than we could articulate in our main bands.”
“When I’d say to the guys in Lagwagon, ‘There’s gonna be a keyboard in this song,’ they’d say, ‘No there’s not,. It became painfully obvious that I had to do something else.”
“It’s Lagwagon for grown-ups!
Returning to Bad Astronaut has been therapeutic for its members on so many levels, providing the closure of a chapter left open for many years. But within that chapter lies emotional pain, as the material is a constant reminder of the passing of legendary drummer for Bad Astronaut and Lagwagon, Derrick Plourde.
“We’re still really proud of this music, and enough time has passed that we can go back and listen to it objectively,” begins DeSantis. “But it’s bittersweet because you get so stoked to think about Bad Astronaut, it brings back so many inside jokes and great feelings and pride, but then it also reminds me that Derrick died, and he didn’t die in a very sweet way. It’s a hard place to return to, but at the same time, you just remind yourself that anything that has Derrick involved in it keeps Derrick alive to some degree.”
“I felt the same way going through the music for this box set. It was really lovely to hear how Derrick would finish my musical sentences.”
But with the boxset featuring a brand new song, it’s up in the stratosphere whether there could be another chapter in the book of Bad Astronaut.
“I’ve got many hard drives that say BAD ASTRONAUT in Sharpie on the top of them
…and a bunch of these hard drives didn’t work.”
DeSantis reiterates the ambiguity:
“We’re kind of this secret band. We didn’t want to do photoshoots, we didn’t want to play shows. But the more you don’t do something, the more your myth grows.”
(UPDATE – Boxsets and t-shirt bundles have now sold out!)
Images courtesy of Bad Astronaut. Featured image credit: Chipper Cavendish.