The Asteroids Galaxy Tour is Hoping to Take You Away
Bright and colorful, goofy but groovy, silly but sexy and unconditionally danceable, the music of Danish group the Asteroids Galaxy Tour is easy on the senses. There’s no deeper, hidden meaning to be found here. It’s simply fun, and tremendously catchy. Bridging gaps of time and culture, the Asteroids draw heavily on a diet of American soul, funk and R&B from the ‘60s and ‘70s, dosed with dashes of exotica, disco, garage psychedelia and ‘80s new wave pop, glazed lightly with a Scandinavian accent. Their tunes are sassy and charming, and I happen to be quite fond of ‘em.
Mette Lindberg is fairly charming as well. The AGT vocalist has a pretty convincing Nancy Sinatra look happening on the cover of the Galaxy Tour’s new, second album, Out of Frequency, although she tells me I’m the first person to point that out to her. “But you know,” she says from her Paris hotel room, “I take it as a big compliment. I really like the style of big hair and dramatic looks, in a feminine but a bit strange way.”
Although they expand to a sextet, complete with horn section, for live shows, the core of the Asteroids Galaxy Tour is Lindberg and 32-year-old producer/multi-instrumentalist Lars Iverson, whom she met in the mid-2000s in Copenhagen when they were in other bands. “It’s a small city, and every musician, everybody knows each other. Or knows someone through another one.
“I played a lot with my own songs, and doing vocals on other projects,” she continues. “But when Lars called me again [several years later], and he had these demos and things he’d been producing, I was kind of looking for someone who we could understand each other musically and production-wise. The sound of the drums, the crisp on the vocals, all that kind of stuff. I listened through some of the demos of stuff he’d done, and some of the things he’d been working on before that, and I was like, ‘Whoa! Here it is!’ The sound he came up with was just what I had inside my head, but I’m not a technical, brilliant wizard like Lars. He’s the fastest cat in town. He’s just so good at making good sound on everything. So it was like a no-brainer. We went and spent the whole summer of 2007 in his flat recording everything and playing around with it.”
From there, things got exciting for the Asteroids pretty quickly. Through their old management company, their demo found its way to Amy Winehouse, who dug it and invited them to open for her in Copenhagen, even though they’d never played live and in fact had yet to put a live band together. “It was at one of the biggest, coolest venues in Copenhagen, and we said, ‘Hell yeah!’ We quickly gathered friends and we rehearsed two times and played like six songs, and that was it. So we jumped right into it!” she laughs.
Shortly after that, in September 2008, as the Asteroids’ self-released debut single, “The Sun Ain’t Shining No More,” was coming out, Apple started using another AGT song, “Around the Bend,” in a popular television ad campaign for the iPod Touch. Since that time, the band’s benefited greatly from the inclusion of numerous songs in TV shows and commercials, most notably a spot for Heineken beer that starred the band itself playing their hit “The Golden Age.”
“I mean, when we were asked [by Heineken] we Googled it really quickly, and then we saw Jay-Z and Brad Pitt in the commercials for Heineken, and we were like, ‘Okay, hell yeah!’” Lindberg laughs. “I mean, we drink beer, what more do you wanna know? It’s water for grownups.”
But do they drink Heineken beer?
“I drink whatever! My dad used to work for Carlsberg, so I’m actually getting on the side of the enemy now. I think these days, when you don’t sell albums anymore, and the big major labels are kind of dying, and people are more independent…you know, we’re not on a major label. We have our own thing going on, and even though we play pop music, it’s very indie the way we do it. I think it’s the new future of the music industry, if you are a small band and trying to live from it, and trying to finance the travel and the promotion. There’s so many great bands, and…to be blown out on television as such a small band, it’s worth gold, you know? Like the TV series Beverly Hills  back in the ’90s? They had bands playing at the Peach Pit. And right now, it’s so massive, being on a TV series, you have soundtracks for it, and commercials as well. It’s so last season to say, ‘Oh, where is your musical pride?’ It’s like, yes, but everyone is sharing music for free, so how are you going to finance everything? And I mean, [the] brands fit [us] perfectly. We use Apple products. I’m just sick and tired of people saying we’re compromising our art. No, we’re just trying to spread it, so people know about it! It’s not killing the music, it’s just to get noticed and get out, and what’s wrong with that?”
Out of Frequency follows 2009’s Fruit, and like that album, the bulk of the songs were written and performed by Lars and Mette, although their live players – Mikkel Baltser Dorig (guitar), Rasmus Valldorf (drums), Miloud Carl Sabri (trumpet) and Sven Meinild (sax) – get in on the action. In the middle of it all, Lindberg’s impish voice, all squirrelly and scratchy, radiates her frisky personality.
“I can sing really nice and polite, but I like saying ‘everything is possible.’ Like if you had a guitar with a lot of pedals, and amps, use it and be creative instead of being polite with it,” she explains. “I like soul singers. It’s for real, you know? Even though I’m Scandinavian and I don’t have a ‘soul’ voice, I like to use it playfully.”
Whether Out of Frequency makes the splash its predecessor did with all the TV exposure remains to be seen, but the album has some choice morsels of ear candy, namely the irresistible Farfisa-driven “Heart Attack,” the horny blaxploitation rotation “Major,” the slinky title track and “Fantasy Friend Forever,” which reappears after debuting on a prior EP.
As for detractors who dismiss the group’s music as contrived and trivial, well, they sorta miss the point. “We’re not being political and we’re not being put in a box,” Lindberg stresses. “Either you like it or you don’t – we don’t care, we do what we think is fun. In a lot of ways, our music is very serious, but at the same time we have a good time… And even though I’m a girl, I like to wear my sneakers on stage. And my teeth are not straight. And people say ‘I will do your teeth for free.’ I’m like, yeah, but you know what? I’m 28, and when I was working I had the opportunity to go to the dentist and have it done, but I felt that it was a part of me. And I think it’s charming. I don’t feel it’s perfect to have it straight. I feel it’s perfect to be who you are.
“We don’t like [our shows] to be too polished,” she continues. “Hopefully people will like it, and we more than welcome all that energy. Let yourself free and let yourself go, and don’t mind what other people say.”
Set to embark on fresh year of touring for a fresh new album (no Atlanta date as of yet), with good fortune seemingly in their corner, perhaps what Lindberg’s looking forward to most is experiencing what the rest of the world has to offer. “It’s very inspiring, coming from a small country. I love Copenhagen and I love Denmark, but…it’s always safe in Denmark. No one is really poor, no one is really rich, and I think it’s just such a great thing to be inspired by other places. Like touring in the States, you know, you’ve got so many states, so when you travel from one place to another, the culture’s so different. You could be in New York and it’s very multicultural, and then you go somewhere else and it’s another vibe. It’s very interesting, I think, the social aspect of cultures – how you say ‘hi,’ how do you live, how do you survive where you are? And we try to get that out in the music, you know. With our music, we imagine things, and we create characters, and play around with all the things we think are interesting. Like a movie or something – we see our music as a soundtrack to our imagination. Everything is possible.”
Photo by Sigurd Grunberger.