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Indie-rock group The Earth Program talks shop
Don’t expect just any indie-rock experience when you listen to The Earth Program. Its debut album “Invade!” is a dystopian mesh of punk rock, alien spaceships and eerie synthesizers. Its live performances are high-energy, campy displays of live music, video and costumes. Now the nerd-rockers are working on their next album, a DVD and comic book stories. Some of the group’s new music was recently played on 93-XRT’s “Local Anesthetic” podcast.
The band’s four members—Christopher Mondo, Shannon Candy, Mister Bibbles and Michael Signal—sat down with The Chronicle to talk about punk rock, science-fiction and escapism.
The Chronicle: Why make outer space and aliens part of your music?
Mister Bibbles: A lot of it is science fiction, but there are other elements in the same category of fantastic [themes] that are silly and a little bit poignant in the scope of global events, both past and present. But you have to look at it with a bit of camp sensibility too. We know it’s bulls–t [but]it’s good bulls–t, though.
Christopher Mondo: It’s part of the escapism. It sounds corny, but [being in a band] can be like an alternate reality or “out of this world.” It’s a way of aesthetically incorporating that feeling or energy into a visual sense.
The Chronicle: What do you mean specifically by global events?
MB: If you look at more dystopian popular movies—like “Blade Runner”—with a scientific mindset, you can track world events or at least reflect on world events. We don’t have any manifestos, but our songs are about things that happen to people or to communities—things that aren’t so great or are great.
The Chronicle: How do you weave in the alien-like sounds with more traditional rock instruments?
MB: We like to look into audio as more than just music. Audio is noise, but it’s not matter. It is energy you can manipulate.
Shannon Candy: It’s important to keep things interesting. We don’t want too many songs [to sound] the same because we want people to be interested and excited by what we’re doing.
The Chronicle: You clearly have a punk attitude when you’re on stage. What bands influenced you?
Michael Signal: You get to that certain age when you hear a band like The Dead Kennedys for the first time [and] it hits you so much harder than a lot of other music. But I think even with punk rock, some of the rules and regulations [are] outdated. For me personally, I found a lot of music through punk rock, bands like Fugazi and Joy Division.
SC: It’s just really inspiring. There’s no set guideline, so you can play whatever you want to play. It doesn’t have to fall into a box like other genres do. More so, you don’t have to be a classically trained musician; you can just pick something up and start banging on it and that’s punk. That’s music.
The Chronicle: Why do you have characters on stage?
CM: It’s that fictional, out-of-this-world escapism. [It’s us] trying to break away from the boredom of our normal lives. It’s like, “Oh, I can be so and so.” It’s that little kid mentality.
MS: It’s also to further the band beyond musical expression. We [can use] these characters, and we can make stories and other things that are intertwined with the band where it’s not necessarily so music-related because we’re fans of [other types of media] like TV shows and videogames and comic books.
MB: And other characters we see from [the real] world too. Because every comic book needs a villain, but where do you find the villain? There are a lot if you take a look around.
The Earth Program will play Spookfest on Oct. 28 at the Viaduct Theatre, 3111 N. Western Ave. Doors open at 9 p.m. For more information about tickets and the band, visit TheEarthProgram.org/Band.htm.