Robert Loxley Hughes
In 2009, formed from the ashes of two popular bands: 'Hijak Oscar' (famous for their appearance on T4's Mobile Act Unsigned / Orange Unsigned) and 'Idle Jack & The Big Sleep' (previously signed to an independent) 'We Could Be Astronauts' was born. Rob Hughes (Idle Jack vocalist), Mark Meilack (Hijak Bass Player) and Dave Hartley (Hijak Drummer) got together soon after their respective bands split; out of a mutual desire to continue momentum and nurture the creative spark they'd enjoyed when previously playing together. After several explosive rehearsals they were joined by Simon Himsworth (Idle Jack Drummer) on guitar.
Missing a lead guitarist, Mark and Dave's thoughts turned immediately to Paul Heaney, who they'd previously met whilst playing in a former band. The chemistry was instant.
Songs came thick and fast and with a united decision to work only on material the band as a whole felt strongly about; it's clear to hear from the earliest of demos (with songs still in their infancy), 'We Could Be Astronauts' would never be a band making records full of album fillers.
After well attended shows and a slot on the second stage at the 2010 Galtres Festival, things were progressing well. 'We Could Be Astronauts' soon developed a respected name for themselves as a great live band, packed full of energy and picking up comparisons to the rock legends of the past.
A decision by Mark (Bass) to leave the band presented a need to find a driving and solid bassist to replace him. Rob and Dave turned immediately and unequivocally to Stuart Fletcher (ex: Seahorses, Happy Mondays, Yards) having worked with him on other projects in the past; both knew there was no other man for the job.
With the final line-up now complete, and whilst still early doors for this band (who are yet to release even their first EP), things have really started to rocket for them since. The Astronauts revisited Galtres in 2011 but this time on the main stage, supported Shed 7 to a packed crowd of over 2000 people at the Sheffield O2 Academy, headlined 2 charity festivals, have had an amazing response from BBC Radio & Minster FM, where they continue to receive air play after a lively 'breaking out' interview caught the attention of their avid listeners.
In 2012 we'll see the band play Cambridge Rock Festival and On The Edge Festival in Leeds as well as numerous Manchester shows for Surface Festival (currently at the semi finals) and a show at the O2 in Sheffield. The band plan to undertake an extensive breakout tour of the UK.
After playing T In The Park in 2012 We Could Be Astronauts have appeared on Look North East, BBC Radio One, BBC Three (Red Button) aswell as continuosly being played on their local BBC Introducing show on BBC Radio York.
So what's next? As well as the live shows, the band is excited to be in the studio working on their debut album with producer, Fraser Smith. The album will be available to download and also as a hard copy limited edition. The demos of this material already having winged their way to the producers of several eminent radio stations across the country, including BBC6 Music; the band, who are yet to even finish the tracks, are overwhelmed by the responses they've received.
We Could Be Astronauts have a strong musical ethos; they believe in the traditional way of making music from the grass roots up and intend to start this way and carry this tradition through their careers together. At the same time, this band is under no illusion the recording industry is a very different animal to what it used to be. They are taking a thoroughly modern and forward thinking approach in the vital journey of self-promotion required to find global fans of their music. These are no wallflowers and intend to do all they can to get their music heard but also in order to meet the demands of today's industry.
Taking inspiration from their heroes and mashing it with current sounds, the result is thunderous, all-out rock! 'We Could Be Astronauts' are face up, at the front of the pack in a new wave of bands who lead the charge in an industry plagued by manufactured artists.
Stage Setup Notes
• Lead Vocal guitar is sometimes through an amp instead of DI box
• Drummer uses largest rack tom available and largest floor tom if multiple
• If we’re supporting drummer will bring drum stool, kick pedal, snare, sticks and cymbals. (Please let us know if stands are required) If we’re headlining then drummers must provide the same for themselves.
• Bass amp can be shared.
• We will always bring our own guitar amps and these cannot be shared.
• Both toms on the drums are just as important as the snare or kick as they are not just used for fills.
• Both Lead and Rhythm guitars are equally important though the lead will need to be higher in the mix during solos but only a little lower during the rest of the song.
• Drums – General mix of everything with plenty of kick, snare, toms, vocals, bass
• Lead Vocals – Plenty of vocal & own guitar
On all monitors, depending on size of stage, kick and snare, own instrument and own vocal
Fresh Faves: Batch 23 Review Of Look Frank, It's A Toaster by Tom Robinson & Freshnet team: This is my favourite of this week’s people’s choice, not least for the title. I love the fact that the band are not afraid to experiment with arrangement and depart from some of the accepted rock norms. However the recording is only part of the picture and I believe it is live that We Could Be Astronauts really come to life. They recently made the trip up north to T in the Park to play a refreshingly RAWK set on the BBC stage although thankfully no flying toasters in the face. It’s Bill Murray in Scrooge, do I get a drink? Author: Freshnet Team Original Source: Visit site 30 July 2012 T in the Parks BBC Introducing Line-Up Has Been Announced BBC Introducing… have announced a fantastic line-up for this year's T in the Park festival! The mighty Admiral Fallow lead the charge of extraordinary Scottish talent, along with Nina Nesbitt, Hector Bizerk, Miaoux Miaoux, Vigo Thieves, Fatherson, United Fruit, Laki Mera and Woodenbox. See below for more info! BBC Introducing… Line-Up Saturday • Nina Nesbitt • Hector Bizerk • We Could Be Astronauts • Damgroove • Fatherson • United Fruit • Spring Offensive • Elro • La Shark • Courts • Woodenbox Sunday • Admiral Fallow • Oxygen Thief • Miaoux Miaoux • Vigo Thieves • More than Conquerors • Changing Horses • Laki Mera • Weird Shapes • Chutes • Swarmi Baracus Author: Smokin' Charlie Brown Original Source: Visit site 20 June 2012 Hugh Bayley backs We Could Be Astronauts for stardom Hugh Bayley MP picks up the sticks at a rehearsal of York-based rock band We Could Be Astronauts. Mr Bayley met the band after agreeing to nominate them to represent his York Central constituency in the Parliamentary live music competition Rock The House. The competition, which has rock legends Alice Cooper and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan as patrons, was founded by Mike Weatherley MP to support the UK live music industry and raise the profile of intellectual property rights issues. Three finalists in each of the categories (bands, solo artists, and under-18s) will be announced by the organisers on May 23. They will then compete in a battle of the bands to determine who will get the chance to play a live set on the Terrace of the House Of Commons on Wednesday, May 30. We Could Be Astronauts formed in York in 2009. The band is made up of Robert Hughes (vocals, guitar), Simon Himsworth (guitar, backing vocals), Stuart Fletcher (bass), Paul Heaney (guitar) and Dave Hartley (drums, backing vocals). Influenced by Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine, We Could Be Astronauts are currently working on their debut album. Author: Unknown Original Source: Visit site 07 April 2012 MP Hugh Bayley nominates We Could Be Astronauts for Rock The House competition A ROCK band from York has been nominated by one of the city's MPs to represent the area in a parliamentary live-music competition. York Central MP Hugh Bayley said he was 'very happy' to nominate five-piece We Could Be Astronauts for the Rock The House competition, which aims to promote live music. Dave Hartley, the band's drummer, said: 'We're a very hard-working band and something like Rock The House is a great way to get our name out there to more people.' Mr Bayley said: 'There is a wealth of musical talent in my constituency and I have heard very good things about We Could Be Astronauts. It would be great if the next big British band came from York.' Author: Unknown Original Source: Visit site 03 April 2012 We Could Be Astronauts Described by Soundsphere as a 'diverse fusion of jazz, blues and rock music' We Could Be Astronauts are not going to disappear in to space in the near future. Their music, likened to that of Led Zeppelin and Soundgarden is proving popular within the alternative masses. Author: Unknown Original Source: Visit site 16 March 2012 We Could Be Astronauts chosen for Surface Festival 2012 YORK band We Could Be Astronauts have been chosen from 'tens of thousands' of bands to take part in the Surface Festival 2012. 'This festival is working with multiple partners to develop alternative ways for bands and artists to gain exposure and develop their fan base,' says bass player Stu Fletcher, formerly of The Seahorses and The Yards. 'Shows start in March and we're playing the Manchester/Liverpool nights. Attendees to the shows vote for their favourite band of the night, as well as bands voting for their favourite too.' 'For people unable to attend shows, lines open on February 1 for a text voting system for age 16 upwards; text NORTH 2003 to 64343.' We Could Be Astronauts next will be in action on their home patch on February 10 at Fibbers. 'We'll also be playing numerous shows outside of York, both as part of and independent of the Surface Festival,' says Stu. 'We're in discussions to play the unsigned stages at major festivals including Download, as well as every independent festival we can find, and we'll also be releasing two EPs, both digitally and in hard copy.' The band formed from the ashes of Hijak Oscar and Idle Jack & The Big Sleep after they split around the same time in late 2009. Not wanting to let the grass grow under their feet, Idle Jack singer Rob Hughes and Hijak bass player and drummer Mark Meilack and Dave Hartley decided to jam out some of Rob's left-over Idle Jack material and, after a few successful rehearsals, they were joined by Idle Jack drummer Simon Himsworth on guitar. When members of Hijak Oscar, Mark and Dave also played in The Blackwater Trio, a band formed at York St John's College, and it was there that they first met Paul Heaney, who joined the Astronauts as the lead guitarist. Songs came thick and fast, leading to the band performing at the 2010 Galtres Festival, but although everything was progressing well, Mark had always craved more song-writing input and moved to Leicester to form Wonderbus. Whereupon, Rob and Dave spent all of two seconds deciding to ask Stu Fletcher to replace him, both having worked with him on past projects. The Astronauts line-up was now complete and ready to go into orbit. Within months, the band had revisited Galtres, this time playing the festival's main stage, and last month they supported Shed Seven at the Sheffield O2 Academy, playing to a 2,000-strong crowd. They have headlined two pub/charity festivals too. 'We Could Be Astronauts believe in the old-fashioned way of making music but are under no disillusion that the record industry is anywhere near what it used to be,' says Stu. 'We're taking inspiration from the old music and mashing it with the current sounds and ways of doing things to make not only a sound that seems to be missing from today's popular scene, but also a way of working that we hope will inspire other bands and individuals to get behind it. Let's get our record industry back to the bands and people with talent and away from the computers.' Tickets for February 10 cost £5 via Ticketweb. Support on that night's 7.30pm bill comes from One Way Street and Montego Bay. Author: Unknown Original Source: Visit site 19 January 2012 All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance The next band on were We Could Be Astronauts. They were formed last year from the remnants of Hijak Oscar and Idle Jack & The Big Sleep. I hadn't seen them before today but had heard some positive things about them and, I have to say, they were a bit of a revelation. With flamboyant and energetic frontman Robert Loxley Hughes almost seeming to channel Robert Plant (in looks, if not in vocals) they rather appropriately play in a style reminiscent of seventies rock, without making it sound cheesy. Highlight of their set for me was the emotional and near-epic Lost At Sea. There's a CD in the offering and, if that is one of the tracks on it, there's a good chance that I'll be adding it to my collection. It's perhaps testament to their performance that the crowd, which had diminished between acts at least partly due to the increasingly heavy rain, had swelled considerably by the time the set was done. Debbie, who (let's face it) isn't the biggest music fan around, declared them her favourite act of the two so far because Hughes seemed to 'have more about him than the other guy'. I think it's apparent that she doesn't really appreciate the more introspective aspects of the likes of Falling Spikes. On the basis of this performance, though, I will be trying to see these guys again. Author: Ian (The Druid) Massey Original Source: Visit site 04 September 2011 Live Review: Forest Of Galtres Festival 2011 [Crayke, York] August 26-28, 2011 The personal highlight of the early action on the Duke's Stage comes from We Could Be Astronauts, who thankfully don't repeat last year's glory of a festival ban. In their red and black combo outfits, they instantly get the crowd rocking with a blistering classic metal sound. Rob Hughes' vocals are on top form, equally channelling the spirits of Robert Plant and Eddie Vedder. The fast-paced raw energy of tracks like the bowdlerised 'Messed Up Corroded Broken Down Exploded' (family festival, remember?) and 'The Catastrophist' gain them the loudest cheers of the day so far. Author: Colm O'Rourke Original Source: Visit site 01 September 2011 Spotlight We Could Be Astronauts We Could Be Astronauts is the project born from out of the ashes of two of York's most popular bands from the last decade, Idle Jack & The Big Sleep and Hijack Oscar. This group includes Dave Hartley (drums) and Mark Meilack (bass) of Hijack, and Rob Hughes (lead vocals) and Simon Himsworth (guitar and backing vocals) of Idle Jack, alongside for Blackwater Trio member Paul Heaney on lead guitar. Together they create organised chaos - a diverse fusion of jazz, blues and rock music that work well and will surely appeal to the alternative masses nationwide this year. We catch-up with the band before their debut show at The Duchess... 'This is the band I have always wanted to be in' - Simon Himsworth S: How did the band come together? Mark: The nucleus of it was formed about one-year-and-a-half-ago when myself, Rob and Dave got together as a trio and started making music. We played at a house party, made a racket and we wanted to get into playing heavier music again after we all got sick of what we had been doing. We've always had an eye on each other anyway and so, it's been easy because we were friends. Dave: Hijack and Idle Jack split at roughly the same time, and we had a few meetings about getting the band together not long afterwards. Simon: Rob approached me about joining the band after the meetings. I've always dabbled with playing guitar (Simon played drums in Idle Jack), and I contributed bits to the Big Sleep material, so it was a case of him simply calling me up and myself saying, 'yes'. Mark: We got together and played a few tracks with another lead guitarist but it wasn't sitting right - myself and Dave played in the Blackwater Trio with Paul and so, we got him involved and it all came together. S: How did the name come about? Dave: We couldn't think of a name at the start, and it got to the point where we were asking people on Facebook to name the band for us. I think that it came to myself and Rob though, while we were drinking in the Evil Eye Lounge! It doesn't really have a meaning, although it does feel like we are taking the pi** a little and referring to the fact that we could be much bigger and more famous, but we won't be! (laughs) Mark: My take on it is that the name harks back to childhood dreams and although most people don't end up doing what they wanted to do when they were younger, we feel like we are finally making the music that we want to make. S: How is working with this band different to your previous experiences? Mark: I won't say anything more other than, my previous experience was like living under Stalin and this is much more of a democracy. Dave: I'm playing rock music again which is why I wanted to play drums in the first place. Hijack was very blues-orientated and I was never a fan of that genre. I'm a lot happier. I enjoyed doing what we did with Hijack in the early years, but this is much better. Simon: I think that this is a collection of much more like-minded people who are into the same type of stuff. It's easier. In our previous bands, everyone has had such different musical tastes an. for me, it felt like a constant negotiation. These songs sounds exactly how we want and and it comes naturally. Paul: I enjoy not having the pressure of everyone in the band following me. In the last band I was in with Mark and Dave, I had to write all of the guitar parts. This time I can relax a bit more. I do have to actually learn what I am playing now though! I used to use alternate tunings which is a lot easier. Now people can tell when I have made a mistake! S: What's the writing process like with Mark in London and you guys in York? Dave: Mark picks things up very quickly. Rob writes a lot of it along with Simon and the rest of us add on to that. S: What's the score with the tracks you have out at the moment? Dave: They are old recordings. We are actually re-doing everything over the next few weeks. S: Is there a song you are working on at the moment that you feel represents the state of the band right now? Dave: The stuff we have recorded represents us well. We've not written anything new recently, but there are always ideas floating around. We've been concentrating on putting a set together so that we can start gigging. Simon: There's probably about 15 partly formed songs that we have between us and Rob is always coming up with new stuff. S: What are your plans for this year? Dave: We're trying to play out of York as much as possible. It's not going to be easy because we need to live and we all have jobs and other commitments. It is very easy to do the York circuit, but we are chasing up more gigs elsewhere. We've all been doing this for long enough to know where the pitfalls are and what we can do in order to better ourselves as a band - we are just focusing on doing that. S: Are you planning on releasing some material? Dave: We will be releasing something but whether that is going to be an EP or an album we haven't decided yet because we've got so many tracks. S: What's your attitude towards York as a scene? Rob: There's something in the water here - everyone is a musician and so everyone is playing at times when others are. So, not many of our friends who also play in bands come and see us perform. It's a tourist town so people are always busy with something! Paul: I only got into the music scene in York two-years-ago. Everyone knows each other and you get different cliques of musicians and I think that because each one has been here for such a long time it becomes a very comfortable place where people play a lot. Fans of local bands will go and see a band once and think that it is great but because they will be playing again the same week at either The Duchess, Fibbers, The Basement or Stereo, that fan won't come again. Our idea is to not follow that, so that people really want to see us when we perform here. Simon: I have played in bands in lots of different places and York feels different to other places that I have been involved in. There's much more creativity and originality. It feels like there is a scene and a community around music. S: Would you like to make a similar impact and inspire with this band as you did in your previous outfits? Dave: Not really! We're doing this for us. This is a completely different band to Hijack and Idle Jack. We are just making music that we like, but we wouldn't be doing it if we didn't want it to have some effect on other people. We want people to get moving, and get as far away from the current blues music explosion that's going on. We want to play rock! Where are the bands inspired by Rage Against The Machine? Those bands that have riffs that hook you in so that their audience can jump around and go mental? There isn't that now. Everything's very neat and tidy. Rob: It doesn't feel like we are carrying on from anything. It took a long time for me to be able to start from scratch and let things go. This feels new. It's good drinking music and it will at least inspire people to have a Jager Bomb or two! We're deliberately going to be recording our new material at the White Rooms all live because that way people can hear the energy. We're trying to get that 70's feel - if you listen to Led Zeppelin then you can hear that, and I think this band has so much energy and it will go on to inspire people. It's been 'a blast' writing with this lot. S: What does being a part of We Could Be Astronauts mean to you? Simon: This feels like the band I should have always been in. If I can think back to the kind of music that I wanted to be playing when I was 16-or-17, this is the first opportunity I have had to play it. Rob: It's great to play this with these people. It is the kind of music I have always wanted to make. Paul: I was terrified when I got the original recordings before I joined because I felt like I couldn't play this type of stuff, even though I had always wanted to when I was younger. I listened to them constantly over a weekend, trying to figure them out by ear and fortunately, it all came together. Dave: I agree. We just really enjoy doing this. For more information visit the official MySpace. Author: Dom Smith Original Source: Visit site 17 January 2011 Review 'We Could Be Astronauts' York, The Duchess, 15th January 2011 The place was busier than I'd anticipated when I arrived. Do The Right Thing got things warmed up nicely with their ska-infused acoustic indie. 'Chicken Wing' might have been inspired by the riff from The Smiths' 'Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now' but the cover of Snow's 'Informer' was simply inspired. Good fun. Idiophonic's set wass all about the atmosphere. Sadly, their smug am-dram electronica suffers from an arch campness and the fact that the material isn't nearly as glittering as they think it is. Not such good fun. We Could Be Astronauts haven't come from nowhere, having formed from the ashes of previous local bands who'd enjoyed a degree of success. Even so, having shuffled toward the front for the start of the set, was surprised to turn around and see just how many people are behind me. Tonight is rather disingenuously billed as Astronauts' debut gig, although I saw them deliver a festival-stealing set at Galtres Festival last August (which they also plugged as their debut gig). At that show, the bassist was wildly inebriated. Tonight, he's rather more together, but remains a flailing mess of hair and paisley, and single-handedly encapsulates what We Could Be Astronauts are about. Forget the 80s revival. Surely everyone's bored of it by now anyway. We Could Be Astronauts are the perfect antidote, blasting out tightly-woven riff-centric old-school Zeppelinesque rock with aplomb. The classic themes of self-destruction and damaging lifestyles run through many of the songs, and they really crank it up, dispatching 'Fucked Up, Corroded, Broke Down, Exploded' and 'The Catastophist' early in the set. There are plenty of other highlights to follow, though, and Robert Loxley Hughes isn't only blessed with Robert Plant's hair, but a charismatic stage presence and a powerful, gutsy voice. The rest of the band - the twin-guitar attack and the rock-solid rhythm section, in which some sturdy drumming and 8-string bass wizardry combine to deliver real punch - have clearly hit their stride. The songs receive an enthusiastic reception, and there are some people down the front a few feet from where I'm standing who are going absolutely nuts. Not without good reason: We Could Be Astronauts have landed as a timely reminder that rock 'n' roll can still be exciting, and revisiting the legacy of the 70s doesn't have to lead to sounding like Wolfmother. It's early days, but the buzz around this band is quite something. May there be many more debut gigs to come: be prepared to see them take off. Author: Christopher Nosnibor Original Source: Visit site 16 January 2011