Kevin Rhea of experimental/noise/punk band NASA Space Universe doesn't believe that this world is littered with cultic tragedy.
Is now a good time for the interview?
Yeah. Just let me turn down the television. We live in a world littered with cultic tragedy. That's what I learned from television today. Someone on the History Channel claimed that that's the type of world we live in.
Do you believe that?
No, I'm more of a cosmicist. There's not much tragedy in a world of insignificance.
Is NASA Space Universe more than just the name of your band?
It's a band, and it's also whatever we want to do to grab people's attention. There's music and other things, too, like spreading information. The truth seems like a hard thing to come by. It was also a website that our friend ran. It was going to be a label. It's a pyramid scheme. We'd love people to write to us and stuff. Any connection we can make would be wonderful.
What came first?
It kind of started a few times. There was one afternoon when we were watching Videodrome, and it touched all of us in a divine way, and we had this jam. It was what we all took from it, and we jammed on it for a long time. The morning after the party, I had drawn a picture, and I gave it to John to put on the turntable because it would reveal some code to him. And that was one of the times the band started. It was false starts for, like, five months. We've just taken it more seriously over time. Most of the songs on the new seven-inch are inspired by Philip K. Dick and H. P. Lovecraft.
What aspect of Philip K. Dick's work inspired you?
I'm really trying to get all 8,000 pages of Exegesis. I'm really not satisfied with the 250. I'm definitely interested in his religious trip. I'm not completely sure I understand it, but I would really like to.
Your music seems to mix fast punk with spacey sounds.
All the early material on SST Records was a pretty big inspiration to everybody in the band. Some of us are interested in noise projects. We definitely don't want to be restricted in any way. There's a song about how possibilities of life after death might be presented by scientific discoveries. That's just a concept I find interesting. It's not as restrictive as a political view telling someone, "Don't eat meat." It's just a concept I'm presenting that could happen. It seems less restrictive.
Are most of the lyrics in that vein?
Yeah, or you could just draw from the song. I write this song about after-death preservation—"Brain Farm." You could interpret the song as totally literal, or that we want to preserve ourselves so much and people are so afraid to die that they'll freeze themselves and do anything to escape death. It just deals with our petty fears.
That seems to fit well with Philip K. Dick's work. You can take it as literal sci-fi or find something more there.
I always thought I could fall in love with the android in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? I don't know how that makes me sound. Some people try to dismiss it as evil, or they're scared of their own consciousness. They think, "Oh, I would never want to do that." Or, "That's not a woman," or whatever stupid religious dogma, and they'll completely negate thinking about this possibility for their life.
Someone who has seen your band live told me he thought you were coming down from acid and speaking in tongues while the band was playing.
It's very possible that it could be interpreted that way. I don't think I was coming down off acid at any NASA show, but I have done things like that—imitated religious personalities and tried to make things like a religious service. I have shouted, "Hail Satan!" and imitated Jerry Falwell. I decided to employ the ugliest form of charisma I've ever encountered in my life, which was evangelism. I know somebody was extremely offended once. Maybe what I did had no point, but they were foaming at the mouth about it. I think he was Christian or something.
Did that change anything you do?
Hell, no. Pissing people off is very important. I got a bunch of beer spilled on me two nights ago. Everybody was spilling beer on me, and I have a bruise on my face. But sitting in your seat and just watching the show is stupid.
So you don't mind that people were participating in that way?
Not at all. I'm scared of being boring.
Is that a bigger fear than bodily injury?
Visit www.myspace.com/nasaspace for more information.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.