Torsten Kinsella, GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT – “The music works best when it captures our pain, loss, hopes and dreams”

Written by Jadranka Balaš

After a four-year break, GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT are returning to Serbia for the third time to present their new album live. The concert will be held on October 8th at the Božidarac in Belgrade with the local support of guitarist Vukašin Đelić aka WoO. Torsten Kinsella spoke with us about this concert, the album “Epitaph” and the music they create.

Sixteen years and nine albums into your career. If you’d have to pick one, which is your favorite? Which one are you most proud of?
Torsten: Each album represents something important to us as they document a specific time in our lives. To me, it is one collection which is not completed yet.

What still drive you after all these years, where do you find inspiration? Which album was hardest to make?
Torsten: We only feel compelled to write when I have something important to express. After all these years one thing has become obvious that if I’m fully content, it translates into writer’s block. The music works best when it captures our pain, loss, hopes, and dreams. Each album has its own challenges, “Origins” was difficult because it was written with a different technique.

“Epitaph” was inspired by family tragedy, and I’m very sorry for your loss. How much writing music helps you to cope with going through the tough times in life?
Torsten: Writing music is a therapeutic process, it allows us to express ourselves and it’s never been more important than with “Epitaph” which is written in memory of our seven-year-old cousin whose life was tragically taken away.

Speaking of it, “Epitaph” is out for a few months now, are you satisfy with the result, and reception it got from fans and critics?
Torsten: We are very happy with the album, I feel it really captured everything we wanted to express. The critic’s response overall has been the most positive since “All is Violent, All is Bright”. The fan reception is harder to gauge but all the shows are well attended for the “Epitaph” tour so I’d say it’s definitely positive.

*** Click to read “Epitaph” review ***

How was the recording and writing process different from past releases? How do you create your music in general?
Torsten: Each album has a specific theme and the production is tailored to it. As you are aware “Epitaph” was written in the immediate aftermath of our cousin’s untimely death. All of the songs are about the different aspects of the tragedy so naturally, this is by far the darkest and most personal record we have ever written.

Rob and Conor (Xenon Field) helped us a lot with post-production and sound design. We wanted the style to reflect the subject matter by making them more imperfect. We put the sounds through various tape devices with bad tracking, the notes warbling in and out of tune, helped it feel more haunted. Using lots of tape saturation, made it feel more stressed. The piano, for example, was processed in a way to sound fat more vintage and broken, we recorded it onto an old 4 track Akai recorder, some even onto Ferric tape. They were further processed putting it through a tape echo unit. We wanted the sounds to morph and develop and not be stagnant, we wanted the piano to move sonically throughout the different parts of “Epitaph” using distortion and filters etc.

We worked tirelessly on the textures using devices like the NiioIotine core, Mutronics Mutator, and Snazzy FX Tracer City to try to give the sounds a real Analog flavor. We also used experimental plugins liked unfiltered audio Spec ops to really make the textures unusual and unique. Vintage amps were used, amp simulation equipment didn’t quite fit the style. Jimmy Scanlon who owns Jimi’s music store helped me out by supplying lots of old vintage amps and also played on our record. We used ribbon mics to keep the sound warm. We used the lowest tunings (drop A) which we never used before. The drums were miked with a pair of Ribbon Coles 4038 which is something we never used before, it gives the drums a dark sound that the music craved for. It’s the first time we did Analog mastering, we wanted something more vintage and authentic.

God Is An Astronaut is a very original sounding band, so how would you describe the music you play? What makes GIAA different from other bands with a similar style, in your opinion?
Torsten: Our music is always from the heart, stylistically I guess we are a Rock band with added electronic instrumentation which we like to call our own brand of Space Rock because emotively a lot of our music takes you away to a different place. While there are always similarities, I haven’t heard anything that sounds exactly like us. We have our own sound, when you hear one of our songs, you can always tell it is us.


In a couple of days your European tour will start. How do you prepare for “life on wheels”? What is the most difficult thing to cope with when you’re on the road?
Torsten: We try to get as much rest as possible and do some training so we are fit for the tour. I tend to eat as healthy as possible so I usually bring some of my own food with me. I think the most difficult thing is the late hours and early starts, the lack of sleep can really be tough on the road as it will be on this run of shows.

How do you choose songs for setlist? Which one is the most challenging to play live?
Torsten: As this is a tour in support of “Epitaph” we are playing a good few songs from that album, for the older songs we wanted to pick the songs that were most suited to the theme so we kept it dark. For example, “Frozen Twilight” was a song we brought back as it really suited the mood.

“Epitaph” is very difficult for Rob, the timings on the intro are very challenging. “Seance Room” and “Suicide by Star” were initially difficult but I find it easy now.

Is there any place you wish to play live but didn’t have a chance yet and why?
Torsten: I guess Japan, Australia, Iceland, and more South American dates. The reason, we haven’t received a feasible offer.

Is there anything you haven’t yet accomplished as a band that you want to? What would you like to be remembered for?
Torsten: It would be nice to get our music featured in an appropriate film.

Božidarac on October 8th is a place to be for all Serbian fans, and we’re looking forward to it. What can we expect from your show this time?
Torsten: We are looking forward to playing in Serbia again and put on another memorable performance.

We have a good presentation planned, our lighting engineer Derval is an artist and approaches lighting in an original and innovative way. She sees emotion through colour. And for sound, our original sound engineer Zack is back and the sound is at another level.

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