The Asteroid Shop takes to the road

Julie Rene Tran

What began as a new venture to break away from comfort metamorphosed into a serendipitous collaboration of like-minded musicians for local band The Asteroid Shop. Spearheaded by lead vocalist and songwriter Eric Brendo, the local ambient-rock band released their first full length album last month and is currently on tour. The self-titled album exhibits a strong sense of juxtaposition between great loves and loss, success and failures, and beauty and flaws in the band’s soft instrumental sound and
intricate lyrics.

Composed of Brendo, keyboardist Michael Kester, guitarist Todd Pruner, drummer Jonathan Konya and bassist Carley Wolf, the band is traveling east of the Gulf Coast next week to finish out the second half of their tour and is playing at Frank’s tonight with The White White Lights and The Space Elevators.

The Daily Texan spoke with The Asteroid Shop during their visit for the weekly in-house recording of the Basement Tapes. The band talked about the meaning behind their name, their bizarre West Coast encounters and their organic songwriting process.

The Daily Texan: Can you share with us how you came up with the band’s name, The Asteroid Shop?
Eric Brendo: The name came from a general fascination with astronomy, outer space and science, and also just a general sense of detachment and wanting to escape from the normal and kind of where things are headed. I wasn’t too comfortable at the time with particular things. I don’t want to get into details … At the time, I jotted down a few names and that led to … a general feeling for the love of the unknown.

DT: Right now you are mid-tour. You just returned from visiting the West Coast, how was it?
Todd Pruner:
It was great. Took a side trip to Grand Canyon. Never been to Albuquerque before. Jon’s wonderful first experience in Vegas.
Jonathan Konya: Yeah. [laughter]
Brendo: Yeah, we just pulled into Vegas and someone was dead at the venue. Right when we got to the venue, they were hauling him on the ambulance and then we stayed at some horrible motel across
the street.

DT: Perhaps you’ve already answered this question [laughter], but what is your most memorable show so far?
The ones where most of us weren’t wearing dresses, I guess. [laughter] We were wearing dresses at the show in L.A because it was Halloween. It wasn’t our best performance, but it was interesting. In Amarillo, there was a mural of a wolf and an asteroid across from the venue we were playing. The Ghost Wolves [which Konya and Wolf are also in] were on tour with us, so that was a special moment and night as well.

DT: Your album also just released in mid-October. Can you talk about The Asteroid Shop’s writing and recording process?
The writing and recording process — it pretty much just starts with me on guitar or just recorder and then I’ll piece it together. Sometimes there’ll be lyrics floating around from years past. Sometimes I’ll match it up and it’ll make sense. But mostly, it just comes from the heart and I just take it from there. Try to keep it current as I can as to what I’m feeling at the time. I bring it around to everyone and we just chip away at it and try a little bit of it.

DT: Were there any specific inspirations behind any of the songs?
Some of them are love songs and then, like I said before, some of them are more escapist, kind of detachment songs. Whatever gets to that magic place, we just kind of let it get there.

DT: There’s a strong association of escapism to your music. Is that what you want people to experience when they listen to The Asteroid Shop?
Hopefully, they get some sort of interesting feeling and hop on onto that journey and get lost in it.

DT: One of our favorite tracks on your latest album is Dandelion. What’s the meaning behind the song?
It’s kind of a song about being clear-headed. There are some things along the way that sent me different places where I guess had I not found some clarity, I wouldn’t be here doing this. That snapshot of time is pretty much the expression of beauty and clarity and that’s what that word, Dandelion, meant to me at the time.

DT: Is there a certain time or moment where you feel compelled to write lyrics?
Pretty much at any given time. There wasn’t too much writing on the road this time. But sometimes I’ll take advantage of what just happens magically, may it be in the middle of the night or dreaming it, and I’ll just run with that. Some of the best ones happen that way. I don’t really sit and write too much. Sometimes it’ll be brief or maybe it’s like some sort of an attention deficit, the key is to jot it down and just take it from there. Because many times I just let them go and it’s just a bummer, because they’re just gone.

Additional reporting by Ashley Dillard and Jackie Kuenstler