Interview with The Selenites
With their debut release, Moon Madness, Austria’s The Selenites have come up with an outstanding disc that throws together everything from rockabilly and 50s/60s rock to surf and garage rock. I recently talked to them through email about the new disc (released on August 14), the band, the impact of the coronavirus and more. (note - the band’s native language is German and the interview is printed in their own words)
The Selenites has been formed in 2018 as a new project as three piece band from Sebastian, Paul and Berni. Shortly after Thomas joined the band and they started to write their first original songs. After the first apperance in March 2019 with Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys, Berni left the band due to personal reasons. Afterwards we continued as three headed band and write and practiced like mad to create original songs. The second show found place at the Blue Danube Riot Show in November 2019 where we played beneath bands like the Drugstore Cowboys and The Go Getters. In February 2020 we went to a studio to record our first album
Your sound is an infectious mix of rockabilly and 50s/60s rock along with some garage and surf elements. What influenced you to go down that musical path?
We play and write the music like it's grounded in our soul. We like all this genres and like the idea of mixing it up and break the borders between it. We don't plan to do one song with this or that elements. We just let the music flow and play what we like.
The lyrics are all credited to Sebastian and then all three of you are credited with the music. How does your songwriting process tend to work?
Most of the time Sebastian comes up with the idea of a guitar riff and some lyrics. Afterwards we all put in our influence and ideas and work together on the music and arrangements. Sebastian works out the complete lyrics and everyone creates different styles of his instrument. Finally we all form together to the complete song.
Austria is a German speaking country and I know you said on your livestream concert you are more comfortable with German, but your lyrics are in English. Why did you choose English?
We love the idea to transfer the message of our songs to people all over the world. For sure the English language is the best choice for this idea. Beneath that for us the German language without any kind of dialectic touch is very strange and it makes more sense for us to choose the English language.
To me the vocals on “Keep It Up” have a Buddy Holly feel to them at times. Was that a conscious decision to have them sound that way?
It was not in our mind to follow Buddy Holly’s feel on the vocals of this song. When we think about the biggest influence for the vocals of this song was the feel of Led Zeppelin’s “Dyer Maker”, but it was not a clear decision to let it sound that way. As said the music comes from our heart and Led Zeppelin is for sure there.
What’s the story behind the Spongebob inspired song “Barnacle Boy and Mermaid Man”?
Sebastian has two little boys and therefore he has to watch all episodes of Spongebob with them. This inspired him to write a song about the "Superheroes" of this show.
Have you heard from anyone involved with the show about that song?
No, because the song isn't released yet, but we hope that it becomes the main theme of a Spongebob spinoff of Barnacle Boy and Mermaid Man ;)
How is the music scene in Austria and how does your sound fit it?
The Rock'n'Roll scene in Austria is alive. Mostly the music scene is like everywhere mainstream, but there are always people which are motivated for a good Rock'n'Roll party. Regarding our sound we got positive feedback from all over the differnet scenes and genres, therefore we would say it fits very well.
Are there any Austrian bands you would recommend readers check out?
For sure the Tri-Gantics are a new formation which makes a fantasic sound and play a more roots and blues influenced kind of Rock'n'Roll. Also the Slapbacks are a great act and got the authentic Rockabilly vibe.
I really enjoyed the cover song you did from the Go Getters on the album release live stream. Do you have any other covers in your live show?
Besides the two Go Getters songs we also cover “Radio Sweetheart” in the version of Guana Batz.
I know the selenites are creatures in H G Wells The First Men In The Moon and there was also an animated film called The Secret of The Selenites. I’m assuming the name came from one of these. Is there any story behind you choosing that as the band name?
Sorry, but honestly speaking there was no relation to the story of H G Wells of the movie at first. Sebastian comes up with that band name after he viewed some documentation about the moon in general. Also in this documentation the greek godess Selene takes places. Afterwards he searched after Selene and the moon and he finally he found the name Selenites.
Its definitely a strange time we’re living in. How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted the band and what are your plans once the album is released since live shows are still not happening?
When the corona situation started here in Austria we cancelled our rehearsals for more than two months and we just keep contact with video calls. As you say it is a weird time and every live show you plan can be canceled one day before it happens, but we do our best to bring our music to the people. Currently we are trying to organize some live shows, because we are on a good way in Austria and the infection rate is stable. Also in September we will be part of a 3 day Festival in Austria with some Rock'n'Roll bands from the nearby countries.
Do you plan on playing in the United States once things get back to normal?
For sure we would like to play in the States, but we have no concrete plans yet. Maybe when things get back to normality we will figure something out.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
We want to thank everyone who likes our music and is interested to it. We hope that our album will spread all over the world, a lot of people enjoy our music and we will have the chance to bring it to them live. Last but not least we wish everyone to stay safe and keep it up ;)