This transmission is coming to you

The Astronots long to blast Reno’s music scene into a new dimension

Photo By David Robert

The Astronots will perform Oct. 31 at the Bullet Bar [where is this? Checking.], Nov. 15 at Ark-a’ik, 555 E. Fourth St. and Nov. 16 at the Zephyr Lounge, 1074 S. Virginia St. To contact the band, call “Capitan Trace” at 348-7423 or e-mail “Lt. Overdrive” at recourseofcourse .

A full moon sat high in the sky, looking down on The Astronots, bathing the space travelers in her blue glow. Shadows stretched, distorted on the concrete patio. Then the wind picked up and the group went inside the bar because it was cold.

As veterans of the Reno music scene and former members of more bands than you can shake a dead cat at, Captain Trace (Nick Ramirez, bass and vocals), Lieutenant Overdrive (Dale Kellams, guitar and vocals) and Major Sticks (Scott Loring, drums) are The Astronots. Gearing up for their next challenge to rock an open mic, this brave crew spared a few moments to speak inside the bathroom of a local bar. They spoke of their ongoing mission: To seek out new and exciting venues and audiences. (And I have to tell you, the acoustics of a bar bathroom seem only slightly better than those you’d expect aboard a spacecraft. Not that I would know.)

The Astronots got together in early 2002, when Ramirez asked Loring and Kellams to play on his solo CD, Astronaut. These recordings, while somewhat mellower than their live shows, were the first steps of this crew’s journey into the annals of rock ‘n’ roll. Since that time, they’ve gone from calling themselves, Nick Ramirez and The Astronauts to Nick and The Astronauts, then simply, The Astronauts. But they began running into trouble with rights to the band’s name.

“We had to go through quite a few name changes,” Ramirez says, laughing. “I checked it out on the Internet. … [Spelling it “Astronots"] is more punk rock.”

Other changes are the recent addition of songs written by Kellams. He says his songs have harmonies that differ from Ramirez', tending to be harder and slower, with odd meters.

“It brings more variety to our shows … difference,” Kellams says.

Ramirez agrees, saying, “Yeah I think people like it when Dale gets on the mic.”

The group’s ventures are many. Ramirez has his own solo CD, and Kellams is working on a solo project titled Recourse. Also, The Astronots are already working on their first six- or seven-song CD. They are also considering making a single that includes a song of their own and one by local band, The Spark. The Astronots, while a fun band, are serious about doing something original in the Reno music scene.

“It’s comfortable [playing in Reno], but … people don’t really go to shows in Reno. … Reno goes in cycles,” Loring says. “There are only a few people who give a damn about rock ‘n’ roll,” Ramirez adds.

Undaunted by this apparent “scene apathy,” The Astronots continue to ride their rocket of fun with songs like “Apollo One One,” “The Sun Song” (aka, “The Lego Song"), and “Love Will Always Matter.”

Ramirez claims that the titles are relatively un-cryptic. You’ll find that they are related to the lyrics, he says, if you just think about it.

“We don’t have songs that are gonna make you think,” Loring says. “They’re not introspective or anything. They’re just … fun.”

Having worked together many times over the years, The Astronots have formed a tight dynamic. Onstage they communicate with a practiced looseness.

“This is my ideal band, because I can always count on these guys," Ramirez says. "It’s growing its own skin and … texture."