“I’m gonna go hide for a while.” It’s almost 1 a.m. The Cosmonauts just finished slaying the Moon Block show at the Echo, and Derek Cowart – singer/guitarist for the band – is done.
The night was an end to what was a 10-day-long tour that took the band up the West Coast and through Vancouver for the Levitation Fest. But these guys are used to it. Touring is what they do best. And playing music. Slaying, I should say. Slaying and touring.
Fronted by Derek and Alex Ahmadi, who take turns doing lead vocals and guitar, James Sanderson on bass, and Mark Morones on drums, the Cosmonauts are heavy shoegazers with rock and roll hearts and pop proclivities and amps turned up way past 11. They’ve been doing their thing since 2010, when they released their eponymous debut album Cosmonauts on Permanent Records. Since then, they’ve put out three full length albums, one EP, a couple 7” singles, limited release cassettes, and contributed to numerous Burger mixes. And with titles like If You Wanna Die Then I Wanna Die, they’re my favorite band. And they should be yours, too.
I convinced Derek to answer some questions I had, so I could share them with the What Youth world. Read below, and check out these guys if you haven’t. They’ll blow your mind.—Maya Eslami
What Youth: Tell me about the Cosmonauts. How did you guys all meet?
Derek Cowart: Alex and I met outside of a Hollywood Video, when they were still open. Later we ended up playing solo sets at the same show and got together after that. We met James a bit later, through one of our drummers.
Speaking of which. How many different drummers have you guys had? Do you think that’s been beneficial to the bands’ sound?
I think we’ve had eleven different drummers haha. It’s definitely made writing songs as a band a bit more difficult at times. Mostly because we end up teaching drummers old songs instead of writing. I guess we must be difficult to be around? Oh well!
You guys tour more than any band I know. What’s your favorite part about touring?
Ha yeah, I guess we’ve kept pretty busy over the last few years. For me, the best part of touring is the shows. Exciting people and bumming out others is really, really fun.
Who’s your favorite band to tour with?
Touring with friends like Night Beats, Burnt Ones, and the Growlers has been really fun in the past. I think one of the bands we’re the most excited to tour with now is Holy Wave, from Austin, TX.
What bands are you guys stoked on right now?
Holy Wave rules. A Place to Bury Strangers are really awesome to see live. This band SUUNS from Canada has some rad songs. I heard Pavement might be working on a tour or a new record soon. So I’m pretty stoked on that.
You guys released Oh, You Know last year as a limited release cassette through Burger, which sold out almost immediately. Will some of these songs be on the new album?
Yeah, those songs were re-recorded for the new album along with a handful of other new tracks. The new album is called A-OK! and should be coming out in a few months on Burger Records. It’s our best stuff yet, so I’m really excited for it to come out and be a real tangible thing.
How was the recording process?
We recorded at Station House Studio in Echo Park this time… it was great! Mark Rains was behind the controls. We got all the live tracking done in a day and a half and the rest we put on top of that. Clear sounds and loud guitars.
You guys haven’t put out an LP since Persona Non Grata, but you tour like a bunch of maniacs. Do you guys come up with new songs on the road?
Some riffs start to peak out during sound checks and during the shows but usually Alex and I come in with ideas and hash them out from there. I do most of the writing, but Alex does a lot, too. Sometimes it’s just a skeleton of a song or a single riff that we bring each other. Other times we have entire songs almost finished by the time we jam them together.
What Youth asked you to play their issue 11 release party, but the cops shut down the show before you could play. Has that ever happened to you before? Not being able to play a show?
Haha oh yeah, that’s happened before. It’s always a huge bummer but that show was the first it’s happened in a while. Used to be a constant threat when we were playing more house parties. Now we’re squares who live on the right side of the law.
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you guys on tour?
We played Bakersfield once…