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Man...or Astro-man?

Interview with Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard

Text & interview by Kieran | Live photos by Michael Kepler

This interview has been over a year in the waiting. (I won't bore you with the excuses...) About the time Man or Astro-man's CD EEVIAC came out (they have since released another album, A Spectrum Of Infinite Scale), I had the chance to interview one of the founding members of the band, Coco the Electronic Monkey Wizard. If you don't already know the entire story of how Man or Astro-man crash landed on Earth (specifically, Alabama) from outer space and now travel the world disguised as a surf-rock band looking for parts for their spaceship, you should read about it here or here.

This was definitely one of the more interesting interviews I've ever done. I already got the impression from reading other interviews that these guys either don't ever break character, or they're really from the Grid Sector 23-B61. So, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Here's my interview with an alien-turned-musician. (By the way, this is a pretty long interview; if you want a text-only version you can print out and read later, print this version.)

eWire: I've never spoken to anyone from outer space before, or even Alabama for that matter.

Coco: And over a standard GTE pay phone, no less! We're trying to break ourselves in and get used to this planet, so we like to use standard communication methods.

I'll skip the usual questions about how Man or Astro-man ended up on this planet, but I want to ask you what is the purpose of the band? Is it eventual global domination, or do you just have fun playing music?

All that stuff is included. When you crash land from outer space, global domination is sort of like a default — you don't really have a choice, it just goes with the territory. You've seen all the movies — when aliens come to earth, you gotta take over. It's just something you gotta do, so we're doing that. We are actually enjoying ourselves playing music, which is a side effect. But what we're trying to do is slowly bring you Earthlings up to speed with the music of the future, which we will of course be providing you. We can't unleash it on you right now at this time, because humans aren't quite ready for it. So we're in a transitional period trying to bridge the gap from the past and present of music to the future, what we call the Next Phase music.

Coco, fan of carbon dioxide.
I think you just answered my next question, which was that each Man or Astro-man album moves a little farther away from the pure sci-fi surf rock of the early records.


I was going to ask if this was a natural progression of the band, or are you slowly moving towards your "true" sound gradually so you don't damage human brains and ears.

You are catching on. It's a little bit of both. It's all part of the grand scheme of bringing you up to speed with the future sounds of Man or Astro-man. So you've already noticed that the early records had an Earthly idea and vision of outer space — of course the 60's vision of the future and of space and of science was way more exciting than it turned out to be. But we started with that maybe naïve sort of approach to the future as the initial groundwork of Man or Astro-man, and now we're slowing evolving that into the actual Man or Astro-man.

Well, we're looking forward to that.

(laughing) Excellent. We've been doing this over the course of many years so far, but we have expedited the process by releasing slightly more records than the average band does, just to kind of move things along.

Right (laughter). I noticed that you use a Mac to create the Man or Astro-man we bsite.

This is true.

Are Macs better than what you used to fly your ship?

Well, I'll tell you what. Macintosh has allowed us to create the web site which has been a very beneficial thing to the band. Our ship's computers, although good, ended up bringing us here to this planet by complete mistake. So, it's kind of a toss-up. In regards to making web sites I think the Macintosh is better; in regards to flying our ship you would think that the onboard system would be better than a Macintosh, but at this point we're stuck on planet Earth.

Maybe you should look into one of those new G3's.

Well, you realize that we've developed a whole new computer platform recently.

A small portion of the mighty EEVIAC supercomputer.
Yeah, which leads me to my next question: are Macs better than the EEVIAC?

Well, of course there's the new G3VIAC (laughter), that's not out yet.

Is that also translucent blue?

Exactly (laughs). Translucent blue mainframe supercomputer. I mean, Macintoshes are great, but whatever happened to the day when computers took up entire rooms? Computers that generated more heat than data. That's the golden age of computer technology right there! (laughter)

That's just another 60's view of the future not coming true.

Exactly! And they parallel Man or Astro-man beautifully. I mean, the EEVIAC supercomputer is, in a strange way, a metaphor for Man or Astro-man: the concept of this enormously inefficient, lumbering machine that seems like it takes constant input and constant energy in, for a tiny little bit of output (laughter).

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