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Surfin’ the Universe

Man or Astro-man?

If there is an ocean in outer space, then Man or Astro-man? has clearly outsmarted NASA by about 20-plus years and counting. Though traditional surf rock faded with the British invasion, Man or Astro-man? proved that there was still a place for the genre despite the advent of the psychedelic rock movement. 

“We were never good at being a surf band; we grew up around punk rock,” says drummer Brian Teasley, who goes by the stage name Birdstuff. “When we were trying to get it right, we were getting it wrong.”

Blending an attempt at surf rock with punk rock vigor, and adding sci-fi inspired themes in both their performances and music, gave Astro-man an edge in keeping the genre alive. This year marks the band’s first full-length album with its original cast, Defcon 5...4...3...2...1, since 1997. 

“When we first started doing this again, I was really worried about how it was going to go. We developed and kind of became more proficient musicians,” Teasley says. “Over the years, you sort of learn what’s best for the band and what’s not.”

Defcon features 12 new tracks ranging from sci-fi breakdowns to heavy, primarily instrumental tracks more reminiscent of surf rock sounds. But it’s the interludes that round out the album and keep it grounded in sci-fi. Where one interlude will break down into synth-heavy, shimmering progressions, the next track will spark up with a dirty guitar line that is as much punk rock as it is grunge (but recorded intergalactically, of course). 

“We tapped into punk rock music and retro-futurism,” Teasley says. “We wanted it to be a show — a spectacle.”

Man or Astro-man? plays with the power-pop band Audacity 8 pm Tuesday, May 14, at Cozmic; $15.