Astronautalis comes to Denver with fellow wordsmith Buck 65 on Thursday, Apr 23 to light up The Bluebird Theater.
Throughout his career, Andy Bothwell has taken his stage presence in Astronautalis to depths of studious hip-hop seen in very few artists. By combining his love of history, traveling and music, he paints lyrical landscapes so vivid a listener often has the ability to believe they’ve jumped through time. As a performer, his high-energy stage meandering and vein-popping aggression with the microphone puts him in a class all his own. He comes to Denver with fellow wordsmith Buck 65 on Thursday, Apr 23 to light up The Bluebird Theater.
1. It’s been said before Astronautalis “didn’t stumble into the life of a drifter, but he was born into it” — do you ever see yourself settling down anywhere?
As I get a few more years under my belt, I find myself letting my roots dig a bit deeper into the soil here in Minneapolis. I really have fallen in love with this city, and its people, so I do see myself settling a little bit. Which, it should be noted: My version of ‘settling down’ is what most people would still consider ‘traveling nonstop.’
2. What was it about history that made you want to learn more about it?
The legacy of a good story. For an agnostic — like myself — death is probably a pretty final thing, you know? So, without the promise of an afterlife, what are we left with? We are all given the chance to leave behind a legacy of some kind, good or bad, great or small.
3. Who are three of your favorite historical characters and why:
Thomas Jefferson: Beyond all of the amazing things he is rightfully lauded for, regarding our American Revolution, I am enamored by his sadness and his heavy heart. He was such an optimist, he had such faith in humanity, and it shows in the audacity of his actions as a leader for independence. However, when you read about how disappointed he was in how quickly the young country he helped create had already slid into corruption by the time he left office … I empathize. I have a lot of faith in humanity, but sometimes, humanity is REALLY hard to love. It is nice to see that this is not just a contemporary struggle, you know?
Andrew Jackson: I am sure people will get upset about this one, because he most certainly committed genocide on thousands upon thousands of Native Americans. But the older I get, the more I appreciate the complexity of historical figures. Jackson has blood on his hands for the unjust deaths of so many Native Americans, and yet, when he came across a small Native American boy on the field of battle, Jackson adopted him, and raised him as his own. There was nothing second-class about his treatment in the family, he sent him to West Point! Jackson adopted several children, and raised them all as if they were his own blood. What a total curve ball! Beyond all of that, there are the amazing facts about Andrew Jackson's dueling record. He was the best duelist in Tennessee, served out his presidency with a bullet in his lung! Once — after losing a duel — and surviving due to a successful surgery to remove the slug, he put it in an envelope, and mailed it back to the man who shot him, with a note that said, "I believe this belongs to you?" MIC DROP!
James Hepbrun, the IV Earl of Bothwell: Devout Scottish patriot, notable ladies man, possible practitioner of black magic. Had an affair with Mary, Queen of Scots (possibly killed her first husband, and staged a kidnapping of her so they could be married). Tried to take over Scotland so he could be with Mary. Oh yeah, and he is one of my first ancestors. Had to save that one for last.
4. What country has the tastiest food, and what’s your favorite dish there?
China. I was traveling there, with my brother, who is a chef and fluent in Mandarin … so I was lucky. I was doubly blessed, and we ate like Chinese people. Eating in hidden night markets in secret little plazas. There was no one dish that stood out to me; it was the quality of the entire process. A process that would fail every American health inspection — gave me brutal stomach problems, and was some of the best food I have ever tasted.
5. You’ve called plenty of cities home in the past, so why Minneapolis? Why now?
I could wax on about this for hours, but the short answer is, there is no other creative scene like this in America. The support at every level, from press to radio, to clubs to fans … this is not happening anywhere else. On top of all of that, I have never seen a city in the states that is so collaborative. Most music scenes are very competitive and isolated, Minneapolis is quite the opposite.
6. There have been various mentions of a new album on the horizon via your social sites — can you elaborate more yet or is it still a big secret?
It’s done. I’m very proud of it. We are talking to labels to find the right home for it … and it will be worth the wait.
7. If it weren’t for hip-hop, where do you think you’d be?
I actually have a degree from a fine university. I was trained to be a director and lighting designer for theater, opera, and ballet … so, if it weren't for rap, I would probably be on top of a very tall ladder, in some theater right now, hanging lights.
8. Can we have one of your motorcycles?
9. Who do you think is the better lover, you or Buck 65?
Not sure. That is why we booked this tour, to settle this ONCE, AND FOR ALL!
10. What does the future hold for Astronautalis?
Apparently a kissing battle between me and Buck 65?
*No fucking way, bro.