Joe of Cosmonauts: Canada, Cold Harbor and The Cure

Believe it or not, teen pregnancy isn’t a new fad amongst the MTV audience. It’s been going on a long time and not every girl is getting a reality show because of it. Some are left with a guy who sucks and a baby inside of them that they can’t handle, so they’re pro-choice. You might think it’s a quick trip to the clinic, but sometimes girls are lost and take drastic measures to “get rid of the problem” and New York band Cosmonauts wasn’t afraid to tell a story like that in song. While the song itself is a stunning tale, it’s the video that makes it standout. It’s telling and graphic (not as graphic as a naughty pickup line Joe Mansman of Cosmonauts didn’t want me to share).

So keep on keeping on to find out more about how Cosmonauts creates stories to tell, if Donnie Darko is relevant to their lives, what their futures might hold and more.

Kendra: 16 and Pregnant might not adopt “Cold Harbor” as their new theme song anytime soon, but what made you guys want to do a song with such a heavy subject manner?

Joe Mansman: Well, ponderous subject matter really isn’t anything new to this band. Since our inception we have always written very anomalously, whether from a musical or a lyrical standpoint. We focus primarily on the characters behind the songs rather than their decisions. The things they do or the people they turn into are only a revelation of who they initially were.

Kendra:  Now moving to the video, which is as eye opening as the song is. It seemed like just another video until the end when you showcased the actual home abortion. That made my mind instantly head to Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy” and every Manson video. Were there ever any reservations to scale back and maybe show the before and after, but not the action?

Joe: We discussed the idea of releasing two versions of the video, a less graphic one and a Director’s Cut. After editing, we all felt that it was necessary to show what we did because the video had to serve the song, not vice versa. After we saw it all in context, we just agreed that we didn’t need to apologize for art.

Kendra: Your last two released were based on a story two of you had written; The Demise of Daniel Raincourt & The Disfiguration of Emily Malone. Does “Cold Harbor” belong to a concept record as well?

Joe: No, it is a stand alone track separate from the Daniel Raincourt storyline. “Cold Harbor” is loosely based on somebody that Bill met once, although not entirely as vivid as we approached it.

Kendra:  The two albums mentioned above again, written by some Cosmonauts. Any interest there in being an author and/or movie maker (there’s a fancier term, but let’s stick with that)?

Joe: Bill and I wrote those albums with the original intent of producing short films, a novel, or even comic books to coincide with their releases. We do have hopes of expanding creatively in these manners, but we may or may not do that with the Daniel Raincourt storyline. We just go with whatever feels right at the moment, and however we need to express that whether it’s in any of the aforementioned media’s or something else we just do it.

Kendra: Seeing that you guys do have an interest in the darker side of things and horror, is there any interest in ever doing a serial killer themed album? If so, who are some infamous ones you’d write about? (be careful, my home library is filled with those tales)

Joe: Funny you should say that! Yes we do, in fact we’ve been hinting at that idea for two years. In our first set of press pictures, on our vinyl artwork, and even in the lyrics for “The Heritage Day Parade.” But I will say no more!

Kendra: Back to Cosmonauts business…In another interview I read the you do the art and were influenced by the likes of Todd McFarlane. But I noticed it resembled that huge rabbit from Donnie Darko. Did that movie influence as well?

Joe: The honest answer is not at all. We had this idea of making scary animal masks for a photo shoot, and Jake (former guitarist) insisted on creating this warped looking rabbit mask. He accidentally cut the bottom of it too short and we had to replace it by customizing the only other mark we had laying around, which was a weird skull thing. It looked scary as all hell, so we just used it. We never even made the Donnie Darko connection until later on.

Kendra:  A random question to throw in the mix…Say Cosmonauts goes on for the next 20-30 years, what’s the one question you hope no one ever asks you guys again from this point on?

Joe: Hmm. I suppose we are tired of people calling us “The” Cosmonauts. A lot of people ask us if we will ever wear space suits on stage or if we will ever wear those silly masks live.

Kendra: You’ll be playing a handful of shows in your New York state hood. Any plans to get out of there and head north, south or west?

Joe: For the past two years we’ve rarely played local gigs actually. We used to travel all over the place in Sheldon’s Ford Taurus with a trailer hitch attached until we broke down near a swamp. Once we got a small van, we made it a point to play as many major metropolitan areas as we could. We believe in touring smart, so we rarely go out on two-three week stints at a time. We play a few local gigs here and there and on most weekends we get the hell out of town and play to people who’ve never heard of us. This winter and spring we want to focus on colleges, and heading West and South. Maybe even start playing Canada.

Kendra: Okay, now it’s time for the tradition, mixtape time! If you had to make a mixtape for Daniel to give to Emily, what would be the top 5 songs you’d put on it?

Joe:
The Cure “Burn
Anberlin “She’s a Drug
Blindside “Pitiful
Brett Detar “Road to Ruin Woman
Garbage “Only Happy When it Rains

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