"These artists (a duo) are a bizarre mix of interesting stage machinery, antics, funny salutes, sci-fi uniforms. The sound is minimalist electronic, not unlike Kraftwerk, but with a strong vocal aspect as well. They are slightly tongue in cheek, although the delivery comes across totally straight faced."
"Marvellously camp Krautrock send up act" (Captain Sensible)
John Collins (Krayon)
Rohan Adams (Montarg)
"Robotic Hand Song"
STARBASE 109 (2003)
01 Engineering Workshop
03 You're An Android
05 Waxworks Museum
06 Dialling Tone
07 Nursing Home
10 Cosmetic Surgery
11 Vacuum Cleaner
12 Radiation Leak
Link to download (192 kbs):
Friends Rohan Adams from Salford and John Collins from Hyde put the musical comedy act together two years ago and sing about such diverse subjects as vacuum cleaners, construction sights and waxworks museums.
The duo, who have performed at venues including the Roadhouse and Night and Day caf', describe their music as `industrial futurism' and claim their melodies have been uniquely designed to infiltrate the inner ear and frontal lobe area of the brain."
"there's always the rather odd starbase 109, who claim to be not from this earth (unlikely, but i'll give them the benefit of the doubt), whose stage setup is quite simply the most awesome yet lethal thing I've ever seen on a stage"
"Like em or loathe em, they got their own style.Saw em last night at the Stranglers gig, the point is that The Stranglers have always had strange supports, and this was like the early days of synth pop again, with a kraftwerky feel, plus bits of Depeche / Vince Clarke thrown in - quite amusing"
MY NEW INVENTION (2009)
02 Green Cross Code
03 Cash Machine
05 Alien Space Craft
06 Big Dog
08 Luxury Atlantic Liner
09 Construction Site
10 Future Generation
11 Pop Star
12 My New Invention
13 Vacuum Cleaner (Dance Version)
Link to download (192 kbs):
"If you like bands such as Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Human League, S.P.O.C.K., Kraftwerk, or Freezepop then do yourself a favour and check out their new album!"
"Starbase 109 are another band I’ve featured before, where I said: “This album has 13 synthpop songs to tickle your ribs. Their first album was full of brilliant low-key humour and thankfully My New Invention has more of the same, all wrapped up in tight beats and Kraftwerk-esque synthpop.“ This band are truly unique: you only have to see one of their rare live performances to understand why. It’s not often a song’s lyrics can make you laugh out loud, and this album has a whole hanger-full of tunes guaranteed to put a smile on your face. They should really be massive stars but perhaps Earth is still not ready for the eccentricities of Starbase 109."
"Starbase 109 had my feet tapping when they supported The Stranglers at Exeter University on Friday nite. And quite a few people were dancing.
It won't be long before the audience will be joining in with the actions for each song.
The Stranglers have a tradition of alternative support acts but Starbase 109 were far and away the best that I've seen.
It could be the anti-radiation hats. Think post apocalypse Trumpton fire brigade helmets. Or maybe that would be post Trumpton riots. These items of industrial headgear were for sale at the back the hall for 15 quid and I found myself strangely tempted.
It could have been the electro-mechanical whimsy. It could have been the actions Montarg and Krayon indulge in - not quite miming but almost performance art - which left me wondering if all those pretentious bands who stood beside their synths and looked bored missed a trick. Starbase 109 entertain their audience..."
"Starbase 109 are a space-age duo from Manchester, England who recently supported The Stranglers on a major UK-wide tour. If you like S.P.O.C.K. then odds-on you’ll definitely love Starbase 109. Their brand of humour is brilliantly deadpan and is present in both their songs and in their amazing live show. I saw them perform in Manchester a couple of years ago and have never seen anything quite like it before or since. Every tune has its own dedicated piece of engineering to illustrate the song, all lovingly crafted by the band: just check out this photo for one of them!
The new Starbase 109 album My New Invention has 13 synthpop songs to tickle your ribs. Their first album was full of brilliant low-key humour and thankfully My New Invention has more of the same, all wrapped up in tight beats and Kraftwerk-esque synthpop. Cigarette has a wheezy loop as its driving sound, while Alien Space Craft weaves in the Space Invaders dum-dum-dum-dum sound wonderfully.
It’s the lyrics though that particularly endear this band to me, lyrics like:
Phobia: “Is is climbing on the ceiling? Is it going to jump on my face? Is it floating in the toilet? Flush it down, get it out of my place!“
Big Dog: “There’s hairs all over my carpet and I can’t get rid of these fleas. He keeps on running away from me and hiding behind the trees.“
Biology: “Someone threw an eyeball at me. Hit me in the face. I didn’t like it very much.“
Vacuum Cleaner: “Have you checked the filter on the vacuum cleaner? It isn’t working any more. Have you checked the plug? It’s probably broken. Or perhaps it’s blown a fuse.“
A new phenomenon has emerged in Manchester over the last year. A music never before heard to the human ear. It can only be described as Industrial Futurism.
Founded members are Montarg and Krayon their mission here is to influence the younger generation for what is to come and the older generation to put back what is gone.
The lyrics to their songs have been translated, in order to be understood by humans, melodies have been designed to infiltrate the inner ear and frontal lobe area of the brain.
Helmets and Uniforms must be worn at all times to prevent radiation exposure.
For those who have not experienced the enigma of Starbase 109 be warned Industrial Futurism might just be here to stay for a long time to come.
As they said, their influences are Kraftwerk, Lady Gaga, The Residents, Devo, Thomas Dolby, The Beatles, and Abba.
"My name is John and I am in a synth duo called Starbase 109. We have been said to be Manchesters answer to Kraftwerk. Well it's nice to think so but we are still at our early stages. Plus we are very different in so many ways. More vocals than instrumental, no use of vocoders, different image although certainly as interesting.
Kraftwerk have a much cleaner image more computerised and futuristic. We are more like factory workers in a dirty engineering facility.
We wear helmits and have theatrical steam engines on stage, police lights and a vacuume cleaner.
Our songs are mainly about the mechanical nature of modern life."
If they have been said to be Manchesters answer to Kraftwerk, then their music is a kind of answer to Devo as well.
Frankly, when i first showed one of their songs "Green Cross Code" to my girlfriend, she thought this is a new Devo song. Apart from the music, though members of Starbase 109 are not such "progressive, experimental-minded punk rockers" like Devo, but their crazy factory workers-outfits comparable to Devo's futurist and kitch sci-fi image.
One more fact, eiher Devo and Starbase 109 has a satirical sense of humour. Some examples are above and one more here:
"Gravedigger digging a hole out in the rain in all weathers
You must have a morbid fascination to do a job like that" (from "Gravediger")
And both Devo and Starbase 109 have their own particular view of things:
"Devo philosophy—the theory of “de-evolution”, positing that humans are descended from brain-eating cannibal apes, and that our future as a species sees us regressing back to that simian state.
Humans, they claim, are no longer intellectually advanced creatures on the order of Albert Einstein.
The band painting a grim, dystopic picture: a future in which people become progressively stupider and less aware of how easy it is to brainwash and manipulate them, turn them into fleshy androids."
Starbase 109 also try to portray the idiotism of this dark and inhumane mechanized world:
"We are not humans, we're only machines"
"2 Identical Organisms
We are not from here but where?
In another place, shall I tell you?
We were made artificially
We were found geographically
In deep space"
So with Starbase 109, these "fleshy androids" just arrived from a devolutioned cold future where everything can be replaced by robots even love and lovers. In my view the song "Electronic Lover" has such a meaning:
"Electronic Lover (ah ahh)
Where are you now
She led me into the bathroom
I didn't know her very well
She looked at me and I noticed
She had Cyborg eyes Yeah
She had Cyborg eyes Lover
Thrust your thighs into my eyes
When I noticed your micro chips it was a surprise
I can see you're an android in disguise
But I don't mind cause you're computerised.
Electronic Lover (ah ahh)"
These songs are vision of a prospective world where there is no place for emotions. There are only robots left who emotionless analyse and repeat the dry facts:
"Intergalatical Space Station
It' so big
It's so large
Intergalatical Space Station
Intergalatical Space Station
It's got a big computer
With lots of buttons
We are on board the quest to find the truth
Where no man has ventured in a Space Station
It's so big
Intergalatical Space Station
It's so large
Intergalatical Space Station"
At least they try to warn us:
"Our mission here is to influence the younger generation for what is to come and the older generation to put back what is gone."
They get either positive and negative reviews. Some positive:
"Querky and sort of hypnotic in a strangely weird way I like these fellows"
"I know Starbase 109 are brilliant but I've since seen Kraftwerk live and I think they're nearly as good."
"Fucking weird shit but it sounds? ok:)"
And some funny negative ones:D
"these guys are the most anoyying thing in the WORLD"
"These are easily the wierdest motherfuckers i've ever seen."
"no i just drank at the bar rather? would have eaten scorpion or a worm than listen to that drone . anyone who likes them must be deranged"
"Unfortunately I saw these supporting the stranglers on monday in Newcastle.? It's the only time I've ever seen a standing ovation when a band said "this is the last song"
"To make things worse the support act (of the Stranglers), Starbase 109, were very hard to take seriously. Imagine an English version of Kraftwerk singing songs about road safety and a broken Vacuum Cleaner and you get the idea – industrial, avant-garde electro music should be left to the Germans."
But if you think they are "weird idiots or they are electronic crap to the point of being hilarious" to whom you needn't take serious you are dead wrong.
Behind this impersonal "android in disguise" outlook and straight face, there is a deep seriousness. An example is "Metro Link" where they emphasise the imporatnce of the enviromental protection:
" Montarg and Krayon, have written a song about the merits of Metrolink and have pledged their `other-wordly' support to the campaign to save the three new extensions.
`Montarg' said: "Futuristic do-gooders are trying to do right by bringing in this Metrolink before the balance of the future is upset and we at Starbase from the future bring the message that we have to do the right thing by the next generation.
"We can only say that from our inspections this is an excellent and highly efficient form of transport and this development is not done, Manchester will not go any further forward in business and as a Metropolis. We predict that all other forms of man-made public transport will be oblivious in the not too distant future. There will be nothing left except Metrolink." (http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/s/128/128262_metrolinksong.html)
"Metro Link is fast and economical
Metro Link is fast and economical.
Don't drive your car
And save on petrol
You'll save a lot of money if you don't drive"
They even criticise the negative attitude of pop-star-ism:
"Everybody wants to be a star and to be famous
But no one wants to write a good song and be original at the same time
A sexy looking girl is all they want just to sell records
But no one wants a good song and be original at the same time."
And at the same time they answered -i read it somewhere- the negative comments too:
'if you dont like our music it aint our fault'
Anyway i can totally understand why The Stranglers chose them to support their concerts. I think it is not about the helmets of Starbase 109 which are not so purple (Stranglers side-project was the legendary Purple Helmets: http://www.downinthesewer.com/purple.php), rather because Starbase 109 is "Just like nothing on earth" (Stranglers song from 1980) ...:)
But if you just think about Stranglers weird but fantastic "The Gospel According To The Meninblack" 1980 esoteric concept album where conspiratorial ideas surrounding alien visitations to Earth.....or about the song "Meninblack" from their 1979 LP: "We Are Meninblack/ We Are Meninblack/ Healthy livestock so we can eat/ Human flesh is porky meat hee hee heeeeeeeeeeeeeee ....."We are not humans, we're only machines/ You're an Android model 76471/ Battery powers low/Battery powers looooooooooooooooooooow." (from Starbase 109 - "You're An Android")......and we can bring here Devo too if we are talking about impersonal robots and aliens or deevolution....""Are we not men? We are devo!/We're pinheads now/ We are not whole/ We're pinheads all/ Jocko homo/Are we not men?/D-e-v-o" (from Devo - "Jocko Homo")........Starbase 109 also sing about this kind of jocko homo attitude of the humankind and the absurdity of a world mechanized in an extreme way. (also read this: http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=3062)
One thing is clear: Starbase 109 is totally unique, and wether you like them or not, they are such a band must talk about, and you can not be neutral.
"Starbase 109 is a Macunian duo built from scraps off Kraftwerk & Devo’s kitchen tables. Minimalist elektro-pop and house-husbandry – crucial for those missing the better part of the early 80s. Those who love both bands mentioned and also Numan/Tubeway Army, Telex, YMO, The Flying Lizards and Silicon Teens; this is for you." (http://ricecooker.kerbau.com/page/95/)
I share this view as i really love this band. They bring back something from that 80's feeling i really miss. And i just wish them lot of success.
Belive me, they are wonderfully original. And what else is the main point of new wave if not this?
Their old page where you can find some lyrics as well:
Check also this interview:
One more info:
John Collins younger brother is the jazz bass player Ollie Collins (http://www.olliecollins.com/). Check his site, he plays wonderfully jazz!
Starbase 109 (2003)
My New Invention (2009)