ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: Astral Hand

LA’s psych-space rockers Hooveriii (pronounced hoover-three) came to Cactus Club Monday evening, enlisting Milwaukee’s Astral Hand as well as Minneapolis’ post-punk shoegazers Cult of Lip for an epic musical odyssey that brought in a packed house.

Astral Hand consists of vocalist/synthesizer Al Kraemer, guitarist Vic Buell, bassist Anthony Smith, and drummer Dan Dahl. This was their first show in an official venue since before quarantine. They are heavy psychedelic space rockers formed from the ashes of the band Calliope, which dissolved about three years ago. Kraemer elaborates.

“Calliope had a single called “Astral Hand” that we put out on a square lathe cut 7″, and there’s just other bands called Calliope…there’s a band called Calliope Musicals that’s been coming and playing in Milwaukee. We got hit up by a Calliope from eastern Michigan a couple times saying to maybe not keep using the name and we told them we were rebranding anyway. We’re in our mid-30’s now; we’re not a Doors-freak-Pink Floyd vibe band anymore, but I think we’ve still got some Pink Floyd vibes. We’ve spent the last couple years recording our new stuff at Howl Street.”

Kraemer and Buell’s other band Moon Rats has a similar narrative-driven epic storytelling approach but Astral Hand’s thematic design is quite different. They have one single out so far titled “Navigator.”

“It’s heavily Dune-influenced. We’re getting more into the synth-driven stuff. It was one of those tunes that we felt had the vibe of the album without giving too much of it away. The Guild Navigators in the Dune universe are immersed in a psychedelic gas that gives them prescient future-predicting abilities so that they can travel through fold-space safely, which nobody else can do. So there’s your “Navigator” right there. When we were writing this music I was just discovering Dune and I was freaking out about it.”

He shares what the band’s up to now.

“We just finished a music video for one of our tunes with Eddie Curran of The Keystones. We’re really stoked about it; there was a lot of really incredible set design. We wanted to put together some sort of teaser video to include in our EPK to send to record labels, really just showing them that we’re not messing around anymore. We’re gonna be forty in a few years, we don’t have time for this anymore (laughs). I think we’ve got a pretty good package to send out to people; we’ve always done it on our own or with our friends from Romanus Records – S/O to Chris and company. We’re just trying to find a label that’s more connected to the scene that we’re trying to infiltrate, and we’re hoping to do that in the next few months.”

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