File under: Epic bummer. We've received confirmation that Astrophagus has been laid to rest. After seven years, countless shows and a revolving door of musicians, the band has simply outgrown itself and its name.
It's no secret that the band has struggled to keep its membership stable. The last few outings, including a month-long residency at Lost Lake, had the group stripped down to three members: brothers Jason and Josh Cain and Joshua Trinidad.
It was clear then that the group was on to something different. Experimenting with sounds way more far-out then you'll find on their records, the guys were drifting further and further away from their roots, entering instead a world of blissed-out jams, with gut-punching drumbeats and wild trumpet solos. The audience seemed a bit confused at the time, but we assumed it was all part of the act, part of a transition -- which, in a way, it was.
"There's too much expectation about how Astrophagus should sound," says Josh Cain, the man in charge of the electronic beeps, bloops and beats. "We'll still make music together," adds Jason, "but we're finished with the Astrophagus name."
For anyone who has watched Astrophagus's career, these might seem like strange statements. The band has changed considerably over the years, and the only real consistency has been the collaboration of the Cain brothers. The differences between their first record, Casualite, their last record, For Boating, and their recent performances are too numerous to mention. They've had a slew of members pass in and out of the band, and it seemed for a time that they'd never have a consistent drummer.
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For all the work they put into the Astrophagus brand, there was never a guaranteed lineup or sound -- each show had a sense of ambiguity behind it. You were never sure which face of Astrophagus to expect. This has certainly been heightened by the band's penchant for side projects, collaborations and guest appearances.
Astrophagus was born out of the shell of another Denver act, The Moths -- a metaphor that isn't lost on us or the band. The band names keep changing, but there is an internal consistency that is always present -- a nod to experimentalism, a shade of pop, a harnessing of different genres. Perhaps it's exactly that consistency bothering the group: The unexpected has become the inevitable. Astrophagus's journey, for now, at least, is complete.
"We're not sure what we'll make next, but Josh and I are definitely still involved," says Jason. "We've been making music together for nearly forever."
With countless side projects, a label to run and a town that will miss the group dearly, it seems apparent they'll still have a fan base, even without the name. It was a wild ride, one that struggled to coalesce into a solid, cohesive band. Regardless, here's to new beginnings.