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Martian Crisis Unit Releases "Hotspot Hotshot"

The Martians are making a move and released their first single off the upcoming EP Full Spectrum Dissonance. The single, “Hotspot Hotshot,” is wreaking Wi-Fi signal havoc already! So restart your modem and watch the accompanying music video, created by Erin Corbett.

We’re excited to share Martian Crisis Unit’s genre blending universe of absurdity, confrontation, high (and low) art, with some politically punk twists! We met with the Martian Leader, Neal Armstrong, to talk world domination:

When did Martian Crisis Unit come about and what inspired the name?

One fateful night, on New Years Day 2016 I met Mary Margaret O’Hara, who is Catherine O’Hara’s sister. She’s a really amazing musician, someone I looked up to. She only has one album (Miss America) but I love that album and it really spoke to me. I met her at Nirvana, a bar which doesn’t exist anymore and we became good friends. She thought it would be a good idea to get me to sing a song with her at her event, the ‘Martian Awareness Ball.’ I brought on some friends and did a comedy bit saying “We are Martians and we’ve been here for a long time. We want equal rights to humans on Earth,” which I thought was a funny reversal of the alien domination narrative. Like, we’re already here, we can’t dominate, so we’d just like to be equal. I did that and sang Lou Reed’s ‘Satellite of Love’ with Mary.

Afterwards, I couldn’t let it go and figured I needed to start writing my own songs. The idea of being a gang of Martians was also stuck in my head. Our first show was July 5th 2016, we only played 3 or 4 songs when the sound system broke! It was very disappointing.

How would you describe your sound?

In terms of genre I mean I always like punk. I’m really a punk guy at heart, but I listen to everything; funk, jazz, doo-wop, old rockabilly, electronica. I like a bit of everything so I try to blend sounds and textures that I enjoy.

Martian Crisis Unit performing at Baby G, Toronto

How many people are currently in the band and on the EP?

So on this EP we have 11 people. I think the live band is now technically up to 12.

It's got to be difficult, coordinating so many people.

I actually chose this as a survival strategy, where I figure if there’s enough people in the band and even just half the people show up, we can still be a band.

Did you come to Erin Corbett with the concept for your new “Hotspot Hotshot” music video?

Yes, so “Hotspot Hotshot” is a song I wrote that I consider to be prophetic. It was a fantasy about me getting fired and the office I worked in getting demolished, then turned into a condo building. Both of those things happened since I wrote the song.

I was also thinking about what a good contemporary superhero would be, and thought of someone who has the power to control Wi-Fi signals. So I took that, combined it with my stress around working in the office as well as feeling like an artist who doesn’t need an office job but, you know, needs to survive in a capitalist society, and it became a poem about that struggle. 

In terms of the plot and the way it unfolds in the video, that’s all Erin. I just gave the main concept plus some of the themes or imagery I wanted to see and she ran with it from there. I was very impressed!

Video game style dog sitting with tongue out in an office waiting area. Hotspot Hotshot music video screenshot.

You’re done recording your new EP Full Spectrum Dissonance. How was the experience?

We recorded at this space called Thread Junction Studios in Barrie, Ontario. We were one of the first bands to record there under the new ownership, Jesse Harradine. My understanding is that it was a studio in the 90s but then in the 2000s they busted it up into several smaller vocal booths. Apparently it ran into disrepair and, I think, was even closed for a while. 

So Jesse bought the studio, bought a bunch of vintage equipment (like microphones from the 30s), then took the original blueprints and restored it! It was a beautiful experience going there and recording with him. I’m very happy with how it sounds and we’ll definitely keep working there.

As far as recording itself, I’m very well accustomed to the live experience, but recording has been a newer thing for me. I had to learn what I liked and develop a sense of taste. I also had to accept the permanence of it. There’s the song, and then there’s the song as it exists in my imagination. On top of that, it’s a big band, so scheduling everyone was difficult. It took a long time just to do these 4 songs! I’m currently very happy with them.

Are there any cool techniques you’ve used while recording Full Spectrum Dissonance?

Well our flautist, Brian Taylor, is a very accomplished singing saw player and we always wanted to have his singing saw in the Martians, but in a live context it’s basically impossible to mic. So now there’s singing saw on our EP! We also experimented with a vocoder for the first time, so there’s some robotic voices slipping in and out of there.

What movie do you recommend watching in relation to this EP?

It’s funny you should say this, I’m doing a movie night on June 30th (at Eyesore Cinema) where I’m going to show the music video and have a listening party for the EP. I’ve been trying to think of what movie to show. I think I’m going to put on “Toys” starring Robin Williams and LL Cool J. I haven’t seen it since I was a kid, it may not be a great movie, but the themes of militarism within the crass commercialism of toy manufacturing has thematic resonance with this album.

The two lead singers of Martian Crisis Unit performing at Baby G, Toronto

What's next for Martian Crisis Unit?

We have a show at the Baby G, June 22nd, for our EP release. I’m putting our EP out on a USB key that will have the video and some imagery on it. On August 24th we’re playing the Humber River Music and Art Festival. I believe we’re closing, so right as the sun’s setting, you’ll be hearing Martian music. I also run a monthly movie night at Eyesore Cinema called Martian Movies.

I’m going to focus on recording again too. I have over 50 unrecorded songs.

Listen to "Hotspot Hotshot" and watch the video here:

Black and white photos by Alex Carre:


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