Number One Astro-Mover
Guitarist Erich Hubner once was leader of edgy, hard-hitting (and now defunct) Atlanta alt-rock band Number One Family Mover. That might have made him an unlikely candidate to join the techno-twangers of Man or Astro-Man?, but since his first tour with the Astros in September 1998, Hubner's assimilation was so seamless that some fans didn't even notice he had replaced guitarist Brian "Star Crunch" Causey. "When we're on tour, I still have total strangers come up to me and ask, 'Remember when you stayed at my place that time?'" Hubner says of his oft-mistaken identity.
Hubner's physical resemblance to his predecessor was initially exploited during a short-lived "clones" project, in which Man or Astro-Man? assembled lookalike/soundalike bands to fulfill far-flung segments of their crowded tour schedule. As a clone, Hubner was called Chromo Crunch and was expected to reproduce the band's repertoire faithfully. However, upon becoming a full member he assumed a new Astro-name, Trace Reading, and began pushing the group in new directions. While recording MoAM?'s new album A Spectrum of Infinite Scale, that quest reached a wild extreme.
"For a track near the end of the record, I destroyed a guitar. When I smashed it in the studio, it picked up a radio signal playing a little bit of 'Baker Street' by Gerry Rafferty. We actually got into a censorship debate over that, and eventually we edited out the accidental sample, which was a drag, because it fit perfectly. That old Danelectro guitar was very sympathetic to whatever station that was."
The possibility of similar bizarre accidents explains why the Astro-Men have scheduled consecutive shows in Atlanta this weekend. "We're recording for a live album," explains Hubner, "and we're playing two nights just in case anything else goes wrong."
Man or Astro-Man? play the Echo Lounge, March 9-10.