Who the Hell are... The Phenomenauts?

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The Phenomenauts? Who are they?

Depending on your perspective, they’re either a band of extremely eccentric American gentlemen in dashing uniforms, or they’re a crew of spacemen from the future who are travelling the globe to enlighten earthlings, recruit “cadets” (more commonly known as fans) and save the world. Either way, drummer Major Jimmy Boom, bassist Atom Bomb, keyboardists/effects men Agent Ion O’Clast and Professor Greg Arius, as well as guitarists/vocalists Commander Angel Nova and Leftenent AR7, live by a strict code of “Science and Honour”.

What do they sound like?

They call it “Rocket Roll”. We’d call it a raucous combination of punk ‘n’ roll and new wave, that features a smattering of instrumentation invented and built by the band – including something called a Theramatic Helmerator, which is a theremin-type rod that happens to be part of Leftenent AR7’s space helmet. (Sorry ladies – that’s not a euphemism) Latest album Escape Velocity came out last summer.

Well, where do these mysterious men call home?

The Phenomenauts reside in a large warehouse, in an industrial part of Oakland, California, that they exclusively refer to as The Command Center. The Command Center contains numerous futuristic gadgets, a large stage for impromptu gigs, elaborate lighting systems and a Jacuzzi hidden beneath a trapdoor. The space-age parties held at The Command Center are legendary – partly because of the annual zombie party they’ve hosted every Halloween for at least the last decade, and partly because its specific address is never revealed on flyers, so an in-the-know cadet has to guide you to it.

If they’re really from the future, why don’t they tour in a time machine?

Actually, they usually do. The band’s favourite mode of transportation is The Phenomabomber. It might look like an old van that’s just been decorated with scrap metal and painted silver to you, but ask the band and they’ll tell you: The Phenomabomber is a time machine. (They tend to use a lot of lasers on stage, so we’re inclined to believe them…)

Do I have to be a sci-fi nerd to go and see them?

It does help if you are, but despite the elaborate back-story and (kind of insane) commitment to detail, you don’t need to be a sci-fi obsessive in a costume to enjoy this. While the sextet has a hardcore fan base in the U.S. that also wears uniforms and talks about science a lot, all you really need to enjoy The Phenomenauts’ live show is a fondness for catchy choruses, loud guitars and super-energetic live shows.

The Phenomenauts play at Brighton’s Prince Albert (November 25th), London’s Camden Underworld (26th), Derby’s Hairy Dog (28th) and at Norwich’s Owl Sanctuary (29th).