The late afternoons of last fall found high school seniors Travis Harrington and Kameron Vann eating a lot of trail mix and listening to a lot of Pavement. And during those odd times between final projects they stole away to an attic and recorded their second album, Hedonism Colosseum. After years of playing together since they met in 6th grade, the Wilmington punk duo debuted last summer to an enthusiastic reception with Rat-Man Vann. It established Astro Cowboy‘s sound as an energetic ball of frustration, with Vann’s quick high hat smashes and Harrington’s raw vocals and smart, snarly lyrics. But Hedonisum Colosseum finds Astro Cowboy developing as a band to be taken more seriously. Album opener “White Shoes,” trudges to a hot catchy chord progression while Harrington crushingly pleads, “I just want to make this work, but maybe it’s just too worn out.” Second track, “Suntan” comes in under two minutes as a jangly guitar fidget with Harrington’s witty comparison of relationships to sunburns. But overall Hedonisum Colosseum is a celebration, as Harrington sings in “Stare,” of “ignorantly wallowing in youth.” The 10 tracks are a cohesive thrilling capture of that sacred time of straddling the cusp of adulthood. “It describes a period when I was consumed by only caring about myself and my happiness with no regard for anyone else,” Harrington says. We’ve all been there, filled with fear and anger, having more questions than answers. And while those feelings aren’t original, Hedonism Colosseum tells those stories with a brutal honesty that’s fresh amid the aloof trends of up and coming bands. Astro Cowboy are comfortable with embracing that they don’t really give a fuck about anything except being true to themselves. Hedonism Colosseum is brilliant in its confidence, and strong in its sound, which according to the band is best heard while “almost drowning in a swimming pool.”
What I wanted to be when I grew up:
T: A NASCAR driver. Jeff Gordon was my favorite driver, the rainbow warrior.
K: I totally wanted to be an astronaut. If somebody told me to sign a waiver that said you can go into space but you’re going to die, I would sign it and die in space, happily.
Currently playing in my car:
T: I don’t have a car but Kameron’s got a fucking Volvo station wagon with a 6 CD disc changer.
K: I can list every single CD that’s in there right now. Born Ruffians’ Red Yellow and Blue. The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night, I just got that at Harvest Records. Bob Dylan’s Bringin It All Back Home. Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s Daytrotter session. Is This It? by the Strokes. And then Vampire Weekend’s newest album.
K: Travis hates when people pull his hair and I hate it when he pulls my toes.
T: I somehow always get urine on my pants when I pee. I’m just always really mad about it all the time.
K: Ok. This is a good one: Emma Stone, Emma Stone without a leg, and Emma Stone without an arm.
T: You’ve really just shown how shallow you are Kameron. But I’m gonna go with kill Emma Stone without an arm to put her out of her misery, marry normal Emma Stone, and fuck legless Emma Stone for the story.
If I could be anyone from history:
T: Alexander the Great. That Hellenistic revolutionary empire was crazy shit man.
K: I would totally be Alex Turner.
T: Alex Turner’s been a wanker since he’s been born.
K: He’s so fucking good. I watch the video of the Arctic Monkeys playing at Glastonbury like a ritual. He’s a good looking guy too, and he has a beautiful voice. He’s my bromance.
Best thing I can cook:
T: I’ve been told that I have the most worthless tongue on the planet, as far as pairings and what goes good with things. I don’t trust myself anymore when it comes to making good food. But I suppose I can make a good scrambled egg.
K: I can make a good salmon and asparagus meal.
T: No, listen to this. One night we were all hanging out and Kameron comes in asking for a pan, then he comes in and asks for olive oil. We ask him why but he says, “Don’t worry about it man.” He fries up this salmon patty and he just shakes a shit ton of garlic salt and oregano on it. He doesn’t cook it good, he just cooks it until it’s all falling apart and charred. And he tells us it’s “salmon bits.” It was the consistency of bacon bits but it was salmon.
K: But it was good to us because we were drunk.
T: That same night he also came up to me and said, “I’mma cook you a Hot Pocket dude, don’t worry about it.” And instead of microwaving it, he tries to be classy and pan fry it. The outside was really crispy but the inside was luke warm and it basically fell all apart. He brought it to me in a bowl and said, “It’s Hot Pocket salad.”
K: Yeah, it was straight pepperoni Hot Pocket salad.
Favorite music video:
T: “Hey Ya” by OutKast
K: “Hardest Button to Button” by the White Stripes.
Favorite article of clothing: (T&K are wearing them in the picture above)
T: This shirt is my favorite shirt because it makes me feel like a young protagonist in a 1960s movie about overcoming your childhood bully. It’s by Vans.
K: This shirt is actually my favorite shirt too. I dated this girl for a really long time and she gave it to me. It was her dad’s shirt. It’s just really comfy.
If I could be on a reality show:
T: Buck Wild.
K: Remember that show I Love New York?
T: Fuck yes.
K: I’d totally try and woo a black girl.
Most Recent Worst Purchase:
K: This lighter I bought off of Amazon.
T: But what he’s not telling you is that he called me and was like, “Travis, can I borrow $40 for this lighter off of Amazon? I swear I’ll pay you back.”
K: I still use it. It’s cool. It’s got a hawk on it. My spirit animal is a hawk. One night I was having a rough time and I had some alcohol in me and my friend stared me in the eyes and said, “Dude, your spirit animal’s a hawk.” And I was blown away. I just recently took a trip to the mountains and found a giant hawk feather so it’s definitely my spirit animal. I’m gonna hang that feather up in my car.
T: If I had a spirit animal, I’d be some weird bird slash small rodent. If you could combine a pigeon and a opossum, that’s what I’d be.
K: Everyone has a spirit animal. You just have to find it.
T and K: Jeremiah Green
T: Yeah, Jeremiah Green of Modest Mouse on drums.
K: Mac Demarco on guitar.
T: On lead though, that man’s got some sick lead.
K: Julian Casablancas singing.
T: Who’d be on rhythm guitar detail?
K: Honestly I think Albert Hammond Jr.
T: Who’s got that bass power?
K: Travis’s dad.
T: Yeah my Dad’s 5’4 and he plays a standup bass and he gets really into it. He calls it “feeling the music.” But I’m trying to get some keys in the band too. So Ben Folds.
K: Conor Oberst.
T: Fuck Conor Oberst.
K: I love him.
T: What would he do? Other than be sad and drink coffee, what would he do?
K: He’d do the backup whiney vocals for Julian.
T: Yeah, I’m cool with that. That’s our band.
K: And we’d be the managers.
T: And they’d play in every laundromat around the country. And they’d be called Ghost Deer.
K: I was a candidate for “Best Smile” but I didn’t win.
T: I won “Most Original.”
T: Oh damn. Fuck. You’ve stumped us.
K: Do you realize how hard of a question this is? We’re just 17 year old boys that spend all our time thinking about this. God dammit.
T: Ok so it would totally be Anne Frank. I would totally take Anne Frank out on a date because when I read the Diary of Anne Frank in 4th grade I had the biggest crush on her. I wish that I had been Peter Wessel and that I had been holding Anne Frank’s hands. I would try to get her out of the country and save her. But then if that would have happened, Jeff Mangum would have never written In An Aeroplane Over The Sea.
K: Alright, so mine’s a little more simple. There was this girl in my 11th grade Spanish class and she was one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. She was gorgeous but she was a senior at the time so I totally wasn’t cool enough for her. So I’d just sit next to her and stare at her. But I’d take her on a classic date downtown. I was actually downtown last night and I thought about it. We’d have a nice meal downtown on an outdoor patio. Her name is Alex and I hope she reads this and contacts me.
Astro Coyboy plays this Saturday night at Gravity Records‘ 10th Anniversary Party at Bougie Nights in Wilmington. Wilmington’s Free Clinic, Southport’s Museum Mouth and Durham’s Gross Ghost also share the bill. Show up at 8 because it’s FREE!