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Interview: Junior Astronomers Strike Back

Terrence Richard sits down with Salute

Salute Magazine‘s Brook Barnes spoke with lead singer Terrence Richard of the band Junior Astronomers today. Their rising success is one of impeccable excitement as they recently released their second album Body Language. On the horizon is a tour heading to the West Coast.

While the adrenaline is still pumping from the album’s release, Richard was able to take some time out of his busy schedule to chat. As it turns out, all four band members; Philip Wheeler, Terrence Richard, Colin Watts and Elias Pittman, grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. They met while going to the same high school and spent four years as best friends before Wheeler and Richard suggested starting the band. That was in 2007, and five yeas later they released their first album Dead Nostalgia.

After perfecting their second album four years later, the band is now ready to kick the intensity up and get their music out to all of their fans as fast as possible. In the age of social media, artists–whether old or new–are gaining more traction by the sheer impatience of their fans. Running to Target to buy an album is ancient history now. It’s all about the digital age, and for JA they strategically market themselves in order to cater to their audience faster. While on the phone we got back to the basics of the origins of the band and what their ultimate goal as a group is.

Salute: The world needs to know, how did the name of the band come to light?

TR: We came up with it randomly because, I think Phillip, was watching The Simpsons. One of the characters mentioned junior astronomers and we liked it so we rolled with that. In the end, it worked out because if you google us there’s no question when we come up. We are the only Junior Astronomers on the entire first page and we love that for publicity and marketing. My mom can now always be able to know what I’m up to and she does.

Salute: Who is the lyricist of the group? What’s the breakdown of the writing process?

TR: I write all of the lyrics. Day to day, I try to go out and be around as many people as I can–live as much as possible to gain content and perspective. Everyday we never know how long this could last or not last. It’s awesome getting out there to experience, and that’s how I mostly get inspired creatively enough to start the writing process.

Salute: So you’d say the process is a very personal one?

TR: It’s all personal. The song “Laid Out” off of Body Language is about being in a music festival in Atlanta. I got a little too drunk and woke up next to one of the music venues really confused. In the end, I lost my glasses…I realized very quickly that I shouldn’t party alone like that again. And I should always have the guys with me. But those stupid moments make for some great stories and even better songs.

Salute: When was the ‘oh shit’ we’ve made it moment?

TR: I think it was listening to the record back when we first got the original mix. We all looked at each other knowing this was going to be great. The whole team has been super excited about it. I’m pretty sure we all collectively thought ‘oh shit,’ people are really gonna dig this. The album has been done for the past six months so we’ve been anxiously waiting for the release. That’s the hardest part. We all knew people would love it and we just wanted time to hurry up so we could share it with the world. Now that it’s finally here we can’t wait for fan response.

Salute: What is your favorite on-stage moment where you connected with the fans?

TR: That luckily happens a lot. We have a special show because our guitar player Philip and I have the same birthday. And we have a show every year to celebrate that. It’s the most high energy atmosphere we ever experience. I’ve had fans tell me they’ve met the person they ended up marrying during the concert that weekend. Another great thing is when those fans have ended up bringing their wedding party to our birthday party show. Nothing beats getting to look out and see the whole wedding party and we love celebrating that with them.

Salute: Who has the weirdest/goofiest pre-show routine?

TR: Half of us – well, three of us – drink the whole time and one of us doesn’t. The weirdest is the fact that our bass guitarist doesn’t drink at all so he just gets the front row seat to seeing us act ridiculous. It doesn’t affect us or get in the way of our performances, and he ends up making fun of us a lot. But it’s all good, more drink tickets for me in the end.

Salute: Getting cliché for a moment, what’s the message you want to tell your fans through your music?

TR: My answer is just as cliché. I want them to live and enjoy themselves. Don’t be scared to be yourself. Don’t be scared to take risks. It’s all I’ve done in my life – it’s been awesome and is working out. When you do what you love you work that much harder to keep the dream alive. The payoff is 100% better. My parents were so worried about me at first. For the past five years, they haven’t been though. They called me telling me how proud they were of me recently. For them to be proud and not have to worry is the biggest honor.

Salute: What was on your mind when you made the Body Language track list backward with Parts 1 & 2?

TR: We started with “Part 2” because it’s the ending of the story of the whole deal. I’m a huge movie buff and I love movies that do that. It’s a lot more interesting to me seeing the stories going back to the beginning to explain how it all went down. It doesn’t matter how you number it, the beginning and the end can be and are the same. I love Pulp Fiction because Tarintino pulled that off so perfectly. We want the fans to be able to figure out how we want to tell the story and follow it through to the end.

Salute: What’s the plan for touring?

TR: We’re playing the whole record, start to finish, tonight and tomorrow for the release parties. We’ve got some big plans for the West – we’ve been everywhere in the East, Midwest and upwards from there. We used to tour in our big, smelly bus for six years but it eventually died. We’re doing it smart this time and getting a van instead. We’re really excited to try out a new territory.

Salute: What’s the end goal for musical success?

TR: Money obviously…No, in all seriousness, growth is the true passion and becoming a better person. I want to continue traveling for myself and for all of us. We all need to experience every different place [and] I want to learn more about myself. Learning other people’s stories is a huge plus too. I think it helps a lot with perspective. There’s a new rhythm in each city that is awesome to experience. You learn a lot about why you love what you’ve had growing up and what you’ve earned as an adult. Not seeing this building or going to this particular space. Maybe not meeting someone who speaks another language or who had a different childhood than you. It’s about understanding humans and conditions of all. We all have this connection. JA’s connections are through music, but how we get there is through talking.

Stream: Junior Astronomers Body Language

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