We regret to inform you that Two Inch Astronaut is breaking up, especially because each time we hear that news our hearts get heavy all over again. After nearly 10 years of being a band, the DC post-hardcore alt rock trio is taking an indefinite hiatus. There’s no bad blood between all three members—singer and guitarist Sam Rosenberg, bassist and vocalist Andy Chervenak, and drummer and cellist (among many other things) Matt Gatwood—or abstinence from music at large—Gatwood has a standout solo album in the works, Chervenak is making music with Sloganeers, and Rosenberg is priming an EP under his Mister Goblin moniker—that you need to worry about. Instead, you need to catch the band live on their last hurrah this July. And after that, it’s about being grateful Two Inch Astronaut left us with so much great music, including last year’s Can You Please Not Help.
There’s a lot to champion on Can You Please Not Help, Two Inch Astronaut’s newest and likely last record. It’s got the usual bombastic, reckless, and heavy guitar playing that makes them stand out from their peers. The band’s sound would be a cult favorite had it existed in the ’90s, and this album sees all three members find their peak as a unit, sounding far bigger and more intricate than any trio should sound while waxing wry lyrics in between.
“I’d like to think we’ve gotten better at writing and playing generally, but as a member that’s sort of hard to have perspective on,” says Rosenberg. “I just think we have less reservations about doing things in our songs that wouldn’t normally be found in our ‘genre,’ such as Matt’s cello arrangement at the end of ‘I’ll Leave You Alone’ or Matt and Andy doing barbershop harmonies in the choruses of ‘Play to No One.’ We used to stick pretty faithfully to the whole guitar, bass, drums script, but now if we have a wacky idea for something, or if a song seems to call for a less traditional device, we tend to just lean with it.”
To give Two Inch Astronaut’s blend of musical wit one final hurrah, we interviewed Sam Rosenberg for a round of Wheel of Tunes, a series where we ask musicians questions inspired by their song titles. With Can You Please Not Help as the prompt, his answers are at once comical and intriguing—a peak into the band’s onstage persona you can see firsthand when it headlines O’Brien’s Pub this Monday.
DIGBOSTON: Considering the English dictionary accepts new words, including slang, as years pass, what word would you love to see added to the dictionary?
ROSENBERG: Mermolt: When a mermaid molts and finds a new fish tail.
2) “Can You Please Not Help”
DIGBOSTON: When you were a kid, what was the one thing you were persistent about doing by yourself?
ROSENBERG: I had a toy lawn mower that produced bubbles that I was pretty serious about. If anyone tried to show me how to use it or tried to usurp my position with a real lawn mower, they were getting cut the fuck down.
3) “Play to No One”
DIGBOSTON: How small was the smallest crowd you ever played to?
ROSENBERG: We once played to two members of the complex community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract. This was at Bard College, I believe.
4) “Lure Coursing”
DIGBOSTON: What’s the most underrated purebred dog breed?
ROSENBERG: Mutts for life. Shouts out to Rusty.
DIGBOSTON: In your opinion, what ingredients make or break a great coleslaw?
ROSENBERG: There’s no such thing as a good coleslaw, but there’s an Asian variation that uses rice vinegar that is tasty.
6) “Snitch Jacket”
DIGBOSTON: When is the one time you think it’s acceptable to snitch on somebody?
ROSENBERG: I worked in a kindergarten classroom this year. We taught the kids that you can snitch if you’ve already made a request—like, “I didn’t like it when you did ____ because it made me feel ____. Can you please not do that again?”—and it hasn’t worked out, or if someone is being unsafe with their body or their friends’ bodies.
7) “Not Your Birthday”
DIGBOSTON: What time of year do you wish your birthday was instead of the actual month/season it is?
ROSENBERG: October, the finest month.
8) “Name Out of Mouth”
DIGBOSTON: Whose name do you have trouble pronouncing and why is it hard for you?
ROSENBERG: Honestly, it’s hard for me to say my own name in a way that other people understand, for some reason. If I’m introducing myself, it just becomes a string of mumbles.
9) “I’ll Leave You Alone”
DIGBOSTON: How do you politely let somebody know that you want personal space?
ROSENBERG: I usually employ a combination of a pretty good glare that I’ve honed over the years and body language that says, “Get the fuck out my face please, friend.” This is one of my greatest skills. When I was a teenager I worked as a lifeguard one summer, and if there was just one or two people swimming laps, I’d hit ’em with the glare and they’d hop right out after a couple minutes, which allowed me to go play pingpong.
TWO INCH ASTRONAUT, PET FOX, HEXPET, ALEXANDER. MON 7.16. O’BRIEN’S PUB, 3 HARVARD AVE., ALLSTON. 8PM/18+/$8. OBRIENSPUBBOSTON.COM