The Phenomenauts are a San Francisco Bay Area band that combine elements of rock and roll, punk, glam, garage rock and new wave along with a futuristic science fiction theme, dubbing their style "Rocket Roll".
The Phenomenauts were formed in 2000 in Oakland, California (which the band, as part of their fictional band biography, refers to as "Earth's capital"), from the band Space Patrol, a 1980s cover band which played on homemade instruments. Two years later, they released their first CD, Rockets And Robots on their own Arlington Lab Records. That year critical success came in the form of being chosen as California's Best Live Band by the East Bay Express and by being called the Best Lifestyle Music artist by the SF Weekly.
The band signed with Springman Records in 2002, and gained notoriety in 2003 for unofficially sneaking onto Warped Tour, from which they were officially invited to play again in 2004 and 2005. The band declined the 2005 offer, opting to instead tour with The Aquabats and the Epoxies.
For The Phenomenauts, "Science And Honor" isn't just a catchy slogan, but a way of life. "We like having a good time," said Commander Angel Nova, "But it is especially great when we can trick someone into learning something."
Conceived in the amazing year 2000, The Phenomenauts got early recognition as the East Bay's "Craftiest and bravest band" (East Bay Express) for their now infamous commando-style performances in which they would set up in front of large music venues such as the legendary Fillmore and perform rollicking sets powered by car batteries for unsuspecting crowds. These early "missions" landed them on the cover of multiple bay area publications, including The San Francisco Weekly, The East Bay Express and Independent Musician Magazine.
This guerrilla strategy landed the band a slot on the 2003 Vans Warped Tour after showing up uninvited and performing for fans on the lawn (or any unattended stage they could find), which they kept up all summer long. The band won over Kevin Lyman, the tour's founder, and was officially invited back the following year during which they continued to impress fans and critics nationwide from their very own "Space Station" stage. Among others, The Philadelphia Inquirer noted that out of 98 bands, "The Phenomenauts and Flogging Molly were among the best of the tour...playing a swinging amalgam of dusty garage rock and new wave."
The group's first full length recording, Rockets and Robots, was self-released in 2001 then re-issued on Springman Records (Big D And The Kids Table, Groovie Ghoulies, Jason Webley) in the Spring of 2003, and received "phenomenautly" by radio stations and audiences surrounding the bay area, charting on college stations KALX, KUSF, KSCU, KTUH (Hawaii), KZSU, along with KROQ affiliate Live 105 and Clear Channel's "Channel 104.9″ in San Francisco.
The Phenomenauts second release on Springman Records was 2004's Re-Entry, recorded at Oakland's 880 Studios and produced by Chris Dugan, a member of Green Day side-project The Network. Through heavy touring and promotion, the album charted on the CMJ top 25 and garnered regular rotation on XM Satellite radio, while the music video for "Mission" appeared on the front-page of MySpace and YouTube (500,000+ combined views), and received play on MTV-U, Fuse, and various reels and video shows across the country.
The Phenomenauts released For All Mankind in 2008 on Springman Records imprint Silver Sprocket. Inspired by new wave and 70's punk, this album serves as a call to arms to defenders of science and honor across the galaxy, dealing with the serious implications of science fiction, science fact, and offering new perspectives on Earth life as we know it. The album comes in an innovative package invented by the band which folds out to make a space-ship and comes with a die-cast metal pin and 24 page full color booklet.
A critical part of the Phenomenaut experience has always been their live show, during which the band proudly displays their ever-evolving arsenal of homemade "Phenoma-gadgets." The Theramatic Helmerator, or "top of AR7-Bot's head," contains a wireless Theremin that creates Sci-Fi sounds reminiscent of old Star Trek episodes. The Streamerator, manned by Professor Greg Arius, blasts rolls of toilet paper out into the crowd bringing them in as part of the show. Clouds of CO2 envelop the crowd while rockets launch from the Rocketerator. Inflatable models of Earth even hover above the band as they play the crowd favorite "Earth is the Best" using vortex technology swiped from The Smithsonian. These cleverly crafted devices add to the mystique and cult appeal of the band and are just some of the gems one can expect in the live spectacle.
With a band name that means, "to pilot an unusual experience," it's no wonder they travel in a mode of transportation true to that description. They have customized their own fleet of Phenoma-vehicles bringing their space age image to the streets. Littered with electronic gadgets from the late 20th Century such as remote controls, stereo components, and motherboards of defunct computers, they are easily mistaken for pieces of electrical equipment turned inside out, and never fail to turn heads on the highway. Catching a glimpse of one of these ships is truly an unforgettable experience.
When they are not touring the galaxy, their ships dock at the top-secret Command Center, located in the industrial heart of Earth's Capitol, Western Oakland, CA. It is the center of The Phenomenauts' universe and serves as home, rehearsal studio, and think tank for all things related to the band, as well as the location of their infamous parties. The Command Center was featured on the Discovery Channel, a three-page spread in Fat Mike's (NOFX) magazine Punk Rock Confidential, and appears in the independent feature film "Punk Rock Holocaust."
The Phenomenauts were honored with a VIP tour of NASA's Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston during their last tour, which included meetings with astronauts, scientists, and hands-on experience with space station parts and training facilities. Believed to be the first punk song ever to be broadcasts from space, the single "Infinite Frontier" was played aboard the International Space Station as the first wake-up call of the STS-124 mission in 2008.
The Phenomenauts have toured the world with the likes of The Slackers, Aquabats, Demented Are Go, The Briefs, The Toasters, The Epoxies, the Vans Warped Tour and have trekked the states on numerous headlining tours with support from acts like The A.K.A.'s, Teenage Bottle Rocket and Kepi Ghoulie. For the band's fifth national headlining tour last summer, code-named "Operation: Jumped Circuit," our hero's recruited San Francisco punk-rockers The Re-Volts, featuring Spike from Me First And The Gimme Gimme's and members of The Swingin Utters, to play main support across the USA and Canada systems.
Be prepared as The Phenomenauts help keep us focused and guide us through the turbulent waters of what the future might become. If we follow their lead, things might turn out alright.
The band released an EP, titled Electric Sheep, on August 3, 2010.
A new album, "Escape Velocity", is to be released in early 2014. A national tour with The Creepshow will follow in late March through the end of April.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license