Nominating “We Could Be Astronauts” for Parliamentary Music Competition
I attended a rehearsal of York based rock band We Could Be Astronauts last night after the group’s drummer Dave Hartley, who is a constituent of mine, wrote and asked me to nominate the band to represent York Central in the Parliamentary live music competition “Rock the House”.
The “Rock the House” competition which counts rock legends Alice Cooper and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan as Patrons, was founded by Mike Weatherley MP to support the UK live music industry and raise the profile of intellectual property rights issues. Unsigned artists and live music venues with a capacity of under 500 had until 16 March to apply to their MPs, who have until 23 April to nominate artists and venues to go forward to the national competition which will be judged by a panel of international music industry experts and musicians. The “Rock the House” organisers have promoted the competition heavily on Facebook and Twitter. I received an application from We Could Be Astronauts and after seeing the band rehearse last night, I have nominated them to represent my constituency in the band category.
Three finalists in each of the artist categories (bands, solo artists, and under-18s) will be announced by the competition organisers on 23 May. The finalists will compete in a battle of the bands to determine the winner of each category, with the three overall winners all playing a live set on the Terrace of the House of Commons on Wednesday 30 May. The winners will get lots of fantastic prizes; including musical equipment, the chance to play at high profile festivals and coverage in some of the biggest music magazines; plus the opportunity to meet people from the music industry, who will listen to their music.
We Could Be Astronauts formed in York in 2009. The band is made up of Robert Hughes (vocals, guitar), Simon Himsworth (guitar, backing vocals), Stuart Fletcher (bass), Paul Heaney (guitar) and Dave Hartley (drums, backing vocals). The band members have been in previous York bands such as Hijak Oscar; Idle Jack & The Big Sleep; and The BlackWater Trio; with Stuart Fletcher having played bass in The Seahorses, The Yards and Rick Witter & The Dukes. We Could Be Astronauts are a rock band inspired by the greats and have been compared to Led Zeppelin, Soundgarden and Rage Against The Machine. They are currently working on their debut album. More information about the band can be found on their website and some of their tracks can be heard here.
Live music is very popular in York and is an important part of the city’s heritage. Bands like Shed Seven and singer-songwriters such as Chris Helme, grew up in York, and still live here.
The “Rock the House” competition is a very good idea because live music is not only popular – it also makes an important contribution to the economy. If other York musicians and venues are interested, I would encourage them to apply next year.
There is a wealth of musical talent in my constituency. I enjoyed listening to We Could Be Astronauts’ tracks online, particularly ‘The Catastrophist’ and ‘Mary’s Violet Eyes’ and it was good to meet the band and listen to them rehearse yesterday evening. I am happy to nominate them for the “Rock the House” Parliamentary live music competition.
We Could Be Astronauts have a powerful rock sound with some epic guitar solos, but also a very strong sense of melody. They are a very professional act and stand a good chance in the competition. I hope they get chosen for the final and play at the House of Commons next month. The recognition and contacts bands can get from this competition are invaluable. It would be great if the next big British band came from York.
Video: Hugh Bayley joins We Could Be Astronauts (video by York Press)