I heard about
Hundreds of AU by seeing one of their t-shirt at the "Cry me a River" fest 2019. The shirt design was a drawing of a planet subtitled by "Fascism dies in space".
As I'm a huge fan of science fiction, I wanted to listen to that band and wanted to discover their universe. At that time only a Demo and their first album
Communication Link Re-Established were released.
Hundreds of AU is one of the multiple projects of Tom Schlatter. As far as I know, I remember that he was playing in
In first person (I have one copy left of the split with
Storm the Bastille if someone wants it) and in
The assistant. Two bands I listened to back in the day. I also realized that he was playing in more recent "screamo" bands like
What of us and
You and I. I don't know much about the other members excepting what "Discogs" is telling me (meaning : not much)
Last year the album
Mission Priorities on Launch was released by the band and it is, in my opinion, one of the best screamo album of 2019. When I say screamo I think that
Hundred of AU has some hardcore in it too. I know that I'm not good at all to describe music or in "FFO" but sometimes
Hundreds of AU reminds me a lot of "Trainwreck" which is one of my favorite band ever.
Hundreds of AU took the time to answer a couple of my questions. Thanks to them for taking the time to do it and I hope you will enjoy reading it.
They built their time machine on
Fear and control
No regard for life after birth
No regard for dignity
False medal Of moral strength
This was never about life
This was always about control
Reproductive rights are human rights, not political currency.
I first believed that the AU in Hundreds of AU means "alternate universe". I then realized that it means "Astronomical Units". Looking at your records artworks (Communications Link Re-establish and the 2017 demo) it seems pretty obvious that you were inspired by science fiction, speaking of that :
Do you think that there is a kind of trend into sci-fi for a couple years (for instance
Ryloth from Germany use a lot of sci-fi references in their songs and artworks, the band
Kepler who seems to take their name from a planet ...). I have noticed this not only in music but also in movies, video games, and books.
Are you by yourself sci-fi enthusiastic and do you have some music/novels/movies that inspired you and the band ?
TOM: I think there’s a healthy amount of crossover between people who like science fiction and people who get into punk/hardcore. Both are safe havens for outsiders growing up, so it makes perfect sense to me to see bands inserting science fiction references. When I started Hundreds of AU I had been living in upstate New York for about a year. My friends and social life were all in New Jersey, about 3 hours south and I dealt with homesickness on a regular basis. At the time I was reading “Revelation Space”, a science fiction novel by Alastair Reynolds. One of the characters in the book, while traveling through deep space expresses homesickness and states that “Earth is hundreds of au away”. I found myself relating to the homesickness aspect of it and took to the idea of naming the band Hundreds of AU.
I am personally into Screamo music since a long time (I mean I'm listening to it since a long time). That subgenre was -in my opinion- almost "dead" especially in France (where I live). Are you thinking that we are in a Screamo Revival era and are you realizing that (I think) you were a big part of it last year (I think "Mission priorities on launch" was one of the most discussed Screamo album this year) ? Tons of good records were released since 3/4 years and a lot of new bands are "emergerging" from all over the world (even in France where this genre was totally stopped). Even what I do consider as "mainstream" media are speaking about it (I remember an article published by vice.com last summer). Do you agree with that, and why did you choose this particular style for "Hundreds of AU" ?
TOM: Over the past 5-10 years I started seeing a resurgence of this particular style of music. I’ve talked about this in the past; as a person who was around and playing in bands in the late 90’s/early 00’s, I consider what’s happening now so much better than that first wave of bands back then. The bands of this genre today carry a social and political consciousness with them that was not apparent back then. There’s more participation from LGBT, POC, women and femme identifying folks now than ever. I’m also seeing musicianship that is so impressive and inspiring. I chose this particular style for Hundreds of AU because I had played in bands similar before and wanted to improve upon my delivery of the genre. I also just naturally seem to lean toward writing this style.
I'm not sure that the band is very well known in Europe. It was almost impossible for me to get your Vinyl there, Rob from "ZilpZalp" records finally got one for me. Do you plan to better distribute the album in Europe (for instance for the next release). Do you also plan a tour outside of America ? (We will be thrilled to have you one day in Paris).
TOM: Recently vinyl pressing prices and overseas postage have hindered a lot of US labels and bands from being able to get their physical formats overseas, especially for DIY bands and labels. I shipped a t-shirt to France last month and it was about $18 to ship. We will keep investigating a better way to make the physical formats more widely available.
The end of 2019 and 2020 were pretty intense for all of us I think. In France we've got the yellow vests, the protests against the new law about retirements, the COVID19, and now the death of George Floyd murdered by the police. Do you think our society is changing (in a good way) ? We do see a lot of protests around the world to end what is unacceptable for all of us (police brutally, global access to healthcare, the rights for minorities and so on ...), are you in your music talking about politics and do you think that music is a good way to share opinions, to unite people in a political way (the answer seems obvious when reading you lyrics, but I do want to have your personal opinion as a band about this). Do you talk about all these problems during your shows, or do you let people understanding you lyrics the way they want to ?
TOM: In the United States it’s very hard to be optimistic about the future and invest in the hope of any long term positive change. I’ve attended two protests last week and the feeling in the air is raw and angry, but at the same time there was also a huge sense of community and solidarity. The current administration in our country has expressed views that are opposed to any change on the front of police brutality, healthcare, economic inequity, etc.
I was drawn to punk and hardcore due to how the genre focuses on political and social issues. My education and exposure through this music to viewpoints outside of my experience have helped shape my worldview and make me confront my own privilege in ways that never would have happened if I hadn’t started listening and playing in bands. Hundreds of AU is can be considered a political in that we write a good amount of political lyrics, but generally, I’d like to think anyone participating in the DIY punk/hc is there for the exposure to new ideas and information. I know it’s not always the case, but the new crop of young folks doing bands and speaking up really give me hope in that regard.
I'm asking this question to each band I interview. I wanted to have your opinion about the rise of social media (facebook, instagram), and music streaming "applications" (bandcamp, spotify). Do you think it changed the "scene" ? I mean ... I feel a lack of sincerity when using those things (for instance a political action is now resumed by changing your profile photo on the Facebook, people are obsessed the number of "like" they got) and see it more like a threat than something good for the music and the scene we love. It changed a lot the way the gigs are going on (I did stop going to show for more than five years and saw a lot of changes), people always using their smartphone, to film or take photos and sometimes forgetting the most important thing ... listening to the music, enjoying the music. Do you think the rising of these new technologies changed a lot of things during shows. Do you think there is also a paradox in the scene, a lot of bands, venues are clearly struggling against what we call "capitalism" but are using those applications (facebook, instagram), the thoughts and the actions are in total opposition. I do believe that punk is capable of more for instance why not using software which are open-source, decentralized, and not owned by the biggest fortune companies of the world ?
TOM: I’ve recently cut back my social media usage because I realized I had a very unhealthy relationship with it. Facebook and Instagram can be helpful for sharing information or being informed about issues/events, however, I don’t think they are spaces that are conducive to discussion or debate. In the wake of the protests in the United States, I stepped back from posting on social media and just decided to pick up the phone and call my friends to talk to them about what was happening. I feel so strange saying this, but I had forgotten how much more value is had in a phone conversation as opposed to a social media exchange.
I’ve seen a lot of my friends expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement via social media. It’s great to see, but at the same time I hope that this goes past just posing a simple hashtag and then 2 weeks later everyone moves on. There’s a real opportunity here for white America to confront systemic racism, for white individuals to confront their own privilege, etc and it would be a shame if social media reduces it to a “trending topic”.
In reference to streaming platforms; it’s interesting to me because in the 90’s we would have to dub cassette tapes all day, pack them up in envelopes and send them out to get our music heard or to get someone to book a show on a tour for us. Now, I can put my music on bandcamp and by the end of the day it’s possible that someone on the other side of the world has heard it. Environmentally this cuts down on resources used to share music and from an accessibility standpoint it makes the music available to people even if they can’t afford the physical format. I think the arrival of file sharing and streaming services affects “career musicians” more negatively than a band like us.
As for struggling against capitalism: When we refer to struggling against capitalism it can be tricky. In a capitalist society information moves through capitalist channels, so in a way, you have no choice but to participate somewhat to share ideas or keep informed. Is using facebook/Instagram, two platforms owned by a billionaire who essentially uses these platforms to mine your data and sell it to advertisers something that everyone feels good about? Probably not.
If you have anything to add, feel free to do it. Thanks a lot for taking your time to answer these questions. It means a lot to me.
Thank you for getting in touch and having this conversation with us.
Hundreds of AU just put a new song yesterday called
Please check it on