In honour of my new play, BIG IN GERMANY, which is all about Canadian rock music and the 1990s, I’m going to share a CanCon music video everyday. BIG IN GERMANY plays at Buddies in Bad Times April 9-21. Get tickets here.
Today’s video is “One More Astronaut” by I Mother Earth.
As far as I can remember, this is the video that started it all for me — my obsession with CanCon rock. Sure, there were bands I loved before this — my first albums were Dookie by Green Day and Smash by the Offspring. Scenery & Fish was the third album I ever bought with my own money, and I must’ve listened to that thing everday for two years.
Even among 90’s CanCon I’d already been a fan of Moist and Our Lady Peace and had made tapes of my sister’s copies of Silver and Naveed to listen to on the bus ride to school. (Actually, in Grade 7-8, it was two TTC buses — the 104 Faywood and the 96 Wilson — to get to St Margaret’s everyday, except Wednesdays, when it was 104, the 52 Lawrence West, and the subway to get to Regina Mundi for my special class.)
But there was something about this song that made me an obsessive fan of a band for the first time. This was my first exposure to I Mother Earth — I guess I’d missed their Dig album, which came out around the same time as Silver and Naveed. Musically, I think it was the bass lines in this song that caught my ear. Lyrically, the fairly standard lines about alienation and boredom resonated with my “too smart by half” teenage attitude — and there was that naughty way single-named lead singer Edwin growls the word “piss” in the first verse.
Visually, the video tells a cute little story, and I couldn’t help but notice the way the camera relentlessly focusses on Edwin’s lips, crotch and hands. The first shot we see of any of the band is a tracking shot up to Edwin’s crotch as he reclines in a La-Z-Boy. Later we see him stroking his microphone stand like, well, you get the picture. I was 12 and a budding young homo. Do the math.
(Full disclosure: I may have bleached my hair blonde a couple years after this video came out and I was old enough to venture doing it over my parents’ objections.)
The more prosaic explanation could be that around the time this song came out was around the time my family got the internet at home. I was one of the first kids at school to have it and when I was at home and not in X-Men chatrooms, I was reading about I Mother Earth.
Their online presence was pretty advanced for 1996 — they had an animated website full of pictures they encouraged you to share. The had a guestbook where regulars traded messages and sometimes even band members posted, responding to questions or telling road stories. (For those too young to remember, guestbooks were like the precursor to chat rooms, message boards, blogs, and comment sections. The idea was that guests would sign in and say how much they liked your site, but they were quickly used for conversations. They were a pain to sort through, but they were great at encouraging two-way communication.) Anyway, the whole experience was designed to encourage you to build a community of fandom and even think of the band members as your friends. They’d link to the online voting portal (then considered fairly innovative!) for Q107’s Top 10 at 10 — and I’d dutifully vote 10-20 times per night depending on how far away from number #1 “One More Astronaut” appeared. I even made a GeoCities IME web site. Indeed, someone founded an online I Mother Earth club and I was inducted as a member of the “Viros” online — although I never went to any of their meetups because I was by far the youngest member of the group and it felt fairly wrong.
The cool thing was knowing that this rock band that was tearing up the charts at the time (“One More Astronaut” peaked at #2 on the Much Countdown) lived right here in Toronto. They figuratively lived right down the street from me! Before that, I’d always kind of thought of all rock stars and celebrities as coming from or being based out of New York or California. But if they could do it in Toronto, maybe I could to. And maybe if when I was aping IME I learned to play instruments instead of copying their hair, I would have.
Got any strong memories about this song? Share them in the comments.