In my 50s I realised that the past slowly becomes a bigger country than the future. As always, the future is where I’m headed, but now the past and all that comes with it is stacked up behind me. And, as time on earth passes, more and more of my contemporaries have started to disappear from the planet.
I’ve made 11 albums of new material since 1987. I realise that anything I’ve ever thought that mattered, that told the real story, is in those records. It’s been 5 years since my last album of new songs. Perhaps more than before, there’s been plenty of time over the last few years to think and reflect. Like every set of work, Time on Earth is an attempt to make sense of life by making work about it.
As erstwhile editor of the NME and Q, journalist Danny Kelly wrote recently while interviewing The Loft: ‘a lifetime of listening to them has led me to believe that Pete Astor’s songs would have always found a way to reach an audience. If he’d been a Californian baby boomer, he’s have ended up in the Capitol Records building in Los Angeles, laying down late-night grooves with the Wrecking Crew for a largely-neglected, slightly gloomy, pop album that’d now be worth a fortune. If he’d been born into post-War Britain, earnest girls in sweaters would’ve fallen in love with him, and his songs, in Embassy-fogged folk clubs.’ Of course, I love this quote. And I believe that Time on Earth is most of these things. But then I would say that, wouldn’t I?
Time on Earth has songs which were written in direct response to loss and bereavement (Undertaker, Fine and Dandy); songs striving for different kinds of belief (New Religion, Time on Earth, Miracle on the High Street); stories from either end of the cycles of life (Sixth Form Rock Boys, English Weather). And a few still searching for fulfilment of the heart. (Stay Lonely, Grey Garden, Soft Switch).
I was lucky enough to be able to make the music with the help of multi-instrumentalist Ian Button (Wreckless Eric, Death in Vegas, Papernut Cambridge) on the drums, bass maestro Andy Lewis (Spearmint, Paul Weller, and DJ at London’s legendary Blow Up Club and Soho Radio), long time guitarist Neil Scott (Everything But the Girl, Denim) and last but by no means least, Sean Read (Dexys, Edwyn Collins, Rockingbirds) who recorded and produced the album at his Famous Times Studios. As you would expect, I’m convinced it’s the best record I’ve made.
Pete Astor is a musician, writer and educator. He led Creation Records’ groups The Loft and The Weather Prophets, writing songs and releasing records that helped define the sound of the label and the emerging Indie genre. He has gone on to a lengthy solo career since then; writing, recording and releasing music on a range of labels including Matador, Heavenly, Warp, EMI and Fortuna Pop. He is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Westminster. As well as touring extensively, he also makes records with David Sheppard as Ellis Island Sound and releases his spoken word work as The Attendant on his label Faux Lux with the help of Ian Button. Since 2017 Astor has been signed to Tapete Records, home to Robert Forster, Lloyd Cole and Comet Gain among many estimable others.
1) New Religion
2) English Weather
3) Stay Lonely
4) Time On Earth
5) Miracle On The High Street
6) Sixth Form Rock Boys
7) Soft Switch
8) Grey Garden
10) Fine And Dandy