Inkblot Astronaut: Into the Stratosphere

INDIE ROCK BAND INKBLOT ASTRONAUT brings us a mix of rock and funk fit for today's pop music landscape. With a flair from 90s and 2000s rock, Inkblot Astronaut was created by vocalist Zak Armstrong and lead guitarist Mike Fowler, and the duo is joined by bassist Ryan Hertia and drummer Eric Gendron.

"Photoshop Princess" is an upbeat riff-laden track, while "Boogy Man" gives us a taste of Jack White vibes with a powerful and catchy hook featuring chunky guitars and Armstrong's raspy voice that conjures 90s nostalgia a la Toadies' frontman Vaden Todd Lewis.

Their debut album contains the full spectrum and brings the listener through a journey of driving rock grooves and ending on a dreamscape pop-rock tune — "Flying Colours" — that leaves us feeling a warm and fuzzy that only a favorite album can create.

Their entire self-titled EP is not only listenable — it's binge-worthy and full of single hits, with thoughtful musicianship and a modern indie vibe that makes bands like this irresistible, both in concert and on records. Inkblot Astronaut is a band to watch and support on their way to meteoric rise.

Inkblot Astronaut — Silverton, Oregon
Song Submitted: “Photoshop Princess

About the Band: Playing music is our passion and in order to do as much of it as possible, we knew we would need to gain an audience. We are proud of our music and hope others enjoy it so we can do it more and better than ever before.

Musical Background: We (Zak and Mike) come from musical families where we were very lucky to watch others play and get familiar with the gear and the culture involved. We got the bug early on! While we have some stark differences in taste, there is an undeniable connection for us when we play together. What we do or don't like about a song is pretty easy to agree on as we develop new music, although it comes from a different place individually.

On Inspiration: Zak: I was born into to it. I grew up watching my cousin playing shows and my dad running sound. I started as a drummer around five and they would let me do sound check and sit in for a song when I got a bit older. I still remember how that made me feel. I really loved the fact that all the people who came to a show all came for the same reason. They are all so different, yet all have something in common and music brings them together.

Mike: I was driven to create after I spent a few years listening to music with my brother, in his car specifically. He is a car stereo guru and I was able to hear a wide range of music and in very high fidelity. I was inspired to recreate that feeling myself. After playing for a few years, I became hopelessly addicted to jamming and improvising with others — landing on happy accidents that would be the foundation for greater compositions.

I became hopelessly addicted to jamming and improvising with others — landing on happy accidents that would be the foundation for greater compositions.

Signature Sound: Mike: I resent the classification process but I do recognize it is a necessary evil. I have grown to appreciate a wide range of genres, but am pretty picky about what sounds we make as a band. Regardless of where a song goes stylistically — or what genre it fits into best — I care most about it being played with conviction and NOT borrowing too much from things we have heard or played before. I want to stay novel but also pay tribute to what has inspired me.

On Songwriting: The songs tend to originate from a very personal level. Zak has provided most of the lyrics from his own poetry and the subject matter tends to be from our life experiences and things we notice. I'd say more often than not, a song originates from the music we like, and we craft an arrangement that feels good, then we work more on the vocal and lyrical qualities as the song's soul is fleshed out. My favorite track from our EP is either "Id 2" or "Slipping," which both sound relatively unique but also feature a range of our sounds.

The music tends to pave the way before the words, but sometimes a catchy lyric will get stuck in our heads or we will hear another song and think, "That's cool — we want to do something like that.” Sometimes we pick a direction for a song to fill a void: "Hey we need a slow burner!" or "Hey we don't have any songs at 180 BPM... let's write!"

Favorite Music Era: Mike: Im stuck in the 90s. I just thought it was an exciting era both in terms of the art and culture, but perhaps even more so on the technological and production levels. There were really, really great sounding albums still being played without a click and recorded on tape — just as Pro Tools was really making waves and changing the approach. I really dig some of "technological" sounds that leaked into this more organic music — eventually manifesting in more new wave / electronic interests. The Smashing Pumpkins are by far my favorite band, and such an example to look up to in terms of evolving and thinking out of the box.

Zak: I also loved the 90’s, But I branched out a lot as a teen. I really love Sublime, Nirvana and Red Hot Chili Peppers. As a teen I got into bands like Alexis on Fire, Anberlin and Closure in Moscow (a bit emo, but I'm not ashamed). I really started to appreciate singer/songwriters like Jack Johnson, Ben Harper and Dallas Green in my teens also. Now I find my self picking out my favorites from each genre. I love almost anything put out by Dan Auerbach, Jack White and Alabama Shakes. I also love Zoe Keating — she is amazing.

The Smashing Pumpkins are by far my favorite band, and such an example to look up to in terms of evolving and thinking out of the box.

On Performing + Recording: Mike: I love the creativity and excitement when something "new" happens. There is a palpable energy in the room when things are clicking, and when those moments are improvised, that is one of the most excellent feelings in life. I don't feel connected to an audience at this point in playing, but the experience with other band mates and seeing the result of so many rehearsal hours can be very rewarding when a real show comes up. Recording music is less lovely to me, but the level of control is an absolute luxury for any artist — albeit overwhelming in today's world.

On Fashion: We haven't worked on this but if we had to pick something, I think we'd ask NASA for four Spacesuits so that we can look the part. We do want to incorporate something "more than the music" in shows, especially if we can work in some comedy or some other skit aspect that people might not expect.

Overcoming Obstacles: It is easy to feel discouraged in a recording process or even in a live rehearsal when things aren't clicking. I've always found that music doesn't like to be pushed on when these situations are happening — things get forced and the pressure gets in the way. I've found it super helpful to connect with musicians outside of the music and let that experience "refresh" the feeling of a stuffy rehearsal. I think fresh material and ideas also really helps avoid that stuffy feeling.

Another challenge is reconciling our stylistic tastes with what we think the audience is going to like. We recognize that we may compromise our own musical instincts in lieu of more pragmatic thinking - but we need to ride that edge of satisfying ourselves but also listening for what others will appreciate about us. We don't write for the audience, but they might be the best key for us to continue on a more "selfish" path, haha!

We want to spend more time... all time playing music.

Accomplishments: I’ll always point to the creative achievements, such as good sounding improvisation sessions and improvements in our arrangements that make the songs more exciting; however, the most notable accomplishment for our group is being nominated for the Independent Music Awards and a number of interviews and features such as this one. We are really stoked to be recognized even with these questionnaires — it keeps us hungry for more and a good reminder that we don't suck.

Future Hopes + Dreams: We want to spend more time... all time playing music. We believe we have the power and ability to produce some very special sounds and songs that we hope resonate with others. I know I'll personally feel accomplished as we create things, but it would be magnificent to see more success on a public level so that we can spend more effort on what we love to do. We are aiming much higher than the IMA's now — as cool as that would be, we felt it was a stepping stone toward bigger opportunities.   DM

Website + Social Media Links:
Official Website:

Written by Tamara Styer.
All photos property of Inkblot Astronaut.

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