Interview: Two Inch Astronaut on Their New Album, ‘Can You Please Not Help’


Photo Credit: Julia Leiby

Roughly a year since the release of Personal Life, a “lean and raw sounding” foray into an internal world not shown, Maryland’s own Two Inch Astronaut has returned with a brighter, triumphant sound on their recently released, Can You Please Not Help. The album, supported by singles such as the equally gritty and poppy “Play To No One,” represents a shift in intention and vision, turning towards what the group describes as a “warmer, bigger, more lush rock sound.” D.C. Music Download caught up with the group via email to see what was new, as well as dig deeper into the symbolism of Can You Please Not Help.

D.C. Music Download: How has the last year been for Two Inch Astronaut? What have you been up to since the release of Personal Life?

Two Inch Astronaut: It’s been kind of a wonky year for most folks, I think. We’ve been good though, just playing, working, consuming chipwiches, live, laugh, love type shit, you know?

I wanted to ask about the name of your next record, Can You Please Not Help, and the album artwork of a turtle on its back. Could you all speak about the artwork and title, and how they came about in defining this project?

Two Inch Astronaut: I worked with preschoolers for a while, and the album title is actually something a little girl in my class said once, verbatim. I just thought it was really hilarious and poetic, though I sometimes feel bad about plagiarizing a four year old. Maybe we’ll start a college fund with all our profits from the album. The image of a turtle on its back just seemed fitting to me, and our friend Laura did an incredible job of rendering it.

The album in general has a much brighter sound instrumentally than a lot of the tracks on your last album, Personal Life. Was there an intentional shift in Can You Please Not Help away from a darker sound, or did it come about naturally?

Two Inch Astronaut: I think the major difference between the two records is that Personal Life was very lean and raw sounding. We intentionally shied away from heavy overdubbing or giving it any kind of studio sheen, just to try something different and more honest. Can You Please Not Help is sort of a return to a more warmer, bigger, more lush rock sound.

What was the general process like in writing and recording the new record? Did you seek to draw upon any new influences at all?

Two Inch Astronaut: We don’t really have a fixed technique for writing. Our songs can happen just about any way you can imagine songs being written. Some of them I wrote and demoed, and then went through a bunch of changes in practice. Some of them we wrote together and some of them were written primarily by one or two band members. We don’t really think about influences when we’re writing; I guess we just don’t make a lot of conscious choices in this band. Most of our communication is non-verbal, we just sorta play stuff and grunt a lot, and if it feels good, then we keep it.

You’re currently gearing up for your D.C. album release show at Black Cat. Do you all have any intention of going on a wider tour in support of the new record?

Two Inch Astronaut: We’ve got some other dates planned in July and August and will be doing some more out of town stuff in the coming months.

Two Inch Astronaut will play Black Cat on Sunday, June 18. Doors 7:30 p.m./Tickets $10