Calling their distorted, amped sound "drug punk," Cosmonauts are a California-based garage punk band known for their simple, physically powerful songs and punishing stage volume.
Cosmonauts were formed in 2009 by guitarists Alexander Ahmadi and Derek Cowart, natives of Fullerton in Orange County. They met when a mutual friend staged a house show and the two ended up jamming together. As Cowart told a reporter, "It was almost the same fashion as when the Clash approached (Joe) Strummer. 'I like you, but I hate your band' is pretty much what Alex told me. I was like, 'That's alright. I hate my band, too.'" Teaming with bassist James Sanderson III and drummer Cole Devine, the four became Cosmonauts, and began hashing out powerful, drone-inspired guitar jams inspired by Spacemen 3, Sonic Youth, and the Velvet Underground. The group also discovered a simple way to get its trademark thick, reverb-heavy sound: using old amps and driving them as loud as possible. (As Cowart says, "The Kinks didn't get their tones from pedals, they just blew out their amps. It sounds cooler that way.") A few months after their first shows, Cosmonauts released their first album, a cassette-only offering issued by the hip label/record shop Burger Records that hit the street in the summer of 2010. Cosmonauts soon set out on their first tour, landed a spot at the South by Southwest Music Conference, and began releasing fresh material at a steady pace, including the cassette-only New Psychic Denim EP and a handful of 7" singles. In 2011, Cosmonauts' debut album was reissued on vinyl by Chicago's Permanent Records, and the band's many singles were compiled on a cassette-only collection, Natalie Wilson's Arm. Their second full-length, If You Wanna Die Then I Wanna Die, was released in 2012, and in 2013, the group reunited with Burger to release a third album, Persona Non Grata. 2016 saw the release of A-OK, Cosmonauts' fourth full-length, which deepened their psych influences and included some mellower fare with shades of dream pop. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi