Stalwarts of the modern ‘psych’ scene, California-based psychedelic-rock legends The Asteroid No.4 released their new album ‘Tones of the Sparrow’ last week (25th March) via Club AC30.

Heavily inspired by the UK shoegaze scene including My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, Ride and early Verve, the band takes its name from Vesta, the brightest asteroid in our solar system, and a nod to psychedelic space rock band Spacemen 3.

We thought it was about time we found out more about what makes the band tick, so we asked them to pick the albums that have most influenced their music.

Scott Vitt (Vocals, Guitar) – Echo & The Bunnymen – Songs to Learn and Sing

This should be easy considering how fortunate I was to have been in my late teens when Ride, MBV, Moose, etc were ruling the indie world. And they, along with Spacemen3, Lilys, Catherine Wheel to name a few, have certainly had a profound influence on our band.

However, for me personally, I need to go back a few years earlier to the very brief moment when I paused my infatuation for my father’s music (Beatles, Velvets, Doors, Floyd, all of which I soon after rediscovered with “awakened” ears) and look to what I first felt to be “my music”.

An epiphany from four shadowed beings; ‘Songs to Learn and Sing’. Not a proper album of course, but arguably one the greatest collections of any band’s songs offered on one platter. The melodies, the lyrics, the beats; it all sounded so intriguing, new, intelectual, and for this suburban kid, even exotic with Eastern-tinged strings, tribal hand drums etc. All the while sounding very much influenced by my aforementioned “father’s music”. Sergeant and McCulloch definitely made me want to “learn and sing”! Unfortunately, after all these years, I’m still trying to figure it out.

Mark Tarlton (Drums) – King Tubby – King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown

King Tubby Meets Rockers Uptown is an early influence that opened my ears up with its creative atmospheric soundscapes, swirling delays, phasey highs, and distorted textures.

It’s an exploration where the musicians and producer/engineer work off each other to make a potent concoction of musical bliss for the emotional mind and reality escape.

Matty Rhodes (Bass, Vocals) – Pink Floyd – Live at Pompeii/Meddle

I love these types of questions as a musician that are impossible to decide on. With my friends growing up, we always had conversations about our favorite albums, making lists for our top songs and so forth.

I think, for me, after watching Live at Pompeii, and for this question we can say the album Meddle since it closely aligns with that time period for Pink Floyd, my personal music direction became the most clear to me. My band in high school and I devoted days and days turned to weeks of learning “Echoes” verbatim. Plugging my stratocaster backwards into a wah pedal, getting all their sounds spot on, even setting up just like they did in Italy.

The blend of having such strange noises throughout their performance combined with such beautiful, triumphant songs, into more candid moments with the dog howling and acoustic guitars… It was everything I wanted to do in music rolled into one. A truly psychedelic band of effortlessly cool English friends just having fun.

Camilla Saufley (Vocals, Keys) – Jefferson Airplane- Surrealistic Pillow

Impossible to have a favourite but a huge VERY early influence for me was Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow.

Nothing else sounds like that record! The distance created by the super saturated reverb made it sound otherworldly to a four year old me. It was also the first time I realized women could be in rock and roll bands. Prior to hearing Grace Slick I thought only men (namely the Beatles) were in bands!

Changed everything for me.

Eric Harms (Guitar) – The Church – The Blurred Crusade

There are a handful of albums from my 12-13 year old self – The Smiths’ ‘Queen is Dead’, Replacements’ ‘Tim’, Echo & the Bunnymen’s ‘Songs to Learn and Sing’. But I think the one that resonated with me the most was The Church’s ‘Blurred Crusade’,

I played it everyday. When I finally picked up a guitar I just tried to imitate Marty Wilson-Piper’s 12-string on my 6-string, I had no idea where to even get a 12-string and it wasn’t until much later that I even bought one.

Many years later Matt Pucci from The Rain Parade introduced me to Marty at one of his solo shows in San Francisco, my 13 year old self wanted to fanboy the whole thing but he was super nice and I was able to keep it in check. One of the covers we routinely play is ‘To Be In Your Eyes’, and to this day when I’m writing I sometimes have to stop because I am subconsciously ripping off one of Marty or Peter’s guitar parts!

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