Campus band's minds, music are lost in space

by Kathrin Weston | 10/31/97 6:00am

Ordinary bands are all about music. Dartmouth students Peter Sperger '98, Greg Neichin '99, Danny Gans '98, Eli Ridgway '97, Nick van Amburg '99 and Jonah Blumstein '98, the members of the band Space Station, are fascinated by a different theme -- space.

"We rock," said Blumstein, as he goes on to explain that their style is not defined by any certain type of music, but by their shared interest in space. More precisely space travel and exploration is what drew the band members together. "We love space," he said, and Neichin added, "it is more than just music, we love its unknown quality."

The band members met at a conference where the widow of astronaut Carl Sagan spoke on her late husband's life. After the discussion, Blumstein said, they went to a coffeehouse to delve more deeply into the subject of space. During the conversation, Ridgway, whom the rest of the group described as the "creative loner," spontaneously suggested they get together and play music.

"It seemed like a natural progression to go from space to music," said Blumstein, a drama major. As a result, approximately one and a half months ago, the band started playing together. During their performances, an inflatable spaceship hovers above them.

Van Amberg plays bass. Blumstein, who once was a folk musician and played the keyboard, does vocals and plays the guitar. Ridgway plays the rhythm guitar. Gans plays the guitar and does vocals while Neirich plays the keyboard and Sperger, who said he went to summer camp on Uranus, plays the drums.

The band mostly plays cover songs, which they turn into their own by "adopting," or taking their version as far away from the original as possible and then piecing it back together again, until, Blumstein said, "we have something that's us and not them."

During their performances, they aim to create an atmosphere of space. They want to involve the audience in their music. "We just float around", Neirich said, explaining that they create their own space, their own universe during the show as the audience, perceiving this state, shouts "Zero gravity".

The band, for them, is the unifying force. It is what "ties it all together.", Blumstein said. They decided to change their former, more high-flying name, Supernova, because they wanted to be more modest.

"Rather than look at us, we want the audience to enter us," he said. He said the band's slightly alternative motto is: "We're about space. We have chutzpah. We don't play instruments. We harness the energy of the galaxy and it oozes from us like dew."

Blumstein explained the group's fascination with space. "There's so much to be found, there's so much out there," he said. "There is no cruelty in space, no discrimination." Neirich described his keyboard as a vehicle to the other world.

Blumstein said the band aims to reawaken public interest in space. He compared their efforts to make their wackier ideas, which he refers to as their "freakishness" and only socially acceptable to P.T. Barnum's introduction of circus characters into society. "We never realized we were out there", he said. "We thought we were intellectual."

The band members transcend boundaries, he said, by occasionally cross-dressing or performing in cow suits. Their heroes, he said, are indeed P.T. Barnum, John F. Kennedy and Neil Armstrong. Armstrong is his inspiration, Gans said. "I'm never going to walk on the moon, so music is the closest I can get."

Space Station's members said its music is not for adults. But Blumstein added, "we want to expand as much as possible in our following, but we don't want to be rock stars. We want to be stars." The songs they play always tell stories about adventure, he said, and cover a wide range of music.

Damon Ferrara'98, president of Space Station's own fan club, described a Space Station show as a "cosmic experience rivaled by very few things in the universe." The fan club, which comprises 112 "cadets," has tailgated parties before every performance, and the band emphasized that everyone is welcome at these parties.

Their next show will be tonight at 11 p.m. at Alpha Chi Alpha fraternity. "The music is fresh, the party is jumping, and the style is hotter than a supernova," said Ferrara. "Space Station keeps the people and the planets in perpetual motion."