There is a certain immeasurable level of devotion and passion that artists dedicate to their respective crafts. They sacrifice, work menial jobs, and arrange questionable housing arrangements with far too many roommates. In turn, their sacrifices result in improved artistic output and an opportunity to focus on their skills and improve in their respective field. All of that is well and good, but there needs to be a tipping point at which logic, livability, and pride trump creativity.
That point is when you move back into your parents' house.
"If I am going to tour how I want to tour, I can't have a house of my own." That was the rationale for the fringe emcee Astronautalis (his parents/roommates call him Andy Bothwell), who dropped everything and moved from Texas to his parents' home in Jacksonville, Florida. "I got rid of everything I owned. If it didn't fit in my Volkswagen, I didn't keep it. I've been to New York before on tour, so I decided I'd rather be broke living out of my parents' house and touring 10 months out of the year, than broke in New York and only touring for three weeks a year." His plan paid off, and after years under their roof Astronautalis just recently packed up his room, bid adieu to his folks, and moved out—again—this time to Seattle.
The dilemma of Astronautalis rests on the axis of hiphop's evolution. Here is a hiphop kid that has held his own at the Scribble Jam, but is currently working on full-length number three alongside members of Midlake, the Paper Chase, and the very un-hiphop Polyphonic Spree. His music is not quite hiphop. It's certainly not rock. It's not even the soundtrack to Judgment Night. Instead, Astronautalis is proof of the power that the long arm of hiphop wields, an influence that stretches from far into its urban roots to deep within the sleepy cul-de-sacs of suburbia. Except with Astronautalis, it never really took hold like it should. He borrows the flow and the ability to freestyle with the best of them—he closes every show with an excellent freestyle in which the material is assembled from suggestions from the crowd—while never letting go of his indie-rock past.
While his style of introspective spoken/rapped lyrics resides with one foot in the unpredictable nature of urban hiphop, and the other in the sleepy boredom of indie rock, Astronautalis tours like a DIY punk rocker. One of the few hiphop acts to brave the mall-punk masses of the Warped Tour, Astronautalis treats his time spent on the highway as more of a road trip, and less of an exercise in stress.
"Touring is the best instant gratification you are going to get from your music. You're out in front of people, and even if you are stuck in the worst rape dungeon of a venue and there are just eight kids there, that's what it's all about." He adds, "We have a blast, but it's probably because we do it like total dirtballs. I see people who stay in hotels every night, but you're so separate from the entire process. You sit in the green room, play, and then go back to the hotel. No wonder you get pissed at your bands and at touring, it's because you don't do anything."