For the bulk of this decade, Sounds of Asteroth has been dousing LA clubs with glitter and overtaking sound systems with a glam rock space opera filled with heartache, good times and, occasionally, even murder. Led by singer Martin Von Sexy, the collaborative project is like a Las Vegas show that never existed, drawing upon Von Sexy's memories of growing up engulfed in the neon glow of the Strip.
Tonight, Sounds of Asteroth plays Wig Out!, the monthly wig-friendly, cabaret-styled party at Bordello. While this is the band's second appearance at the popular club, Von Sexy has performed there as a solo artist several times. LA Weekly spoke to Von Sexy about tonight's show and the myriad influences that comprise Sounds of Asteroth.
Will a Wig Out! show be different from a regular Sounds of Asteroth show?
Yeah, we're amping up the choreography because the theme is “Get Your Choreography On.” We're trying to raise the choreography bar.
What inspires the choreography?
Well, we're all supposed to be aliens. The mythology behind the band is that we're from the planet Glimmer. Basically, if an alien could dance, that's what a Sounds of Asteroth show could be. That's our goal for tomorrow.
We're more like fabulous aliens than scary aliens. We're friendly aliens, which I guess would be very Americanized, culturally aware aliens that know a lot about camp.
Your background is in theater, isn't it?
Yeah, I've written a lot of plays and produced and directed shows as well.
Do you approach Sounds of Asteroth as a form of theater?
Parts of it. I always tell people that the heart of the show is a band, a rock band. I feel that if you take all of the theatrics away, it's still a really great rock show. When people go to see the show, they love the theatrical element. They almost want it to be like a show. There's a story line there. They get really excited, but I approach it first and foremost like a band. Everything else is frosting.
Sounds of Asteroth “Musical Taste of a Teenage Girl,” live at Spaceland (maybe NSFW)
Growing up, were you inspired by the more theatrical forms of pop music?
Actually, I grew up in Las Vegas and I was inspired by, get this, the cheesy Vegas shows. In the '80s, they had a lot of mainstream drag shows on the Strip, which was so bizarre. You would turn on your TV and there would be commercials for drag shows. It was really accepted in the mainstream in the '80s. I was really fascinated by that. I think that really influenced me and Siegfried and Roy and Charo, all these over-the-top Vegas shows. They had a Las Vegas superstar impersonator show with Marilyn and Elvis. All of these dead celebrities would be on stage together. I think all of that inspired me growing up.
Did you actually go to these shows when you were young?
I wasn't allowed to go to the shows because there was alcohol at the shows. My whole exposure to it was the TV commercials and then driving through the Strip and seeing the marquees. The marquees and the promotions for it, magazines and televisions, was my exposure to it. I think it was my third grade class that was invited to see Siegfried and Roy's white tiger. I was so excited, but my mom wouldn't let me go.
As an adult, have you gone back to see those shows?
I have seen some of those shows as an adult and I realized that the shows are really horrible. As a kid, I processed them in my own weird way. My interpretation of them is so different than what they actually are and Sounds of Asteroth is such a weird show. It's its own thing. It's so hard to explain it to people when they ask me about it because it's such a mix of all of these influences. I took all these things that I was influenced by and re-imagined them in my own strange way. Like I said, I never even saw any of the shows as a kid, so it was my own interpretation of them and then going back and seeing them, I realized that it's not as subversive as I thought it was. It's really commercial and really watered down. I'm glad that I didn't get to see them as a kid. The picture I had in my head was more exciting than the reality.
If you had seen them as a kid, Sounds of Asteroth might not have happened.
I think, for sure. I was very isolated. My mother was very overprotective and I wasn't allowed outside. For the first sixteen years of my life, my mother didn't allow me outside of the house because she was paranoid that something was going to happen to me. So, I was isolated for the first fifteen, sixteen years of my life and I would just make these things up in my head. I think if I was allowed more freedom and was exposed to more experiences, I don't think that Sounds of Asteroth would be what it is today. It's a total fantasy. I think it's like a glimpse into how I interpret life.
Musically, what drives Sounds of Asteroth?
Musically, it's a great collaboration. I love collaborating with different people. If I were to write the songs alone, they would be really personal and not that interesting. The musicians in the band are so talented and they're all influenced by different things. I wouldn't want everyone in the band to listen to the same music, because I think that always produces a knock-off band. When everyone gets together and says, “We want to sound like this,” that's not fun. The people in the band all have very different influences. We all get together in these zany songs and it's really nice. It's frustrating sometimes because we have these different influences, but it comes together somehow.