Not a Planet is a Kansas City-based band. Guitarist and singer-songwriter Nathan Corsi recently discussed the formation of Not a Planet, the challenges of having a career in music and his love of the KC music scene Not a Planet plays the Spirit of KC Fest at CrossroadsKC August 12th.
How did you become interested in music?
I have great memories of my parents playing stuff like Traffic, Elvis (Costello and Presley), James Taylor, The Beatles, The Cars, Prince, etc when I was very young. I think it was their love of listening that sparked my interest in playing.
What was the first album you bought?
The first album I purchased was “Hello Rockview” by Less Than Jake. I was 8 years old and about to move when a friend turned me on to punk and ska music. I never had listened to much contemporary music at that point. It was different from all the music I had experienced up until that point, and opened me up to listening to more artists from different eras.
How did Not a Planet first get started?
Not a Planet had a strange beginning. I had just moved to Kansas City from NYC on a mission to begin touring heavily again. I wrote some music and recorded demos on my own, then posted to craigslist seeking band members. By the time I found all the members, we already had a tour booked. Not a Planet played Kansas City for the first time after our first tour. You could say the band was born on the road.
What is your approach when creating tracks?
Our approach to writing and arranging varies from song to song. Usually, I’ll bring the band a basic idea for a song, maybe a verse and a chorus, and we’ll feel it out. If it’s working and everyone vibes, we’ll start nitpicking about the arrangement and dynamics. The harmonies get added later on to do the job that strings and horns traditionally perform in rock music.
How did the song “Bang Goes the Gun” come together?
“Bang Goes the Gun” is part of a concept album, our first release entitled The Few, The Proud, The Strange. It went through a few different iiterations before it became the song that can be heard on our record and now live. The album is about reincarnation, love, and dreams. I was trying to find a way for the “subject” to die appropriately for the story. ‘Bang’ is about a literal death, but written like a dream sequence of the person dying. The subject of the song is confused by his consciousness not having caught up with his own death. The sharp contrast between the chorus and the verse is representative of the point of view shifting to a third person. The heavy stabs were supposed to be reminiscent of gun shots, while the harmonies are meant to add a dreamy undertone to the whole thing. The parts themselves are markedly different the way many dreams can carry a similar theme or motif while not being of the same origin. Variations on the theme.
What inspires you lyrically?
The themes of our songs vary quite a bit. Common themes like love or heartbreak are in there, but I insert social commentary, thoughts on injustice, death, and other subjects into my lyrics as well. Sometimes it’s a person, sometimes it’s current events, it really just depends.
What do you enjoy most about the music scene in Kansas City?
My favorite part of KC’s music scene is how diverse it is. There is a surprising amount of talent and originality in this city, and there is a lot of support from live music fans.
What’s the strangest description you’ve heard of your music?
“Just another Kuiper Belt object.”
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve had to overcome in your career?
It’s hard to keep the momentum going as an independent band. We’ve had to work really hard to keep up with touring, writing, recording, and of course, “the cost of doing business.” Not a Planet has gone through four tour vans, and even more band members. It’s really important to have a good chemistry within a group when you are committed to spending so much time working, playing, and traveling together. It took some time to catch our stride, but we pushed through the hard parts, and now it seems like we’re reaping the benefits.
What advice would you give to musicians just starting out?
Make music you believe in, be authentic, and you don’t need permission to follow your dreams. Get the show on the road.