- CP photo by John Colombo
- Andre Costello in the planetarium at Carnegie Science Center
During his high school years, Andre Costello and his friends would pile in a car and travel from Ellwood City, in Beaver County, to the Buhl Planetarium, at Carnegie Science Center, to check out the shows.
“One time we came down and saw a Beatles, Radiohead and Pink Floyd show, all three in a row, like three consecutive hours,” chuckles Costello. “It was a lot.”
“But I remember going to those shows and being like, ‘This would be cool with a live band! Why not do that?’ The idea sat in the back of my mind for awhile.”
Costello helms Pittsburgh’s cosmic Americana rock act, Andre Costello and the Cool Minors. The band hasn’t released a record since 2014, but the gang is debuting its brand-new album on Misra Records in a big way. In a return to the cavernous Buhl Planetarium at Carnegie Science Center of his youth, Costello and company will be performing their forthcoming record, Resident Frequencies, live to a choreographed laser show.
After an initial attempt to set something up a few years ago didn’t pan out, Costello returned to his mission of playing in the planetarium a year ago, this time with success. The band will have one dress rehearsal before the show, but in the meantime, Costello has been meeting with the planetarium controller to figure out how the show will look.
“We put on the album, and it’s like my own personal laser show,” explains Costello, “Best meeting ever! I’m like hollering during it, being like, ‘I like that laser a lot!’ or ‘Can we fly through space? Can we see Jupiter?’ And the answer is: ‘Yes, yes, you can.’”
Resident Frequencies is an ideal record for performing to a laser show; its big spacey sound and exploratory jams play against jangly rock numbers and catchy hooks. The audio variation lends itself to some intriguing visual exploration as well, something the band is used to playing with: Its 2012 EP, Summer’s Best, was accompanied by a 15-minute music video.
In addition to variation in sounds, the album plays with different storytelling techniques and themes.
“All of it is influenced by real things. Some songs are introspective, some are autobiographical, others are about family members and people I know, and some of it is just riffing on the times,” says Costello.
One such example of riffing on the times is “NSA,” a cheery-sounding rock song that wraps the anxiety of surveillance culture into a poppy, American-rock package that juxtaposes the music with the harsher lyrics. It’s Costello’s ability to write earworms with heavier concepts that makes his work accessible.
“You’re like a filter [as an artist]. You’re distilling down all of your interactions into a piece of art, and no matter what the medium is, that’s what’s happening. Sometimes the outside world can be too noisy, and you have to find a way to find peace, or you drive yourself insane. Luckily, I have an outlet for creative expression that helps me find peace,” says Costello.
You can hear that peace on “Kinda.” It’s a bright jam that oozes bliss and ease.
“Kinda” may sound familiar — the band has been playing it for a few years. But Costello isn’t sick of the older songs on this record.
“I’m beyond excited to actually play these older ones and find ways to reinvent them. This is the first show we’ll be playing the album in its entirety, and it’ll be true to how it’s recorded as well. We’re going to have samples that come in and atmospheric sounds,” explains Costello.
The album’s title, Resident Frequencies, sounds kind of spacey as well, but for Costello, it has its own little meaning.
“I kind of managed a house I lived in for a few years, and 27 roommates came and went in the time we lived there,” explains Costello. “For me, [the title] is about how places and spaces and people have their own frequency and personal vibration.”