It’s a song about the process of shedding skin to reach your fullest potential. It’s a realization that everything you want is within your reach. It’s a moment of clarity and the manifestation that comes after.
Warbly Jets’ first release following 2019 debut Propaganda, “NASA” is also the first track for the Los Angeles band, who have stripped back down to its original duo of Samuel Shea and Julien O’neill.
“The name ‘NASA’ stuck before we really had any real lyrics for the song,” Shea tells American Songwriter. “Something about the music itself gave me a feeling of being launched into space at super sonic speed. It was a feeling more than a message. That is to say maybe the message is that feeling itself.”
Synth-fueled and more supersonic than the heavier guitar-driven Warbly Jets, the pieces of “NASA” started fusing together back in 2019 when Shea began kicking around the bass and drum and guitar riffs around the track, all to some initially underwhelming feedback.
“I was in the habit of locking myself in the studio 48 hours at a time between a day off to sleep,” says Shea. “I remember being so excited with the original nugget idea for ‘NASA,’ [that] I showed it to a few friends and our manager Ryan who were all pretty apathetically unimpressed. I remember thinking at the time, ‘You guys are fucking crazy, this track is going to slam when its done.’ Now I know it slams.”
Still, “NASA” sat in the Warbly Jets song file for several more months before it was revisited, re-recorded, and propelled back out as a new scope of sound for the band, and one reveling in some newfound hope with Shea crooning Right on time / We’re electrified / Like spirits in the static / We’ve been under the lights / Oh my my From earth to the sky / We keep on falling like we’re learning to fly.
“We ended up re-recording the bass into a sampler, chopping it up, and then pumping that audio back through a bass amp and recording it again,” says Shea. “It totally flipped the script and when that happened we both knew something killer was setting in with this track. There were quite a few Adderall-powered overnight sessions getting all the parts and sounds to sit right together.”
Shea adds, “There’s so many layers of textures and melodies on this track. That’s something that’s really become a token part of our music.”
Visually, “NASA” enters a psychedelic-funk and terrestrial realm, directed by John Front, who helped shaped the overall concept the duo had in mind.
“We wanted extreme visuals and colors with wide angle lenses,” says Shea. “The references were things like the Miss Weathers scene from Clockwork Orange, Old Busta Rhymes or Missy Elliot videos, and acid-fueled Burning Man glow paint parties. It was just supposed to be a smorgasbord of us having a good time.”
“NASA” explores the outer reaches of Warbly Jets’ sound— one that was always there.
“Being labeled as a guitar rock band was never really something we were were looking for,” says Shea. “It was just what happened. ‘NASA’ still exists in that sphere of songwriting but shows a bit of another side that we have been pushing more stylistically. This is a small step in a new direction for us, so in that sense this release is the start of a new chapter.”