Roads to Space Travel

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Taking their name from the 1930s book of the same name about the possibility of space colonization the indie rock trio Roads to Space Travel formed in 1995. The nucleus of the group came together when Roman Kuebler convinced college pal Tim Baier to relocate back to their hometown of Baltimore in order to start a band after the two had recently graduated from Villanova University in Philadelphia. The two guitarists recruited bassist Greg Preston and drummer Andy Laughland and played their first show in March of 1996. Not long after Laughland decided to call it quits and the group recruited veteran Baltimore indie rock drummer Adam Cooke, who had done time in local indie rock units Helakopter and Science Kit. Shortly after Cooke joined the fold, Preston decided to part ways with the group, and Kuebler moved over to bass, making the group a trio. Kuebler handled most of the vocals, while guitarist Baier sang on a few tracks. Initially the group was inspired by the quirky and inventive guitar work of Chapel Hill's Polvo and Archers of Loaf, as well as local Baltimore bands Candy Machine with their heavy Gang of Four and Fall influences as well as long time Charm City underground staples Lungfish. But the trio found its biggest inspiration from Norfolk Virginia art-punk transplants Buttsteak, with their quirky-jerky rhythms and jagged melodies. Guitarist Baier also added analogue keyboard loops to the trio's sound that at times evoked the sound and spirit of Ohio art-punks Brainiac. The group's first release was a split 7" with Science Kit for local indie label Ambiguous City Records in 1998. Later on that same year, the band went into the studio again and recorded their self-titled debut for Amish Records. The following year saw the release of another 7," this time for Washington D.C. indie punk label Desoto Records; this was followed by their second full-length Ballad Jazz Waltz also on Amish. The trio completed five tours up and down the east coast and some of the midwest, including a joint tour with D.C.'s Burning Airlines. With its wry and geeky sense of humor, the band came up with a novel idea that has yet to be duplicated in the world of indie or mainstream rock. The "Balti-Tour", which essentially entailed the group booking two straight weeks of shows at every dive bar in Baltimore they could get a gig at. The group thought it would be a great way for their fans to go to different clubs around the city, and for them to play with other bands. But it turned out to be futile, as the group's fans generally waited until they played at the "cool" club and skipped the rest of the tour. At its best the "Balti-Tour" achieved its objective, and at its worst, found the band breaking into loft spaces and getting kicked out of public squares. The band did the tour for three consecutive years in a row from 1997-1999. Roads to Space Travel went as far as making tour shirts, screened posters, and backstage laminates for the local tour but regretfully according to Kubler, "No satin jackets, I wish we had." The band gained a small but loyal following in their hometown of Baltimore, but outside the city they were virtual unknowns. Shortly after the release of their second album, the group decided to call it quits. Since they disbanded in 1999, bassist Roman Kuebler has gone on to form the new wave post-punk four-piece the Oranges Band, and simultaneously sidelines as the bass player for the Merge Records band Spoon, while guitarist Tim Baier joined Roads to Space Travel's original bassist Greg Preston in post-punk band the Slow Jets, and drummer Adam Cooke signed on to play drums in the Translucents.
- All Music Guide

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