The Astronomers release debut album ‘The Occasion’


Courtesy of The Astronomers– The Astronomers released their debut album on Nov. 4.

Cory Sparks, Staff Writer

UW Oshkosh’s most well-known band, The Astronomers, had their fanbase skyrocket when they came out with their debut album titled “The Occasion” on Nov. 4. 

Led by lead singer and UWO fourth year Michael Stensland and school alumnus and bass player Ben Baker, the alternative pop band dropped their 11-song album ahead of a tour where they’ll travel across nine different states.

The band also includes Josh Guy on the drums and Ike Holzmann on bass and keys. Another UWO alumnus, Jack Rindahl, is the band manager.

Mattie Beck / The Advance-Titan– The Astronomers performs at Appleton’s Mile of Music last summer at an outdoor stage.

Stensland said the album, which took over two years to make, is about approaching a change happening in one’s life head on. Instead of shying away from it, Stensland wanted this album to give off the message that everyone should embrace new adventures and always live in the moment. 

“We wanted to write an album about the concept of being okay with where you are at in life,” Stensland said. “Whether it’s good or bad, it’s good to acknowledge feelings and not always be thinking about the next thing.”

While going through life changes can often feel uncontrollable, outlook and perspective are two controllables.

“Allow yourself to be proud of what you are doing,” he said. “That is what we talked about with this album.”The band has grown an immense following with a Spotify monthly listenership that has ballooned from 46,000 people in March to over 370,000 by the time of the album’s release.

The group has performed at Summerfest, Mile of Music, Titletown and many other shows with their crowds growing each and every time.

Fans don’t just watch The Astronomers perform at these concerts, either; they perform with The Astronomers. Stensland makes a keen effort to get fans jumping, waving their hands and clapping in every show the group does.

Baker said there are multiple elements factoring into the band’s growth. However, the positive experience people have had at shows and the presence of their songs on local radio stations have both helped with the boost.

“‘Hotel Rooms’ did very well on 101.1 which created a lot of awareness for us,” Baker said. “To add to that, our songs have been getting tens of thousands of saves every month on Spotify, so the algorithm has been reacting to that and pushing our songs in front of more people.”

“Love Lost & Found (Feat. Molls),” “US,” “HUMS,” “U Suck,” “Ruin My Day,” “Stories Of Last Summer” and “The Occasion” round out the track list made by a group of guys who have really hit their stride since Stensland and Baker formed the group in 2019. 

“Hotel Rooms” joins “Like The Holidays,” “Bad Type,” and “turn out fine (with. sammy rash)” as songs that were released ahead of the entire album. 

“Ruin My Day,” an acoustic-style song where Stensland talks about separating oneself from negative comments, was made in direct response to some of the feedback the band had been getting. 

The song talks about going to space to get into a different headspace far away from the toxicity before delivering an uplifting message that nobody’s comments should be seen as important enough to ruin one’s day.

“‘Ruin My Day’ was about the hate comments we were getting on our song ‘Like the Holidays,’” Baker said. “One day, we woke up to a flood of nasty comments about the song, and it was a different feeling for us because we’ve never really experienced that before. [The song] is a reminder for us to take things with a grain of salt and not be too concerned about what people are saying about you.”

In past songs, Stensland’s mesmerizing vocals have combined with Baker’s brass-heavy production to create a spunky, jazzy sound. With “The Occasion,” there’s much more ukulele and acoustic guitar sounds behind Stensland’s voice to give each song a more soothing, uplifting feel.

Regardless of the different styles, Stensland and Baker constantly pay tribute to their homes as Wisconsinites. In “turn out fine (with sammy rash)”, Stensland yells the lyric “Fond du Lac is my city” to pay homage to the area he grew up in.

“We love to embrace our hometown through our band,” Stensland said. “We have really found that being in this environment has helped us grow a very authentic fan base of people.”

The group will perform their debut album and unreleased songs at The Howard in downtown Oshkosh on Nov. 18.

Stensland describes this showing as the place to be this upcoming Friday night, where fans can expect to jump around, wave their hands and hear phenomenal vocals, space-like production and groovy saxophone performances throughout the show.

“It is going to be like nothing we have done before,” he said. “If you have never been to an Astronomers show, this is the one to go to. It will be a night full of energy, never-before -heard songs, and a great atmosphere.”

Doors will open at 7 p.m., Sammy Rash will perform at 8 p.m. and the dynamic UWO duo will perform at 9 p.m. Merchandise will be sold throughout the night.