Band pops space barrier for Spain

Stormy Mondays surprise winners of NASA shuttle mission song poll

No Spanish band had ever gone so far, quite literally. Stormy Mondays, an act from Oviedo, will have the privilege of getting its music played in outer space after winning a competition organized by NASA. Following weeks of online voting, Stormy Mondays came in first with the song Sunrise Nº1, which will be heard aboard the space shuttle Endeavour.

"I don't think I slept at all last night," said Jorge Otero, the bandleader, in a telephone interview. The voting ended at 6am on Tuesday, Spanish time, coinciding with the launch of the Endeavour on its 25th and final mission. Otero was glued to his computer screen until the last minute, despite having a 175,000-vote lead over the runner-up.

'Sunrise Nº 1', a bright pop-rock track, will play in space on June 1
For its worldly needs, the band still depends on its car and equipment

"In the end we got around 780,000 votes," he said. "It's funny how different you feel when you know you're going to win and when you've actually won. You feel quite different once you know it for a fact."

At 6am on the dot, NASA's website announced that Stormy Mondays - the only Spanish band in the running - had beaten out nine US finalists to become the wake-up call for the six astronauts aboard the space shuttle. Until the last second, Otero was afraid that "national pride" would award the victory to the runner-up, a song written by a family from Missouri.

"I took a picture of the website displaying the final results," Otero admits. "But there must have been a glitch some time later, or else they took it down, but in any case it's not there anymore."

Sunrise Nº 1, a bright pop-rock composition with lively wind instrumentation, will play in space on June 1, when the Endeavour completes 24 years of service and gets sent to its final destination, the California Science Center. NASA television is providing live coverage of the Endeavour mission, which is on its way to the International Space Station orbiting the Earth at an altitude of 350 kilometers.

"We can record the song transmission live," said the Mondays frontman. "We will also have some sort of sound file with the astronauts' voices, which we will probably incorporate into a new version of the song later." The shuttle launch was two weeks late, and in the interim a lot of Spaniards showed their support for the Asturian band, Otero said.

All proceedings from the sale of Sunrise Nº1 will go to five non-profit groups (Intermón Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, Amnesty International and Greenpeace). The song is available on iTunes and other digital music platforms.

Despite its victory, for now at least it's business as usual for the Stormy Mondays here on earth. Its next stop is the open road. "We are detecting somewhat greater interest from people," said Otero. "But we are carrying on with our plans: a tour of Italy in August with the musician Willie Nile."

The band may have conquered the stars, but for its worldly existence it depends on its car, its music equipment and its tremendous desire to reach across to the audience. "We're really happy because, on top of everything else, people are liking this song," says Otero. "It is a triumph to be heard in space, but to be played here on earth is just as great."

Rafa, Jorge and Danny of the Stormy Mondays, pose with Neil Armstrong's space suit.
Rafa, Jorge and Danny of the Stormy Mondays, pose with Neil Armstrong's space suit.CARLOS RODRÍGUEZ
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