San Diego

STS9 Takes You to Their Leader

Bassist Alana Rocklin voyages through "The Universe Inside"

The Martians have landed.

Bassist Alan Rocklin and her cosmic, psychdelic dance quintet, Sound Tribe Sector 9 (STS9), stop by the Observatory on Saturday after a seven-year San Diego drought, touring on their latest album, "The Universe Inside," which is -- surprise -- out of this world.

The album covers a lot of ground. The opening track "Supercluster" boasts astronaut commentary over echoing instrumentals that feels like Tool, and the subsequent 13 tracks hurdle through lavish dance numbers wrapped in heavy electronica, jazz, funk, prog-rock -- even disco.

I spoke with Rocklin over the phone after sound check in preparation for the second of two shows in Park City, Utah.

Although the band is coming up on a 20-year reunion in the fall, the bassist joined the band back in 2014 to replace Dave Murphy. She still senses plenty of gas in the STS9 spaceship.

"It's amazing to keep doing what we're doing and have so much creative energy still, and inspiration," Rocklin said. "None of that has stopped, so we feel like we're 18."

Rocklin is a big contributor to that energy, her long, curly hair bouncing around while defiling either the up-right bass or her 5-string Lakland. Her prominent bass lines shine through studio recordings and live shows -- this probably has something to do with her love of John Paul Jones and James Jamerson. Besides being in the middle of a US tour and a possible reunion tour in the fall, STS9 have some more surprises coming up, remixing their funkiest track on "The Universe Inside" and maybe some more music on the horizon.

"We just did a new remix of 'Get Loud' that we're about to put out," Rocklin told me. "We just moved to a new studio in Santa Cruz.... It's our first recordings out of that studio and mixed our own songs. It's this hip-hop, drum and bass thing."

The only thing sill missing from the STS9 discography is probably a live show from actual outer space.

Musician, people-pleaser, lover, fighter and writer Matthew Craig Burke has been spewing musical words of wisdom since never. He lives off of peanut butter sandwiches, beer and Beck Hansen. Follow his updates on Facebook or contact him directly.

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