Anamanaguchi’s Space Pizza Video Was Nearly Foiled by the Bomb Squad

Anamanaguchi, the self-described “hacker boy band” whom you may know from their soundtrack to the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World video game, recently completed are nearing the end of a massively successful Kickstarter to help promote their self-released album Endless Fantasy. (They have so far raised over $211,105 of an initial goal of $50,000 to fund music videos, tours, and “Cool light poles, projection cubes, LED displays, stuff like that!”) Once they made their goal, obviously there was one item at the top of their agenda: send a piece of pizza into space. (Space Pizza starts at about 3:24.)

I talked with the band briefly, currently on the road on their North American tour, because I had to know how and why the space pizza happened. (A making-of short is due out soon, according to their Twitter page.) Lead songwriter Peter Berkman:

We basically built this apparatus that had a GoPro camera, heating stuff to keep the batteries alive as it was going into the atmosphere, and we put it in a Styrofoam box lined with aluminum. We extended the pizza out on a plank of acrylic, with a lacquer treatment to keep it looking fresh.

Bassist James DeVito:

We’d seen videos online of people sending other random stuff into space, and some guys from MIT or Harvard, I can’t remember, sent a hamburger into space, but to our knowledge nobody has ever sent a piece of pizza into space. We thought that was definitely the most rad thing to send into space.

The band wrote “University Science Project” on the back, along with a phone number and DeVito’s old NYU student e-mail address. The box was also equipped with a GPS device that was supposed to update its location every 10 minutes, but never actually worked, so the band just started driving in the general direction that the balloon was headed. Then things got a little weird. DeVito:

I get this e-mail, and it’s from this NYU professor at the department of Environmental Medicine. And it says, “Is this e-mail still active? If you get this, please contact the department of Environmental Medicine immediately.” And I looked at it, and thought it was spam or something really weird. Then I scroll up to a more recent e-mail, and the subject line is “Suspicious package, Warwick Police Department.” And it said, “The town of Warwick [NY] is currently investigating a suspicious package with this e-mail on it, please contact us immediately.” And we’re reading this out loud, and we’re with our friend Leia, who was helping us out with a bunch of stuff, and she was like, “Wait, repeat that name?” — the lieutenant’s name off the e-mail. And she’s like, “That’s my sister’s best friend’s dad.” And we were like, you’ve got to be kidding me.

So she calls him, and we later find out that he was literally about to call the state police to have the bomb squad come and detonate the box, and we’d lose all the footage. So she called him up, and they called it off. He was pretty ticked off, understandably — it was just a couple weeks after the Boston bombing. We find out that it descended via parachute into the backyard of this family’s house while their kids were playing in the backyard, and they called the police, understandably — it’s a pretty weird thing. Oh yeah, by the way, the whole time the box is playing our album, from an iPod shuffle, on a little speaker.

Endless Fantasy is available now on iTunes.

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