|Luke and Jazz|
Last Saturday I was fortunate enough to be sat on a picnic blanket with half of Asylums at Village Green Festival, here's what happened.
Luke, Jazz, Henry and Mike are four explosive DIY rockers hailing from Southend-On-Sea.
Together they make up Asylums - a band you need to hear and experience live.
For the purpose of this post
[L] = Luke
[J] = Jazz
( words ) = My comments.
1. How did you guys meet?
[L] : Me and Jazz were kind of music fanatics, going to see gigs in the Southend area and I used to be in a different band with Henry for a while before Asylums, we knew each other through that and I grew up with Mike, playing in different bands - he was in rival bands to me.
2. How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't heard it before in three words?
[J] : Bipolar. Manic. Distortion.
3. Any good tour stories? (Keep them clean!)
[L] : All of us in the band, but particularly me and Jazz, are a bundle of nerves really. Sometimes that manifests itself in kind of like...someone hands you a can of beer and you drink it really quickly because basically you're nervous and you don't know what to say. Then sometimes at certain gigs that gets really out of hand...
Last year at Camden Rocks was one of those times.
We'd been under a lot of pressure for about six months trying to keep it all going, keep it all moving, getting in the studio, writing, touring, doing all the things that a band does and we decided to have a bit of a blow out.
Ended up in this Cuban bar drinking Strawberry Dalquiries, very masculine. Jazz disappeared for a while and I was talking to some suicidal Jo Brand look-a-like. She was telling me about how unhappy she was. I was like 'where are my friends, I don't know where I am now'.
Anyway we left, can't remember leaving the bar that much really, and we were sharing a bit of pizza and it was all going up our face and stuff and then we went and got a Subway.
We went and ate that by a bin and some people were saying that they really enjoyed our set...we couldn't even remember we had done a gig really!
Got back to Southend and I didn't have my guitar with me, think I left it at a cab rank. Lost a £900 Jag - think that's probably the most bleak I've ever felt after a gig.
[J] : You called me at like 5 in the morning saying (insert voice of true sadness and despair) 'do you have my guitar, because I don't'.
[L] : I know intimately everyone that works at every train station now from between Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness - they're like 'no we still don't have your guitar'. (Laughter).
BUT, here's the cruelty of it all (drama), it had Asylums vinyls in it so they could have easily just hit us up online and said 'I've got your guitar' but they sold it! (more laughter).
But that's what you get for being irresponsible.
4. Who's been your favourite band to tour with?
[J] : We toured with Ash last year and they were really fun. We ended up becoming really good friends with them, having some really good nights out with them. They're really lovely guys, they're really cool.
[L] : I really enjoyed that tour too. One of the ones that means the most to me is the first tour we did with the Vaselines. Obviously growing up I was a huge Nirvana fan, discovered the Vaselines and lots of other cool music through the band.
They asked me to play 'Molly's Lips' with them on stage and I was playing the bicycle horn. I think that was one of the best moments of my life.
(Demonstration of what that entailed, with horn actions and sound effects that could be confused with a seal).
So I felt pretty cool. But then the footage went missing so I'll never see it again.
[J] : Might not have happened.
[L] : Yeah it happened in my head, maybe it didn't happen! (One too many Strawberry Dalquiries maybe?) No it definitely did. Our photographer at Cool Thing swears to this day that he's got that footage but I haven't seen it.
5. Who would you like to tour with?
[J] : The Spice Girls. (That was unexpected). I've heard the talk of their reformation so...
[L] : I've heard there's two positions in the band going mate!
[J] : Well yeah maybe I'll just leave!
[L] : (Pointing to Jazz) Gangly Spice! Hairy Spice!
[J] : Drunk Spice!
(Alternative Spice Girls forming right here).
[J] : I could fit into a Union Jack dress.
(That image though)
6. So this kind of leads on...What do you like to do in your spare time? (If you have any!)
[J] : Put on a Union Jack dress!
[L] : Spare time...Most of it gets consumed with earning money to pay for strange and ever more bizarre art projects and obviously rent.
[J] : And a lot of sock puppet theatre in our spare time.
(Prepare for irrelevant, yet entertaining, tangent).
[L] : Mike told me about a guy, who's an inspiration. He was working here yesterday and he was working with a music enthusiast that had their father down.
This is completely unrelated but I'm going to tell the story anyway.
Wherever this guy goes, I think he's Russian, he makes puppets out of whatever is around in the area. He's been out to Iraq and stuff during wars and made puppets out of debris to entertain people.
Yesterday he was here and he found two eggs and a cup and he said (in the funniest attempt at a Russian accent I think I have ever heard) 'LOOK, A CHICKEN!'
I wanna meet this guy. I've never met him before but that's what I wanna do with my spare time. Puppets out of rubbish.
7. Who's your biggest inspiration? (In life or in music)
[L] : I would have to go and say my grandad because he was born with no money, left home at 13 and over the course of 40 years of manic activity and learning how to be a bronze restorer, managed to support my entire family - never ever take any s**t off anyone and he's the only person I know who's got any money and is not academic. But he's got more ingenuity and mental lateral thinking skills than anyone else I've ever met and he's an inspiration to me...and obviously Nelson Mandela.
[J] : It sounds really corny but I'm actually inspired by everyone in our group, so everyone at our label and everyone in this band continues to inspire me further I find, rather than outside influences, because we're all so creative. They push me to go further than I probably would have.
[L] : You kind of have an idea and everyone soundboards it like 'yeah that's good or bad' or they have an idea and they soundboard it with you and then onward we go.
[J] : It snowballs.
[L] : Yeah and I think it's the first time for any of us with the label that we've kinda built this little family thing and it's the first time all the odd...like mixed socks, all the odd socks that don't match, they all come together and make loads of socks.
[J] : One huge SUPER-SOCK.
[L] : Yeah
(I thought that was a really good analogy for finding people you belong with)
8. Speaking of the label, how did that get started? Why did you decide to go down the DIY route?
[J] : Well, we're both like proper music lovers so have spent our whole lives as record collectors and stuff so we sort of got quite an inside out knowledge of a lot of labels and we got to a point where we were just like, well what's really stopping us from doing our own?
You know, because then we can have creative control and we can do it with the people we want and we can choose the acts we want.
So we thought why not and we just kept going.
We've worked with bands like Petty Phase, they're amazing, and A.C.I.D who are pretty cool.
(Both were playing at the festival).
9. What do you think of streaming/digital channels?
[L] : I think it's absolutely fine. Just, for our label, it's probably not the emphasis because it's so nice to work to a physical artefact, you know, real artwork, colourful vinyl. It just feels more substantial and, obviously being record collectors ourselves, we're not really big streamers.
We like discovering music through streaming but then, ultimately because we love the art form and the creation of product design and just the blood, sweat and tears that goes into every record that every band ever makes, it's just so nice to support them by buying that. (I'd have to agree)
The profit margin on Spotify is like 0.01 pence and, you know, the profit margin on a vinyl album could be as much as £10 out of a £20 album. So that can sometimes go back to either a small label or a small band and help perpetuate more music.
10. Advice for aspiring musicians/record label owners?
[J] : Just have fun.
Don't take it ridiculously seriously and worry about it. Just have fun with your friends, just like you would everything else.
11. Finally, what can we expect from the new album?
[L] : Bipolar manic distortion.
[J] : Spice Girl covers.
Asylums' album 'Killer Brain Waves' can be pre-ordered now (www.asylumsband.com)
and is set to be released on 29th July.
Until next time...