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Q&A: Axes

by DavidBeech
DavidBeech
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on 15 October 2014 in Features
Record Label Big Scary Monsters
Release date November 3 2014

Made up of four members from across the world, London-based, instrumental noiseniks Axes are on the cusp of releasing their second album Glory. Built around a variety of influences, the band are just as comfortable with chunky metal riffing as they are intricate noodles and with a lack of lyrics, the sole focus is on the music, a rich and somewhat bombastic amalgam of styles, tastes and aesthetics that merge together to in a Frankenstein's Monster of weight, riffs and intricacy.

We caught up with the band following the release of lead single 'Plan American' and ahead of Glory's November 3 release.

To start with, how did you all meet and did you each bring a particular set of influences to the table, or were you all in to similar stuff to begin with?

STACEY: It’s a very long and complicated story but essentially we all met through playing in bands and being on the same live circuit. In 2004 Paul answered an online ad and joined my hardcore punk/thrash band, Black Tax. Jeion played in a post-hardcore band called Optimist Club who were around at the same time. Black Tax and Optimist Club would often play on the same bills together. After those bands split up, Paul was the front of house sound engineer for ska/folk/punk band The King Blues and Al was their drummer. They realised they had a mutual love of weird instrumental music and started jamming sporadically. Al left The King Blues and he and Paul recruited Stacey on bass and Jeion on guitar to form Axes.

I think it’d be fair to say that we all have completely different musical tastes, which span punk, indie, emo, thrash, metal, pop, house, r & b, hip hop etc and the music we make is a reflection of that. However, the two things that we all have in common is a punk approach to live performance and a refusal to be bound by the constraints of ‘genre’ when writing.

PAUL: It was at Sussex Ale festival Al and I drunkenly decided to start our own band. And to make it the complete opposite of a commercial pop band. We all met Jeion while watching his old band support An Albatross at the Windmill. We were taking the piss out of them for the first couple of songs, before realising that he/they were brilliant.

JEION: A while after meeting, Paul was sound engineer for my old band, Optimist Club, when we toured Europe. We became close friends thanks to the long journeys through the Alps and every type of energy drink ever made.

You often incorporate said influences in to just a single track. How do you go about deciding to have a thrashy section here, or some mathy emo noodling there. Is it a natural or very deliberate progression?

STACEY: A bit of both. Once you decide that you’re not going to be limited by the restrictions of a particular musical style, it really opens up all of the possibilities. You can just let the music go wherever it wants to and follow it there. Or alternatively, you can make a conscious decision to take it in the exact opposite direction of where it naturally wants to go, just to mess with it.

JEION: There is one song on the album, Real Talk, which is a deliberate meshing of loads of genres without any regard for smooth transitions. It shouldn't really work, but i guess it does because, despite being fairly ridiculous song-writing, we put a lot of effort into making each section sound exactly how it should.

You've supported an eclectic mix of bands in a variety of genres, has your reception been generally good or has there been occasions when you haven't gone down as well as you'd hoped.

STACEY: Our music is a bit of a melting pot of ideas and influences and we’re really lucky in that it allows us to play with bands from many different genres. On the flip side, we’re very aware that it means our music isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, it’s definitely not going to be most people’s cup of tea. And that’s absolutely understandable. We’ve definitely had lots of occasions where a whole room full of people have looked at us like we’ve just cussed their mums and it does feel really weird to play your heart out when you know that no one wants you to be there. But it would all be completely meaningless if everyone liked everything, wouldn’t it?

PAUL: We’ve supported a lot of amazing bands in London and the response has always been awesome. We toured for the first time a couple of years ago though, and it was the first time we learnt that we play pretty niche music. When you are playing a hipster venue in Shoreditch, playing angular instrumental music feels pretty standard. However in a Chichester pub, where the regulars stare with a bemused look on their face - You start to question what you are doing with your life. We try not to play pubs in Chichester anymore.

With your music being entirely instrumental, do you think it's as easy for people to resonate with your music the same way they would if you had lyrics?

STACEY: Absolutely! Different people will look for different things from music at different times, so there’s a place for it all. For example, it’s just as easy to be moved by the music in Beethoven’s 5th as it is to be moved by the lyrics in John Lennon’s Imagine.

JEION: Having no lyrics, or titles that conjure up clichéd images, means that people can interpret songs however they like. Two people might like the same tune for completely different reasons and have a fight over whether a bit is creepy or euphoric, or just weird.

Similarly, have you ever considered writing lyrics for your songs, even if it's just in a small refrains, similar to American Football perhaps?

STACEY: I think vocals would restrict us in our writing and we don’t like to work that way. We have spoken about perhaps inviting someone to write some words as a response to some of our tracks though. Sort of like another expression of the music. We really admire people like Kate Tempest and George The Poet and would love for them to write some words in relation to our music. That would be really exciting for us!

PAUL: Al says if we ever have vocals in our band he will quit. Also, I love American Football - but my least favourite part is when Mike start singing.

You new album, Glory, comes out early November, what can we expect from it?

PAUL: Its the first time we have sat down and said, “lets write an album”. So we had lots of time to experiment both stylistically and sonically. We lived on a farm in Devon for 2 weeks and recorded with our hero Peter Miles. He is a genius and everything sounds fantastic and mega hifi. we drank a lot of espressos and experimented with lots of different drums and guitars and pedals! It was a lot of fun to make and hopefully that translates into an entraining listen! Its very weird too, but I guess that goes without saying!


Axes are about to embark on a UK tour with Delta Sleep

October 

24th // Brighton @ Bleach w/ Cleft

25th // Northampton @ The Garibaldi Hotel

27th // Leicester @ The Firebug

28th // Leeds @ Wharf Chambers

29th // Edinburgh @ Opium

30th // Glasgow @ Flat 0/1

31st // Manchester @ Kings Arms w/ Cleft

November

1st // Cardiff @ Clwb Ifor Bach

7th // London @ The Islington

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