Interview | Axes
With the release of their new album Glory, instrumental four-piece Axes are bringing their brand of intricate and progressive rock music to the masses.
So with the release of their much-anticipated second album, Glory, we recently caught up with the band to discuss new material, instrumental music, touring and collective influences…
For those who haven’t heard Axes before, how would you describe yourselves?
STACEY (BASS): Party punk tech pop rock.
JEION (GUITAR): Arrogant party goers.
Your new album Glory is out now on Big Scary Monsters, could you tell us about the record?
S: We were mindful not to constrain or limit ourselves at all on this album and so were able to explore loads of different genres. We also count ourselves extremely lucky to have found Peter Miles as a producer. He really understands what we’re all about and helped us to open our minds even more in the studio to make sure our weird ideas were realised to their full potential.
J: Its very powerful and wild, and much more trippy than we thought it would end up sounding.
How does Glory compare to your Self-titled release from 2013? How do you think you’ve developed as a band in that time?
S: It’s still quite obviously an Axes record in that our music always seems to sound like we each have ADHD and that we’re playing four different songs at the same time. But I would say it’s much more diverse and much more unpredictable.
J: We’re definitely more comfortable staying with specific sections for longer and developing them. There’s more tension. I think we were more adventurous, but that meant being even more critical with each song.
What’s your songwriting process like? Could you talk us through the development of one of your songs from start to finish?
S: It usually starts with an idea or a riff that someone has come up with. We’ll jam around that until we find something that we all like the sound of. Then we’ll see where that takes us or discuss where we’d like it to take us and come up with different ways of getting there. Once we have the bare bones of a song we’ll work on refining the structure and drill into almost each and every individual note. Because each of us are mostly playing completely different lines from each other, it’s fun to push and pull a section about. For example, we can all suddenly follow the rhythm of Al’s beat exactly or lock in with Paul’s riff.J: I think something that people don’t realise is that music like this is like a language you learn over the years. And then you start to play with it. Writing a math rock tune isn’t hard. Writing something we all love, is really hard.
J: I think something that people don’t realise is that music like this is like a language you learn over the years. And then you start to play with it. Writing a math rock tune isn’t hard. Writing something we all love, is really hard.
You’ve been on tour with Delta Sleep this Autumn, and also played a number of shows with Cleft and Alpha Male Tea Party. It seems like there’s a great camaraderie between bands at the moment, particularly within experimental and math-rock music. Why do you think that is?
S: Math-rock is pretty niche so it’s a very small scene, bands and audience-wise. We’ve each been involved in this scene for many, many years now so you get to know most of the bands, promoters, sound engineers and audience members really well. It means it’s a really supportive environment.
J: When a promoter runs away after giving someone £7.50 instead of your fee, you need someone’s shoulder to cry on.
We’ve been losing a lot of great bands recently – Adebisi Shank, You Slut!, Spring Offensive in the last month alone – and over the years we’ve seen a lot of musicians from the alternative scene call it a day. How do you see Axes progressing in the future? Do you have any aims/ambitions as a band, or do you take each day as it comes?
S: We’re not young whippersnappers anymore and the older you get the harder it is to continue to be in a band like this when you have bills to pay and responsibilities to uphold. We can totally understand how and why those bands might have broken up. On the plus side, being older means that we’re under no illusions as to what it’s like to be in a band like this. With that in mind, our aim is simply to do all that we do to the very best of our abilities and our ambition is to land one of our dream support slots.
J: We just want everyone who might like us, to know we exist.
Being an instrumental band, has not having a vocalist ever caused you problems in the past, or in some ways has it been an advantage?
S: I don’t think we see it as an advantage or a disadvantage. It just is what it is. It’s just like classical music I suppose in that some pieces have vocals and some don’t but neither are more or less valid.J: We would cause a vocalist problems. They’d hate it. We’d fight. They’d leave.
Collectively, which artists and musicians have influenced Axes’ sound the most over the years?
S: We can never agree on one artist or musician that we all like and reference as an influence but if you listen really closely, you might be able to hear influences in specific sections of our music from bands like Deerhoof, Tune-Yards, Don Cab, Chrome Hoof, Rage Against The Machine, Dianogah, Dinosaur Jr, Smashing Pumpkins, Justin Timberlake, R Kelly, Melvins, Dirty Projectors, Trans Am, Machine Head…I could go on and on.
J: For me on this album, definitely Dirty Projectors and Trans Am, Prince.
ArcTanGent, both in 2013 and 2014, featured Axes in one form or another. But who would you love to see at the festival in 2015?
S: Chrome Hoof and Secret Chiefs 3.
And finally – thanks for talking to us by the way – with 2015 quickly approaching, if you could play show with anyone next year, who would it be and why?
S: Andrew WK because we can’t think of anything more fun.
J: Bjork- i reckon her fans would get us. She is amazing.
Axes’ new album Glory is out now on Big Scary Monsters in digital and vinyl formats