!Que Asco! released their debut album earlier this year. Reaper is crammed with visceral and occasionally unhinged punk-rock songs that are concerned with oddballs and sifting through the highs and lows of living. Explaining and deconstructing the world around them, in plain, powerful language and a sound that’s immediate, untempered and raw.
!Que Asco!’s Joshua Caole talks us through Reapeer.
Firstly the name. Reaper. This was the album that almost wasn’t. Meant to be recorded in 4 days flat in the Transport Club in Cardiff, with minimal overdubs in analogue form to HD drive, to keep the sound as raw as possible, on the second day I had emergency dental surgery seeing my face swell like a hamster’s. We decided to get everything but the vocals done instead and then over the coming year had to record overdubs and mix wherever and whenever we could. Namely in my in-law’s dining room and One Louder Studios in Newport. But every time something went wrong. Equipment died, I would end up in hospital. So this album felt like we clawed it back from the grips of the Reaper to finish and finally release it.
I try to avoid over-thinking in my songwriting, but don’t mistake this approach for knee-jerk laissez-faire-ism. I want to write lyrics people will pay attention to. Alex Turner and the Kelly Jones of the first Stereophonics album are key reference points. They tell you about the places they’re from, the things that have happened to them.
One day we were picking up our old bassist for practice and he answered the door wearing rubber gloves, soap suds up to his elbows. He said he wasn’t ready yet so we went in and watched him frantically clean his kitchen whilst cursing his housemates. Banter ensued during which I said to him “You’ll never catch me wearing marigolds” poking fun at the funny tableaux. Later in practice we had a riff and no words so I sang that but then it merged into a narrative where I talked about Kelly Jones esque stories of Welsh life, my small town oddballs.
Drive You Home
This is one of my favourite stories. We lived in spain and still spend as much time there as possible. One very drunken night out with our friends and family the drinks were flowing liberally but everyone forgot my partner doesn’t drink, so drinks kept being served for her with no way to remedy the situation but for me to drink them. Later her cousin felt ill but didn’t want to lose face infront of her friends so made me drink her drinks in secret to make it look like she was drinking them. So I’m already drinking for three. Then my friend Jose asks me if I’ve ever had a submarine, I say no and he drops whisky in my beer and the rest of the night is history until I remember many people helping me to my car and our dear friend Sandra putting me in the backseat and doing the seatbelt whilst saying in a strong Spanish accent “there you go Joshua if you need anything just push the button”. It had to be a lyric. The next day was spent looking through cracks in my fingers as I was retold the rest of the night’s events. One of the best nights ever.
Walk On By
This started as commentary on how we as a society in this country will barely smile or regard each other in the street any more. Especially after living in spain where it’s normal to say hello you’re left feeling like a freak or a pervert if you smile here sometimes. Slightly inspired by the Fionn Regan song ‘Put a Penny in the Slot’. The title then was a take on Spencer Mcgarry’s ’A Paler Shade of Wit’ because I always found it amusing the story of how it got used for something when someone had been looking for the OTHER one.
A Meat Market at The Butchers
One of our two most potentially controversial songs. At our old local there used to be a particularly rude bar person who was such a mood killer we had a code for talking about her behind her back, right or wrong, this is our song about that! Listen closely and you can break our code.
Our bassist wrote this. He really likes prog so this was a surprise. He kept trying to give it hugely prog titles though which we hated and so we teased him and called it Dino to tease him and it stuck.
Mud Pie Day
This is about not being able to reason with people and when you’re trying to calmly explain to someone that there are two sides to everything… really it’s just crap and we wanted a sludgy guitar tune and the lyrics fit!
I wanted to create an open love letter to NYC and then combined it with my obsession for its mob history. If anyone wants to take me back there for a history tour any time, hit me up. It’s loud and unapologetic and fun.
A Laugh Ain’t a Lidocaine
This I don’t even know how to talk about. It was huge patched of different things getting at me. It’s pretty difficult to talk about. This is the only really personal song I wrote for this as I tend to save all the emotional bullshit for country songs.
OK for Love
Ok so I lied above. I had no lyrics for this and thought I should write one for my girlfriend as she has to put up with all of this. It’s kind of our story.
‘Shark’ for short was a surprise to us all. When we got to the overdubs we went ‘shit’ this is the same guitar riff as ‘Gotti’. But then as I listened more I pulled this out of the guts of it and realised another song lurked beneath. It’s not how I like to work – in post production. So it surprised me to come out as a song I love and that other people love. The lyrics were an organically moulded beast. The real core was putting in the bit about wanting to “read the book Andrew said he’d write years ago” because Andrew Ferris of Jetplane Landing promises in his lyrics of some song to write a book about Buenos Aires and I always wanted to read it.
Lips like Sugarcane
The second of our potentially controversial songs. Everyone works with people they can’t get on with. Everyone gets offended. But many would also say we are in a very difficult moment in time of post #metoo. Feminism is so important but it is important because equality is important in all areas of life. This song is my retaliation against an offensive feminism that sought obliteration of men not equality. I was doing sound for a band that kept slagging off men in the music industry, ok, fine, many deserve that, but then they would directly turn to me and say “no offence”. Well. Offence. But you know it’s give and take and I recognise in this struggle for equality there is anger that needs to be expressed. What I really took offence to was their butchered misinterpretation of a Kurt Cobain song. After a tiring tiresome set they said they would finish with a found poem. If you are, like me, a huge Dave Gorman fan whose found poems are sublime, you will understand why my ears pricked up and I became totally ready to engage with the band and music in a whole new way. No. They took a song written from the perspective of a female rape survivor, a mindset Cobain was trying hard to understand, his feminist credentials and K Records tattoo well-documented and did a hatchet job of missing the point entirely, deeming it a sexually aggressive and violating song. I came away from that night feeling deflated and angry. I am an advocate for equality – be it gender or anything, and what they spoke of didn’t feel like equality. So I wrote my own “found poem” of sleazy come-on lines that would, I know, annoy them. Petty but it made me feel better.