GIITTV Introducing: An Axe

anaxeFollowing on from their Preaching From the Pews article back in May, Tiffany Daniels caught up with Chris, Sam and Justin from An Axe to talk about their current single – Love, My Evil / Let Law Be Upheld – and playing in instrumental prog-rock bands.

How did you all get together?

Justin: I can’t think of an interesting spin on it. There isn’t one, is there?

Sam: We knew a few people…

J: [Sam and I] met through mutual friends at University, going back a few years.

S: I rushed you on the stage, didn’t I? That’s when I first met you.

J: My first band in Nottingham Uni, we played some gig [that ended] with a stage invasion.

S: I was compering it.

J: We didn’t really have any songs, so we just destroyed things. I jumped into the drum kit, and then someone else landed on me, and I didn’t recognise who it was – it wasn’t one of my band mates, it was actually [Sam]! Then [Sam] knows Chris through work…

Chris: We worked at the cinema together, in the old Showcase in St Philip’s. He asked me to join his band, and I was already in another band. Actually I was kind of doing music by myself. He asked me to join on bass, and then I met everyone else a few years later…

S: We’re kind of like the last men standing.

 

destructoHave you lost more than one member over time?

J: It’s all quite incestuous. Basically [Sam and Chris] were in another band before An Axe, which had our old keyboard player in it. I was in another band with the keyboard player…

C: I was in an instrumental post-rock band before An Axe. We’ve all shared members.

 

Has loosing members changed the dynamics of An Axe over time?

C: It changed the dynamics when James left recently, but I think that it helps that we’ve all been in very different bands over the years.

J: We know each other so well; we’ve all been hanging out together over the last five years. When An Axe started, it was basically folk-shanty, messy-quiet style.

S: It was going to be just a two piece originally, with me on drums! And the very earliest demos we have are-

J: Shit!

S: -with me on drums.

C: I played piano on “Ship”.

S: We quickly realised it wasn’t working.

C: Justin came in and saved us.

J: I heard that [Sam] was going to be playing drums and I couldn’t help it.

C: The way we are together has definitely improved over the years because of the fact that we all know each other, and we’ve all listened to other bands we’ve been in play.

 

Do you all write the songs?

J: These guys start them off. Sometimes [they] start them and they’re all over the place!

S: It’s a real mix. Chris will come up with songs, I’ll come up with songs, and then we bring them to the practice room and we’ll work them out in there. I mean, I can’t sing too good. Chris has got such a great voice, I have to teach him stuff and he’ll sing it. But then we’ve got a few songs for the forthcoming album that are just really startling – like emeralds from the practice room! There are two songs that everyone’s had an equal input into.

C: No one will ever tell anyone else what they should or shouldn’t be playing. It happens organically.

 

Are you writing an album?

C: Yeah!

J: We’re quite a lot of the way through it really.

C: We’re looking to record it in August maybe, September? Towards the end of the year. It should be done in about a year or so.

J: One song we’ve been playing for about two years.

 

Have you found it hard to adapt those older songs to be played without a keyboardist?

J: No, that was pretty easy! The ones that have survived are the ones which worked as a three piece.

S: Now we have our current line up, keyboard doesn’t really feature in any of the songs.

C: “She’s Too Busy” I guess, I can always hear [the] keyboard line in my head. It was a really good keyboard line, I do miss that!

 

Would you use it in the recording studio?

C: We try and keep it to what we can do as a live band, with some over dubs at the moment. But we wouldn’t make it an integral part of the song.

S: I think that’s the problem in general when recording now, you can do infinite amount of tracks, and you’re not limited so much at the end of the day… You can layer stuff up, and it’s really easy to put ten guitar tracks on! It takes a bit of discipline to really strip something down.

C: We just like to encourage the turds to be the best they possibly can!

J: We didn’t really know what the hell had happened when James left, and it took us quite a long time to get together. For ages it was kind of a weird mix of stuff that didn’t really work.

S: I think “Destructo!” was a real closing point. We had this jam session after James left and that was when “Destructo!” came out.

J: It hammered us into shape!

C: It’s got a real 80s riff. It’s such a ridiculous riff!

J: The riff sounded just like a 80s theme tune to something, I can’t remember what it’s called.

S: I stood by it!

J: No one’s called us on it yet.

S: Let’s just wait for the law suit.

Destructo! by An Axe

Are you self-releasing the album?

S: We would love some help!

 

Everything else previous to this has been a self-release, right?

C: Yeah. The next single’s self-funded.

S: We’re hoping to get [it] out in June or July.

J: Another single in the next month.

 

How do you find releasing physically?

S: We haven’t!

C: We’ve done some promo CDs.

J: And the first EP, it was really expensive.

S: What we’re going to do; we’ve released a double AA side single called “Cherry/Destructo!”, and now we’re going to release “Love, My Evil” and “Let Law…”. Then we’re going to do a physical release with all of those songs and a bonus song called “Renaissance Of Villainy”, which you’re not going to be able to get online.

C: By the time that happens, we might have someone willing to help us out.

[The single’s now been released – check over here or at the bottom of the post for more details!]

Love, My Evil by An Axe

Have you had any interest?

J: To be honest we’ve been really, really lazy getting the stuff out there.

S: We’re perfectionists and I guess it’s taken a long while to get a band photo and press reviews that we like. We didn’t want to send out anything that we weren’t happy with.

J: We’ve actually got something together this week that we’re happy with, so we’ve sent that out to tons of labels, blogs and radio [stations].

 

Do you think that’s part of the problem with digital material? Are you ever tempted to change your songs after you’ve ‘finished’ them?

C: I don’t think so; we’re pretty true to our cause.

S: Really when it boils down to it, it’s a money thing. I would love to put all of our stuff out on vinyl, but it’s just not [viable].

C: Most of our money comes from playing gigs, but you have a string of gigs where you get paid, and then when you don’t it’s like-

S: WOAH! What’s happened here?!

 

Have you ever toured the country?

S: We’ve played London a few times, but now we’ve finally got the press pack done I think that’s hopefully opened a few doors. It’s weird, because we needed these singles originally just to establish our new sound.

J: Yeah we originally just released them online so that people would know what we sound like, because the old stuff didn’t reflect what we sound like anymore. When we recorded them we were like, “Hang on, this sounds really cool!

C: We kept getting gigs off the back of our first EP, and they weren’t getting what they were expecting. We kept getting booked at the Folk House [in Bristol]!

S: We were actually told we can’t go back to the Folk House!

J: Things like that kept happening, so getting these singles out was a rush, but we wanted to as soon as possible just to show everyone where we were.

C: The next step is touring and an album basically. If we can get a good few dates in a row…

Bear by An Axe

Finally, where does the name An Axe come from?

S: I saw an interview with Michael Caine, and he was talking about when he was first over in America after making Alfie. And he went into a hardware store, I think because he needed a hammer or something-

J: In Hollywood?

S: Yeah in Hollywood! And so he went in this hardware store and as soon as he went in, a bunch of people started flooding out. And he was like, “Why is everyone leaving?” Then the guy behind the counter said, “That guy over there, he’s picked up a fire axe and we don’t like the look of it!” And Michael Caine said, “That’s Klaus Kinski, he’s carrying an axe!”

C: Can we tell the real story now?

J: That’s so thick.

C: For a start, Michael Caine wouldn’t be doing his own DIY!

S: That’s a true story, it actually happened!

C: We actually got it from a drunk American girl.

S: We wanted our band name to be simple because we were in a noise-core band before that had really long titles and it was a bit convoluted. We wanted to get completely away from that and do something slow and rustic. So we needed just a simple strong name like ‘sword’ or ‘axe’! Then this beautiful drunken American girl – we asked her, sword or axe? And she went, “an axe!” And we said, great, axe! And she said, “NO, AN AXE!”

C: She was about 80, 85. That’s the truth.

An Axe’s single – Love, My Evil/Let Law Be Upheld – will be available through iTunes on July 11th.

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God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.