So to begin, how’s it going?
Hey, yeah things are good thanks. We have been doing promotional work on a debut single for our new signing ‘Suspects’ via our Cool Thing Records label this week. Tomorrow we are heading into the studio to record some new Asylums material. Busy but enjoyable times.
Give me a brief history of Asylums: how you all got together and why you decided to chase your passions and pursue music.
Towards the end of 2013 I was in between musical projects and decided to write and record an albums worth of demos on my 8 track at home. When they were done I asked my friends to help me rehearse and record them – Mike, Jazz and Henry were so enthusiastic and supportive.
It was easy fun and natural in the studio, so we formed a band…and a record label.
Music has been a constant for us all since we were children so being in Asylums and working with other bands via our Cool Thing Records label keeps us connected to that innocence and creativity.
Our conversation then turned to the band’s debut record – Killer Brain Waves
I love Killer Brain Waves: it’s such a show of creativity and an exciting sign of things to come. Have the band been happy with its reception?
Thanks for the kind words. We were very happy and touched by its reception, there are millions of bands out there to choose from and it’s nice that an audience found us with such an independent release.
In reality we closed the door on that ‘Killer Brain Waves’ period with our stand alone single ‘Alternative Occupations’ back in December 2016.
Since then I’ve been writing a lot in between sporadic gigging and we have been developing material as a band. The first fruits of which will be recorded this week with our Producer Thomas Mitchner.
It’s been so enjoyable to be immersed in the creativity of it all again. We feel revitalised.
The following tracks have really stuck with me. Can you tell me a little bit about the inspiration/process behind these ones:
- Necessary Appliances:
The genesis of this song dates back to a poem I wrote around the last general election. The poem was thematically making a connection between shiny new electronic appliances that are not built to last and new political party leaders.
A short time later I found what became the lead guitar melody – at the piano, it musically interested me and from there a song started to form. I was thinking of bands like CLOR, Elastica and The Walkmen while writing, and heavier stuff too. Jazz started messing around with some verse guitar ideas that added more of The Replacements to the fray as we worked up the song. It came together quickly when we took it to Mike and Henry. I think it’s a great rhythm track they produced.
- Joy In A Small Wage
I wrote this song at the piano a few years back, believe it or not at that time it had a more Kate Bush quality – melancholic and soaring. When I was putting together the original 8 track demos for what became Asylums I re contextualised the music – I was going for ‘Mudhoney plays an Elvis Costello song’. The results were pretty similar to the final version but the boys in the band really made it anthemic, bigger and bolder.
Lyrically it kind of set the tone for Asylums. The first line is:
“Is this a good time to be alive, or just awful?”
- Missing Persons
I owe this single to the boys really. I had this one written for a while as a piano ballad, I felt it was too emotional for us and begrudgingly made a demo in the band style just to experiment with it. Henry and Jazz really believed in it and were very strong minded that it should be used – they were right.
Lyrically it’s more personal, it deals with feeling depressed, isolation, failure and wanting to start again in life.
In terms of other material, when can we expect future releases from the band?
We have been developing music for some time, recording begins tomorrow and will continue for the remainder of the year on and off.
We are putting together a family of new songs – all shapes and sizes. The body of work will be very Asylums but it won’t be the same record over again.
Luke and I then moved on to Asylums’ live show.
Tell me about The Asylums live show; how much does the band change their sound in a live environment?
We are a simple rock band formation, just like The Beatles – we don’t push technological boundaries in that respect. The material is looser and more unhinged live – possibly down to that being our natural disposition. We essentially just want to have a good time, performance is totally escapism for us – and it makes us happy to entertain a crowd.
It’s a privilege to be able to express ourselves that way in life, it’s never taken for granted.
What are your current touring plans for Asylums?
We categorically didn’t want to tour for a while and made sure our team knew it. New music is always the priority, that takes time to organically evolve – we wanted that time.
Having said that we have been playing on and off all year and even got the chance to support our heroes The Jesus & Mary Chain.
In the next few weeks we play Camden Rocks, Isle Of Wight Festival, Glastonbury Festival, Tramlines and Y Not Festival.
We finished with that age-old GMM question…
Tell me your thoughts about the current state of the music industry and what advice you would give to young artists looking to break into it.
We just try to ignore the tried and tested model i.e. going to a 3rd party for funding or a handout to do musical projects.
We just put records out whenever we want and always have. If we need money for a tour we do a ticketed hometown show or sell merch, if we need money to record music we try to find a publishing sync that pays or recycle profits from album sales.
We all work day jobs and have no intention of stopping that.
For us we just wanna do our own thing and be in charge, help other bands get started and enjoy ourselves.
For us at least as soon as you are relying on your music to pay a mortgage it’s hard to feel as creative or free. I guess that may change one day – who knows.
Many thanks to Luke Branch for taking the time to chat.