Music Interview

Michael Aston

by Marcus Pan

Michael AstonIn recent interviews, Michael, you've expressed your love for your solo CD, Why Me, Why This, Why Now. What is it about this project that pleased you so much?

The album restored my confidence. I think I succeeded in melding the lyrical and the vocal. The whole project was a joy to participate in. Triple X gave me the liberty to truly engage myself in an utterly nurturing environment. The players, particularly my co-writer Mick Rossi and co-producer Geza X, were so supportive and believed. I for the first time had absolute control over every aspect of the project. It was such a wonderful fulfilling experience. I felt validated as an artist and believe that work will stand up for the rest of time. It's (excuse the modesty) an extraordinary record. A confessional. exorcism, sensual and a tribute to all involved. Also the record was completed in a short period and the final mix coincided with the birth of my son in Los Angeles. Magical time.

"Every move a false one." That was your comment in a recent interview in Ghastly magazine when asked about The Immigrants and other projects you've had that didn't move as forward as expected. Your latest album, taking back the Gene Loves Jezebel moniker, was done through Triple X Records. Are you happy with the arrangements you've come to with T-X, and do you expect the relationship to last longer than past ones with Virgin and others?

The Virgin and Avalanche deals had a great deal of mischief attached. Between my foolishness in firing a great band that foresaw the grunge thingy (eventually re-recorded in 1993 as Edith Grove the original versions were recorded in 1989) and my brother's constant neediness to reform every time a sofa was uncomfortable or unattainable caused many delays. People have wondered why I pursue G.L.J. now but if they knew how involved I have been with the band through the nineties then they'd understand.

Triple X has been really a blast. I like the people there (though they're choice of soccer teams is dodgy!), Peter Huer and Dean Naleway have a really great love and knowledge of music and are swell guys to work with.

You've worked with a lot of musicians over the years, constantly changing line-ups. Do you like your current manifestation of MA's Gene Loves Jezebel?

I've always prided myself on making good choices in players. All the significant line-ups in G.L.J. were my 'finds.' This line up is actually more like a squad. Jason Powell and Michael Ciravolo on guitar. Clint Powell has replaced Slobo though Michael Brahm is still the drummer king. I like this line up a lot. Jason and Clint are in their mid-twenties and I think crucial to the future of the band.

What is your opinion of the gothic scene on the west coast of the states as compared to the UK? Do you prefer live shows on either side of the Atlantic or either in particular?

It's fascinating that Goth has such legs! I'm flattered the clubs and fans honour us. I'm going to the U.K. in a few days so will know more as to how the Brits are.

Recording an entire album in two weeks is remarkable - and especially when the album is as remarkable as Love Lies Bleeding has turned out to be. You've expressed that you no longer agonize over the arrangement of your music, and instead try to use deadline or other pressure to produce your work. In the rush to put Love Lies Bleeding out there in such a short time, is there anything you look back on (or listen back on, actually) that you think might have been better with changes? What changes, if any?

Only one song Alive Within needed a little more time... I think overall the approach works for us. Most of the pressure is on me to come up with the words and melodies. No regrets.

Your tour in support of Love Lies Bleeding and other recent releases kicked off in March. Following only a brief hit of the west coast, you have plans to cross the Atlantic again and play the UK. How has the tour gone so far, and are you looking forward to going back to your original haunt?

I'm a little nervous, it's been so many years. My last appearance was at a sold out Astoria show in 1988 and that's a lifetime ago. Who knows who will turn up. I'm excited by the prospect. My band arrives in London the day of the show and I hope they aren't too jet lagged. It's going to be strange.

Let's take a close look at your latest effort: Love Lies Bleeding. One of my favorite tracks is Who Will Survive You. As an artist, I assume you mean everything within the song. How has the reaction been to such a track, especially considering the political minefield that current debate is riddled with?

People have steered clear for the most part. I personally felt I had to be honest, it matters to me a great deal. It's really a song about many peoples attitude toward contraception. Abortion is a very common method. I can't believe the pro-choicers attitude toward unborn children, to me it's the ultimate liberal cause, to defend those without a voice. I also understand it's a fact of life that 30,000,000 abortions will occur every year and we have to accept that and make it safe for women, but please let's not pretend that abortion isn't about the mass slaughter of innocents. Sorry.

Your lyrical style is very poetic. How do you work out lyrics in this fashion? Do you pencil down thoughts as they occur and develop them later? Do your words come before the music?

The music usually comes first, I then sit in my garden shed with my 4 track drink a little into the wee hours and experiment. It really has to sound right before I commit to a lyric and very often I'll have a number of different melodies and words for each basic track. Sometimes I just sink across blank tape, I'm most concerned with the melody first then I torture myself getting the lyric. I'm a harsh judge and I try my best to communicate my goals for each song. Then of course there's the small detail of performing the damn things!

Gene Loves JezebelDo you consider yourself more of a poet or a songwriter?

I used to regard myself more as a poet but I think I'm more the songwriter these days. OK I'm a poetic songwriter!

You've been asked thousands of times over about the split between you and Jay and the continuance of two separate Gene Loves Jezebel acts. Surprise, I'm not going to ask. Instead I'm curious about this - what do you think of your brother's music? Do you listen to it?

Obviously I think he's better with a harder taskmaster (me). Left to his own devices he has some good ideas but; is a little lazy. Melodically he's good and he writes some rather good music. His weakness is words, not to say he isn't capable and hasn't been successful before but I sometimes wonder has he never lived beyond the pretences and suffocating delusions of rock stardom... I don't listen to it though I do like some of the older stuff like Thin Things and Stephen. He needs to grow up.

What's next on the horizon for Michael Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel? Will you continue using the musical style you use now?

Oh' we are about to begin another album with Triple X. I think it will be quite different from L.L.B and I'm not afraid to take a risk.

The band has played so much over the past two years and we improvise a lot live. I hope this will come across in the performances. It's going to be quite a trippy album. I think we will surprise a lot of people. Again we only have two weeks in total to record and mix, will be quite a challenge. Looking forward to it!