By DONNA BALANCIA
Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel will team with The Alarm and Modern English for a major U.S. tour that kicks off July 18 in Austin. On the eve of the tour that makes several West Coast stops, the Welsh-born Aston sat down for a Q and A chat with California Rocker.
CR: Are you always happy?
JA: I like to be but not always. I’m positive, I’m pretty happy with who I am, it’s good.
CR: What is your family like?
JA: I’m eternally single, I’m a wanderer, always have been. I like hiking and writing music.
CR: When is your birthday?
JA: My birthday is Aug. 22 so I’m a Leo and I have a Sagittarius rising. Always wandering, Sagittarians like to wander.
CR: What is the toughest thing about being on the road?
JA: It varies for different people, for me it’s getting the right things to eat, I’m vegan. Finding things can be difficult on the road. I walk 20 miles a day easily. I like to walk, hike and things. On stage I use a lot of energy. When I come off stage sometimes my adrenalin is very high and sometimes I can’t sleep so well. For a singer it’s difficult if you overdo it. And this tour is huge like 40 gigs. I have to be careful. It’s going to be challenging, but I think we’ll be OK.
CR: A big tour is like a marathon, how will you prepare?
JA: It is like a marathon. I don’t know. We haven’t done a tour like this for many years. We toured the UK earlier 10 or 12 shows, played festivals around the world, we played the Isle of Wight festival and that was insane.
CR: What’s the routine like on the road?
JA: It can be exhausting but you get into your rhythm. You live in a little bubble I’m sure many of the artists will testify, but you get a rhythm going. It’s a tough life and sometimes they don’t make it all the way through. It’s very exhausting. When we used to tour in the 1980s and the 1990s the technology wasn’t around and you could once you left the big city have some peace and quiet. You would do the odd interview on the radio or TV station. But these days you always have to be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, What’sApp. The list of demands is endless on the artist. That’s what I find difficult I like to hide away come out sing and dance for an hour or two and make another record and keep on working that way. It’s a different world than when we came up.
CR: Do you think social media takes away the mystery of a band?
JA: It’s a totally different game, now isn’t it, you can’t build up a mystique to hide behind the video or hide behind the press releases or pictures and whatever the record company would do on those budgets. These days it’s great and we should embrace it, I think it’s great that everyone can comment on things. I’m not better than you, you’re not better than me we’re all wonderful. Your opinions are just as valuable as mine and your feelings are just as valuable as mine. I like that aspect of the modern world, the down side is you have to put in so much time promoting things. It’s not going to change.
CR: Is promoting oneself and using social media natural for musicians to do?
JA: It depends, it’s a narcissistic industry by nature so some people naturally love it. If you’re in a rock and roll band you’re up on the stage, wanting applause it’s a childish thing, really and I think most entertainers enjoy the interaction I think.
I don’t mind social media because I have a lot of opinions. Politically, I get in trouble, I like to express myself I’m always looking out for the oppressed, the homeless, the causes close to my heart. But that’s OK because I’ll always do that. It’s a challenge when you’re tired and you need some rest but they need a picture for Twitter or Instagram or Facebook. Even for a gig there’s so much more, more meet-and-greets which you didn’t have to do too much of 20 years ago.
CR: What do you think of how bands put out music today?
JA: For us, the last album we did we used Pledge music and it worked really well for us, so we managed to make an album with the best producer best studios and we’re kind of fortunate that way, we have a fan base that will support us to make a record, which I’m grateful for.
We like the interaction we’re not shut away like in the old days when we wouldn’t speak to anyone but the record company A and R people. We can meet the fans we can play them rough mixes, get their input. It used to be so stifling before you’d be stuck in the studio not interacting with fans it would be just you and the producer, the odd visit from the record company and then you’d produce this product. But these days people get to film you on the iPhones or you’re in the studio filming me singing or James the guitar playing something. It’s so well documented we’re all part of a reality show aren’t we.
CR: What will the fans see at the concert?
JA: The same band we’ve always been. It’s me James and Pete, the guys who made the records you love the songs you love and the songs I wrote and sing. We’re using an American drummer, Joel Patterson from Pasadena. There are all these musicians, it’s been difficult to get everybody in the same place at the same time, because musicians these days play with so many different bands today. James plays with The Alarm, The Cult, Chris the drummer is always playing with different musicians. Getting everyone in the same space is a miracle. The fact that this summer we’re all available is amazing.
CR: What’s going on with the relationship with your brother, Michael?
JA: I can’t say much about it. But for the rest of us, we’ve always been a band together I’ve always been the singer writing the songs, so when he left many years ago it was fine his role had diminished to such an extent it wasn’t a big deal. It’s difficult, he’s family, we don’t speak and I have nothing much to say to him really.
CR: Do the fans bring their kids along these days?
JA: Yes but they’ve always done that, it’s been very weird when we played London last January, which was fantastic, what I would call kids in their early 20s came up to us, and I just thought they were someone’s kids, but no, they’re new fans because of Spotify and Youtube, etc. They get to hear your music. It was weird. They just want to hear the music. James said to this girl, ‘Did your dad make you come?’ and she said, ‘No I brought my dad.”
CR: What else is going on with the tour?
JA: It’s exciting the three bands because we’re all still breathing. There’s a lot of energy. It’s a great time to catch us. Take a lot of effort to come to the U.S. the visas are so expensive and the process. For Americans to come to UK, it costs like $90, for British musician, we’ve spent $6000. Americans can do their visa online, we have to go through a huge process. It’s a long process.
I’ve been coming to the US since 1984, since we first worked with John Cale to do recording in New York, so it’s pains to go through this process, it’s like ‘You know who we are.’ But it’s worth it, because America is a beautiful country to tour and the energy is fantastic so we’re looking forward to that aspect. We’re going to put high energy into the sets and can’t wait to see the fans. We won’t disappoint them.
Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel with The Alarm and Modern English
SIGMA LXXXV TOUR
July 19 — Austin, TX @ 3Ten Live – TICKETS
July 20 — Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey – TICKETS
July 21 — Oklahoma City, OK @ Tower Theater – TICKETS
July 24 — Las Vegas, CA @ House of Blues – TICKETS
July 25 — San Diego, CA @ House of Blues – TICKETS
July 26 — Temecula, CA @ Wiens Family Cellars – TICKETS
July 27 — Los Angeles, CA @ Microsoft Theater – TICKETS *FESTIVAL – The Alarm Set Time T.B.D.
July 31 — Phoenix, AZ @ Celebrity Theatre – TICKETS
Aug. 2 — San Francisco, CA @ Regency Ballroom – TICKETS
Aug. 3 — Sacramento, CA @ Ace of Spades – TICKETS
Aug. 5 — Portland, OR @ Aladdin – TICKETS
Aug. 6 — Seattle, WA @ Triple Door – SOLD OUT
Aug. 7 — Spokane, WA @ Bing Crosby Theater – TICKETS
Aug. 8 — Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex TICKETS (The Alarm/Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel Only)
Aug. 9 — Denver, CO @ Oriental Theater – TICKETS
Aug. 10 — Lawrence, KS @ Liberty Hall – TICKETS
Aug. 12 — St. Louis, MO @ Delmar Hall – TICKETS
Aug. 14 — Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line – TICKETS
Aug. 15 — Milwaukee, WI @ Turner Ballroom – TICKETS
Aug. 16 — Chicago, IL @ House of Blues – TICKETS
Aug. 17 — Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews Hall – TICKETS
Aug. 18 — Cleveland, OH @ House of Blues – TICKETS
Aug. 20 — Portland. ME @ Aura – TICKETS
Aug. 21 — Boston, MA @ Paradise – TICKETS
Aug, 23 — Huntington, NY @ The Paramount – TICKETS
Aug. 24 — Jim Thorpe, PA @ Penn’s Peak – TICKETS
Aug. 25 — Falls Church, VA @ State Theatre TICKETS
Aug. 29 — Asbury Park, NJ @ Asbury Lanes – TICKETS
Aug. 30 — Staten Island, NY @ St George Theatre – TICKETS
Aug. 31 — Philadelphia, PA @ Keswick Theater – TICKETS
Sep. 1 — Norfolk, VA @ NorVa – TICKETS
Sep. 3 — Charlotte, NC @ Neighbourhood Theater – TICKETS
Sep. 4 — Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade – TICKETS
Sep. 5 — Orlando, FL @ The Social – TICKETS (coming soon) (The Alarm/Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel Only)
Sep. 6 — Bonita Springs, FL @ Southwest Florida Event Centre TICKETS
Sep. 7 — Miami, FL @ The Ground at Club Space – TICKETS
Sep. 8 — St. Petersburg, FL @ Ferg’s Concert Courtyard – TICKETS (coming soon)
Gene Loves Jezebel’s latest album is Dance Underwater.