Michael Aston: Gene Loves Jezebel
Michael Aston of Gene Loves Jezebel is an amazingly sexy creature. He has a European purr that makes me extremely happy. What can I say? I could have talked to him for hours. I love having a magazine. –He is extremely intelligent, and up to date with world events. He has opinions-and they are all strong and decisive. Trust me, you want to read this one…
MI-What is your birth date?
Michael- The 25th of August.
MI-Tell me your history as a musician.
Michael-I began when I was very young, probably five or six. I sang in the school choir. So, I have sang all of my life. In terms of rock and roll, it began as a post punk thing inspired by many many people-The Clash and Johnny Rotten, but more post punk. People like Slow Max and Joy Division. We just loved the idea that you could just get up and do it. No personality was really greater than the musical part and that whole process which is kind of truth to a great degree. It isn’t about how great a player you have been-it has a lot more to do with the pure expression of art. –But that us where I came from musically. I have always sang.
MI-I have a question I am curious about. Are you from England or Ireland?
Michael-I am from Wales. I have English blood and Irish blood.
MI-If you had to force Exploding Girls into a genre, what would that genre be and why?
Michael-I would have to say it would be in range with classic-I hate to say alternative. It is classic songwriting with a substantive literal edge-sort of edgy, poppy. You know.
MI-If you were on a desert island, and could bring one book, one cd, and one person-what would that one book, person, and cd be?
Michael-I would bring Astral Weeks by Morrison. I just think it is a beautiful, gorgeous stream of consciousness. It is my favorite record. To this day, I have played it four hundred million zillion times. It is a philosophy on how to make records-which is to connect with all those around you-to work within that huge huge vast spectrum. The book? The book that would give me most pleasure is Far From The Maddening Crowd, which is Thomas Hardy. I love his work because it is so beautiful, yet tragic. It is so descriptive. It is from an era and time just prior to the industrial revolution. It is when I think the world, England and Wales was at its most beautiful, you know. What person would I like to share an island with? Jesus Christ.
MI-Have you ever inhaled?
Michael-Absolutely. I don’t anymore.
MI-If you had a million dollars to donate to a charity, what charity would that be and why?
Michael-It would probably be a children’s charity because I think all children are fantastic, beautiful and incredible creatures.
MI-If you were God for a week, what would you do?
Michael-I would replay the Superbowl and make the Raiders win it (laughing).
MI-What is your favorite song off of the new cd and why?
Michael-My favorite song is Downhill Both Ways, because I wrote it and produced it. I did everything myself. Also I love my vocal delivery on it. It has all of the elements of what I believe is a really good piece of songwriting. It is really contentious to you as an American and me as a Brit-you know, you great gladiators, you great world imperial powers you know-I am not an American, I am just a man. The song is born out of the conflict that I had with people during the so called Gulf War. The invasion of a sovereign state…
MI-How did that affect you?
Michael-Oh, very powerfully. It was very difficult living in America and being of my persuasion politically. Otherwise, it was very difficult. I found it suffocating here. It is just a difficult country to be in at the moment. –I don’t like the Bush government. I don’t like this patriot act right now. It is like McCarthyism and it is very oppressive. People’s fears are being exploited. It is just a bad time. I think we are coming out of it. -The resources are so stretched. Everybody is trying to aim at Iran, but they can’t stretch it. They are so involved in Afganistan still, even though you don’t read too much about it. He is draining Iraq-and the constant slaying of the American soldiers everyday. It is wearing people down-Bush (George W.) is limited.
MI-I have an editorial about America. I don’t mind us feeding other countries and providing medical help-but what about the homeless in this country, what about the children here?
Michael-Absolutely. Staggering. –This is the most wealthy country in the world, and it ranks per capita fifth or sixth in terms of the average human beings condition in terms of poverty, medical care, housing and education. It is staggering when you consider how wealthy this country is.
MI-I am originally from New York, and when I travel to New York I see the same amount of homeless in New York that I see in Atlanta.
Michael-It is frightening. Atlanta is a particularly frightening town-but so is Chicago-everywhere. Look at downtown L.A.-there are basically shanty towns. You see families on the freeways which is unbelievable for a civilized country.
MI-If you had not become a musician, what do you think you would have done with your life?
Michael-I would have been an artist, I would have been a painter. Definitely. There was a moment in time where I almost went to an art school or do Gene Loves Jezebel. I chose music first. I don’t regret it, but there really was a moment in time where I could have gone the other way and I still love to paint a little. MI-Did you ever think about designing your own cd covers? Michael-I have done all our covers, even the Gene Loves Jezebel ones. I did a painting on one of them, but I have never really painted. I have got paintings tucked away-but I have done all of our artwork. I just trust my own inclinations a little bit more than some of the people I have met and worked with.
MI-Tell me about your most memorable live show.
Michael-My favorite live show is actually caught on tape. It is called Live At The Ritz. It was in New York. It was a really great fun show. –There were so many wonderful live shows-I could name Stockholm. Argentina, Buenos Aires, Mexico City, …I think when you play for other people, other cultures-it just brings a different sense and energy from you. To me, the audience defines art. The audience is the impetus for all great work you might do live. –You never give in, the harder they make it the harder you try. What is it-the Laws of Resistance…
MI-Tell me what you think about the United States actions in Iraq and Liberia.
Michael-Well Liberia is appalling…it shows a complete hypocrisy in the artic leaning of this administration. Where they should be sending troops and actually saving lives is Liberia. The allies-generally the British and the Western countries are supposed to lean toward ecology and the world. Their actions are appalling-they are based on corporate greed and growth. It has no humanitarian goal whatsoever. The countries that the British or America give bread to are the countries that we use that food we give them in order to control them. –Don’t do as we say, and we will take it away from you. You will starve. –In Iraq, America and the British went in for purely exploitation-and that is my opinion. The good side is that they did remove Saddam Hussein, at least we hope. Hell, he may turn up in five years-we don’t know. -I think it was a big mistake. It was a mistake that the British made, like after the first World War-it lasted twenty years and they lost many many lives. The whole thing in the Middle East is a constant in the errors of the British. America is making the same mistake. –You really can’t go into a whole different culture with different traditions and force your will. Sometimes you just gotta pull out. Same thing with Columbia-America should just step the hell out of Central America and let these people evolve and stop trying to influence everything. –Did you know that America is funding the opposition to the current regime in Columbia-our government? They should stop this manipulation. There are too many thousands of people who are murdered and destroyed.
MI-What do you think about the European Union?
Michael-I love the idea. I think it is a fantastic idea. I don’t think people will lose their identity because they share they same bank notes. I think it is a wonderful idea-I remember traveling in the early days, and we had to stop at every border to change money, and it always cost you money to change money and you would be stuck for an hour or two everywhere you went. –I think it is fantastic. You can work where you want to work and live where you want to live. We are all citizens of the world. MI-Some people that I have talked to call them the new Nazi’s. What do you think about that? Michael- What? Why would they say that? They are very liberal, and their record with the human rights court is fantastic.
MI-If you could be a superhero, which one would you be and why?
Michael-I would have to be Batman. I love the way he looked-particularly the early comic shadowy Batman. He has a certain mystery and darkness to him. –I was never into comic books or super heroes generally, but that would be the nearest one.
MI-What is the worst job you ever had and why?
Michael-The worst job I ever had was my very first job. It was a summer job, and I worked at a shoe factory. I hot glued little metal plates into the heals. My hands would get burned with this scalding hot, liquid, molten glue. I had to do that for eight hours a day-and it was the most miserable, pointless existence of all time. It taught me a very valuable lesson-that I really did not want to be factory fodder.
MI-If a movie was made about your live-what would the theme song be?
Michael-Sweet Thing by Van Morrison. That would be the song for my life.
MI-If you had a chance to bring one person back from the dead, who would it be?
Michael-John Lennon. He just brought so much wisdom and love. He came from being a complete an utter bastard and he just learned about life and the world. I think particularly now he would be really strong in opposition to what is going on in Iraq and Afganistan and so forth. He would be a lightening rod for everybody-just as a political figure, not even as a musician-I wouldn’t even care-his songs kind of sucked at the end. What he represented would be fantastic now.
MI-What does success mean to you?
Michael-Success to me is the ability to carry on and make music and to live. I don’t need fame and to fill stadiums. I just need to be allowed to make music which is basically where I am to be honest with you.
MI-Do you consider creating music to be a form of relaxation?
Michael-That’s interesting. To be quite honest with you, yes when we are playing it. But making it is very demanding, very spiritually draining, physically draining, emotionally draining…I put everything I have into what I do. So making a record makes me come out absolutely drained and exhausted.
MI-Who do you think the greatest musician of all time was?
Michael-There are so many people that I think are just too fantastic. I think Patti Smith is one of the greatest of all time.
MI-Where were you when 9-11 happened and how did it affect you?
Michael-I was laying in bed, and my wife walked into the room and said-they are bombing us. I said-what are you talking about? She said-they are bombing us! And I said-who’s bombing you? She said-two American airlines went into the twin towers, and I said-the American airlines are bombing you? -That was my first take on 9-11. –That was a really difficult time for me, because I could see the reasons behind it. I actually knew three people on the planes. Not that well, but I knew them-so I had a real tangible sense of what it was-and it was horrendous. It was a very difficult time-I tried to explain to people that they (the hijackers) were very unhappy. A suicide bombing was their last reaction.
MI-How would you design a memorial for the 9-11 victims?
Michael-Something like a big giant bell-which would ring every year on 9-11. That would be nice. Maybe they could have a tribute like that. A minute of silence while the bell was ringing.
MI-What is your favorite movie of all time?
Michael-I would probably say Betty Blue…Tess is wonderful too. Betty Blue is an inspiring story about a woman who meets a writer who believes in him and pushes him and pushes him until he succeeds-and then it goes on…it just really captures how artists are sometimes, and how near to madness they are. -It shows what an impact positivity can have on the life of a human being. So it is a wonderful lesson in that movie, plus it is beautifully shot. It is a wonderful movie.
MI-Who are your musical influences and why?
Michael-I would say Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks. I really like the passionate, open, edgy pop. It is a good cross of music. –The Sex Pistols, you know-for a brief moment. Very exciting people. –The power of rock and roll to actually inform and move you.
MI-What about the world today upsets you most and why?
Michael-Any news medium in America pisses me off. It is so misinformed and controlled by the corporate media and the pentagon. –That is what pisses me off the most, this false idea of democracy in Britain and in America.
MI-What are your impressions about Tony Blair and what is going on with him right now?
Michael-I think he has kissed Bush’s ass too much. He went against the will of the people-seventy or eighty percent were opposed to the war-they didn’t see the point of going in under those conditions and those terms. I think the chickens have come home to roost, and I think they will with Bush in the same way.
MI-What do you think about Bush?
Michael-I don’t like him at all. He didn’t win our election. He is a complete fraud forced upon us by a dodgy Florida voting system. –I think he has done more damage to this country and this world than any president that I can think of in memory.
MI-If you could bring back any president to clean up these problems that we are having now-who would it be?
Michael-Let’s get Washington back here!
MI-Do you believe in psychics?
Michael-Yes. I have had experiences with them which have been very informative and quite brilliant-touching. –I think it is a personal thing.
MI-Do you believe in reincarnation?
Michael-No. Well-it is not that I don’t believe in it, but I have a great fear. I really don’t want to be reincarnated. I do believe that we go on to something else. –When I hear people say reincarnation, I believe that we come back to this life. Is that what you mean? MI-If you had to say how we came back (reincarnation) would you say we went backward in time or forward in time? Michael-Forward.
MI-If you could have lunch with three people, living or dead, who would it be and why?
Michael-Oscar Wilde, because he would be hilarious. If you are going to have lunch, you should have some levity. Again, Jesus Christ would be a fun guy to have at lunch. And Moses would be fun to have at lunch.
MI-What is the happiest you have ever been in your life and why?
Michael-The happiest I have ever been was at the birth of my children-without question. I have never felt so much delirium and joy as I did when I was witnessing the birth of my children. Tears of actual joy-you have no control. It is so fabulous.
MI-Tell me about an average day in the life of Michael Aston.
Michael-Well, with four kids there is no average day. I am dealing with a record coming out. I am booking a tour. I am still dealing with artwork. I am still trying to license the record in different countries of the world. I am doing interviews. I have a house that needs fixing up-and I am fixing that up. I like to paint. I like to mess with computers. My webpage-that’s my average day. I would say that is everyday.
MI-Do you have any pets?
Michael-No. But I think we are actually going to get a dog. My kids are little, so we will probably get something like a Jack Russell or a Border Terrier.
MI-What is your favorite place to play live and why?
Michael-Hell, I would play in Venice or Vienna. –I love playing in London. I love playing in New York. I love it because they are fantastic cities. The architecture is wonderful. I love walking cities. Art galleries, great coffee shops, great bars-you can play pool. I like people-so I have never been bothered by crowds. I love cities.
MI-Tell me about Bless Momma records.
Michael-Bless Momma is my label. We made this record ourselves, and their came a point where I considered if I should offer it to major labels. I had to consider if I should offer the work that I had written-to let someone else own it. –I thought why bother? I know distributors. I can get the record into stores. Why give it to ‘Lofty Records’? -I decided to do it myself. I decided to practice what I preached. All of the things that bothered me about the record industry I could suddenly be free of. I don’t need to sell half a billion records. I could sell ten thousand and do extraordinarily well. –and the other thing. It is for my children and their children. That is how Bless Momma came about. Momma represents the names of my children and my wife. The idea was that every time someone said that there would be a point to the universe back towards us.
MI-What is your favorite quote of all time?
Michael-Kipling-Success and failure are the same impostor. I always thought that was very wise.
MI-What do you think about reality TV?
Michael-I don’t watch it, so I have never really been interested in it. It is all so bogus. If you find it entertaining, fine. To me, it is a complete and utter waste of time. I don’t even watch TV.
MI-What do you think about Ian Astbury playing Jim Morrison for the Doors?
Michael-I have known Ian for many years. He has always played Jim Morrison, now he is just getting paid to play him (laughing). –I think Densmore is an idiot. He should have let it go-he could have played drums with them. They made that music with Jim, true. But Jim is not around to play it. They should be allowed to play it. –I think Densmore is being a little brat. He was the least significant member of the Doors. –He should have played with them. The option was there. He is the one who can’t hack it anymore. He is too scared to play. –That’s my opinion.
MI-What do you think is more honest, an American newscast or the BBC?
Michael-There is only one that I know of-radio KBFK, which is in Los Angeles. It is absolutely awesome. It is the best news in the world. It is right here in America-you just have to find it on the dial. It is insightful. It is honest. –It is not beholden to anyone except subscribers. There are no commercials. They get a million, two million dollars at a time from their fundraisers from people like me who just care about them.
MI-Do you have a message for you fans?
Michael-Embrace the new. We are enjoying our lives and making the best records that we have ever made. Listen to this album, because we need your support. We control everything on the record. We are done with the eighties, and it is a far better thing.
MI-Where do you see your music five years from now?
Michael-Still evolving. In my humble opinion, I am a better writer now than I was when I started. I am far more conscious and much less beholden to anyone. I think our music will evolve and be as contemporary as any ones.
MI-How did the band begin?
Michael-It began just like any young boys who want to be rock and roll stars and want to be on stage. We really didn’t have the skills or the where with all to do it. It was just desire. We just climbed on stage, took our chances-and it flew.
MI-If you had a message to send out to the American Government about what is going on what would it be?
Michael-We are watching you. We are coming after you. –The whole world is watching you and your schemes are about to become undone. The scheme is to further enrich corporations and Bush’s buddies. Bush has completely bankrupted California with the Enron and energy scare and Grey Davis is taking all of the flack for it. And I hate Grey Davis-but it is bullshit. We have gone from a three hundred billion dollar surplus to a seven hundred sixty-one billion dollar deficit in the space of George Bush’s presidency. He is looting the country, and he is looting the world. Him and his buddies-if they have their way they are even going to control water. The only people that will be able to drink clean water will be the rich. –He is polluting the world, and it has got to be stopped. There needs to be change. There needs to be a revolution.
MI-Where do you see the country five years from now?
Michael-What I hope to see is that we have turned it around. But what I really see, and I hate to say this, is us being in a more frightening and scary place than we are today unless people do wake up. –It could be worse, even less health care-even greater unemployment. It will be like the thirties.
MI-Do you think Bush will win the next election?
Michael-Well, he is certainly planning. He has raised three hundred million dollars with his buddies against-the nearest is Howard Dean with seven million dollars and the Democrats. –He who controls the message controls the world, and it is very frightening. If the Democrats wake up and become the Democratic Party again and start representing the masses.
MI-Are you an American citizen, or a citizen of the UK?
Michael-I am a citizen of the UK. I am a resident alien here.
MI-If you could have voted in 2000-who would you have voted for-Bush or Gore?
Michael-Gore. Even though I was not impressed and I was not inspired I certainly didn’t want Bush in there for exactly what has occurred-Bush’s unfinished business for his dad.
MI-Who do you think is running the country-George or George W?
Michael-Neither of them. Corporate America is running it. Bush is surrounded by Christian Zealots, Zionists-they are controlling world policy. These are the people that are bringing all of the misery to the world.-The problems in the Middle East. They are funding Israel. They are oppressing the Palestinians, which is the root of 9-11. The Arabs have contempt for the way the Americans are treating them.
MI-Do you think Bush knew about 9-11 before it happened?
Michael-I don’t think he knows what Sesame Street is. I think Bush is an absolute moron that just does as he is told. –I think they saw something coming. I think it is very odd that no planes were brought in to take these other planes out. When you consider the American defense, it is almost laughable that one plane was allowed to hit. But four? I think there is something very dodgy about it, and there is something that they don’t want us to know. Either some cataclysmic failing or some cataclysmic plug. If you read The New World Order, what the likes of Pearlman and Abrams wanted was some cataclysmic event like Pearl Harbor. –What happened? That have used that and exploited that day, and they will continue to exploit it and work on people’s fears-it is Orwellian and it is nightmarish.
MI-How do you feel about the FBI agent who lost her job over the memo about hijackers in flight school-you know, the one who let us know the truth?
Michael-It was shocking, she was doing her job. Her job was to protect and she is a real patriot and a solid human being. There is something wrong with that. There should be more people like her around. –There was the woman who called Enron in. It is ironic that it is actually women opening their mouths. Thank God.
MI-If you had a choice between Hillary Clinton and Bush-who would you pick?
Michael-I am amazed she didn’t run last time. I am astonished. She would have won. I like her.
MI-Do you foresee another attack on the US?
Michael-Yes. I don’t think it is an attack on the US, but an attack on some of the things third world countries are upset with. It is inevitable. I think smaller things-but not on the scale of 9-11.
MI-What do you think about MTV?
Michael-I think it is the most inspiring, the most extraordinary, the most wonderful –it is simply as extraordinary and marvelous as a nail clipper (laughing).
MI-What do you think we should do about North Korea?
Michael-Get the Americans out of South Korea and let the Koreas come back together. North Korea is a great example of a reaction. –I think Bush ahs taught North Korea that they only way we are not going to invade you is if you have nuclear weapons-and that lesson is being taught to Iran. The taught it to Pakistan, India, and China. –So, I think the best thing to do with North Korea is to pull our three hundred thousand troops out of South Korea. –The Koreans want reunification. They was to bring their cousins, uncles, daughters, and families back together. –Get the fuck out of there. That’s what I think we should do with North Korea. Let it go. Bring the boys home. Spend the money on education-healthcare…California has built like four hundred prisons in the last month and two new colleges in the last ten years. Lock people up and teach them to become even better criminals…
MI-When are you going on tour for sure?
Michael-We start September 5th in Phoenix. We are going to tour from the beginning of September to early November. There will probably be about forty shows.
MI-So do you see yourself coming to Atlanta on your tour?
Michael-Oh, we are definitely going to come there, one hundred percent.
MI-What would you tell people to do in order to protect themselves and bring world peace?
Michael-The greatest way to bring peace is with empathy and compassion. Look at your enemy and see why he would do what he would do. –Not to see yourself as an American man, or a British man-but to see yourself as a man. A person on this planet. –Empathy and compassion will bring us all together.
MI-Do you think Kurt Cobain’s diaries should have been released?
Michael-If it happened to me, I wouldn’t be too happy about it. So no.
MI-How do you think music has changed over the years and has affected our youth?
Michael-That’s really a deep question, because the state of rock and roll at the moment is so bad. It has been destroyed with completely inferior methods and old school thinking. –They try to manipulate these days, and it is fake and bogus and dying and dying and dying…Things have to occur naturally, and labels should try to catch up instead of trying to manipulate and control. –I think it is a good thing, because I love to see these huge labels collapsing.
-Ah yes, the most incredible Michael Aston is coming to Atlanta. He has released his record with Gene Loves Jezebel on his OWN LABEL-so he gets to say whatever the fuck is on his mind. I like that in an artist.
So catch Michael and Gene Loves Jezebel when they come to a town near you!
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