Wow! Yes that’s how I begin this review because Asylums are exactly that. Ahem actually let me rephrase that WOAH! This gregarious Southend bunch are bang on it and I’m still having fantastic flashbacks from their deliciously filthy set at The Sebright Arms.
With a heady froth of garage punk and nitty gritty attitude I swear I could feel the building wobble! Straight up solid numbers that filled the air with wildness and attitude. They are like a spontaneous combustion just about to hit bursting point. Grimy rifts, squelchy rhythms. If there is a slight caparison to be made I would say its Jane’s Addiction and in my books that’s pretty damn cool!
I made it my mission to grab Luke as soon as he came off stage. With his softly spoken voice you wouldn’t think this was the raucous ball of fire I had just seen ten minutes ago. So let’s introduce the band; Luke is vocals and guitar, Jazz is guitar, drums are Henry and Mikes on bass. Luke was truly grateful when his late grandfather could see that he was depressed back in 2013 and took him to one side and said “I’m proud of you” and gave him £1,000 to go off and continue with music. Luke wisely injected this money into Asylums and now that investment has paid off and his grandfather must be looking down on him and them with a big smile on his face!
Luke tells me “Jazz and I were already good friends before the band, we use to go and see gigs together. We were both in different bands and so were the other two guys. What happened was that all of our projects finished at a similar time and I had written a bunch of songs….not a whole album but close and in that batch of songs included ‘Joy In A Small Wage’ and ‘The Death Of Television’. I asked the boys if they wanted to record the songs cos I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with them and we just went from there”
Initially they didn’t want a traditional record deal or to play the game so they set up their own label ‘Cool Thing Records’. This label is a creative collective where everybody mucks in. Luke tells me “It was a natural thing to set up the label. In a weird way when you do a label it takes the pressure off being in a band, you can be self-sufficient and in control. It has a symbiotic effect and your passion in one area kind of feeds your passion in another area and that’s a positive thing.”
I asked Luke what gets the bands rocks off musically and he tells me “From a musical perspective we’re quite big record collectors so it’s everything from Dischord Records releases, bands like ‘Rites of Spring’ and ‘Fugazi’ right through to Brian Eno’s ambient records. We love pop music as well, a good song with a simple absorbable structure and we try and do something interesting within that context.”
A positive message is a big part of what they do. They are a cult band that are comfortable not falling into a commercialised category (thank god!). They believe in supporting equal rights and freedom of speech. They are a force not to be reckoned with. This is the ethos they incorporate into their label community.
The energy and electricity levels that exude from Asylums made me feel like I was the pin ball being shot round in a pin ball machine. Thanks guys your seriously know how to rock it!!!
Their summer schedule is filling up rapidly. This month they have been played on the John Kennedy Show and Steve Lamacq loves em! Festival wise you can catch them at Sound City, Camden Rocks and Isle of Wight Festival.
So without further ado I can proudly announce the release of their new summer single ‘When We Wake Up’ and wait for it……. Their highly anticipated second album ‘Alien Human Emotions’ which is set for release on July 6th available for digital download, Tape, CD and limited edition 180 gram silver vinyl.
Words Celine Hispiche
Photography Jeff Moh