Don't write Michael Aston off, not until you hear Love Lies Bleeding (see
Review section). And not until you hear Aston's side of things in what has
sometimes been an ugly and bitter split in Gene Loves Jezebel (See Lexicon
#10 for the other side).
"I did the album because I wanted a platform, a
place for my perspective. And Triple XXX (the record company releasing Love
Lies Bleeding) has been very supportive, zero interference. Since 1992 my
brother I must have reformed Gene Loves Jezebel something like 20 times.
Each time we would get everything organized, get managers, PR, everything
and then they would try to push me out or it would fall apart. I got
tired of doing all that work. It is not like I want to be on my own. [My brother]
is welcome to come back. Truth is things got strange and unpleasant. We
have different musical ideas. Gene Loves Jezebel was never Cheap Trick;
I always saw them being more European, more challenging. I wanted to go back
to the earlier days, not become some sort of dull pop band."
Michael seems eager to put behind him all the messiness with his brother and instead
is eager to talk about the new band and new album. "I learned from doing my
solo album, Why Me?, and previous experience, that it was best to just
go in and do the album. A lot of my favorite albums, like Astral Weeks, were
done quickly. We went in with ideas and a basic structure and did a lot
of improvisation. We did the whole thing in 11 days."
He has also been touring a lot recently, something which he enjoys much better now than before.
"We go out for a week or two. No more of this eight weeks of touring, that
was too much. The nice thing is that the US has gotten a lot smaller too! It's
much easier to get around."
Part of the reason for the shorter tours is also Aston's
new maturity. "Well, I have a family now. I've been married
for eight years and three kids, which has been great. It has also made me be more creative.
I search the heavens a lot more now looking for inspiration. That's
why the album was done so quickly, I can't afford to sit around for
five years recording an album anymore!"
The Aston brothers grew up in Wales and
formed an early version of Gene Loves Jezebel there. "I had
quit school when I was 14, went to work in the steel mills. Very rural/ industrial
area. London might as well have been New York. But after five years in the
mill I was made redundant. So I packed off the London and re-started Gene
Loves Jezebel. When things got going my brother and our original guitarist
came up from Wales to join me. We were really in the right place at the right time.
Punk had just burnt itself out and things were in a disarray. Very different
from today, back then no on had any idea what was going on so you could do
what you wanted. The whole thing with the Batcave was very exciting, the
clubs, people dressing up. I just loved the absurdity of it all."
GLJ's old label,
Beggars Banquet, just issued a best off (also reviewed in this issue).
Aston sees it as a fine collection, but somewhat of a missed opportunity.
"I was trying to get a word at the beginning, but then the other guys started
in. I think they should have had more of the b-sides and early a-sides. Back
in those days people would put out singles and then not put them on albums.
It was considered cool. So now there are a lot of songs even fans don't
get to hear. Maybe Beggars will still do a rarities collection. They are one
of the few labels still run by people who like music, so it might happen."
But for now Aston is happy to be touring and making records.
"Triple XXX has been great, they really are in it for the music. If I gave them a jazz album
tomorrow they would put it out, no questions. Really, this is the best time of my life."