The Grand Return of Gene Loves Jezebel with Jay Aston
The legacy of Gene Loves Jezebel has been a grand and tumultuous one. A tale of two brothers once band mates and now estranged, who now find themselves on the opposite sides of the Atlantic with their very own version of Gene Loves Jezebel. Based out of the UK but ready to take the world by storm, Gene Loves Jezebel with Jay Aston has just unveiled a stunning new collection of rapturous sonic artistry entitled Dance Underwater. Their first effort in over 14 hours, Jay Aston and crew has presented a devastating magnum opus that should thrill the senses of Gene Loves Jezebel fans all across the planet. Highwire Daze Online recently caught up with Jay Aston to discuss the captivating Dance Underwater, how it compares to the classic Gene Loves Jezebel releases, choice words for he who may not be named, and other topics of intrigue. Read on…
What was the first song you ever wrote, how old were you, and what was that song about?
First one I can recall was about Charlie Chaplin. It was called “How’d You Do?” Inspired by a toy I won on Weston Super Mare Pier. I sang it to my sister on the way home to Wales. I think she liked it. & yes I could sing & it would be very Spinal Tap. I must’ve been 8 or 9.
And on to the modern day. Is there any overall story or concept behind the Dance Underwater title?
Very personal to Peter Rizzo. You’d have to ask him for details, but I know it’s about a very difficult period. When he saw the art work, he felt it captured exactly the emotion. We’ve worked together closely over the last few years (Ugly Buggs) & he contributed a lot to this album.
Select two songs from Dance Underwater and what inspired the lyrics.
“Charmed Life” is a direct link to a very popular Jezebel’s song called “Break The Chain.” I’m now in a very different place & it’s what I’ve learned since I wrote the lyrics to “Break The Chain.” I guess I finally “Broke” it!
“How Do You Say Goodbye (to Someone You Love)” is about my wounds & my struggles.
Who did the cover art for Dance Underwater and how much input did you have on it?
Kaya Fesci is the photographer (Adrian Wear did the design). Peter saw it & loved it, so I had nothing to do with the art work, but I do like it obviously. It’s amazing how everything about this album came together so easily.
How frustrating has it been to wait 14 years to record a new Gene Loves Jezebel album?
I never thought we’d make another one. So, I wasn’t frustrated in that sense. A little downhearted sometimes by the cynical exploitation & misrepresentation of my life’s work by you know who.
Could we expect your version of Gene Loves Jezebel to come over to the States for some show or even a tour?
This is not a “version.” This is the band that has worked together since 1985. “Dance Underwater” is being released in the U.S. very soon, so I should think so. There is a lot of interest. I reckon early 2018 is most likely. Spring at the latest. We will come. It’s been far too long. The shows in Europe have been very encouraging & we’re totally rejuvenated.
Have you had any contact with your brother Michael at all over the years?
Just the odd wholesome email.
Do you wish things were different between you and your brother?
Just wish he’d fuck off & leave us alone.
When you look back on the Gene Loves Jezebel albums from the 80’s, what do you think of them now?
Proud of the them. We were unique. I worked very hard with the band on them all. My brother had nothing to do with the music. He can’t even play a single chord on a guitar. The musicians put a great deal of time & effort into those albums. They deserve recognition.
Overall, how do you think Dance Underwater compares to the classic Gene Loves Jezebel releases?
Well time will tell that. We’ve been playing ½ the album in our live set. Finishing with “How Do You Say Goodbye (to someone you love).” It’s very unusual to finish a set with a new song, let alone a ballad. It’s been amazing to see how people react. Very moving at times. The new songs work very, very well with the older material. “Flying (The Beautiful Blue)” has been wonderful to perform. We can’t wait to do even more of the new album. The label were shocked to see how well the new songs went down. They thought we should just do our first single “Summertime” & a set full of “hits.” It’s a strong record.
How stressful had it been to go the crowd funding route on the new album and were you surprised by the results?
I think Peter Rizzo has had the most stress to deal with, as he’s done most of the work. James Stevenson & I are pretty active on social media, so we’ve enjoyed & enjoy the interaction. Aside from doing a ton of hand written lyrics (one slip of the hand & I had to start all over again), It’s been a gas (as Marc Bolan might’ve said!). It’s good to know we’re loved! We’re grateful.
How did the passing of David Bowie affect you and do you have any David Bowie stories you could share?
I’m not sure. I’m still processing that. He was very kind & gracious to us when we opened for him on two wonderful occasions. A great honour for us & our first gigs as a four piece.
What’s up next for Gene Loves Jezebel?
Gigs in Japan & Europe before the year’s out.
Any messages for longtime Gene Loves Jezebel fans here in the States?
Thank you all for your patience & incredible passion. “Dance Underwater” happened because of you & fans like you around the world. We won’t forget. We’ll be out there to see you soon!
Gene Loves Jezebel with Jay Aston membership: Jay Aston, James Stevenson, Pete Rizzo, Chris Bell
(Interview by Ken Morton)
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