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Gene Loves Jezebel
with Michael Aston



 
..... Gene Loves Jezebel-Aston, Michael Ciravolo (guitars/keyboards), Pando (bass) and Michael Brahm (drums Gene Loves Jezebel have been around (in various permutations) since goth diverged from the early Eighties neo-romantic scene. Though frontman Michael Aston (whose twin brother Jay lost rights to the band name in 1997) is more goth-ish than gothic, he has a flair for the dramatic and knows how to use it. "Exploding Girl" is a smoldering, melodic meditation on Wafa Idris, Palestine's first female suicide bomber, in which Aston eschews judgment in favor of character analysis, at one point evoking Joan of Arc. Other topical and personal insights surface amid edgy tunes shot through with exotic flavors, ranging from the slinky electronica-tinged groove behind the bittersweet "2 Hungry Women" to the African-style percussion driving "Blue Mary." This fetching album will hold a special appeal for those who fondly recall the days when goth was more about romantic yearning (in the Bronte sense) and gritty pop rock than fetish gear and down-tuned guitars.


INTERVIEW WITH GENE LOVES JEZEBEL With Mike Aston
Q: Are you on tour?

A: Yes. We actually started ... were going to Phoenix, San Diego and Los Angeles and then we head on the road on the 24th and we go to Austin, New York, New Orleans, Chicago and all that stuff. So we'll be out for about six weeks.
Q: I enjoyed listening to your new album, Exploding Girls. How did you go about writing so many songs about women ?
A: The content is really about women that have kind of depressed or amazed me or just powerful women like Rachel Corey was behind songs and me, Rafael ____ was behind the Exploding Girl. Though Exploding Girl could be taken on a number of different levels. It's supposed to be really about an explosion ____. Two angry women about two women who have laid beneath the American bombings and what it would like to be women with children. It's just one of those things and it's been one of those years and mother was very seriously ill on her death bed and my daughter got really seriously ill. It's just the time and moment to provide the impetus for this record really. But they're not straight love songs at all.
Q: How about the song Blue Mary?
A: Blue Mary is based on Mary Magdelan for example and being raised a Catholic and whatever else. Those were the kind of things I went with. Just one thing led to another. I didn't wake up one day and go "Oh, I'm going to do a record about women." Some people misunderstood as if I'm some Lothario and beating about my conquests. When I see reviews like that, I think "well obviously they didn't listen to the record."
Q: That was quite powerful. It was just men that doing the bombs on their body and then all of a sudden there was this one woman comes in and explodes herself.
A: Yeah. It really made people think. At least made me think. I never believed that they might. People just see them as crazy and they like to put terrorist which is a catchall phrase for anyone who chose any kind of reactional rebellion, any defense. I never really saw the difference between shooting a cruise missile and someone shooting a bullet or exploding yourself. They're all means of defense. That's not condoning it, but I'm just seeing it from their perspective. Q: A lot of people have wrong misconception that women just raise kids and clean the house.
A: Right. That's very true.
Q: And all of sudden some of them get pretty brave and political and take it into their own hands.
A: Right.
Q: So how long has it been since you went your separate ways from your brother Jay.
A: Seven years.
Q: That's plenty of time...
A: We worked really hard the last seven years. To start again and it's been enjoyable and the challenge is there and I think we've made a couple of great records. Particularly this one to justify the continuation.
Q: I noticed they just released the Best of Gene Loves Jezebel.
A: Yeah. They keep doing that, much to my chagrin. They've got about 3 best sales in the last five - six years. It's like do me a favor. Get some new music.
Q: Now the Album Love Lies Bleeding, how long ago was that ?
A: That was 1997 - 6 years ago. Another record. I'm proud of that record to. I think we do really great work. I guess you never forgive them for lip gloss.
Q: That really was the scene back then.
A: That was the era. But I love the LA bands like Dreadful, and Motley Crew, and bands that made me puke.
Q: I know these last two years have been nothing but metal this and metal that.
A: We haven't had anything since grunge since was down and dirty and ___.
Q: I consider your album really mellow. It kind of has a Doors sound to it.
A: Do you think? There are some elements there.
Q: Jim Morrison like really mellow. He was more of a poet. It seemed you have a lot of poetic lyrics too?
A: Definitely. It always come from words lyrical set, even way back then.,
Q: You've been doing this for about 21 years?
A: Yeah, 21 years. I've been failing for 21 years.
Q: I still have your first couple of albums.
A: It's amazing that people do remember. It's nice that you're part of their life in some way. It's pretty amazing.
Q: Take into account all the crazy stuff that's going on with your brother, it's really admirable that you're still keep going on.
A: Yeah, I mean the thing my brother, no one realizes is that he's the one who doesn't want to play with me. He's welcome to come play with us and sing backup again. He's the one with the problem.
A sibling thing I guess. He's always welcome. He's the one tried to push me out of the band, sued me and lost the lawsuit and blah blah. He brought it all.
Q: I would think after he listens to this album, he should think about getting back together with you.
A: He won't see it that way at all.
Q: So, you're still not on talking terms.
A: No, it's very difficult for me after what's occurred. I mean he's kind of betrayed me a number of times. I've always had record deals, I've always made records. I've never had a problem. Having a vehicle for expression, he has when he's needed me, he's begged me to come back and I've come back and then he's kicked me out or tried to kick me out.
Q: That doesn't sound too encouraging.
A: No. No. I sang 80% of all of our first four albums. So, I was the lead singer and all people recognized was the voice, which I figured was what pissed him off. Then he tried on his own and he basically fell on his face.
Q: They gave you the rights to the name now?
A: Yeah. But they didn't give it to me.
Q: You had to fight for it?
A: I had to present my case and my case was basically very strong and undeniable.
Q: I'm glad you're moving along here. Is your home base Los Angeles?
A: Yeah it is.
Q: Did you live in England ?
A: No, I lived in Britain for 29 years of my life. Born there and when I was 18-19 I moved to London. I was there was 8 years and I came to LA in about '89 - '90 and then I've been here ever since.
Q: The bulk of your career has actually been over in England.
A: Definitely.
Q: Do you plan to do a tour over there also?
A: I'd love to. Absolutely love to. We have our own label and so we're talking to some different places, but we're definitely going to get back over there. We've done stuff in Mexico and Brazil and we've been invited back to Argentina and even Chile, so I'd really like to get back to Europe and Scandinavia and all that stuff.
Q: You have a really talented band. Your guitarist Michael...
A: Civavolo. Yeah. Yeah, he's special. I met him a few years ago for a solo record I did called "Why Me" and I was touring and he played. I saw him on stage with a band called "Human Drama." I said "Man, that's my guitar player." And we've been working together ever since. We work really well together and we write incredibly well together. He kind of really complements what I'm doing. It's been good for him to because he's now found the singer/writer that really helps him get where he deserves to be. I think that this is a great marriage. No he's great. I love everything he does.
Q: It makes a big difference.
A: With guitar playing, you may not like the way they sound, or they might do a solo. It's a real struggle to work with someone who doesn't work. It's just so much effort. But with him, it's just a joy and very easy to do. I'm kind of real lucky in that this time around.
Q: Your song "Jenin" is that about a girl named Jenin?
A: No. No. That was kind of inspired by Rachel Cory, the American girl who stood in front of the bulldozer. But that wasn't the country she was out, but Jenin just breaks better than Ramallah. I thought it was a nice play off the word. But people would think it was about ... like they think Lola is purely about a girl, but it's not about a girl at all.
Q: That's true.
A: That was my mind fix on that.
Q: That ring has a nice ring too when you sing the chorus.
A: That song has a lot of interest in it. That's one thing about this record, is that we get a lot ... but none of the reviews are bad, but they all pick on different songs. It's really strange. Quite a variety.
Q: Were you able to write these over a short period or did it take you a while?
A: I would say a short period. The longest time was actually the recording because we mixed it up with pro tours and live recording and so I would spend a lot of time just editing stuff and moving stuff around and bringing the drum beat down and getting a real drummer to play across it which is really time consuming because he has to hit it. But it was stuff like that. But we went about it in a different way this time. That what I said to Michael Ciravolo, I said "let's not just make a straight label record. We rehearse and there's our ten songs. Let's really mix it up."
Q: Have you done a video for this?
A: We're working on it right now. I'm shooting it myself. I've made videos in the past and I always think people see the video and that's all they see in their mind's eye is the video you've made, so I'm going to be pretty deliberate about it this time. So, we're shooting all over the place, dry lake beds, very lush eastern , getting the band dressed up as rebels.
Q: Are you going to use "Exploding Girls" as your single.
A: Yeah. I think so. Yeah. Yeah.
Q: That's going to be interesting video.
A: It's kind of interesting. Particularly with what's going on. Now, I got so much flack - I did a thing for West Won which was about 200 radio stations and we played Exploding Girl accoustically and it was like a few hours later, a guy blew himself up in Israel. It said something on there which people weren't happy about which makes it difficult for me, because I don't view ... these people are suicide bombers. I don't condone killing innocent people, but I kind of understand what they're doing. Well they're just responding to assassinations or whatever else.
Q: It seems to be tit for tat.
A: It is tit for tat. They can't roll into Israel for example and bulldoze down a few Israeli houses, which is what the Israeli's can do to them. So, they just do with what limited resources they have. But it's wrong. I wish there was a real desire or roadmap for peace as they call it. It's such a lot of bullocks. Sharon wants nothing but genocide. He wants to wipe them out. That's his intention entirely.
Q: It doesn't really seem like there's going to be any end, if they're going to be firing.
A: Well one's trying to survive and the other's trying to wipe them out. It's not two sides and that's the great misconception. They are really trying to destroy Palestinians and they want them out of there and force them into Jordan or whatever else. They destroy their water, their wells, their homes, their electricity, they shoot their children, they imprison their young men. It's South Africa there. This is not two sides. It's an absurd misconception that's orchestrated by the press and the American foreign policy. So that's my thoughts on it. They want to make Israel larger and greater and they want to push them out. Those are their two options. They either acknowledge Palestine has the right to exist as it did for years before 1946, over 50 years ago, or they push them out. Their object is actually to destroy Palestine and they become part of history. Like Bangledash or something just didn't exist anymore. That's how you change world maps.
Q: I read somewhere too that the reason why they use human bombs is because they really don't have much in the way of weapons.
A: No, they're not going to be take an AK-47 like it's traditional and walk through the great steel wall or security. So, the only way they can do it is to dress up as their enemies. It's so hard to talk about because people just refuse to see what's really going and they're just demonizing them.
Q: With this Iraqi thing going on, they don't really have sympathizers right now.
A: Right. Talk about Iraq, what a nightmare they've got. They've got all these kids getting killed. For what. Exactly for what. Is your's more secure. To bring back the people who were killed on September 11th who had nothing to do with Iraq. It's absurd. It's the scariest foreign policy that's ever been conceived. The British failed that for 20 odd years. So, we've been there, they did it. But they don't want you there and people are going to die every day.
Q: It just goes on and on.
A: It does just go on and on.
Q: All you have to do is make wonderful music and let a lot of people forget.
A: Yeah. That's true. That's one great thing about music. I ask for these kind of questions because a couple of the songs are politically based. I think very softly and gently. They're not right in your face.
Q: Well you have a really great voice and your songs are really good and really had a great time talking to and wish you all the luck and hope to see you again down the road.
A: Yeah. We'll be back there in a few months. We need to do another one because my voice was really out that night. Thank you very much Randy.
Q: Thank you Michael and have a good time.

By Randy Cohen

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