Interview // Ace Bushy Striptease: Nascency, Naivety, Niceness
Bands come, bands go. And as such, bands that take themselves too seriously in this brief period end up wasting the best opportunity they will ever be presented to have a lot of fun. Hell, even the Clash had a sense of humour: just listen to Cut The Crap.
That said, anyone who plays it purely for laughs only end up being laughed at. Ace Bushy Striptease are a rare breed of new band: they’re having fun, but are deadly serious about it.
With one eye laser-focussed on making great tunes and the other swivelling wildly at all the great stuff!!! going on around them, their songs are a delight.
I spoke to laughably affable (laffaffable?) frontman Jeremy, who provided an insight into the bizarre world that a new band exhibits – one of grimy gigs, local radio and brushes with UK Hip Hop royalty. Here is his missive from the front line…
ANBAD: Hi Ace Bushy Striptease! How are you? Where are you in the world right now? What you see? And what is good about that place?
J: I am sat in Brighton staring into my Cat on Form poster wishing I was in Cat on Form circa 2003, with my foot in a hot bowl of salty water. Simon has probably just got home from work making zines for his Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff night in Birmingham and Basith is in Aston probably pretending to do work whilst scurrying through the back end of the internet looking for lost Meneguar B sides.
ANBAD: When I first heard Ace Bushy Striptease’s music, I was interested in your youth and status as a very new band that is making steps into the wide world of rock ‘n’ roll. How have your experiences been so far?
J: Really good thank you! I think we have come quite far since we’ve started without turning into horrible people. And we still like each other.Highlights? Well, Kano asking Simon for the directions to the toilet at a university festival was quite fun. Studio guest Michael Kightly hearing Michael Kightly Is Pretty Rad live on BBC WM. Looking on last fm and seeing Stefan from Macedonia listening to Mervyn and Isaac Find a CD is always a bit surreal. Making new friends and getting to play shows with bands we love is also pretty amazing.
ANBAD: With incidents like solving Kano’s urinatory problems in mind, are there any downsides at all to being in a new band? Or is it all just one big blast?
J: There’s always bad gigs in front of two people, bad promoters who don’t go to the show and insist you bring 30 people (we’re not that cool I’m afraid) and bills where you’re wondering quite how you fit on, but you just kind of ride that and play a bit harder and hope at least one person there is enjoying it.
ANBAD: Your music is a breath of fresh super-duper fun. What is the reaction to it in a world of straight-faced rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ indie?
I’m not sure straight faced rock ‘n’ roll ‘n’ indie bands like us too much but it’s OK, they can try and be Foals if they like and it’s funny to watch them pretend to like us as we bleed on their drums and break their electric fans. We’re not very technical, we don’t know very much about our instruments, but you know what, I think that’s OK if you’ve got heart.
If I’ve got a bit of money to buy a good cymbal stand I’ll probably still end up buying some records instead because at least that will influence and affect my imagination, rather than just fawning over another piece of metal.
ANBAD: Is the experience of being in a band how you imagined?
J: Not really. Back when I was sixteen first going to shows I used to think any band on any stage was untouchable, they lived on some kind of musical stratosphere above our heads. I’d dream of playing those same stages.
Now that we are I don’t buy that whole elitism thing: I hate it if I go to meet a singer of a small band I like to compliment them and they don’t give a shit. Reality is, there’s no-one there, backstage is actually a room full of heaped plastic chairs and you’re buying the grumpy sound man a drink; what’s the point in pretending otherwise?
ANBAD: How does the band ethic work in terms of musical inspiration? How do you reconcile your individual tastes into one song?
Word of mouth a lot of the time: I trust my friends to tell me about good bands and eventually I’ll stop listening to Miss Black America and go and listen to them. Simon recently lent me ‘Our Band Could Be Your Life’ by Michael Azzerad which is full of amazing bands from the 80s American indie underground, from Minor Threat to Beat Happening, so suddenly I have a load of those records.
I’m fairly easily influenced by people I respect. You must find that, having to be excited about A New Band A Day, there’s little room for cynicism?
ANBAD: How about the actual act of musical creation? Do you pool ideas and thoughts from within the group?
In terms of writing songs, it’s pretty social, in that someone will have an idea and we’ll build it up between us, writing our own parts as we go. Like, one of our new songs we just wrote (tentatively titled ‘490 Fights Before Midnight’) I had an idea for ages ago and wrote some lyrics and a vocal line, but I can only hit pieces of plastic really so told Basith and Simon what I vaguely wanted it to sound like.
Then Simon wrote a pretty guitar line sent around the internetz, we went and practiced it with Bas eventually playing that line and coming up with an awesome chorus melody and guitar around what Simon wrote, who added bass, and it kind of spiralled into a song that had relied on each of us in some way and which wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t all contributed. It’s defo not just some guitarist playing their song with their session musicians.
ANBAD: Young bands now have emerged from a very different starting point compared to bands ten years ago: the Internet allows anyone to listen to any music from any time – whereas before a band’s influences may have been much more restricted.
Is this true, and how has this affected your sound, your approach and your outlook? And what about the internet more generally – how are you benefiting from being able to get your music straight to fans?
It’s brill, it means we can pretty much do everything ourselves and not rip anyone off. I mean, both albums are free to download off the website – there’s no point kidding ourselves and taking ourselves too seriously, putting 20 second clips of songs on the Myspace or something would be just horrible.
We’ve printed runs of 100 of each record as well just in case people want to hold it and read the lyrics and get secret tracks and things but the most exciting thing is lots of people hearing it everywhere, and I think putting the songs everywhere is the best way to do that.
We do get help of course, but from friends we’ve made along the way, and hopefully because they think we are good.
ANBAD: Finally – If you could meet any musical hero, who would it be, what one question would you ask them, and what drink would you buy them?
I’ve asked the rest of the band as well:
Simon: My ultimate musical hero is Calvin Johnson but I think I’d be too intimidated to be any use in a conversation with him if we were to meet. I would like to meet Khaela Maricich though and we’d talk about drawing and then maybe about things to keep you entertained while travelling and we’d get onto the subject of those small magnetic versions of popular board games and maybe we’d try and invent our own. I’d buy her an orange juice carton (or apple if she’d prefer) probably as we’d be in a park and the nearest place to get a drink would be a newsagent.
Basith: Johnny Greenwood: I would ask him “Is it okay if I steal a bit of yr disposition?” and get him a glass of water.
Jeremy: Jesse Lacey of Brand New: I would sit on his lap, lean into his chequed shirt and ask him to gently sing Seventy Times Seven whilst I sip his bottle of navy rum.
Ace Bushy Striptease’s new album – A Little More Suspicion In Our Fairytales Plz – is out in April on Oddbox Records. You can download their previous albums (they’re a hard-working lot) for free at their website: www.acebushystriptease.com
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