Local music scenes are funny things. For the most part they are wildly hit and miss, but growing up I was blessed with a fairly diverse and talented one: one that has inbred time and time again, recycling members, nurturing talent like some rapey old school janitor with a hunchback and a frog for a wife.
AZWAI are the six-fingered middle child of the Worcestershire music scene. There are hills. There are woods. Plenty of places to hide your incestuous progeny; perhaps in a cow shed in the middle of nowhere?
This is where I found Malvern’s very own bastard sons – [corresponding to the photo above] Dan Stokes, Adam Murkin, Craig Taylor and Dan Taylor [unrelated. Or so they say. See above paragraph.] – slavering over their instruments and sodomising a dead rat. Luckily they were in a ‘playful’ mood, and after placating them with the latest Hollyoaks calendar, they agreed to answer a few questions.
[End of hyperbole. Ish]
CG: AsZerosWeAreInfinite is not what you might call a usual name. How and why did you choose it in particular?
DS: It’s based on a mathematical theory known as ‘God math’, which talks about zero as being an infinite number. In the beginning we just wanted to write hardcore but the more we wrote, and specifically the more technical our music got, the more the name stuck.
AM: Well in honesty, it was either that or ‘I’m A Pterodactyl’. We went for the one with the better acronym.
How did you all get started in music? What drew you to the heavier end of the musical spectrum?
DS: We stumbled across rock music in high school like everyone else, and found like-minded people. I began writing music when I was fifteen. I found that my tastes became more and more violent the older and grumpier I got, and that I had a burning desire to constantly push myself to the very edge of my abilities; writing songs I could barely play. Eventually, we wanted the music we wrote to cause an emotional reaction out of the people listening and the easiest emotion to provoke from a crowd is anger. We’ve always thought that anger and passion go hand in hand and we’re all very passionate people.
CT: Slipknot. End of.
Between my crooked teeth
And self-prophecised lies
You will discover salvation for your ache
What is it about Malvern that produces such a plethora of brilliant bands and musicians?
AM: Must be the water…
DS: I think its because it’s ‘small town syndrome’. We all live in this town where there isn’t much to do apart from drink and listen to music, so eventually you have a whole gaggle of people in the same generation feeling the same frustrations of being from nowhere special. A band seems like the perfect place to vent those feelings and turn them into something constructive. Of course I could be way off and it could just be the water. The Queen does drink it. But I doubt she’s in a Converge cover band…
How does an AZWAI song get written? Lyrically, what subjects interest you?
DS: Fifteen seconds at a time, and with a lot of deliberation and re-writing.
DT: Mostly using the guitars and the drums, sometimes the singer turns up and then it gets really noisy.
AM: The lyrics are usually rehashes of Margaret Thatcher speeches…
DS: Each AZWAI song is an experiment: what happens if you take a simple riff, double its speed and then variate it 7 times over the course of 8 bars? In a 4 beat bar, what happens if on every 2nd and 3rd repitition of the bar you put a variable on beats 1 and 3, what if you move the accents to the offbeat on certain bars?
What are your main influences of the past and of the moment?
AM: Money , tidy ass and Rambo
DS: I think the most obvious answer is The Dillinger Escape Plan but we take a lot from bands we grew up listening to, that instilled a really disiplined method of playing into us. Bands like Incubus really gave me an ear for good melody and chord structure, whereas Converge completely flipped that idea on its head. We love abrasive sounds but we also like some sort of hook. We’ve taken a lot from the chaotic sound of Eden Maine, the all-out aggression of Converge and the pioneering flavour of DEP.
Little girl pulling clumps of hair
Innocence in this jealous affair
What have been your biggest obstacles as individuals and a band?
DT: There was once this wall, right. We didn’t know how to get over it for a while. So we just built another three on it, stuck some cardboard on for a roof, and created what is today our practice space. It’s warm, but I really hate it when the tramps get in and eat the egg boxes we use for dampening.
DS: We’re quite picky when writing. The riff has to be just right, the drums have to be just right, and basically everything has to be just so. It means sometimes we take six months writing a song and sometimes everything falls into place.
CT: As a band we’re all quite busy people so sometimes we can’t always get together to practise or to organise shows etc. That means AZWAI can be quite slow at times, but its always ticking over!
What was your favourite album of 2009?
DS: Mastodon – Crack the Skye. I saw it live in its entirety a while back and its a stunning album, full of genuine spellbinding moments and genius songcraft.
AM: The only albums I can remember are Wolves In The Throne Room – Black Cascade, Doomriders – Darkness Come Alive, Fukpig – Spewings From A Selfish Nation and Baroness – The Blue Record. So any one of them I guess. Your choice.
DT: It’s all about Daisy by Brand New. And here’s a few I don’t like…Wolves In The Throne Room – Black Cascade, Doomriders – Darkness Come Alive, Fukpig – Spewings From A Selfish Nation…
It’s been over a year since your EP was recorded. What are AZWAI’s future plans? How is the new material coming and what does it sound like?
Making the decision to wear skin I am too big to fit in
DS: All round writing is going well, we may even break ten minutes on the next EP! We plan on demoing for the next six months and then hitting studio late this year or early next year.
DT: Might be slow though, I’m actually off to London to go to drum college for a few months.
CT: So he’ll actually be able to play the drums rather than just gorilla them…
AM: So the future is currently shaping up to look like long distance relationships, phone calls and late nights exposing ourselves on chatroulette.com. That website is wicked for meeting your next ex-wife. The music is coming along really well. Probably the most memorable section goes “shong, da dong da, shong, dong, da, dong, dong”.
What are your best and worst experiences of gigging? Which bands have been the most fun to play with?
AM: We don’t really have any experiences that weren’t great, but pretty much every show has had a dodgy moment or two. Our best shows always involve some combination of the following: Mother Dirt, Big Steve, nose bleeds and plenty of crowd commotion.
DS: I dunno about that; I think the worst show we ever played was in Hereford a long time ago. It stunk, we were sloppy and uncomfortable and I would have been happy to put down my guitar forever that night. I didn’t, thankfully. The best was recently actually, we played at a local venue with some great bands and the vibe of the night was amazing. The crowd really got involved, they sang along and tore the place apart. We’ve always loved crowd participation, especially when it comes to helping us wreck venues.
Which unsigned or small bands you are privvy to would you recommend to our readers?
AM: None of ‘em, they all ripped our riffs ennit. Especially that Bestie kid [of Mother Dirt]. Seriously; any band in our Myspace ‘Top 8’ would be a pretty good choice.
DS: We always have fun when we play with Mother Dirt, Deacon Birch or Stella Dawes. They’re all great bands and really good friends of ours. Theres YouTube proof of me drunk at the front of a show we played with Deacon Birch in a tiny room last year. Mother Dirt are the loudest thing you’ll ever hear this side of Neurosis, and Stella Dawes are one of my favourite unsigned bands in the country.
Any final words (of wisdom or otherwise) you wish to add?
DS: Don’t use sweetener in your tea…it ruins it.
AM: All answers copyright of AZPONYSWEAREABANDWITHSONGSANDSTUFF
At this point the rat started to crawl away, and they all started fighting over it again. I took this opportunity to slip out quietly and run for the hills.