Interviews

MUSIC INTERVIEW: Asylums

Photo Credit: Alistair Underwood

Rock quartet Asylums are back with the follow-up to 2018’s Alien Human Emotions, entering a new sonic space on their latest offering Genetic Cabaret. Expect moments of sadness, anger and, in typical Asylums fashion, you’ll find the occasional bizarre moment in there too, as the four-piece deliver another stellar record. We caught up with frontman Luke Branch to find out more about Genetic Cabaret, working with the legendary Steve Albini, releasing an album during the COVID-19 pandemic and much more. 

Hey, thanks for taking the time to chat to us. You release your new album Genetic Cabaret this week, how do you guys usually feel in the run up to a release? 

Hey, thanks for wanting to talk. We are cool, it’s been a strange time for everyone out there of course and within Asylums we have all had to adapt a lot too. We have been Zooming a lot, writing a lot of music, concentrating on running Cool Thing Records with our own record and others coming out. To answer your question more directly – we have been distracting ourselves with creative endeavours so that we don’t get too nervous or overthink stuff…now release week is here we are just excited to share the work. 

You worked with legendary Steve Albini on the album, how was that experience? Are there any standout memories? 

It was one of the best musical experiences we have all had, he is funny, insightful and super talented. There are so many memories; 

The first day we walked into the live room and saw how high the ceiling was, when we all heard the drum sound, recording The Miracle Age with Mike virtually asleep due to jetlag. Steve said a few kind things about my voice. In general we were just laughing and joking throughout the session and when we got too intense as a band, Steve would sprinkle a few words of wisdom over proceedings.

You split your time between Chicago, Norway and Germany whilst recording, what did each place bring to help shape the album?  

I think it all seeped in, it felt very self-contained in a way. We booked our own flights, paid for it ourselves, tour managed ourselves etc. I think there was a lot of wonder at our music having got us around the world; we are always switching our heads from band mode to label mode to survive haha. Conceptually the record was incubated at home but the traveling was like coming up for air.

In the run up to the release you’ve revealed four tracks from the record [Catalogue Kids, A Perfect Life In A Perfect World, Platitudes, and Who Writes Tomorrows Headlines?], are they a good indicator of what to expect from the rest of Genetic Cabaret? 

Thematically yes, but there is a fair bit of variety on the record, some soulful movements, sad moments, angry moments and typically for us some bizarre moments.

You’re releasing Genetic Cabaret through your own label, Cool Thing Records. How does it feel releasing an album during the COVID-19 pandemic? Did you face any difficulties in the run up to the release?

Just striking the balance of being sensitive to what the world is going through, while still believing that music and all the arts bring light to the world. There were logistical challenges, obviously all our gigs were cancelled or postponed but we are adaptable, and we have adapted.

With the ongoing pandemic putting a stop to touring, what do you have planned to follow the album release? Will you be doing anything online to replace live shows?

We will do more online shows, album playbacks, more videos etc we also make a radio show for Soho Radio called Cool Thing Presents, where we interview artists from multiple disciplines and try to advocate for the arts. Maybe we will just make another album. 

You’ve had to deal with the issues of the pandemic as both a band and a record label, what is the best thing fans can do to keep the music industry alive?

It certainly helps to buy physical, pass on to mates, generate word of mouth etc. I don’t know what is right for the music business on a macro level yet, we are more of an art project than a business. 

Finally, do you have a message for our readers? 

Thanks for reading and caring. From one music geek to another I send you our warmest regards.


Asylums‘ new album Genetic Cabaret is out now via Cool Thing Records, available to purchase HERE.

Tags : Asylums
HannahGillicker
A 20-something year old journalist and freelance PR often found at a gig, a festival or holding a dictophone to a band and asking them all kinds of questions. I'm a sucker for whiskey and vinyl.