ATH Interview: Axxa/Abraxas @ Hotel Vegas (7.2)
As we head into the summer months, there’s a slew of great shows on the horizon, and one we’re particularly excited about features two of our favorites, Amen Dunes and Axxa/Abraxas. After a superb self-titled release in March for Captured Tracks, we caught up for a short little interview with Axxa/Abraxas frontman, Ben. Read on for a brief look into his world…
ATH: I’d like to first go into the art work for your album, as it seems to have an old school aesthetic to it, rather than some polished photo shop piece. Did you have the art work in mind prior to finishing the album, or was that piece created as an afterthought? Is it in any way an homage to the Television Personalities?
Ben: The piece that we used for the cover comes from a collection of silkscreen prints I did on fabric throughout 2013, the cover piece was actually made before I had even heard from Captured Tracks. We decided that it made sense to use the pieces from that series for the album art (and the art book accompanying the LP) because it was where I was at artistically at that point and we thought the aesthetic fit. A lot of those pieces do have a TVP vibe, a lot of the art I was making around that time was very influenced by the art on early Rough Trade releases.
ATH: How do you feel about the reception of your record? Going back and reading reviews, it seems that it basically has been a bunch of people spinning words straight out of your bio? Does that bother you in any way, or are you happy people are seeing such comparisons in your work?
Ben: Yeah, I’ve definitely noticed that, it all just sounds like my press sheet rephrased. It doesn’t really bother me, but its always cool when you can tell someone actually took the time to digest the record. I’m influenced by a really wide variety of music and don’t really stick to the same sounds all the time and I think that makes people have a hard time pegging down a good comparison so they make the easiest one possible, which is usually something I’ve already mentioned. At the end of the day they’re talking about songs that I’ve had around for a while now, I’m more focused on working on new material so they can say whatever they want and it doesn’t really have a lot of meaning for what I’m doing now.
ATH: I would assume that the majority of those songs on your self-titled album have been completed for some time, so what’s new in the works? Will we be hearing new songs or any new direction in the live show?
Ben: Yeah, some of those songs are over three years old. The live show is definitely a bit more intense than the record. I’m always kinda bummed if I go to a show and it just sounds like the record, so we rock it out a bit harder. I’ve got a lot of new material that I’m just now starting to teach the band so we’ll more than likely play at least one new song.
ATH: You’re in the middle of a decent little summer tour. How are things going so far out on the road?
Ben: It’s been fun! Definitely a lot of different vibes. Some of the shows have been pretty huge, particularly the Captured Tracks Northside showcase and the show we just played at the 40 Watt in Athens, while others have been for like 15-20 people because of the night of the week (and opening bands starting late/ playing too long) people don’t seam to want to stay up to see a band start at 12 on a tuesday night, haha. We’re really looking forward to the upcoming dates with Amen Dunes but we’re enjoying a couple days back at home before that starts in Nashville 6/26.
ATH: You’ve got several dates with Amen Dunes, including the show here in Austin. Were you guys friends or acquaintances, or did it just work out that you were both lining up in the same paths?
Ben: I’ve never met them, however after we got added as support I did tweet at them and they tweeted back, haha. I dig their music and feel like its a good fit but its really just that the timing was right and we were able to get in on their tour.
ATH: What are you looking forward to doing in Austin? Anything you hope to do before your show?
Ben: My sister lives in Austin so I’m really stoked to hang out with her and her husband, last time I was out there a couple years ago they took me to some cool places so I’m just gonna put my trust in them. We play in San Antonio the night after Austin but then have a couple days off and we’re planning on coming back to Austin for another day after San Antonio. we’ll probably hit up a record store or two while we’re there, per usual.
ATH: People used to bring gifts to shows for their favorite bands…what should people bring Axxa/Abraxas? What is it you need?
Ben: Guitar strings, haha. My other guitarist is notorious for breaking strings at like almost every show. We also like tite hats. We’ve got a good place to stay in Austin but if anyone is reading this in other cities that we’re playing the best gift is a small spot on yr floor for the night.[audio:http://austintownhall.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/09-On-the-Run.mp3]
Download: Axxa/Abraxas – On the Run [MP3]