1) First and foremost, having a name like Ascetic seems to be asking for trouble in terms of not only people pronouncing your name but also spelling it. Was there ever a conscious effort of “Maybe we should choose something a little bit simpler for the masses” or just in general do you get misspellings a lot (Like Asstetick)?
We tried to find a name that was more ‘approachable’, trying to find combinations of mundane words that would yield something powerful but nothing really stuck, in the end we were attracted to angular somewhat esoteric words. Yes, we get ‘aesthetic?’ a lot, which is a terrible name for a band… It was a bit of a task finding a name, I’d just come out of a period of heavily meditating and to be honest, it left me feeling really disconnected from the world, I was writing a song called ‘Ascetic’ and when I thought about it it seemed to fit the songs we’d written.
2) Your wonderful album “Self Inititation” is at a name your price download and then there are various ways to purchase it physically. I subscribe to the theory that music should be free to sample, but then if you like it you should be able to buy a cassette or record for it. Is this something you also believe or was this just coincidental?
The guys & I were talking about this the other day, I think basically as long as the word is spreading about your material it’s a good thing, in a sense it’s paying for promotion, I just figure if people like the work enough they’ll either buy the LP or a t-shirt or they’ll come to your show when you’re in their area or they’ll show your album to a friend and they’ll do the same, or they’ll show it to their friend who works in advertising and they’ll ask to put your song on a coca-cola commercial and you can retire.
3) You have a sound somewhere in between Cocteau Twins and The Illegal Wiretaps. I actually remember being surprised at how the songs differed from track to track, yet stayed in the same general arc, as “Self Initiation” went on. It was one of those things where I felt like as soon as I began to figure out your sound, it would change. (“I Burn” is a perfect example of this) So what do you have to say for yourselves about that?
Most of the songs on the album are written collectively, someone brings in an idea and it gets elaborated on, it’s a slow way of writing but the songs end up gaining three people’s input, someone suggests something that you wouldn’t have come up with on your own, when you work on music live it has the potential to get swung in odd directions so I think that collaborative way of writing definitely has something to do with the diversity of the sounds on the album.
4) Do you feel like shoegaze is bringing back some of that music from the late 1980’s/early 1990’s or do you think it was never really gone?
I think there is always going to be the striving with guitars to make the guitar not sound like a guitar, even with the prevalence of synthesisers and their ability to make sounds that guitars never could the appeal of twisting an organic instrument into something unrecognisable is always going to be there, I think that’s the main link behind the shoegaze tag basically, fucked up guitar sounds, pushing guitar sounds into new territory.
5) One line in one of your songs that really gets me is “There is no cure, when there is no sickness” because it always reminds me of just healthcare in general, as well as pharmaceutical companies. Was it intended to come out as something sort of prophetic like that or am I just reading too much in to it?
I’m glad you like that line, I think it boils down the intention of Self Initiation. I was reading up about Marcel Duchamp and stumbled upon his ready-made ‘Pharmacy’, which is just a terrible print of a European forest in winter that you would find in any home decoration store at the time of his finding it, his addition to the piece was a couple of splodges of paint and the title. Apparently the title comes from the colour scheme of the paints that he applied which were red & green, the colour scheme of European pharmacies. Anyway, I guess the intention of the piece was the same as his other ready-mades, questioning the artistic value of made objects, questioning the relationship of beauty to aesthetics etc, I don’t know why that piece struck me or stuck in my head, but I thought to myself, I’d like to write a song called ‘Pharmacy’ that evoked the sense of a winter landscape. The song was written equally, we all chipped in our parts and it came together quite quickly, anyhow, I don’t really know where to start with that line, it’s kind of everything that I had thought in my life up to that point, summarised in a line, I’ve always been interested in a certain kind of philosophical discourse which I guess you’d call ‘the human condition’, essentially ‘why are we here? why is there anything? etc’. Many people have this notion that the human race is sick, that either there is some inherent glitch in our make-up which renders us somehow like a virus that penetrated an otherwise orderly system of the universe or that human history went really ‘wrong’ somewhere, took a wrong turn, this is obviously perpetuated by the myth of The Fall which is so drilled into the unconsciousness of Western Culture it is nearly inescapable. What the line is saying essentially is that I no longer believe in any form of The Fall, it’s an awakening to the perfect imperfection of existence. At the time of writing the song I had been researching a lot of nutritional stuff, the Gerson diet etc. a lot of people out there seem to think they have a cure for cancer and while I think eating well is one of the most worthwhile pursuits anyone can do, these alternative cures get so wound up in the evils of the opposition they sometimes overlook the great positives they contribute and fail to notice their own flaws, in this way the ‘Pharmacy’ is a metaphor for both the problem and the solution.
A lot of the reviews of the album have come back saying it’s the darkest thing they’ve ever heard, overtly oppressive, marred in anguish etc, and while it has it’s moments of anguish the overall message is quite uplifting I think, ‘We Are Not All Dead’, ‘We Move Up From Eden’ these are quite positive words.
6) Final thoughts, herbal cures, etc… ??
Everything is becoming.