Southend-on-Sea may not be notorious for it’s musical exploits but with a new wave of bands coming through, it’s impossible not to take notice of the town’s new blood. Case in point is rabble-rousing foursome Asylums.
With their D-I-Y focus, energetic live shows and wildly anthemic indie rock, they have all the necessary goods to actually make a mark on the industry. The band are currently knee deep into recording their debut album, and although the future may still be unknown, we sure can’t wait to see how it unfolds for this rag-tag bunch.
Get ready to dig in deep because we get up close and personal with Asylums frontman and songwriter, Luke. We chat about his musical origins, the highlights of his career so far and more.
Where and when did you first discover your interest in music?
“I think when I was about 11, I was into pirate radio in Southend and used to tape drum and bass and jungle off the radio and listen to it on my Walkman. One day my friends dad gave me a Jimi Hendrix album and I started to develop an interest in the guitar, Nirvana soon interested me (even though Kurt had passed away) then Britpop happened. I became obsessed with bands, records and music magazines pretty quickly.”
What was the first instrument you learned to play?
“I taught myself to play guitar on a shitty encore strat copy, I made up the chords, started to sing and develop my own style.”
When did you start writing your own songs/music?
“I started playing guitar purely to write songs really, I moved away from drawing pictures every day to playing and guitar everyday and writing lyrics. As I was self-taught I had no musical fear really, I literally had no idea what I was doing but I enjoyed it. I got better the more I experimented.”
What would you say has been the highlight so far in your musical career?
“There are two that stick out in my mind today, being playlisted on Radio 1 thanks to BBC Introducing Essex and secondly touring with Ash during December 2015.”
What does music mean to you?
“It’s my primary means of expression, and its my big obsession. I think every member of Asylums feels the same way about music.”
Where did you play your first gig?
“I played a battle of the bands at Club Riga in Southend when I was 13, me and Rhys Webb from The Horrors had a little band called JAY.”
What has been the definitive record that has made the most impact on your life?
“Prince – Sign O The Times, it has so much experimentation on it and variety. It’s a man left alone in the studio, nailing it.”
What is your earliest musical memory?
“I remember sitting in the conservatory of my Mum and Dad’s house painting with my Dad. He was a freelance illustrator at the time and extremely young, we listened to the radio as we worked…..I remember The Housemartins. I still enjoy doing visual work while listening to the radio, it’s a good combo. My Dad now works on visuals with us for our label Cool Thing Records. We think in a very similar way.”
Who is your favourite songwriter?
“A lot of my favourite writers don’t have record deals and are not famous, my good friend Leon Marshall was a huge inspiration in my teens, he introduced me to the idea that you could write your own songs, while we were at school. These days I really like Stephen Merrit from The Magnetic Fields and I really like Anton Newcome, Kurt Vile, Damon Albarn, Stephen Malkmus too. I’m always trying to find new inspiration, or your creativity dries up.”
A song lyric that means a lot to me is…
“Frownland by Captin Beefheart. Great words.”
A song that describes my current mood/frame of mind at this time is…
“Fed and educated, Primitive and wild, Welcome to the occupation”
Asylums latest single ‘Missing Persons’ is out now. Buy it here.