Western Australia rockers Axe Girl caught my ears thanks to frontlady Addison’s powerful, soulful vocal and their infectious make-you-want-to-dance rock n roll grooves. Addison a former London East-ender, moved to our shores one summer, met her soon-to-be bandmates and couldn’t bear to leave. Axe Girl are another band I love so much I included them on my Favourite Jams of 2012 list. Recently I interviewed Addison about all things Axe Girl.
What kind of music would you say that you make?
ADDISON AXE: I always find this question tricky, it’s hard to answer without sounding either desperately generic or eye-rollingly pretentious… I’m feeling like today is a generic day so I shall sum all our work (annoyingly easily) into four words: indie-punk-grunge-pop.
Who or what inspired you to start making music?
AA: My father is the reason I started listening to, playing and writing music. I would listen to him playing piano and singing for hours. There was always music in the house, and for a long time I didn’t realize that this was unique. From a very young age my brother and I would dance and sing along. And then we would sit together at the piano making up songs, and then go out busking. When you start that young it never occurs to you to be nervous or insecure or to temper you performance in anyway – which is a blessing.
Axe Girl has been described as “Think Gwen Stefani having a scrap down an alley with Brody Dalle and Courtney Love”; were/are you inspired by these women?
AA: Absolutely! No Doubt were my favourite band as a teenager, and are the reason you’ll here trumpets on the album when it comes out! Aside from the obvious fact that all three are total ass-kickin, rockin’ babes, I love them because there is so much humor and irony in their music; one-dimensional, sincere lyrics that take themselves too seriously do nothing for me. I’ve always aspired to find a quirky twist on a dark subject or a sarcastic edge to emotional ones. It’s therefore an immense honor to be compared to these three great lyricists.
How did you start playing music? When did you first pick up a guitar?
AA: I used to watch ‘Top Of The Pops’ (British version of Countdown) religiously from the age of five and mime along using my dad’s ukulele, sunglasses and a backwards baseball cap. I started playing my dad’s guitar in the back seat of the car when I was 12, and by the end of the day I had my first song, and by the end of the week I’d put together my first band and signed up to the school battle of the bands competition! Since that moment I’ve never looked back.
How has Axe Girl evolved from your beginnings in London?
AA: Axe Girl started its journey in London (where I grew up) and has taken me on some crazy, wild and wonderful adventures, and undergone a few line-up changes whilst finding its feet. It was only when I started to play with Ness, Brett and Nat that all the pieces fell into place and truly made sense – and that’s why I moved to Australia.
What are your songs inspired by? Is there reoccurring themes you find coming through in your work?
AA: Real universal human emotions are always embedded somewhere in all the songs. Love, lust, loss, hope, faith, ambition, self-loathing, fear. These are the elements I believe make music so powerful and speak to people in that inexplicably magical way. I endeavour to sit these themes against unexpected backdrops. Santa Claus keeps popping up in my lyrics recently –which is kinda weird – What does that mean?! I’m fascinated by Day of the Dead imagery at the moment, since a trip around the states, so I’m finding lots of ghosts and skeletons fighting to be in the songs.
When do you like to write them and where?
AA: I write music all the time, mostly at home with my guitar… but lyrics require more focus and discipline, so I generally lug my laptop to my favourite café, snuggle into a leather armchair and several long macs later, I’ll have something ready to work on with the band. I usually bring the blue-prints for a song to the others and then we jam and work together to create something magic.
How would you describe performing? How do you feel when you get on stage?
AA: Like I’m home. I feel like I’m the person I want to be.
What is your favourite song to sing/play live and why?
AA: At the moment probably Ghost Romance…it’s so energetic and driving… and cheeky. Once Brett starts that killer beat there’s no stopping till you get to the end.
Tell me about the music community where you live; positives and negatives?
ADDISON AXE: It’s interesting that you use the word community, because I now live in Perth, WA and it’s the first time I’ve lived somewhere with that community vibe. Coming from Bristol and London, there’s no real camaraderie, it can feel pretty cold and competitive and you’re isolated because there are so many people. Here you all get to know, support and help each other out. There’s not a competitive atmosphere in Perth at all as far as I can tell, but a mutual respect and desire for each other to do well –and have fun, which is really what it’s all about.
I’ve read that Jermaine Jackson loves Axe Girl?
AA: I was lucky enough to work with Jermaine a few years back, and to my surprise, he really dug the sound… and it was much punkier in those days too.
Have you ever experienced sexism in the music industry?
AA: No… I’ve encountered a great deal of sleaziness, but that’s definitely not gender specific!
What do you do that’s creative when not making music?
AA: I draw.
What’s something that you would really like to do one day?
AA: Live in San Francisco.
What’s Axe Girl currently focused on?
AA: We’re putting the finishing touches to our debut EP right now, and are totally stoked about it. It’s our first release as a band so it’s all feeling very exciting at camp Axe Girl.
What’s something that Axe Girl feels really strongly about?
AA: I feel very strongly about a so many things we could be here for days! So If I had to think of one particular thing it would be equality. There is still so much inequality, discrimination and disrespect in our beautiful world and it makes me terribly sad. We must stand up for each other.
For More Axe Girl.
Have a beautiful day!