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  • Interview: ASG

    Thu, 25 Jul 2013 12:54:00

    Interview: ASG - By ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino...

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    Some records elevate a band to the next stratosphere. Blood Drive does that for ASG. It's an impactful and incendiary amalgam of thick Southern grooves, towering sludge, and vaporous mystique. In other words, it's exactly everything you'd hope for in a timeless rock record.

    In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, ASG singer Jason Shi dives deep into Blood Drive and so much more.

    What do you feel threads Blood Drive together?

    We're trying to make heavy music with lots of melody still. We're playing to our strength, which I think is songwriting. Some heavy bands will blow you away with their overall musicianship. Our focus was the songwriting though. It wasn't a concept album or anything. It's just a collection of songs. Some were a few years old, and others were written this past summer. I wanted to make a diverse and hopefully interesting rock record, if that's still legal in this country.

    What's the story behind the song "Blood Drive"?

    You could say that's one of the older ones. It's been around for two years. I'll have the vocal melody floating around in my brain. We'll work out the music in practice, and I'll come home and start trying vocals over it. On "Blood Drive" and two other songs, it was verbatim, stream-of-consciousness lyrics. All of the verses were what flew out as well as the chorus. There's no overall in-depth meaning, but I thought it was fascinating. I use that technique when I can.

    What does the title mean?

    There certainly isn't any direct correlation with the specific offering of giving blood. As far as the record goes, it felt like it had a slow and steady pulse but also a deliberate push of something like a long battle line. It's forceful and deliberate with steady momentum and moments of acceleration. That's our take on it.

    Where did "Good Enough to Eat" come from?

    That was one of the older songs. It's stripped down. It's one of those coffee songs where you're at home in the morning, you grab your guitar, and start going. I kept 90 percent of the lyrics that flew out. Sometimes, it's total nonsense [Laughs]. Other times, you get lucky. You don't spend a month on it; you spend an hour.

    What about "The Ladder"?

    I try to evolve with the singing. "The Ladder" might be four-years-old. There may have been reluctance in the past where we'd ask, "Is this an ASG song? Are we going to get beat up by our longer term fans?" As a band, if you come up with a song and you feel like it's good, you've got to just push through.

    Is there a visual side to the songs for you? They feel cinematic...

    Oh yeah, they've got to be colorful. I just don't come down with a direct subject. They're wide open to interpretation. There are certain lines that do mean something to me, and I like to keep that to myself. Hopefully, this record is atmospheric and has parts that can take a listener somewhere. That probably stems from the music some of us grew up on. I think some of that creeps out. This is the only band I've ever been in. With the evolution of things and the fact it somehow lasted this long—which is insanity—we do feel like we have to keep doing new things. We don't want to do the same thing twice.

    What bands shaped you collectively?

    I was a total Jane's Addiction worshipper in high school. '90s alternative rock is a safe way to say it. I discovered punk rock through Jane's Addiction and skateboarding culture. Queens of the Stone Age and Kyuss discovery was right around the start of our band. That was what we were into—guitar-driven music. Then, I think all four of us grew up on classic rock radio via our parents. Those classics like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin are instilled in us.

    It'd be pretty weird [Laughs]. "The Ladder" was being written while I was watching Jacob's Ladder for the first time. If there's any song that correlates with something outside of brain, it's that. They merged into each other. I missed it in high school. I just saw it recently late at night. I thought it was a pretty profound flick. I don't know though as far as the comparison. Maybe, it'd be something epic. It's pretty lengthy record so there are hopefully some epic qualities or parts. It could be a combination of The Lord of the Rings and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as well as a Wes Anderson movie for color and sensibility—and a bit of a sense of humor. I was watching Moonrise Kingdom the other day and then The Royal Tenenbaums was on. I'm a movie nerd. I think when you watch a Wes Anderson movie, you can't even really form an opinion until you've seen it three times. He's that kind of cat.

    Rick Florino

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    Tags: ASG, Jane's Addiction, Queens of the Stone Age, Kyuss, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Wes Anderson, The Lord of the Rings, Moonrise Kingdom

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