This Q&A With Askultura Will Make You Smarter!
You guys have a killer presence on stage but one thing people immediately noticed, besides your rocking tunes and good looks, is the size of your band! You guys are a 10-piece band if I’m not mistaken! How does the song writing process work? What is the band dynamic like?
First off nice to be writing you Fiz. We’re hangin next to a construction site here in Miami playing off the natural sounds of doom: saws whizzing at breakneck doublepunk speeds, hammers banging concrete like out-of-tune bass line, and bulldozers clearing the once-lovely and jungled land. We’ve got two new songs based on these artifcial rumblings-they are quite possibly the only positive thing to come out of the construction of this new chain pharmacy plaza unless you count cheap halloween costumes, christmas ornaments, and aisles of cheap, crap food as a good thing.
The writing process is madness. A song usually starts on guitar or in the voice and is presented to the family at various sit downs. From there-through clairvoyance and via magical interventions-it takes on final form as the others introduce their conceptions. I get nervous when a word like “jam” enters our musical arena-the idea of long, unorganized, uninspired drawn out jams make me titter. I reserve jam for my toast and her toes. There is usually a certain urgency when polishing up a song. If it looks like it’s gonna be a drawn out experience it has to be shelved and revisited at a later date, or never.
It’s imposible to say where a song comes from. Sometimes there is a topic that needs addressing and it’s a linear process but most of the time I don’t remember where the songs come from. That very brief moment when a song erupts into being is like the inspired flash when a seed pops from it’s kernel shell and begins the upward journey. Where that impetus comes from we’ll never know.
Regarding size of band: I just don’t think Askultura’s sound can be achieved as a conventional 4 or 5 piece. It’s just too thick. We vacillate between 6 and 11 musicians on stage and source sound from a variety of instrumentation: guitars, drums, trumpet, saxophone, trombone, violin, keyboard, congas, percussion, washboard. The recording Ten Strong Superpunk Skarantella Reggae Rumba Fury featured twelve musicians. It can be very difficult musically, managerially, and interpersonally with that many people. I think it’s most important to get everybody on the same page regarding long-term goals and what their responsibilities in the band are, then all the small shit just gets shrugged off.
And yeah we are a dashingly handsome crew.
Having had the opportunity to see you guys twice in NY I noticed how energetic you got the crowd. What’s your favorite part of playing live?
I can only speak for myself here but my favorite part are those few seconds before we are about to get started. It’s gotta be like Pollock felt when he was gettin ready to throw some paint down on fresh canvas. We jump right into party furiosity! I think I speak for all when I say that we like very much having drinks with all of our fans and partying, before, during and after a show. One can release many days of negative bullshit in the relatively short space of an Askultura show.
Late 90’s Fat Wrechords punk bands is what got me going on all this. Old Italian folk music, flamenco and rumba, and gitano music are party stimulators that I always carry with me.
What are some of the challenges you face as independent musicians? Do you think it’s a good time to be a musician?
It’s always a good time to be a musician! I mean if that’s what you want to do then you’d better not turn your back on it or you’re going to have a regret someday. Suppose that goes for everything.
There is so much music out there today, the mainstream is gaining some momentum again after having hijacked the joy and real raw fucking emotion out of rock and roll and rolled it up into their cookie-cutter hip-hop-rock-poppy garbage. But that’s no challenge man! Anybody worth being our friend or fan doesn’t involve themselves with that low-energy scene.
The biggest challenge is overcoming our own fear that we’re going down a road to nowhere. It simply can’t be, this is what the universe has meant for us plain and simple. This life takes a lot of work and sacrifice but all the good roads are arduous to travel upon. Incidentally there is a Moorish proverb that also relates to the literal road and a musicians life: He who does not travel does not know the the value of men. I think it’s part of our nature to see what’s happenin’ over the next ridge and what’s cookin’ in the next town.
There’s no stopping it so let’s embrace it ya know. If we run with the former idea that all art is stolen then really no one owns anything. These sounds should be free. We’ve always stood by that: we don’t care how you get the music we just want you to have it. If you want to buy a cd for the artwork, for the extra [hidden] tracks, or to support us then more power to you. If not go burn your friend’s copy or download it from youtube. It’s all good.
We understand that a musicians living is made out on the road playing for fans and that is what we intend to do. Life on the road like a band of rumba pirates is where it’s at for us. That is an experience that can never be replicated except by us in the sweaty glorious flesh.
What is your relationship as artists with technology and how much does it play in defining your music?
Musically-speaking we have no involvement with technology aside from powered amplifiers, basic pedal boards, and microphones. I think we’d like to journey into Effects-land at some point but right now we’re strictly human. We also play our set acoustically sometimes so we’re able to go completely off-grid. It’s nice to be able to carry on a party without paying FPL [Florida Power & Lighting].
What are your plans for the future?
We’re going to be recording our third cd, an 11-13 song full-length in early 2014 featuring some premium new songs. We’re loving the ska song about rudeboy immigration and there’s a song for antifa football [soccer] hooligans-instant classics. We’ve also got one based on a loose interpretation of the greek Icarus tale.
Then of course plans to hit the road. We’re setting up a southeast tour for January and we’ll be back up in NY in March 2014, so keep your eyes locked on the website fools! www.askultura.com. Last July was awesome, we played all over NY State. It was beautiful to get back home and party with our northern brethren.
Our most engaging present endeavor involves the founding of La Sangre Entertainment which is basically a network of about 20 or so punk, ska, rocksteady, reggae, latino-inspired bands that are coming together to help each other tour. Keep your eye out for the roster yo, you won’t be disappointed.
Crucial my friend, especially bands of our size that don’t have a big ole crowd that comes out in every city. It’s not just facebook either, there are plenty of platforms out there that you’ve got to hit. I really think it’s best for fans to get on our email list cause that way you’ll get non-spammy emails from us detailing all the good stuff coming up in the next 4-6 weeks.
Unfortunately you’re seeing this trend with bands that they think it’s ok to not flyer and put up posters around town now that they can invite you to a show on facebook. That’s some heads-down shit. When we came to NY to play we spent a whole day running around putting up posters in tattoo shops, record stores, and anywhere that would take them. The internet is a sea of garbage- it’s kind of hard to stick out like the bright and shiny beacon that we are amongst all the mountains of pure crap.
Who are some of your greatest musical influences? What bands do you listen to?
Right now I’m listening to Mad Conductor out of New Orleans. We just put a show for them together here in Miami and they’re awesome dudes. It’s my second favorite hip hop group of all times, right behind The Beastie Boys. I listen to Tonino Carotone a lot now, as well as Adriano Celentano and I Gufi, 1950’s cabaret from Milano. Propagandhi and Against All Authority are frequent in the rotation, the former for intense poetry, the latter for sheer nostalgic joy. And I dance to northern pow-wow music. Right now I’m digging on Elk Soldier from South Dakota. I get down to it all man.
Thanks Fiz! We’ll see you soon brother for some quality time at the bar and more songs for us all.
– Andrew Chisena (Lead Singer, and Guitarist)
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