Tuesday 30 January 2018

Seeing Eye To Eye with AYE-AYE - An Interview With Iain Laing

One of the things which hurt me as a “musical journalist” is the simple fact that one interview or review couldn’t change the situation and draw proper attention to the band with no label behind them. I can discuss that on and on, but in the end of the day, it’s just my own opinion, subjective point of view...

Speaking about Glasgow-based Aye-Aye (named a after creepy Madagascar lemur) I have to admit that garage sound of this power trio isn’t something that I really love in the band, but it seems to be their aim to build “a wall of noise and fuzz” to clad into it alive and raw stoner / doom space stuff and it’s their vision.

However I respect them for certain individual approach to the band’s lyrical concept and excellent song-writing. I love their debut album “Men Are Ugly” (2014) and the new one “In Peace” slowly develops Aye-Aye ideas in the same musical direction.

So what do we have here?

Just a try to take a deeper look in the night world of Aye-Aye alongside band’s singing bass-player Iain Laing

Hi Iain! How are you? Whats going on in Aye-Aye nest?

Hi, Alex. Hope alls well with you and we wish you all the best in the year to come.
Currently Aye-aye are rehearsing our set for our first gig of 2018 which is a “Metal To The Masses” heat in Glasgow on the 19th January though weve no illusions that our music is suitable for Bloodstock. Theses are good gigs for a bit of networking and live show experience. From there were hoping to be offered a support slot or two for bands coming to play Glasgow or Edinburgh. Were up for playing pretty much where-ever were wanted.

Were working on a few new tunes which are unrecorded as yet too. Mac and I are playing guitar, bass, vocals with our mutual friend, Tony, a drummer, rehearsing the songs penned by our friend “Gerry” who died a year ago. I played bass with Tony and Gerry in a band named Smokescreen for a year or so before Gerry died. Gerry was a wonderful guitarist influenced by Floyd, Bob Marley, Stones, Killing Joke…..so Macs had a LOT of practicing to do but the dark horse that he is has been playing some great licks at our last few rehearsals. Well be getting these recorded over the next month or so, hopefully.

Dels drumming is getting groovier as time goes on helping us out with getting some sexy riffs for Aye-aye. We still want to save us from ourselves. LOL

Theres three years long break between the bands debut “Men Are Ugly” and fresh full-length “In Peace”. How did you spend this period?

By pretty much doing what weve done since the conception of Aye-aye over 5 years ago. By jamming new riffs as often as real life allows which is usually around once a week for 3 hours.

The riffs become songs and we record them in wee batches at a time. When we get an albums worth of decent songs well let the public hear them. 

How often did you play live after release of “Men Are Ugly”? Can you tell that the band had gained some recognition in Scotland and UK?

Id say weve gigged once every couple of months on average. Certainly we did more frequent shows at the beginning just because of the whole “honeymoon” energy of it all. Were certainly no less enthusiastic now but I think the guys will agree with me when I say were playing more for our own enjoyment now. When we play live we prefer there to be a wee bit of an audience so we can get our name out. That means waiting/ asking to be offered a support slot with a “well known” touring band or a “festival” slot. Weve played live as far North as Inverness and as far south as Wakefield and willing to do it all again if offered.

Weve no rush to write new material as we can play for an hour and a half of good material whenever required. We can take our time coming up with the new songs.

Aye-Aye - Stardust

So no ambitions at all? Just playing music for relax, joy or for whatever else you do it?

It would be nice to play some bigger shows or festivals and get our music out to more people. Maybe sell enough Cds for recording and duplication to be self-sustaining cost wise. Obviously we’d take whatever breaks we can to get to more people and perhaps make some fans. In the meantime, though, we are happy having the band as a three friends enjoying making the best noise we can and playing to friends, other bands and their friends.

What are main things in your life? Can you imagine that one day youll stop playing music?

I can’t imagine not making music, and I’m so pleased that Mac and Del seem to be of the same ilk. The band is OUR time when the outside world can be forgotten for a few hours -a -week in a splendid sea of fuzz, oscillations and beats. We all enjoy playing live too. I’m planning to get better on MOOG synth.

We all have jobs which we hate but are necessary, and families that we love. We have to fit the band time around these. I also love my pets, a West Highland Terrier, Alfie, who loves his walks along our local canal and two young kittens who are very funny to watch as they play. Named from “The Munsters” TV show they are Lily and Herman.

Did you already find the label for “In Peace”?

No. Its all DIY.

In which condition you did record new songs?

We recorded with Chris Gorman again in Glasgow. I now have a MOOG synth from my late friend ,Gerry, whom I mentioned earlier. We put it to good use in this album, especially on Closer Than Mars. The spoken word at start of Nocturnal was purely spontaneous and weed fuelled. LOL The vocals were inspired by Bowies vocal delivery too at the time.
We just overdubbed the lead, backing vocal and Moog takes. I had a go at mastering the tracks myself as I know how they should sound. May not be the most "loud" master but I think it sounds OK.

The album sounds pretty raw, was it your intention or just an only option?

Our sound is raw. Tube driven distorted guitar with the bass full up and tuned to B, with a very gainy bass sound also in B tuning will do that. Theres a lot of dirty bottom and oscillation.

Well, I bet that you know better how to make sound Aye-Aye as it used to be, but really… you have some space / old school rock influences in your songs, isnt it right to make it sound “clearer”?

It is what it is, Alex. It’s just a wall of noise and fuzz with some quiet bits and oscillation effects. I’m happy I can hear all the parts, the vocal, the solos and, to me they all sit as they should in the mix. With recording we like having a really full rhythm guitar tone. I think in most of the songs recorded we use two or occasionally three guitar tracks. Live we only have the one.

However, I’ll see how the Smokescreen recording sounds soon and compare it to the Aye-Aye recordings. I’ll go with my ears.

In Peace” is a blend of doom metal and space or sometimes stoner rock, from where did your musical roots grow?

The guys and I are united in our love for the classics (Sabbath, Dio, Hawkwind, Floyd etc.). We like a good riff, an occasional solo and some melody. It has to make your head nod and/or your foot tap.

We listen to stuff like Zoroaster, High on Fire, Paradise Lost, Warrior Soul, Gojira, ASG, King Buffalo, Prong, Voivod, OM and The Grand Astoria (cheers).

Mac played guitar in a band called Evil Kinevil before Aye-aye. I saw them live and they blew me away. I poached Mac when they disbanded.

Iain, how do you value your progress on “In Peace” consider “Men Are Ugly”?

We put a song or two on “Men Are Ugly” that we seldom play live now that we have the choice of the “In Peace” songs for our set lists. I suppose that sums it up in a sentence.

As I understand the lyrics of new songs continue the idea of “Men Are Ugly” album, right?

More songs about life as a lemur or a human. "Nocturnal" is about the near extinction, due to human habitation, of animals that have taken millions of years to evolve. "Procrastinated" is about knowing that something is coming to a bad ultimatum but being too caught up in life/ love/ addiction to be empowered to do anything about it. “Red Dust Dog is about the loyalty of animals and is based on the story "Red Dog" by Louis De Bernieres. "Space Goat" about wanting to be high rather than put up with the humdrum of life. “Closer Than Mars is about how capitalism is destroying our planet better than any Martians could.

How was your world view formed? I appreciate the themes you raise in your songs, but it sounds unusual for doom / space bands?

I read too much of the news and Im a cynical idealist. I also love the comedy of late Bill Hicks and the current Steve Hughes.

I just hate the destruction, oppression and corruption happening in the World at the expense of our assets. By assets I mean human solidarity, the wild creatures and their natural habitats, life supporting seas and fresh water, mature trees and fertile soil.
Ive never met an animal I didnt like or admire to some extent. I despise people who do not show respect for their fellow man and nature.

Dont you think that you could use the band as a platform for spreading your views further more actively? Doom, stoner, rock in general looks like some entertainment with all macabre tales or weed-inspired fantasies as very rare outfits give some food for brains. Isnt it a problem when almost the whole musical genre turns in escapism and show?

Maybe I just lack imagination. No-one likes the vegetarian who shows a video of a playful calf or a sad, scared cow at an abattoir while someone’s about to take a bite of their steak. Instead of showing a video to someone in a restaurant I sing about it. LOL

Okay, Iain, thats all for today, I wish you to play great show on “Metal to the Masses” and draw attention of Ozzys producer (is it Sharon still?). Do you have few more words for our readers?


Words by Aleks Evdokimov and Iain Laing