|4 online articles from this issue.|
Are you ready for some AWESOME?!! Over 30 million YouTube users have experienced "the Awesome" with the band's "4 Chord Song," variations of which have been played and performed throughout the world. They have been hits at the film and comedy festivals in Edinburgh, Montreal and Melbourne and will soon be skyrocketing in the U.S. market.
Although relatively unknown in the U.S. for the time being, The Axis of Awesome is at the absolute cusp between their current widespread availability and affordability for our market and tipping over into that of the league of extraordinary budgets. For the campus activities programmer, the thrill passes from us at CAM to you like an electric current jumping to the next link of a chain. The "next big thing" is here and Campus Activities Magazine has worked with Creative Artists Agency to bring you an absolute steal. Read on and git' you some aaahh-some...
We begin our interview via a shaky connection courtesy a free online conference call service with The Axis Of Awesome. "Aah, is that loudah?" comes a tentative Australian accent. "I'm just gonna talk into different pahts of the phone now "how about ovah here?" After confirming we can hear each other (even if shakily), introductions are made. As a writer, I had a little phonetic fun with expressing the Aussie in the quote above, but for my sake and yours, I'll stick to the Queen's English (give or take) from here, just run everything through your brain filter to sound Australian. Except for the editorial parts, those are me. I'm from South Carolina, so just insert the nearest hick stereotype accent here.
"That was Benny Davis, of the Axis of Awesome, and this is Jordan's voice, hopefully coming in loud and clear. If not loud, then hopefully at least clear. Right, I will stay in this position?"
"And this is Lee, third and final member?" Lee is cut off as Jordan breaks in, "Oh, you're face is way too close to mine."
I orally relate to the trio the mental image I have of them huddled around the phone close enough to kiss. The imagery is confirmed. "Yeah, pretty much...and we're on a bed too, mate. I'm very glad I brushed my teeth."
The interview is quickly devolving into a sort of bubbling witches brew of hilarity and nonsense which while simultaneously exciting and intoxicating, also leaves one with significant levels of dead brain cells.
It's like taking one fast talking smart mouth comedy type and...then finding two more just like him and putting them in a room together...where they all talk overlapping each other...well okay perhaps that wasn't a feat of editorial ingenuity and creativity, but at least I'm not losing anyone in a metaphorical vapor. (Did you see what I just did there?)
To try to keep some semblance of order, we first must attempt to figure out which of these clowns is which in this pandemonium of lightning fast quips and ADD. "Well, this is Jordan speaking, I am the lead singer and moreover pretty much the best one."
"Umm, that last point is debatable, because I am Benny, the musical talent of the band, many people have said that's because I'm not funny?" he says as I can't help but laugh at the perfect delivery of deadpan sarcasm in these introductions. "...and that [his lack of funniness] is also debatable, as you can tell by what I just said."
"Benny plays keyboards as well," quips Lee, "and he's been known to play the flute now and then too, isn't that right Benny?"
"How dare you," Benny cuts back, "that's pretty big coming from a guy who plays the kazoo."
"This is Lee, I play guitars, bassoon, triangle, of course kazoo, ah-thank you" I'm like the 'other' one. You know how you have to have three people for a trio? I am the third one, otherwise we wouldn't be a trio and this act just wouldn't work. These guys would get slightly more money, and that's just not fair." I suggest that perhaps the other two might need a scape goat at some point. "I am that goat," Lee says.
The funny thing (bring on the puns) about AoA is that while this is a band and a great music act, the show was born and bred in venues very different from ours stateside. They explain while comedy clubs in the U.S. are almost exclusively dedicated to spoken word standup with a comedy music act thrown in occasionally, in Australia what's defined as the comedy club market is really much more of a variety act forum. So, this band didn't cut their teeth on impressing musical connoisseurs, but folks who wanted to laugh.
"We are all from Sydney, Australia," Lee says "and we originally started in a knife fighting arena." "Yeah," Benny says. "I don't know if you have seen the clips from "Beat It," but those scenes are actually based on the story of us getting together. Jordan and I had our hands tied "what was it over, some fruit? Perhaps a stolen apple or something?"
"Actually, it was just the segment of a mandarin. It was really trivial, we were very aggressive back then." "I was just sort of in the wrong place at the wrong time really," Lee says. "Where did you think you were?" Benny asks laughing. "I thought I was headed to a gun fight, didn't realized I had crossed over into the knife fighting side of town."
"The real story," Jordan says, "is far less interesting. We all went to university together and worked comedy shows together, mostly improvised. We started a side project, which was this band and things blossomed and ballooned after a few things went viral on the Internet."
"We are still looking forward to the day when we can get back to the knife fighting really," Benny says wistfully, Lee agrees, "Yeah, I mean I have the scars, but memories only go so far. The crowds there are so exciting and cheer for blood and, we have blood to give." Benny adds, "We do still miss our original fourth member, however."
I ask around what time the band was originally formed. Without thinking even for a second, Lee replies "I'd say somewhere between 9 and 11PM. Is that what you're asking?" After a bit of clarification, it becomes known that the band has been together since September of 2006.
The band's wit and unique slant of humor is contagious and well-honed. "We mostly started gigging with comedy rooms," Jordan explains. "We did a lot of standup nights, improv nights, comedy festivals etc. We did a few music gigs but mostly it was comedy shows."
Lee explains the band's evolution from there. "It developed as we gigged. We'd go to a comedy festival for a month and be in the same room doing the same show every night. That's where the opportunities to meet promoters, bookers and get noticed in general was."
"The comedy scene in Australia is very different from the U.S.," Jordan says. "Variety nights are much more common and comedy clubs are set up for bands, jugglers or tumblers." "Or a unicycle rider," Benny pipes in. "Or a uni-corn," says Lee. "Also, there are those types of people that defy any genre or description, like the grinders. They wear a metal belt and take an angle grinder to make sparks shoot out of their crotch. It's quite rare to find that caliber of entertainment." I immediately reply that I want to go to Australia and they have a good laugh. "So do I," Jordan says sadly, "I want to see my mum!"
Despite their International ties, the U.S. campus market is a huge priority for the Axis Of Awesome.
"We want to do all of it. Our plans are for World domination?" Benny says, and sounds strangely like a twisted Austin Powers, despite the continental divide and a couple hundred years between the two cultures accents. "Our plans are to next come to your comedy college club thing," Lee says. "Specifically YOU who are reading this," Benny adds. "Or are listening to it, or are aware of its existence somehow, we are talking to you."
"We've done a lot of college gigs over the last two-month U.S. tour," Jordan says, "and we've really enjoyed them a lot. They have been some of the best gigs we've ever played. Really enthusiastic crowds who have had us play multiple encores, an action with which we are not accustomed and are quite flattered."
"Multiple." Benny says.
"That means more than one," Lee adds.
Jordan says, "It has been a lot of fun and the students have been great and really nice, even though they?re starting to make me feel old. I'm a mere 29, but I feel like an old man. But I can tolerate it, if only for the laughter."
"I'm only 25," Benny says. "and I feel just fine. Because they're all taller than me." The other two have a good laugh. "That was Benny, the short one." Lee says. "Write that down."
I tell the guys we have something in common, I'm 28 and 5'6" but I wasn't quite expecting the sudden explosion from Benny. "Oh well la-Dee-DA, look at you in your ivory tower with your extra 5 inches!" I comment 5'6" is still pretty short here in the United States of Professional Athletes, which doesn't help matters. "Well, how do you think I feel then?" Benny cries outraged. "This interview is over."
Once we all stop laughing we find out more about the show you can expect from AoA. Lee fills us in on the details. "Even though it is a musical act, we are definitely a comedy show and aim to have the audience laughing from start to finish. We play songs in a large range of genres from rock to boy bands to techno."
"Many people have compared us to other acts like Flight Of Concords," says Jordan. "I can see that in the fact that we are a very high energy act and like to have a lot of fun on stage."
"People have also compared us to Tenacious D," Benny says. "But unlike them we don't focus solely on rock, we do many genre parodies. We try to take a stab at every type of music on the planet and point out why they are funny."
It's well-crafted, clever and funny (their words) and its perfect for the campus market (mine). "we're actually just quoting what we've heard, its not arrogance or anything."
Capping things off, a key thing to note about this band is their incredible flexibility. Unlike many acts born from the comedy club world, this one can be completely flexible and PLAY CLEAN. You might get the impression from a few of their website videos that they are an R-rated act, but in fact they can do a completely clean set upon request and will even customize their show for their hosts. "I think my favorite thing about playing the colleges is that we can go to any one of them and make fun of the college next door and they'll go nuts! The best laughs we ever get are when we start ragging on their rivals, it brings the roof down. It's a really fun and very cheap way to get laughs," Benny says.
This is a band you want to see, talk to and hang out with. You will never again find The Axis Of Awesome near a price like the $4999 lock available for this act available only by mentioning Campus Activities Magazine® when you call Ari Levin at CAA by August 31st.
"We have a lot of fun. We make fun of each other," says Lee. "Well, me," Benny cuts in. "Yes, Benny" says Lee. "It's a fun show to watch and I think the audience sees us having a good time on stage and they have a good time too."
BOOK IT! For more information on bringing the Axis Of Awesome to your campus, contact Ari Levin at Creative Artists Agency at (424) 288-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Make sure you mention Campus Activities Magazine® to get your $4999 price lock by August 31st. For a digital online version of this story, go to campusactivitiesmagazine.com.
PLEASE NOTE: This act can play clean should that be a requirement for your event. Axis of Awesome?s Newest LP, Animal Vehicle, will be in stores and iTunes July 12.