Formed in 2017, AXIOM is a Birmingham-based instrumental progressive rock band. The band features 3 members: Josh Ainsworth (drums), Stuart Drinkwater (bass), and Zaid Crowe (guitar).
The band opened for Toska, Monuments, I The Mighty, SÜMER and played the main stage of HRH Prog Festival.
AXIOM are releasing their debut EP tomorrow. The idea behind the release was to capture the band’s live energy. The EP features 4 tracks: Slumber, Believe, Scared, and Serpentine. The music video for Believe premiered last week.
We talked to AXIOM about their debut EP, inspiration, music industry and advancing one’s music career.
What is Metathesis about? What inspired you to create it?
When we first started as a band we spent a long time finding our sound, writing and rewriting until we were happy. The EP is just the result of that process!
We spent a while playing and developing our material at shows and realized no one could hear us outside the live performance. After about 9 months of gigging and numerous requests for a release from audiences, it was about time we recorded something.
How did you come up with the title? Does it mean anything special?
Honestly, we were sitting in a car on the way to a show and it just happened. That’s how we came up with all our song titles, and it’s no different for the EP.
Metathesis is an elaborate term for syllables shifting in words over time, and them gaining new meaning or context as a result. That fits how our songs and ideas about the band shift and change over time until they crystalise.
Who helped you create the EP?
After performing at Birmingham’s O2 institute, we were approached by Wales-based producer Michael Jensen Després who arranged for us to use the renowned Long Wave studios. The EP was captured ‘live in the studio’ (us performing the songs together at the same time) over 24 hours before being mixed and mastered.
How did your sound change in this release, compared to your earlier music?
This has been our first formal release, and as a result has really been about solidifying and polishing our sound. Previous ‘releases’ were literally bedroom demos!
If you had to describe EP Metathesis in one word, what would it be?
How difficult was it to make Metathesis?
We really did struggle initially. We had reworked our songs to death, and we had several preconceptions going in about how best to record that just weren’t working out, the biggest being a traditional approach of one instrument being tracked at a time, in isolation.
Once we found Michael, these pains basically evaporated. We walked into the studio, set-up and played. Finding a producer that got what we were aiming for and willing to call us out on our stupid hangups was really the key that smoothed out the process.
You were created in 2017, what kept you from releasing an EP earlier?
Being a great live band has always been critically important to us. We wanted to get out in front of people and gauge how the material felt before commiting to a recording.
It just so happens that we ended up getting some incredible opportunities to play shows that we just couldn’t turn down, putting us in a cycle of revising songs we weren't happy with, before trying the changes out at the next gig. Metathesis has very much been made based on the demand from our live audiences asking for a way to listen to us after a show. Knowing that people wanted this was a big push for us.
What advice do you have for bands working on their first EP or album?
Demo the hell out of everything, then gig the hell out of everything!
Demoing means you can play things back and listen. Sounds dumb, but you can have alot more fun playing/performing music then you might be consuming it. If you want to release your music, it needs to be something want to hear over and over again - you need to like it that much yourself before assuming anyone else will!
Playing live means you can find out what the actual impact of your music feels like infront of people – are they dancing/headbanging/moshing? Are they clapping and enthusiastic at the end of songs? People will seek you out and share their thoughts at shows, especially the smaller ones - use that feedback!
Also, finding the right producer/engineer will do wonders.
For ‘Believe’ off Metathesis you’ve already released a music video – was it hard to come up with an idea and produce your very first MV? What’s the meaning behind the band members starting out playing toy-sized instruments in colorful, kid-like clothes and then moving on to real instruments and regular clothes?
As is typical with us, our initial idea was probably a bit too ambitious. We began speaking with a director and cinematographer and quickly realized we didn’t have the budget or expertise to achieve it. After stripping down the idea as much as we could, we ended up with the video as it is now.
The toy instruments and juvenile outfits at the start of the video kind of sums up how we’ve felt starting out as a band. The progression to regular clothes and real instruments is indicative of where we want to get to on this journey.
Also, toy instruments just look silly and we wanted to have fun with it – avoid the stereotypical ‘band in a warehouse’ first video kinda thing.
Most mainstream bands have vocals on their tracks, do you think the lack of a vocalist will affect your music’s popularity?
Ha! Firstly, we definitely wouldn’t ever consider ourselves to be mainstream.
A lack of vocals will absolutely affect its popularity in the broader context, but progressive instrumental music really has developed in its own right as a subgenre in the last few years. There are now entire festivals (Arctangent, Techfest, RADAR) dedicated to booking bands like ours and even major festivals like Download & Bloodstock featuring instrumental bands (Plini & Toska) on their stages.
With more aspiring musicians than ever before, that have access to music at a younger age, and as a result really developed tastes we’ve seen a plethora of bands spring up doing this with significant fan bases.
Do you plan to make a music video for another track off Metathesis?
Right now, we have no plans, but never say never!
What do you feel you are bringing to the music scene with your music that’s been lacking before?
A lot of modern instrumental/prog has leveraged things like synths and studio heavy production techniques, like drum replacement. We’re doing our best to work within and embrace the limitations of being a real, raw 3-piece. For us, this is resulting in an overall sound that’s ours, and that people seem to be finding fresh and exciting.
What challenges would you say the music industry now presents to up-and-coming musicians?
With regard to technology and the music industry, it’s a double-edged sword.
Being able to reach a target audience through various social channels, both online and in real life, is absolutely crucial. Every single person that catches wind of us has the potential to become a fan, student (our guitarist teaches guitar, our drummer is considering starting to), advocate (many of our followers have helped us secure live shows) or collaborator.
What is the mindset and mentality that an artist should concentrate on in terms of the business performance of their respective careers, considering the specifics of the music industry?
Be prepared to work hard, and make sure that hard work is what you want. Think carefully about the opportunities you go after, how hard and why you are doing it.
Meet your commitments. Canceling on shows on the day (or ever, really) without a life or death situation is not going to cut it.
What is the toughest lesson that the music industry taught you?
You get nothing for free.
What do you think is the business skill that most of the artists are lacking the most nowadays?
Time management. There are so many things that go into being a successful musician and keeping on top of them is very important.
How do you expand and retain your fan base? What should artists do to retain their fans?
Playing live. Engaging with appropriate social media channels. Releasing content (demos, interviews, music videos). Sharing content into things like niche Facebook groups. Talk to your fans: ask them questions, discuss relevant topics and shared interests.
What is the one thing that every musician should never forget and should always keep on top of their head?
Leave your ego at the door, and never forget why started out in music to being with. Keeping close to that starting point will keep you grounded and doing things for the right reasons.
Discuss the challenges and the opportunities in terms of fan engagement, retention and growth that you – as a participant in the music business – are facing at the moment.
The big challenge is maintaining momentum. Keeping a steady stream of dialogue/storytelling running without spamming people, or diluting what you can be difficult at times. The opportunity is that there’s an entire ecosystem of fans, bloggers, playlist owners, promoters, streamers – you name it, are all there. It’s really just a case of trying to get their attention.
Follow AXIOM music, news and shows in their official Show4me Artist club!