Asylums’ new record is a testament to how vital art can be in times of turmoil, and how it can add so much more colour to this already colourful life.
Asylums have just released their new album ‘Signs Of Life’ via Cool Thing Records.
A bright, breezy collection of beautifully rousing and deeply thoughtful indie-rock belters, it’s a record that feels as much a summation of where the band are right now as much as the rest of the world. Through the uncertainty and fear of the last few years, the band have looked to the things in life that really matter, and applied them to a set of songs that are as inspiring as they are emotionally overwhelming.
It’s a wonderful body of work to be able to pull out of the darkness.
We had a quick chat with vocalist Luke Branch all about the making of the record…
What was your initial vision for ‘Signs Of Life’, and how would you say that it shifted as more and more of it came to life?
“The circumstances we found ourselves in due to the pandemic were certainly at play during the inception of this album. The future was – and to a degree still is – uncertain in regards to live performance so with that in mind, we took influence from bands and artists throughout history who had chosen to take a live hiatus and focus more on studio work and visual presentation.
“I was thinking a lot about R.E.M. early on in development and specifically the period in which they made ‘Out Of Time’ and ‘Automatic For The People’, John Lennon around the time of ‘Imagine’ and Prince around the time of ‘Sign Of The Times’.
“We wanted to make a record that was very much a studio record designed to be listened to in full – an album which extended our musical parameters by adding new sounds such as strings, mellotron, piano etc – this was partially due to not wanting to repeat the nature of our previous album ‘Genetic Cabaret’ which we made with Steve Albini and was a very raw and true representation of our sound which we had a great time making.
“The intention this time was to make a diverse record with an uplifting quality – I think we achieved that but listening now it’s done the album is also incredibly reflective and sad at times…..a shift which only manifested when the final lyrics were added.”
What did making this record teach you, both on a professional level and a personal and emotional level?
“On a personal level, it taught me that, more than ever, creating art is an essential requirement for a happy life. It’s who I am at my core, and it’s not likely to change. My Nan passed away during the making of the album, but when she asked me what I wanted to be as a child, I replied, ‘An artist”. Making ‘Signs of Life’ against all the odds was a tonic for the soul during such difficult times and brought a lot of joy through expression and collaboration.
“Professionally, I’d say that it proved that Asylums can do a lot more musically as a unit than perhaps we even realised.”
What has it meant to have Asylums as a part of your life throughout this period?
“My life in the band has felt like a welcome friend walking beside me during a turbulent period, personally. I can’t deny that I have had long periods of depression and exhaustion along the way. Still, whenever I play music, write music or record music, it lifts my spirits and provides a beautiful focus and escape to whatever is going on. Jazz, Henry and Michael are not just band members in my life – they are my best friends, and they inspire me to keep writing songs and coming up with ideas for us to explore together and have adventures with.”
What excites you the most about the future, especially with this collection of songs under your belt?
“Many things excite me about the future, and there are also lots that worry me too – but I meditate every day and try to channel positive energy. In regard to music and the band – I think this experience/album has highlighted each member’s creative skills more than ever and empowered us to believe that we can create very different kinds of music together in the future. Our goal has always been to make good records that are part of a larger body of work we are proud of. I want to keep adding to that and perhaps go even further with experimentation and visual presentation.”