Axis Of Awesome: The axis most awesome returns
By Chris Cooke | Published on Wednesday 6 August 2014
Axis Of Awesome are Fringe legends, though only one third of the Fringe’s own rock band was at the Edinburgh Festival last year, with Jordan and Lee sitting it out. But they’re back with a brand new show called ‘Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas’.
Though if you ask them nicely they may also perform some of the comedy hits that have garnered them over 60 million YouTube views, including the crowd-pleasing ‘Four Chords’. We locked all three of the Axis in Gilded Balloon’s Loft Bar and fired some questions at them.
CC: So, welcome back to the Fringe. Presumably Lee and Jordan have letters from their mums to explain their absences last year?
Benny: Jordan was busy dealing with an infant child last year. Lee has no excuses… his mother has shunned him.
CC: Given that we’ve somehow never interviewed you guys before, let’s start at the start. How did the Axis first come together?
Jordan: We all auditioned separately for ‘The X-Factor’ but Simon Cowell said we weren’t good enough individually. So he suggested we form a band, and now three number-one albums, seven world tours and millions of pounds later, here we are!
CC: Hmm, I think that might be someone else’s biog. As I remember it, your 2008 ‘Comeback Spectacular’ here in Edinburgh sort of kicked things off for you guys. Is that right?
Jordan: Yeah, maybe that’s it. We were in the Sportmans Room in the bottom of the Gilded Balloon. We’ve got so many great memories from that year. We were kind enough to give up-and-coming young comedian Stephen K Amos a leg-up by being the houseband for his ‘Late Night Talk Show’. And John Bishop rescued us from a crazy drunk punter before our first ever ‘Late N Live’. We had a lot more hair back then too.
CC: I think it was around about then that ‘Four Chords’ went crazy viral on the net. Presumably people still always ask you to do that one? Do you mind?
Lee: It was somewhere between our first and second Fringes that ‘Four Chords’ caught on via the electric internet, so late 2008 I think. We still perform it live, but it’s very very different to the first recording of it. We’re at peace with the fact that people want to hear it live. It’s still a lot of fun to perform and it solves the tricky problem of how to end our show.
CC: Has Planet Pop provided any new songs to be added to the ‘Four Chords’ hall of fame?
Benny: Absolutely, they’ve been very accommodating. Without giving too much away, a certain Oscar-winning chilly Disney musical number fits the progression, as does some Imagine Dragons, Adele and the charming Miley Cyrus.
CC: What can we expect from ‘Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas’?
Lee: We have a big banner that features fire and lightning. We have a keyboard, two guitars, a jug, a couple of cool hats, some radical dancing, a Benny, a fake beard, lots of awesome lights and a bunch of new songs. But don’t worry, we also feature some classics from the internets that people wanna hear in the flesh. Oh, and we have lots of flesh.
CC: When you put together a new show, how much is new material, and how much brings together songs you’ve been playing out and about for a while?
Benny: We had a very busy schedule leading up to the writing of this show; a regional tour of Australia, we filmed a documentary for Earth Hour at the Great Barrier Reef, we’ve filmed two comedy series for the internet.com. Check our YouTube channel for those by the way, the second one is starting soon and it’s over 30 different videos.
Jordan: So we wrote the show just before the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in April, and have been polishing it up there and in Sydney before bringing it over here. The new songs in this show are all super-new, but many of them are ideas we’ve had kicking around for a while. And we have a whole section of the show about Lee’s Nintendo-Wii Fit related injury that he’d rather we didn’t mention.
CC: I was talking about you guys on Twitter, and one of our readers said they really enjoyed your show. So I suggested they ask you a question, and here it is: ‘If you could be a colourful animal, what combo would you be’?
Benny: A green giraffe. Taller and camouflaged.
Jordan: A bat mixed with a wolf, mixed with a scorpion. The colour of nightmares.
Lee: A wet couch.
CC: I think that question was designed to force me to plug their Assembly Roxy show ‘Red Tap/Blue Tiger’ in your interview. I feel bad about that. Is there any other interview we might be doing this Festival that you’d like me to gatecrash with a plug for your show?
Lee: Yes, please gatecrash an interview with Steen Raskopoulos for his show ‘I’m Wearing Two Suits Because I Mean Business’ at the Underbelly. Preferably with a plug for Steen Raskopoulos for his show ‘I’m Wearing Two Suits Because I Mean Business’ at the Underbelly.
CC: And finally, my personal guitar skills never really progressed past two chords – G and E minor. Have you got any songs I can play with just those?
Lee: Absolutely, with those two chords you’ll be able to master Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, Van Halen’s ‘Hot for Teacher’ and the entire Rachmaninov catalogue.
‘The Axis of Awesome: Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas’ was performed at the Gilded Balloon at Edinburgh Festival 2014.
Photo: David P Scott