Somojo Magazine

Alice Sweet Alice

2008 – First Light, LP
2008 – Glass Houses, Holiday Single
2009 – Moloko & Ultraviolence, LP
2010 – ASA Live in Kansas City, EP
2010 – Doesn’t Matter, Single

Would you mind introducing yourselves and telling us what instruments you play?
Scott Martinez (SM):  I can speak for everyone here,
Billy Brown (BB):  plays drums and sings background on some songs;
Alan Hicks (AH):  plays guitar;
Ali Kat (AK): sings, plays piano and does synths and noise;
and myself (SM), I sing and play bass and some guitar.

How long has the current band line up been together?
Since August, 2009 when we held tryouts and Billy Brown and Alan Hicks joined Scott and Ali Kat.

How would you describe your music to someone who hasn’t yet heard you?
Melodic, atmospheric, dynamic with lots of light and shade. Sometimes it can be very light and moody, sometimes aggressive and loud.  We call it “Electropostpunkadelic”, That's just a silly word for the different influences our music takes from. Some of our music is interlaced with arpeggiated synths, some has the punch and energy of double-kick drums, screaming guitars, and some has pretty strings, lush orchestral movements and pretty piano. Some of us grew up in the 80's and early 90's and so some of that post-punk influence is there, both American and European. Of course, '60s and '70s rock has always been something we've all listened to, so it can't help but appear in our music, with some of the Hammond organ and Vox piano sounds we use."

What have you been up to recently?
BB:  We have been writing and recording some new songs and preparing the new live CD for its journey to our fans.
AK:  Playing tooth fairy, baseball coach, and rocker mom…I tend to be busy.
SM:  I just finished mixing and mastering ASA’s 3rd album, “ASA Live in Kansas City”, that and the normal day-to-day running of the record company and communicating with other Cauldron Soundwerx acts.  Ali Kat and I also just went into the studio with Auternus to watch and listen to them record their upcoming album.

What can your fans look forward to in the next 12 months?
BB:  Hopefully a fresh batch of new songs and a fairly extensive ASA tour.
SM:  No, we’ll definitely be releasing a new studio album of material, and also have a single for a new song entitled “Doesn’t Matter” we’re putting out probably on July 4th weekend, just after our album comes out.  We’re currently booking a regional tour, and we’d LOVE to do an overseas tour in mid- to late-2011.

How did you meet each other?
BB:  In my case I answered an ad that the band had placed looking for a drummer. They also needed a guitarist so I introduced them to my long time friend and musical cohort Alan Hicks.
SM:  I started the band, and I found Ali Kat on a website called Bandmix when I was looking for a female vocalist.  I struck gold!!

What were your first music making experiences?
BB:  My first paying gig was with a band called “Airraid” when I was 18 years old. We were pretty bad but it was very exciting. I gave up Rush tickets to play the gig.
AK:  Piano recitals as a child age 7, followed by talent shows for elementary school dressed up like Sonny & Cher and sang “I got you babe” with a friend. I was Cher (first and only time my mom allowed me to wear a mini skirt and knee high boots!)
SM:  I was in a crunchy punk band in the early ‘80’s and started playing Sex Pistols covers.  My band was called “Death Circus”, and we had a couple originals and we did a couple covers (I think “Live Fast Die Young by the Circle Jerks, and “Louie Louie” mixed with X’s “Wild Thing”).  We played 1 show where we had our singer’s mom drop us off and scram.  We were like 13!  We sucked, but the audience loved us!!

Are you self-taught or did you have lessons?
BB: “I am completely self taught on the drums.”
AH:  “Self-taught”
AK:  “I took piano lessons at age 5 to 7 where I learned the basics, but I have forgotten many of the lessons taught.  I’d say I’m probably 25% learned, and 75% self taught. 
SM:  “I took some basic guitar lessons when I was like 12, and then taught myself bass by listening to my favorite albums as a teenager.  Then it’s just been school of hard knocks ever since.”

What is your current equipment?
BB:  Pearl Drums and Zildjian Cymbals
AH:  LTD and  Ibanez guitars Line6 amps
AK:  I play a Studiologic 88 key Midi controller working through my Roland Fantom XR which I LOVE, and I have a Roland Edirol UAFX preamp and AT4040 condensor mic I use for vocal recording. 
SM:  My main bass is an Ibanez Soundgear SR900 (I’ve always used Ibanez), and my bass head is a vintage Peavey Mark IV from 1978 which I play through a Peavey 2x15 cabinet.  I bought the cab brand new and the head used back in 1988!  I also use Monster bass cables, ElectroHarmonix and Boss pedals.

If you had an unlimited equipment budget what would be on your shopping list?

BB:  More drums,, electric drums, recording equipment, a juicer, Jacuzzi, etc...:)
AK:  I’m pretty happy with the equipment I have,  I have no idea…but I’m sure I could find plenty of purchases to make once I started looking!  I’d like to have some real auxillary instruments such as xylophone, theramin, chimes, etc…..I think that would be awesome.
SM:  I really want a Fender Jaguar guitar from the ‘60’s; it’s my dream.  I also want a full rack system of effects for voice and instruments, controlled by a ROCKTRON Midi foot controller (similar to Billy Corgan’s setup).

Alice Sweet Alice

Do you use the same equipment live as you do when in a studio?
We all do!

Do you have a set routine when writing and recording or does it depend on each track and the inspiration?
BB:  For me it depends. I will sit at the piano and see what comes. If I come up with something really cool then I will go to our studio and lay it down real quick, then we go back to it later and finish it. I also jot down lyrical ideas when they come to me and then later try come up with a complete song idea.
AK:  Inspiration can come from so many places and in so many ways, there is usually no rhyme or reason to why a song begins.  I’m pretty random.
SM:  My inspiration is sporadic, that’s why it’s so nice to have our new studio setup.  I can run downstairs at any time and put a quick idea down.  I get it sometimes from reading, conversation, and most importantly - dreams.  I dream songs a lot!  In fact, Great White Lie on Moloko & Ultraviolence started as a dream.

Which software/recording process do you use?
SM: I’ll answer this because I’m the band’s engineer!!  LOL.  I’ve been using Cakewalk since the early ‘90’s when it was Cakewalk Pro Audio.  I now have SONAR 8.5 and in our studio we have two Focusrite Sapphire Pro 40’s for audio interfaces, which means we can record 16 tracks at once.  This is great because to record Billy alone it takes 11 tracks!!

Would you sign with a major record company?
BB:  Sure.
AK:  Only if they would allow us to play what we love, how we love it…no formulas involved.
SM:  It wouldn’t be something I’d go after, that’s for sure.  The offer would have to be one we couldn’t refuse because it was too good to be true.  Personally, I’m happy being a DIY band and having our own label!!  That was the plan from the beginning anyway.

Do you have any new recordings planned?
BB:  Yes we do. Working on new songs right now.
SM:  Always.  Since our rehearsal space is also our recording studio; it’s just TOO easy now!!

How much involvement do you have with the arranging and production of the songs when recording?
BB: Quite a bit. None of us are shy about expressing our ideas and opinions.
AK:  I have written the songs that I sing on both albums. But, I only came up with basic arrangements with lyrics and Scott turned them into more with his creative ideas.
SM:  In Indian, there is a term:  “Hath ki bat”, meaning “one’s touch”.  Basically, nothing leaves ASA headquarters without me giving it MY “Hath ki bat”.  That having been said, I work with a great bunch of musicians, and I’m lucky.

Is the production side of things something you’d like to get involved more in the future, maybe working with other artists?
BB: Yes I would. I think I have a pretty good ear for good songs and arrangements. Not very experienced with the technical side.  I would need a good engineer with me.
AK:  We already do.
SM:  Yes, that’s been one of those fortuitous happenings as a result of our delving into the world as we have.  We’ve met some very great and talented people and groups and hope to meet many more!  That’s another reason we’ve built a studio, so we can invite them “home!”

Do you find the process of recording enjoyable and does it get easier the more you do?
BB:  I find it very enjoyable when it is going well and very boring and frustrating when it is not. It’s real easy when you are prepared and relaxed.
AK:  I have a perfectionist mind yet I’m far from perfect, so it is never a wonderful experience for me, but I still find enjoyment in it no doubt.  I just have trouble pleasing myself in the process!
SM:  As long as the equipment is working as it should.  There’s nothing worse than hitches, so the technical side of it can be a bit frustrating sometimes.  BUT, that having been said, I’m in the studio pretty much when I’m not either at my day job, sleeping, or working on the label.  I love the ENTIRE process.

Do you try to capture your ‘live’ sound on recordings or do you think that the ‘live’ sound and recorded sound should be different experiences for your fans?
SM:  For ASA, we try to do what’s best for the song.  But, we know we’re going to be playing them live at some point, and I’ve always enjoyed  the energy that recordings get from that type of treatment.  It’s impossible to fake the live sound, so we don’t.  We do that for the same reason we don’t use FAKE instruments.  We just try to reproduce our REAL instruments so they sound as good as we can possibly make them sound (including our voices) to play our parts well and record when we’re well-rehearsed, and let the song writing take care of the rest.

Do you any favourite tracks from your album?
BB:  From Moloko And Ultraviolence I really like Flight Of Tonight and from First Light I really dig Broken Heart Of A Winter Night
AK:  I love Legends of the Po
SM:  Ahhh!  I hate this question.  They’re all so different to me and mean so many different things and invoke so many different feelings.  Impossible to answer for me.

Who are the main songwriters for the band?
We all take part in putting out ideas, though the songs that have made ASA who they are were composed by Scott and Ali Kat first.
BB:  Scott and Ali but me and Alan are trying to catch up.

Do you have a method for writing songs? (lyrics first, music first, etc)
BB:  I usually start with music first but sometimes a lyrical idea will come first.
AK:  No method, just a bunch of randomness, and whatever pleases my mind at the moment.
SM:  I just try to write songs that don’t suck!  LOL.  None of it’s easy for me.

Do you write songs only about personal experiences?
BB:  Usually. It is always easier to write about what you know or are feeling.
AK:  Sure, but never to the full extent.  I tend to get ideas or a line from personal experience and build from it.
SM:  I don’t write love songs.  That’s my ONLY restriction.  Sorry Macca!

Alice Sweet Alice

Do you find song writing easy or difficult?
BB:  Both. I have songs that have just come to me out of thin air and others I work and rework for ages.
AK:  Depends, the more I do it, the easier it is.
SM:  Again, none of it’s easy.  But I do have to say it’s “easy” if I’m seriously inspired.  It’s just hard to get into “the zone” for me most days.  I hate that.

Is there anyone who you would like to collaborate with on writing songs or performing?
BB:  Dv  and Schmoadie from the Messerschmitt Twins. Actually I am supposed to lay down some drum tracks for them in near future.
SM:  We’re collaborating with a very talented lady named Heather Downing on the redo of our song “Fallen Angel”.  So that’s a first.  I have a dream of collaborating with Billy Corgan and Butch Vig.  I’d also like to work with Tom Waits a bit.  Maybe just have a cup of coffee with him, actually!  I’d love to pick Robin Guthrie’s brain some, and plink around with Steven Severin a bit.  I’d love to have Kate Bush in the studio as well.  Love her.  I’ve also developed a fascination with Linda Strawberry.  God, I really could go on.

Who are your favourite songwriters?
BB:  Pete Townshend, Freddie Mercury, Bruce Cockburn, Lennon and McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, Glen Tilbrook and Chris Difford, Billy Joel. The list is endless.
SM:  Tough tough.  I think Paul McCartney can say more in 2-3 minutes than most artists can in a rock opera!  I’m a huge fan of Peter Gabriel.  I love Tom Waits too.  The Wolfgang Press has captured my imagination in the past, as have Dead Can Dance and lots of the 4AD bands.  I’m liking Jack White more these days, and I’ve been a fan of Danny Elfman of Oingo Boingo for decades.

Which countries have you gigged in?
BB:  Only in the USA.  I hope that changes in the near future.
SM:  Only the USA.  That WILL change.

Which countries would be at the top of your list to tour?
BB:  England
SM:  England, France, Holland, Poland, Bulgaria, Russia, China, Australia for starters.

Who would you like to tour with?
BB:  The Messerschmitt Twins.
SM:  Auternus from Cauldron Soundwerx, and a band from the UK called The Rum Circus.  God I love them.  R.D.S.K. and Black Spring Rising from Cauldron would be a blast as well!!  Here’s to hoping that happens soon!!

How do you promote your music and get your music out to new fans?
BB:  Through playing live and networking through the internet.
SM:  What Billy says, with the addition of our newest plan of sending out a compilation CD to terrestrial radio.  We try to make friends with bands in different areas too; it’s important to network and help each other!  If you don’t, who will?  It’s not a damn competition.   There’s plenty for everybody.  I mean, how many bands do YOU like?

Do you use any websites like ‘Reverbnation’ or ‘Soundclick’?
Yes we do.  AND SOMOJO!!

Do you think such sites and the internet are good tools for independent and unsigned artists?
BB:  Yes.
SM:  I-N-V-A-L-U-A-B-L-E

With all the various websites out there for independent and unsigned artists, is there still something that is missing from them that you think would benefit the lesser-known artists?
SM:  Just as SOMOJO has done:  more oversight.  There is too much over-saturation out there.  There needs to be more websites that have certain, I don’t know, “qualifications?” that need to be met before you can post a profile.  Of course, there will always be the “fly-by-night” ones out there for bands that are trying to get started.  Those have their place too and they help bands discover themselves and find out if maybe what they’re doing generates interest.  But for ALL of the music sites to be that way is a little daunting for consumers; it is too hard for them to filter through the serious from the hobbyist and so it’s easy for the serious and talented to get buried in a universe of noise.

How do you relax?
BB:  I like to read mystery novels, watch movies, play with my dogs, play tennis, watch baseball or football.
AK:  I’m a busy body, but when I do find the chance I like to sit down with a cup of hot tea and read a book, or sit in the studio and play piano freely. Those are forms of therapy for me.
SM:  I’m a chronic napper!  LOL.  No, but I am an avid reader – I especially enjoy historical fiction and non-fiction.  I do enjoy suspense novels as well.  Of course, I find making music very relaxing in a strange sort of way as well!  I do love to play with the dogs, sit home and eat home cooked meals and spend time with family.  Sometimes we like to watch movies, especially SCI FI.  I really enjoyed the most recent Star Trek movie (yes, I’m a Trekkie and a Star Wars nut) and “Avatar”.  Loved it.  I DO NOT watch TV. 

Have you ever entered any ‘battle of the bands’ competitions?
BB:  Not with this band but I have done it plenty of times.
AK:  No way.   I have attended a few local competitions and felt as if they are mainly a popularity contest…who brings the most friends wins. Didn’t seem to be about the performance itself.  Not interested personally.
SM:  Never have, never will.

What's your best/worst experience at a gig?
BB:  My best experience is hard to pin down to one gig. I have lots of great experiences. My worst is easy. I played a show where the soundman supplied by the venue was extremely late and then was very abusive to the band.
AK:  Worst was when I was in a cover band playing private parties watching some ladies dancing in ways that shouldn’t be allowed in their condition.   Best experience is yet to come.  I look forward to each one more than the last.   I love them all….performing makes me happy.
SM:  Worst was most recently at the gig we recorded our LIVE album at!!  It took like 45 minutes for those sound guys to get us set up!!  We were standing on stage going, “uh, WTF?!”  By then, it was like after midnight, and we were all ready to get the hell outta there – BEFORE we played.  Talk about Energy Vampires!  We’re lucky we got any good material at all from that gig.

Do you get nervous before a gig? How do you calm down?
BB:  I don’t get nervous, just anxious to get playing. I hate waiting to play.
AK:  I’d say I get anxious and hyper, but once we start playing my heart rate tends to calm down a bit.
SM:  I get pumped.  I’m a pacer.  I guess I’m sorta like a boxer getting ready for a fight!!  Ha hah.  I don’t calm down until we’re broken down.  I don’t want to!

What are your day jobs if you have them?
BB:  I work at a law firm.
AK:  I am a Customer Service Rep.
SM:  I’m a Chef.

Would you like to be full time working musicians or are you happy with things as they are?
BB:  I would love to do this full time.
AK:  I think full time would be nice so long as it didn’t interfere with my parenting.
SM:  I WILL be doing this full time within a year.

Has your music been used on any film soundtracks?
BB:  Me and Alan composed the entire soundtrack to a horror movie called Ravage just prior to joining ASA.
SM:  We just did something with Ragearts in the UK, a film called “Scent of Evil”.  They used “These Old Shoes” in the movie.

Is it something you’d like to get involved in if the opportunity came along?
BB:  We are working on making that happen.
SM:  If the opportunity doesn’t come along, we’ll either find one or make one.

Is there anything you'd like to add?
BB:  Thank you very much for playing our music and shining some light on our band.
SM:  We’d love for everyone reading this to check out our newest album “ASA Live in Kansas City”.  Please visit our website (, and while you’re there, you can download BOTH of our previous releases for FREE.  We’d also LOVE to have you DEMAND us at any of the widgets on our Myspace, Cauldron Soundwerx websites, or our main website above.  We need your help in deciding where we’re going to play.  The more that DEMAND us in your area, the better chances we’ll choose a theatre near you!  Please help with this, and enjoy the free music!  Of course, if you can help us out by paying for a song here and there, or better yet, get an album.  The more that help us, the sooner we’ll be able to afford to come over!

Thanks, Kevin for everything you do at SOMOJO!


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