Asylum Street Spankers
14th Annual Live Performance Album Nominee
10th Annual Gospel Album Winner
10th Annual Gospel Album Vox Pop Winner
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Record Label: Yellow Dog Records
Home Base: Austin, TX
Genre: acoustic everything
Category Entered: Gospel Album
Work Submitted: God’s Favorite Band , a live set of “agnostic gospel” mixing originals with traditional songs.
Label: Yellow Dog Records
Influences: Tom Waits, Howlin’ Wolf, Bessie Smith, Nina Simone, John Coltrane, Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams, Iggy Pop, David Bowie, GG Allin, Elvis Costello, Prince, Duke Ellington, Frank Sinatra, the Queers, Harry Nilsson
What’s the meaning of your band name? Asylum Street was the nickname of the street on which we began as buskers, a “Spanker” is old slang for a proficient musician.
Describe your nominated work: We’ve always included gospel music in our regular set and thought it would be fun to record an album of that side of our repertoire, so we did. It includes a range of spiritual music from the 19th century through post-punk and a couple of originals.
Did you use any unusual effects or instruments in this recording? There are zero effects or overdubs on this album.
Were there any happy accidents while in the studio, or did everything go as planned? This is a live record, full of accidents, happy and otherwise
Did fans help you fund this project? No
Who’s sitting in your audience? hippies, suburbanites, college kids & their Moms, anyone who likes amazing musicianship and singing, libertarians, leftist Christians, rednecks, stoners, drunks, Texas Republicans; we’re not kidding
What makes your fans unique? They are an incredibly diverse group and don’t strive to be unique – they are who they are and they like what they like
Are there any songs you wish you wrote? no
What artists are you listening to that would surprise your fans? Doubtful our fans would be surprised because we are famous for our eclecticism, but on the outer edge of that perhaps Fugazi, Gang of Four, The Cure, The Swans, The Walkmen… oh, they would definitely be surprised that we have a soft spot for Foreigner.
What is your dream show lineup? Hank Williams, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin.
What are your guilty pleasures on the road? sex, drugs, alcohol. Besides playing music, why else would we do what we do?
Any close calls or mishaps while on tour? the brakes on our old bus gave out while descending a mountain outside of Santa Cruz. The full tale is on “the Bus Story”, a track from the score to our Off-Broadway show, “What? And Give up Show Biz?”
Do you have any rituals before you go on stage? We unload the vans, set up the stage, check, eat, then play. And some of us get a little high.
Should music be free? no
How has digital affected your career? We don’t sell as many albums, physical or otherwise. We frankly think music is too easily available, causing listeners to flit about without delving deeply into any particular artist or standing still long enough to understand what they are hearing. One consequence is that fewer people have any sense of quality musicianship or songwriting. That has led to an epidemic of overplaying, oversinging, oversouling and overproduction.
Are digital singles vs. full albums the future of music? Probably singles, but we’re album people.
Finish this sentence: The music industry is… reaping what it’s sown after years of terrible artist development and shoddy treatment of its consumers.