Access Control with Mark St. John

TED AXE: Riffs That Kill!

Riffs that kill combined with a look that thrills are a no better way to describe Ted Axe. A seasoned Veteran who has trekked the world and accumulated an outstanding list of accomplishments in the process that will make even the harshest of Critics say “wow!”. After years of fronting such bands as The Action -along with Sister Hyde, Ted has unleashed his new album entitled “Sex Horror Violence” as a solo artist -yet backed up by a smash-mouth Band of musical brilliance comprised of Marcel La Fleur (lead guitar), RC Ricci (bass), Kurt Witting (rhythm guitar), and Steffen Ford (drums).

“The Count of Rock” had the privilege of getting in touch with “The Axe Man” himself who was more than enthusiastic about discussing his past, present -and incredibly bright future with the Readers of Ball-Buster Music!

Mark St. John: How does your new album “Sex Horror Violence” compare to your past work in The Action & Sister Hyde?

Ted Axe: Good question! My new album recorded at an analog studio at my Mate’s house in Toronto’s east-end. He asked me to come by and record new songs as an acid-test for the newly built studio. The Producer is someone I have worked with before named Rob Sanzo (Sum 41 & Danko Jones). This collection of songs became “Sex Horror Violence,” and I played all the instruments on it except drums -although I did play them on the track “Heaven.” The songs reflect my life at that time, so it is autobiographical.

The album was mastered in New Mexico by my Friend, Jack Atlantis and there are a couple of Record Labels interested so far! The Action songs were my first, and they were more Punk oriented while Sister Hyde mined the Glam sound of the Sunset Strip. The songs on the new album are dark while retaining my UK Glitter Rock and early Punk influences. I dub my genre “Alt-Glam.”  My music can be purchased at People seem to be relating to it, and you can also hear it on Spotify.

MSJ: When I first saw you perform here in Toronto last February at The Opera House, I was extremely impressed with your performance -but wholly blown away immediately after to discover that was your very first gig with your current line-up! One gets the impression as though you’ve been playing together for years. How would you describe the chemistry between yourself and the rest of your Band Mates?

TA: Cheers, Mark! We are all on the same page musically, and while we don’t live together in the same house, we understand the importance of how The Beatles and Kiss seemed to live in a comic strip house all together all the time. I interact with my Band Mates like Freddie Mercury used to do. Chemistry is everything, and we are all on the same page if not the same line!

MSJ: You’ve lived and performed in numerous cities throughout North America. Are there any similarities or differences between the music scenes in Toronto and Ottawa compared to those in Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Mexico?

TA: I grew up in Ottawa, Ontario -forging a Punk scene where there was no scene whatsoever before. The Action became known in that City by hitting the news media on the head with Punk. We were dubbed “Ottawa’s first Punk Band” at a time when Punk was something only happening in the UK or New York. I then became the Malcolm McLaren (Sex Pistols manager) of Ottawa. I learned how controversy could work for you and made sure that my Band was blamed for any trouble and that the trouble was blown up out of all proportion.

For twelve years I lived in Hollywood and joined the ranks of the 400,000 Bands trying to get known there. The Los Angeles music scene was transitioning from Glam to Alternative at that time, and it was very saturated. To get a show on a weekend night would have been a miracle and it was like a parking lot full of cars burning rubber tires; spinning but going nowhere. I then moved to Vancouver, British Columbia for a year but could not get a Band together as I was looking for clean-shaven dudes and everyone there had a beard! Plus, they were all so stoned that they could not remember the songs from week to week! (laughter). Next was Seattle, Washington, and I lived there for nine years. The Grunge scene had just ended and having a Glam Band like Sister Hyde. There was like finding a raised toilet seat in The Vatican! It just didn’t happen. Toronto is in danger of losing whatever scene it had because of the mass closings of live music venues. If a music scene is supposed to be supportive, then the one in Toronto is not. Let’s face it. This City eats its own. You have to be from somewhere else like London or New York to get anyone excited here. I am going to change that! Ted Axe does not look or sound like a local band.

MSJ: I’ve noticed you are very active on social media. How has Ted Axe benefited from the internet?

Ted Axe Logo and Ted Axe

TA: We have 3000 likes on Facebook. So far and counting. I nurture my Band site together with my personal page, which is almost 100% female and has 5000 friends. Women today are looking for a mystery, romance, and glamour, and I happen to fit the description. In a sea of bland and homogenized Bands and Singers who look like they should be working at a Grocery store’s check out line, Ted Axe stands out. Women today also want sensitivity — a man who likes animals and writes poetry. I am a former animal rescuer and was blessed to have rescued over 100 stray dogs in LA one dog at a time in my car and found them all homes. I like writing poetry off the cuff as a writing exercise as captions for my pictures on Facebook. My Facebook fan-base translates into album sales and concert tickets. I am in the process of focussing more on my Instagram-@ted-axe, Twitter, and YouTube accounts. I also found my bandmates on Facebook and get all my interviews and contacts from internet resources, not to mention all my world-wide radio play! But the likes thing is important because that’s the very first thing someone in the Music Industry will look at; “How many likes does this Band have?”

MSJ: Your paintings are equally mind-blowing as your music! Is your artwork currently or will be made available in a Public Gallery for either viewing or purchase?

TA: Thank you very much, Mark! I am drawing on Mondays and Wednesdays at life-drawing workshops because I like to draw. I love creating! I paint using acrylic, but I want to start doing mainly oils this summer. I have been lucky enough to have my own style. Personally, I am very influenced by the Italians, and I even draw at The National Art Gallery sketching figures and faces from the great 16th century Italian Artists. I went to the same school Picasso attended in Malaga, Spain, and I even studied art in Mexico where my Father was its Canadian Ambassador. Funny you should ask regarding my art being available online as I am currently working on a new website which will have all my artwork for sale. I love art because like music, it means something different to everyone.

MSJ: What’s the response been like to the video for “Get Out Of Rehab”?

TA: Fantastic! It’s just me and a mirror yet it is getting a bunch of views which I like. It is black and white and avoids the usual cliché of videos like having to have a model in your video. People spend far too much money on videos when in fact they should be putting more time into getting the hits. The most expensive vid will sit on YouTube with no views if it’s not pushed. I just shot a new video for my song “Death Us Do Part” off my new album “about the pitfalls of marriage. With scenes shot in a graveyard this past spring, it’s both beautiful and scary.

MSJ: Any plans for a tour in the works?

TA: All my Band Members perform in other Groups, which makes booking a tour challenging -unless the adequate funding is there. It is costly to tour in Canada and the United States. Right now, I am building a local following in Toronto and focused on getting our price met here first. My goal is to tour Europe and Asia. Europe is not as hip-hop obsessed as here, and there is a far greater appreciation of rock. Asia? …well, Japan loves anything with make-up, and I know they will dig Ted Axe since I wear more make-up than Cher half the time!

MSJ: Let’s discuss how you became involved with the play “Four Chords And A Gun.” Were you always a fan of The Ramones?

TA: The Action opened for the North American debut performances of The Stranglers, and we were chosen to tour with The Ramones back in the day. I went to see the play on its opening night and spoke with the Promoter. I got a choice of which performance to sing at, and I selected closing night. I sang “I Wanna Be Sedated” with the Band and people dug it. I am authentic. The Ramones have influenced everyone. When I wrote songs in The Action, I used to use their second verse same as the first method. It was kind of comical -but it worked! It was great to have been involved with the play. I was an extra in Hollywood when I lived there and got to be in Batman and some other cool movies.

MSJ: So, where does Ted Axe go from here?

TA: I have some shows coming up that I would love to see all your Readers on! August 22nd at Cherry Cola’s, & August 25th at The Rockpile -both here in Toronto. We are in St Catharines, Ontario for Halloween and I am back at The Rockpile for a November 2nd Halloween show, topped off with a New Year’s Eve bash which is soon to be announced. My goal is to be signed to a recording contract by this time next year. You need to understand that your art -regardless of whatever form it may take, is not just a way to make a living. It is your purpose!

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