A John Hardman collaboration with rock band ASONO.
Reported in June 2005:
The manager of a band from Wokingham who have reached the final of an international competition says they could be on the brink of stardom.
As reported last week in The Beat, Asono – a four-piece rock band who formed at Bearwood College in 2003 – took on seven other acts at the semi-final of the London leg of the Emergenza competition on Sunday to secure one of two places in the final.
Dubbed as the number one unsigned live band event, Emergenza takes place all over the world and thousands of hopefuls take part in heats.
Ben Ross, Asono’s manager since his younger brother Jonny became the lead singer, told The Beat about the band's journey and their hopes for the future.
The 26-year-old said: “They were advertising for unsigned bands in the NME and we decided to enter it and see what happened.
“I think around 1,500 bands entered from this country and it goes on all over the world. The crowd decide the outcome and we just managed to squeeze through the heats.
“We made sure we had more
people on Sunday because the crowd is the most important part.”
More than 100 revellers from Wokingham caught a coach from Bearwood College to the West One Four Bar in Kensington to cheer on their mates.
“We were first on, which is such a difficult slot because the crowd tend to get more lively as the night goes on,” continued Ben.
“I was nervous, but also confident because we had brought so many
people along. I was just really eager for them to go through – the band had put so much practice in.
“It was all about trying to make it work on the night and it is not always easy to get people to come down to London on a Sunday night.
“It was the best gig they have ever put on and there was a real buzz.
“We ended up winning by quite a margin – it was fantastic so many people made the effort to be there.”
The quartet, whose influences include stadium rock acts such as Aerosmith, 3 Doors Down, Queen and Bon Jovi, are now gearing up for the final at London’s Astoria venue in July, where they will play before a crowd of 4,000 for the top prize – a slot at a rock festival in Germany.
Ben said: “We’ve got to start selling tickets now to get enough people for that gig. This is definitely the highest point of the band’s career so far.
“They’ve got a really good sound in the bigger venues and I think that will fire them on to do well.
“The crowd are going to love it at the Astoria.”
Asono, the guitar driven foursome from Berkshire, are set to bring their edgy indie rock vibe to the States.
The members have become the talk of their native UK after less than two years on the London scene.
And just as their first single Street Full of Strangers is catching on with college radio stations and Top 40 outlets around the country, Asono will embark on a five-week tour in February and March that will take in LA, San Diego, San Francisco and Las Vegas before moving on to Texas.
Asono are Jonny Ross, lead vocal and guitar, Andrew Simmons, guitars and backing vocals, Jason Denhart, bass and backing vocals and Oli King, drums and backing vocals.
The band formed in 2003. All the members went to school at Bearwood College, Wokingham, and are based in Reading, Camberley and Ascot.
Popularity for Asono’s music, which is diverse and dynamic, is fast growing and the American tour is something they have wanted to do since forming.
Wise and talented beyond their years, the boys are already veterans and a huge part of London’s indie rock scene, which they have been part of since the summer of 2005. By a few weeks into autumn 2006, Asono had close to 50 gigs under their belt for the year.
In addition to performing at the London Astoria II, a major venue for up and coming bands, the quartet, whose oldest member is 20-year-old King from Reading, has headlined and filled a host of major venues on the London circuit including The Barfly, The Rock Garden, Dublin Castle, The Grand and even a headlining slot at the infamous Oxford University Summer Ball. Then just as they were getting revved up in mid-2005, Asono reached the finals of Emergenza’s Unsigned Competition, an event that attracted over 1,000 unsigned acts.
Since then they have played a cool variety of festivals, with their unforgettable 40 minute set at Guilfest 2006 landing them a live acoustic set on Delta FM. They will also soon be doing a live acoustic set on Eagle FM, another hot London station.
The band’s influences over the last three years have primarily been legendary American rock groups like Aerosmith and Pearl Jam. This tour gives the band a chance to perform their music to American audiences and see whether their future could lie across the pond.
The members have all taken two years out of education to focus on their music and this represents a great opportunity to get on the map in the eyes of the public and the record industry. Particularly as the band will be performing at South by South West in Texas at the end of the tour where over 8,000 music industry delegates descend on Austin for five solid days of live music from up and coming artists.
A powerful rock singer with stadium filling vocal power, Ross is generally the driving force behind the band’s song writing process for each tune. He has quickly developed into a charismatic showman who rivets crowds the minute he hits the stage.
His lead guitar work blends perfectly with Simmons’ lead and rhythm guitar to create a unique mood for every song. Denhart’s driving bass patterns and King’s technical wizardry create an ambitious yet concrete platform from which the two guitarists can really express themselves.
But beyond all the intense musicianship and exciting stage presence, Asono’s real heart lies in their songs, emotionally complex, stylistically diverse rock tracks that show a maturity way beyond each member’s years.
The band has so far released two EPs, the three song Someday (2005) and four song One Man Army (2006); they have combined them into a mini-album which has been an extraordinary seller from the bandstand and whose sales are bound to increase with a distribution deal and the release of the single Street Full Of Strangers.
When they reach the US, Asono will soon be able to see if the vision of Los Angeles they portray in She Loves LA is accurate.
“This one was written as a dirty love song,” Simmons said. “This guy loves the lady and takes her to LA where she falls in love with the lifestyle but says she’s no longer in love with him. The uplifting twist is that he eventually wants her out of his life.”
He added:“Even though we enjoy telling compelling stories, we also like to leave a little to the listener’s imagination.”
A gig held at Bearwood College on Sunday, supported by The Vice and Panikk Attakk, was all about letting people know what Asono are doing while also raising funds for the tour.
King said: “We just want to be able to show people what we are about. Most of us have been influenced by American bands and it’s a chance for us to really see what the American scene is all about.
“We really love playing for UK audiences but this is a chance for us to do something different. It is very exciting.”
Band manager Ben Ross added: “Sunday night’s gig was fantastic. It was really well supported and we are now well on our way to raising enough funds to pay for flights and accommodation.
“Bearwood College were extremely generous in allowing us to use the theatre and other facilities and Team Productions did a fantastic job of the sound. They both helped to make a very memorable occasion indeed.”
A series of two promo EP/singles were released in 2004: 'Roses' and 'Faith'.
But he that dares not grasp the thorn Should never crave the rose.