Until the 2017 comeback album “Dance Underwater,” English alt-rocker Jay Aston and his band Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel hadn’t released any new material in 14 years, a veritable eternity in today’s music business. It didn’t help that his brother Michael, with whom he found the original version of the group in 1981, continued to tour and record on his own, using the same name. But Aston found intriguing ways to survive in the interim. He worked in a technical capacity for Apple in London and on solo material after moving to Los Angeles. When he did regroup longtime members, including guitarist James Stevenson, on dark new cuts “World Gone Crazy” and “Charmed Life (Never Give In),” the sound is so retro-perfect, it seem as if no time has elapsed at all.
Fourteen years is a long time ….
I know, I know. But after our “Heavenly Bodies” record (1993), our label went down, and that really knocked us off our feet. So I decided to concentrate on solo stuff, James decided to work with The Cult, and other embers were off raising families. So time just passed by. And we didn’t split up or anything. Every year we did festival gigs in Portugal and South America. Then somebody suggested that we make an album, and I said, “Well, we say that every time we get together, but if we’re going to do it, let’s do it properly. Let’s use (crowdfunding site) PledgeMusic.” And it worked. We auctioned off handwritten lyrics, tons of great memorabilia and scheduled album-listening parties with band meet and greets. Everything just came together. And meanwhile, my brother had been doing stuff in the U.S. using our name, which was a legal nightmare for us.
From Ray Davies to Noel Gallagher, every feuding rock sibling swears that you won’t understand why unless you have a brother yourself.
Yeah. It was just something that evolved over a period of time. You just work out that this person is an a—hole, not a very nice person, and they’re not contributing anything positive to your life, so it’s time to part. So I don’t regret not working with him. He was a stone around my neck, so I’ve been much happier for it. I don’t have to pretend that he’s miming my vocals in our videos anymore, songs that I wrote. Geffen thought that was OK, I didn’t. So I was going to leave, but he just beat me to it.
What’s the status now? You use your own names to clarify which version fans are getting.
We don’t even talk. I have nothing to say to him.
IF YOU GO
The Alarm, Modern English, Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel
Where: Regency Ballroom, 1300 Van Ness Ave., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Tickets: $35 to $40
Contact: (415) 673-5716, www.axs.com