Interview: The Ascot Royals

The Ascot Royals @the Rivoli, 02.19.2011

I had a chance to have a quick chat with the guys from The Ascot Royals backstage at The Rivoli. They were in the midst of changing into their dress shirts, vests and jackets, gearing up for what they hoped would be a fun show (and it was). This was my first time meeting the band and they were such a pleasure to chat with.

For those unfamiliar with The Ascot Royals, Ben Chauveau (keys, vocals) describes their sound as “a combination of Brit rock meets North American funk and classic.”

Joey Vinegar then adds, “With dance, synth and dance grooves.”

The other guys then add in all their instruments, making sure to emphasize that it’s not entirely synths that make up their sound.

It’s been a couple years since their debut self-titled release. Speaking to how they’ve evolved, Ben says, “I guess maturity pays off over time. You don’t even realize it’s happening until you sit there and listen to a fresh set of recordings. I think in the early stages you see what you wanna be and you try and be that, but I think as time goes by it just sort of happens.”

Jimmy continues, “Each time we write we really try and push ourselves to go outside the box to really kind of test each other with a different sound. It’s the same sound but it’s a different sound in a sense. It’s really just evolving as a group because we get closer as well.”

Joey also builds on this thought, saying, “Jim and I will bring the songs to the band or the bare bones of the song and the guys will help with the arrangement or the groove and bring their elements too. I think that’s changed. That’s become better.”

As far as what the guys write about, Jimmy sums it up, saying, “We hope that we can write down our thoughts and stuff like that that’s relatable to people and that it touches upon the subjects in their lives too. We just write what we feel, really.”

With two members obviously being from the UK, one can’t help but be curious as to how these guys met.

Ben describes, “Jesse, Joe and I went to McMaster and Jimmy’s my brother. Joe and I originally met at McMaster. He was playing in a University band called The Frontrunners and we just kind of hit it off.”

Joe interrupts, “Jesse actually played in the band for a brief amount of time.”

Jesse then interrupts, “And then I was kicked out.”

Laughing, Joe continues, “And then he got kicked out. And Jimmy auditioned…”

It’s Jimmy’s turn to interrupt, saying, “They didn’t let me in.”

Ben, unfazed by Joey poking fun at the other guys, continues, “Yeah, so we kinda hit it off and then everything just kinda fell into place over time. Jesse was at home and had nothing going on and I was like, ‘Hey, wanna move down?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll come live in Brantford.’”

At this point, Jesse says, “I didn’t even know Brantford existed until that point.” I’m laughing and then Jesse says seriously, “I actually didn’t.”

Ben continues, “And this fella [points at Sam] – I worked at Metalworks for a brief stint and then dropped out and I found him beforehand and asked him if he wanted to come down and jam with us and he’s been one of the gang ever since.”

Sam, smiling and shrugging, says, “Who would’ve thought?”

Well, these guys must be clicking, as they seem to have been generating quite a bit of attention over the last while. The Ascot Royals were the first band to ever win 102.1 The Edge’s Indie Online competition. In the fall, the guys also made it to the semi-finals for Indie Week, a testament to their live show.

Jesse describes their live show as “fun, light-hearted and entertaining.”

Ben continues, “Yeah, absolutely. We never wanna tamper with the musicianship – we always have a certain calibre that we have to play with – but then we take what we can do with playing at that level to the most extreme that we can because we want people to dance and they’re not going to dance if you’re not dancing.”

In the same vein, Jesse then says, “We just basically try to have as much fun as possible so people out front see us enjoying ourselves and they’re more willing to enjoy themselves too. There’s nothing worse than seeing a band that looks super cool and you’re just afraid to dance.”

Joey decides this is a good opportunity to tell this story. “This girl came up to me. She bought a CD and she’s laughing. She’s like, “You guys are a bunch of geeks!” [laughter around the room ensues]

The guys are laughing and Jesse says, “It’s true.”

Ben agrees, “We’ll take that.”

With a great 2010, the guys are looking forward to keep the momentum going in 2011.

Jesse says they’ll, “just keep playing” then continues, “We’re potentially looking at some options with a full-length. We just finished recording an EP. We might try to venture across borders or oceans, depending. We’re looking into that. Should be an action-packed, exciting year.”

Ben seems to be most excited to get their website up and running on March 1st, along with some videos to accompany the site and an EP release around springtime.

We then move on to a drunken story, of course.

Immediately, Ben says, “Which one of Joe? I’m guessing one of Joe.”

But then they come up with a different story.

Ben starts, “So we were playing in Kingston and that night we stayed in Elgin where Jesse’s family lives and we get back and we had off day, so Jim and Joe decide to have a few beers.”

Joe interrupts, “No, we had Ottawa the next day.”

Ben continues, “Okay, sorry. We didn’t have an off day. Even better. Even more professional. The rest of us have a few beers and Jim and Joe decide that, although there’s been several bear sightings and a cougar sighting on the street within the week, they decide to stand out by the van the entire night and drink a case of beer just freely in the open the entire night.”

It wasn’t a pretty morning for Jimmy and Joey.

Jesse seemed to not have been fazed by the antics, saying, “I just told Ben to take care of everything. I stayed in bed.”

Jimmy adds, “And I slept in the toilet.”

Ben confirms, “He slept in the toilet in pee.”

At the point, Ben asks if we want the uncensored version and then asks if Jimmy’s okay with the uncensored version.

Jimmy responds, “Well, it’s there now, so let’s go for it.”

Ben decides to go into more detail. “At about 8 in the morning, I wake up because I hear Jimmy and Joe come stumbling in and I’m sleeping on the floor and I hear the bathroom door open and I hear Jimmy go in and I hear him go into the toilet [he describes the sound], so I walk in there 10 minutes later after I’ve come to and there’s Jimmy asleep half in the bathtub, half on the floor with the toilet seat down. It was down the entire time.”

Joey makes it clear, “There was pee all over the floor.”

Jimmy laughs, “I have a good big brother.”

Ben says, “Big brother did some mopping that day, I’ll tell you that much.”

Joey jokes, “And then he gets in the car, ‘Why do I smell like piss?’”

Jimmy is laughing at himself at this point. He says, “The best thing! Okay, so I had blacked out for that night (I tend to black out when I drink). The first thing I come back to is Ben pushing me in the back seat saying, ‘Just go to sleep, just go to sleep.’ That was interesting. And then the next night in Ottawa, that was disgusting. That was horrible. Joe and I were very hung over and we had to play and the stage at The Rainbow Room is up to there [pointing well above our heads]. It’s about 10 feet high and I felt like I was going to fall off the stage the entire time. I was hugging my mic stand.”

Jesse ends with, “Moral of the story is when you tell people you’re going out to grab a case of beer, you don’t stand outside and drink said case of beer.”

Shots of choice:
Joey Vinegar– Sambuca
Sam Stark – Jager
Jesse Gilroy– anything but Jager
Jimmy Chauveau– Jager or Sambuca
Ben Chauveau – “Jack Daniels or a fine scotch, but I’m never rich enough to drink fine scotch”

These guys went on to play an energetic set at The Rivoli and I could see what these guys meant by having fun on stage in hopes that their enjoyment encouraged the audience to enjoy themselves. It seems as though their 2011 is shaping up quite well, so be on the lookout to see what these guys continue to come up with throughout the year.

They’re playing on March 12th at the Hard Luck Bar for CMW. Catch them then!


Categories: Interviews


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One Comment on “Interview: The Ascot Royals”

  1. Paul Vandenberg
    March 7, 2011 at 6:30 PM #

    Your very first step to hollywood, sam.

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