The Asexuals (T.J., John and Sean with Paul on drums) in Montreal, October 2010
|Genres||Punk rock, hardcore, alternative|
|Labels||Og Music, First Strike, Psyche Industry, Cargo, Boss Tuneage, RPN|
|Doughboys, All Systems Go!|
The Asexuals (or Asexuals) is a hardcore punk band from Beaconsfield that was a mainstay of the Montreal punk scene in the 1980s before changing into an alternative band following the departure of singer John Kastner. Kastner left to form the Doughboys and later, All Systems Go!.
The Asexuals formed in 1983 when Sean Friesen, T.J.Collins and Paul Remington, all Beaconsfield High students, decided to start a punk rock band. Another Beaconsfield native, future actor Al Goulem, was in the band as second guitarist for a few months with Collins singing. Their friend John Kastner quickly joined and became the singer.
After briefly using the names "Commonwealth", "Dead Dog", "Johnny Jew and the Holocaust" and "VD Teens", they finally chose the name "Asexuals" because none of the band members had girlfriends at the time. Their music mixed elements of hardcore as well as more melodic punk rock à la The Nils or Hüsker Dü.
The band played gigs in Montreal, Ottawa, Kingston and Toronto, opening for touring Canadian and American punk bands before releasing their first EP, Featuring: The Asexuals on Og Music in 1984. The same year, the band contributed a song to the legendary Montreal punk compilation Primitive Air-Raid on Psyche Industry Records, then released their first LP Be What You Want on First Strike Records in December 1984.
By the following year, Psyche Industry Records had received much positive feedback about the Asexuals's song, "Contra-rebels", (the opening track from the Primitive Air-Raid compilation), so they happily re-released the band's Be What You Want LP after First Strike Records refused to do so, having stopped answering the band's letters and phone calls. Also in 1985, Psyche Industry released the Asexuals' second LP, Contemporary World, which featured a hardcore treatment of Bob Dylan's classic song, "The Times They Are a-Changin'", and generally flirted with a more alternative rock sound. The band went on a two-month, 69-date tour across the U.S.A. and Canada to promote that album.
In 1987, Kastner clashed with the other members about the band's evolving musical direction, and was kicked out because he was taking too much space. Kastner went on to form the Doughboys, while the Asexuals reconfigured themselves, with Collins and Freisen both playing electric guitar and sharing lead-vocal duties, and bringing in then-Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra bassist Blake Cheetah (now better known as Bangkok-based writer Jim Algie) to take over bass guitar from Collins. They toured across North America relentlessly, opening for fellow Canadian punk bands like D.O.A.. and SNFU, as well as such American hardcore greats as Hüsker Dü, the Minutemen, the Dicks and Youth Brigade.
In 1988, the band released their third full-length LP, Dish, on Cargo Records. Under the direction of Producer Steve Kravac, Dish was an artistic and sonic departure from their previous recordings, not only because of the noticeable absence of Kastner's distinctly sneering vocals; but with a more college-radio friendly sound. For the first time, the band departed from the standard arrangement of distorted electric guitars, bass, and drums. Indeed, the self-titled opening track featured acoustic guitars and horns. While this less brash sound alienated many long-time fans, the songs generally remained punchy and hard-rocking, and the band retained a tougher sound when performing live. They were on the verge of disbanding when a German promoter offered them to tour Europe. Cheetah quit the band after this tour and was replaced by Dom Pompeo (1964-2012), with whom they recorded their fourth LP (also on CD, unlike previous recordings), Exile from Floontown. Released in 1991, the album went a long way towards restoring the band's original distorted electric guitar sound, while remaining melodic and college-radio friendly. In 1992, they released the Walt's Wish EP on Cargo.
Dom Pompeo quit in 1993, being replaced by Yuri Mohacsi and that line-up released an EP, Love Goes Plaid on RPN-Records in Europe and Boss Tuneage in America. In 1996, they recorded and released what would be their last studio album, Fitzjoy, on Hypnotic Records. They were supposed to tour supporting that album but instead disbanded. Friesen eventually moved to Austin and started La Motta with Inland Empire's bass player Alfred Mueller and drummer Wal Rashidi in the beginning of the 2000s (decade) and released three albums and toured Europe and the U.S.A. In 2001, Boss Tuneage released Greater than Later, a compilation of many old Asexuals tracks spanning years 1984 to 1996 as well as some unreleased tracks.
The original line-up of the band, including Kastner (who lives in Los Angeles now) and Friesen (who lives in Texas), got back together to play a reunion show on October 1, 2010 in Montreal along with fellow Montreal punk bands the 222's, and Hollerado. The band reunited again in Toronto the following March to play back-to-back shows at the Bovine Sex Club.
The Asexuals were reviled in many punk fanzines, including Maximumrocknroll, in 1984 because of the song "Contra-Rebels" that was featured on Primitive Air-Raid and Be What You Want. The song was a little ambiguous in interpretation, using irony with the lyrics "Contra-rebels, trained by the CIA, Contra-rebels, will blow your Reds away". Tim Yohannon of MRR didn't get the irony at first, calling the band mouthpieces of the new right before apologizing a few months after.
Grosses retrouvailles, le 1er octobre au Cabaret Juste pour rire, avec la version originale des Asexuals, pionniers de la scène punk. John Kastner, qui faisait partie du groupe avant de fonder les Doughboys