By ERIC SCHELKOPF
The band is currently touring the country with The Alarm and Modern English, which will make a stop on Aug. 16 at the House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St., Chicago. The show starts at 7:30 p.m. and general admission tickets are $30, available at houseofblues.com/chicago.
I had the chance to talk to Jay Aston about the tour and the band's latest activities.
Q – Of course you are on tour with The Alarm and Modern English. Your guitarist, James Stevenson, also plays with The Alarm. How does that work?
It just worked out that he gets to two sets, which is a little unusual.
Q – So he's actually playing with The Alarm on this tour as well?
Yes, you get the full spectrum of his abilities.
Q – He must be tired at the end of the night.
You would think so. But he's just loving it so much. It's a long night for him, yeah.
Q – Besides that, how has the tour been going? Do you think playing with The Alarm and Modern English is a good fit?
It's worked out really well, actually. We all do our own kind of thing.
We're all from the U.K. and two of us are from Wales. It's been great fun. We're actually enjoying it.
Q – And I see that some of the shows were sold out, so obviously people want to see you guys.
It's a good bill. It's a great chance to see three bands that normally don't tour together.
Q – And of course you're touring in support of 2017's album "Dance Underwater," the band's first studio album of new material in 14 years. In making this album, what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them?
The goal was that if we were going to do an album, let's do it properly. We wanted to get a good producer, so we used Peter Walsh (who has worked with everyone from Peter Gabriel to Stevie Wonder).
It was just a wonderful album to make. It was special.
Q – Have you been doing audience requests on the tour?
A lot of songs pick themselves. Obviously we are going to play "Desire (Come and Get It)," and we're going to do "The Motion of Love" and "Twenty Killer Hurts." There are certain songs that we always loved.
And we also do an acoustic set with Mike Peters from The Alarm playing tambourine. It's like the Rolling Thunder Revue in 2019. It's great fun.
Q – And you and your bandmates have been playing together for so long? What makes you work so well together?
We all give something that is unique to the thing that is Gene Loves Jezebel. The reaction has been fantastic.
You can just see it in people's faces. Their eyes are wide open and they can't believe we're actually on stage, which is great.
Q – I suppose you see a lot of old fans, but do you see new fans as well?
Yeah, we do. It's quite weird. We were at one gig and there was an older gentleman and a young girl and I said to the girl, "Oh, I guess your dad made you come, did he? And she said, no, no, I made him come."
Q – When you originally formed the band, what was your goal?
Just to be different, not to sound like anyone else. I think we achieved that. We don't sound like anyone else.
We really don't fit into any particular genre, do we? And we're not in any particular box. And lots of different kinds of people like us.
So I think we achieved that. That was the goal.
Q – Of course, your brother has his own version of Gene Loves Jezebel. Have your heard if people are seeing both bands or what have you heard?
Well, let me just say that I've never heard anything positive about my brother's version of the band and let's leave it at that.
None of the members of his band are actually featured on any of our music, so it's an odd little cash cow for him, really.
Q – So what's your next goal after this tour?
I'll be doing some acoustic stuff in the United States after this.
Q – So you are going to be going on your own tour?
Yeah, which I can't talk much about yet. There are many different sides of me.
I love the Gene Loves Jezebel shows. They're so high energy. My solo stuff is very introspective and it's very much in the moment.
You never know if I'll make it to the next chord. It's much more living on the edge. And I enjoy that for very different reasons.
Q – Talking about high energy, I was watching some of your videos and people were commenting on the fact that you are still very animated on stage, you're still dancing around a lot. And so you enjoy doing that?
I get to express both sides of my personality with my music. You never know what may happen tomorrow. So we celebrate each gig.