The Parallel Universes of Gene Loves Jezebel

Two bands with the same name, fronted by singers with identical genetics: an interview with Jay Aston

The identity of Gene Loves Jezebel, like the identity of identical twins, is complex.

The band formed in the UK in the '80s, and at the time, twin brothers Jay and Michael Aston were peppering the charts with a string of popular singles that spanned goth rock to pop rock, post-punk to alt-rock.

But by the dawn of the '90s, Michael had gone solo, and the Aston brothers were trading barbs, making for a sibling rivalry that itself rivals Oasis' Gallagher brothers.

"My brother was never really involved in the writing. It was always me, Pete [Rizzo] and the drummer, Chris Bell. We'd always be playing off each other. My brother would come in later, do little but take half of the publishing," Jay said.

"I was gonna leave after 'Suspicion'.... He basically mimed my vocals. I think he always planned to do that with Gene Loves Jezebel," he added.

After a failed reunion in the mid-'90s, the Astons gave the music industry maybe the only organic twin study it's ever had with the formation of two bands with the same name, fronted by singers with identical genetics: Michael Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel and Jay Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel.

Jay's version is arguably the more active, having released the album "Dance Underwater" in April of 2017. According to Jay, his Gene Loves Jezebel also remains truer to form, maintaining -- and even amping up -- nearly 40 years of live energy.

"The effect we have on people -- we plug in, and people go, 'Hey that's Gene Loves Jezebel,'" Jay told me over the phone last week.

"My body is bursting with energy. I just wanna run forever when I'm stage. I'm less shy on stage.... I don't care what people think. I haven't got time to wear finery. Even in the quiet songs I just got moving. I play as little guitar as possible -- I like just dancing," he added.

But dancing underwater is a bit darker than dancing on stage -- perhaps a reflection of Gene Loves Jezebel's interpersonal drama, political turmoil in the UK and US, and personal stories of loss. Ultimately, however, Jay's motivations remain certain.

"Politically, not everyone is on the same page as me. Peter and I are far more left. There is political content ... but nothing overtly political. 'Cry 4 U' is actually a song about Brexit, but you wouldn't spot it. There are songs about loss, saying goodbye," Jay said.

"In essence, I'm still similar -- I've become more political, but I'm still searching for the right girl and for the right guitar," he added.

Jay Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel plays House of Blues on Thursday, July 25. Get tickets here.

Rutger Ansley Rosenborg is an editor and digital marketer at NBC's SoundDiego. Find out more here.

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