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  • Ed Schmieder

Azwel: Who’s Mike Azwel?

Azwell is a “project” comprised singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, Jason Perillo and a live band featuring of Joe Lorge on guitar, Gregg Steele on bass, and Johnny Zaletel on drums. Both Lorge and Steele provide backup vocals. You’ll find them gigging at many Island venues apart from our show at The Suffolk.

Jason, over the past 20 years, has gained and maintained online success recording and producing independently released albums from his New York studio. A visit to Spotify will send you scrolling through a fifty-song compilation, and eight other albums. Wander onto the Azwel project’s website and that number increases to twenty releases. Busy boy!

So there’s a prodigious body of work, but what is Azwel’s sound like? Hold tight; here comes an amazing amalgam. The website states the “sound is often compared to britpop…” an influence that Jason attributes to his mom’s playing early 60s pop music on drives together when he was a kid.

But in our interview, he widened the bandwidth of influence: Metallica, Nirvana, Blur, Oasis, Radio Head, Pink Floyd, and especially Pet Shop Boys. In my listening, I sometimes heard The Kinks, Jellyfish, and the layered vocals of The Beach Boys, and 10CC. Enter all that musical data and the output is eclectic, catchy, clever, and undeniably melodic: a purely Azwelian brew.

Search hard enough on Spotify and you’ll even find an album titled Beginnings which is the work of Azwell and Argentinian musician Murias from 2017: a special blend!

Before we ended our conversation, I asked Jason about the group’s name: was it sci-fi.An east-coast Roswell? No, in high school Jason said to a friend in a noisy hallway “might as well,” and that friend asked “Who’s Mike Azwel?”Jason adopted that alias as a joke afterwards; until it seemed like a natural name for a band.A name spawned by the same mistake music listeners often make with a misheard lyric. That’s serendipity.

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