The Asbos' official site
At the Wam Bam Club, Cafe de Paris, January 28th, 2012, Lady Alex was about to introduce me. 'Galina, there are red regimental dress jackets to be seen at the far booth stage right. Have fun!'
One of the regimental dress jackets was being worn by Royal Marines Band trombonist Theodore Preston. He was wearing jeans and the wrong shirt with it - frilly fronted. The hens parties shriekingly liked seeing his underwear, and were clearly thinking he was part of my act. I had to ask him to ignore their encouragement to take the little black pants off, as Cafe de Paris wasn't licensed for nudity. He obligingly put his jeans back on.
I saw Preston on Camden High Street a couple of times after that night and we'd stop and chat. He always stood with his arms folded, very still, chuckling, occasionally looking down at the pavement; always dressed in a white t-shirt, leather jacket, bandana and jeans over boots. I remember thinking that the trombone wasn't a sexy enough instrument, surely, to go with his image.
'Well, at school I wanted to play saxophone,' he said. 'And assumed it was a brass instrument. Clue being: it's made of brass. So I went into the brass room of the music department. And there the saxophone wasn't, of course. It's woodwind. But I was so scared of the head mistress, I didn't want to waste any more time, so picked out a trombone. It's an ill-wind - ho, ho - because at least in the Marines band I escaped the nickname of wood-licker. But, anyway no need to think about matching image to my instrument.' He gestured down his body. 'You wouldn't play for Beating the Retreat wearing this.'
When I met him three and bit years later in Pret at St Pancras Station, he was wearing a leather jacket, Doc Martens Chelsea Boots and a scarlet ribbed sweater. 'West End Boys, East End Girls,' he said, noticing me noticing. He was hungover, which perhaps explained the fidgeting.
He is no longer a trombonist with the Royal Marines Band; he is singer and guitarist with Adam and the Asbos.
'Actually,' he said, taking the lid off his Vanilla Chai, putting it back on, taking it off, putting it back on. 'I can't have still been in the Marines band that night I got up on stage. Look at the photo of us.' I look, but don't see immediately. 'My long hair.'
He tells me that Adam and the Asbos are the opposite of Coldplay. 'The ethos."When you get what you want but not what you need". There's the Rolling Stones line: "You can't always get what you want", which is a better outlook. Wanted it, but didn't need it. You're wasting it. Life...opportunities.'
He brings this up on his phone:
Adam and the Asbos "We're all Going to Die"
I ask about what he's wearing in the video.
'Putting on shows upstairs at the Barfly, in Camden, we all tend to wear sunglasses, indoors, which is a bit Blues Brothers, except they don't wear sequins. Actually, neither do we, but I want to. The skirt. I've found that older women have the best opportunities for wardrobe. Amazing fabrics. And the cut of their clothes, the big shoulders and that...what's it called...crimplene?' From the way he's watching me finish writing this, I know that what's coming next will be a quote he wants used. 'What makes a woman of a certain age look great, will make a thrusting renegade look like an Adonis from the future.' He waits, smiling knowingly, while I get this down exactly. 'The Asbos also want to make a Britain by Bike meets Spinal Tap. We've been in contact with - what is it, now? - Greenbird. They have resources to make TV, get it to commissioning editors, set it up. Maybe we'll get Hot Vox onboard. They're a promoter of vanity projects in general. Everybody has a band, everybody...well, Hot Vox will hire the room, do the promo, take most of the door. George Galloway was at one of our gigs - because I bumped into Max Keiser in Shoreditch. I just went up to to the guy: "You're Max Keiser". He says, "Sure I am". So I ask him does he want to be in a rock concert. "Sure I do!" He does Russian finance propaganda. He was giving out his own digital currency at the gig. Bitcoin. Two hundred thousand followers on Twitter. At the gig he ripped up a twenty pound note and said that money was worthless. It's only value is the trust you put in it. And George Galloway came to the gig - he's aiming to be London Mayor and wants Max Keiser to be his financial advisor. Wants to put the whole London budget, that's either six or twenty billion, on Bitcoin. Which is a racket if ever I heard one. But, apparently, it's more transparent. All about quantitative easing. The government putting more money into the system to...oh, I don't know. But Max Keiser has a great story about it.'
The Keiser Report: Quantitative Easing
Theodore is thoughtful for a few seconds. 'These connections, they've helped only if the context that they give background. I was in a band managed by Lembit Opik. You can either play the finance game or complain about it. I'm aware of my own irony in this respect. Gigging at the True Era Cafe, run by ex-addicts, protesting about Tories and the right to buy issue. A Tory MP - not Goldsmith, but one of them - has been trying to buy up council flats, raising the rents and then kicking out the tenants. Well, I felt a bit of a fraud there because before I left the Marine band I got a buy to let mortgage on a flat in Camden; and it's meant I've not had to worry financially. Cleverly engineered my own trust fund. Onstage at the True Era Cafe, knowing the community ethos, and what they're about, I did feel a bit of guilt - even though Russell Brand's bought the Cafe. Or owns it. Very well associated with it, anyway. But [he sings] We didn't start the fire! We're not the problem, but neither do we have the solution. Yes, we do - come to the next gig. We're gigging all the time!'
On December the 11th, the band will launch an EP at Nambucca in Camden.
'We're all about getting the notes in the right order for that one. We rushed the last EP out. My fault. I didn't know then that putting out something bad is actually not better than having nothing out. Next time will be better...' He grins. ',,,because it is good.'
I ask if Lembit will be there to support the Asbos.
He shakes his head. 'Haven't seen him in years.'
The latest Asbos video