The Axis of Awesome


The Axis of Awesome are an Australian musical comedy act who satirize and parody pop culture and an array of music genres through their original and awesome songs.  Their biggest hit 4 Chords, a medley of 36 pop songs each using the same chord progression, is one of the most popular comedy videos on YouTube.  Most recently, they brought their show Viva La Vida Loca Las Vegas to the 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe with their catchy songs and hilarious commentary.  The Axis of Awesome are lead singer Jordan Raskopoulos, classically trained Benny Davis and guitarist Lee Naimo.


How did you first meet and form Axis of Awesome?

Nick Fury sourced us all individually and decided we’d be good as a group. Jordan was fighting crime as a millionaire from his tower in New York City, Lee had recently been thawed out as he was a superhero from the 1950’s, and Benny was a doctor in South America trying to avoid getting angry. The rest is history, and also a great movie.


You guys have great chemistry and seem to always be winding each other up both in your videos and live – Do you actually ever get on each other’s nerves?



While your act is predominately pre-written material, you have an improv background and I witnessed you doing excellent musical improv at Set List in Edinburgh this year – Do you continue to do much improv?

Well thank you, we did Set List a few times this year and it was heaps of fun. We also did a couple of free improv shows with Jordan’s brother Steen in Edinburgh, which were really nice. When we can, we try and do improv gigs, it’s tricky with all the travel and gigging as Axis, but Lee is part of the Big Hoo-Haa in Melbourne (an improv troupe) and Jordan and Steen work together as the Super Rasko Bros doing improv shows in Sydney. Benny occasionally plays as the muso for Sydney improv shows like “Full Body Contact No Love Tennis”


When writing your songs, do you jam / improvise them first or do you go in with a structured idea?

We spend a lot of time together, so we tend to throw ideas around on the road, so by the time we sit down to write we know what ideas we like and have workshopped them a bit.


How collaborative is your song-writing? Can you explain your process?

Most of the lyrics are Jordan and Lee, and most of the music is Benny. Once we have an idea we like (which tends to start with the comedy rather than the music), we’ll workshop some lyrics, Benny might sit there on his keyboard and throw some chords together, or he might take the lyrics away and work on the music, then send a demo around for us to listen to. In those demos, he does all of our parts, so for me (Lee), he uses a program to tune his voice low. It sounds quite humorous.


Are you musically trained or self taught?



Why did you decide to focus on musical comedy rather than just comedy or just music?

We’re all fans of musical comedy, different groups like Tripod (Aussie musical trio), Monty Python’s musical stuff, Weird Al to an extent, and it felt like a good combination of our skills. But we all do other things, which involve either music or comedy or neither.


A lot of your songs dissect song structures, music genres and social behavior within subcultures relating to these music genres. Is this something that’s always interested you or is it just for the sake of comedy and The Axis of Awesome?

It’s become something we’re more known for, and our bigger songs definitely dissect musical tropes and clichés. But our range of songs includes lots of different topics.


When actually dissecting these musical tropes, was there anything that stood out or that surprised you about them?

Sometimes it’s how simple they are, other times it’s how basic they are. Mostly just how non-complex they are.


What other genres and parodies are up next for The Axis of Awesome?

We’re working on a Nicki Minaj style song about her quest to kill the Batman. We’ve just finished filming (and are currently editing) a 30-part web series called “Axis All Areas”, some of which is out now on our YouTube channel, and that’s been something we’ve been working on for almost a year now, so the song-writing has taken a bit of a backseat to that.


How did you figure out which songs to include in 4 Chords and how did you go about structuring the song so it flowed as well as it did?

A combination of research, trial and error and drugs.


Were there any songs on your radar that you left out of the 4 Chords recording?

Yes, heaps. We’ve got an updated version that is made up of songs that have never been in a previous recording of the 4 Chords song, but we keep putting off recording it as we get offered other work.


In Rage of Thrones you make a strong point of not being overly impressed by Hollywood adapting books into films – Are there any adaptations you actually like?

Horton Hears a Who was particularly inspiring, and we’re very excited about the upcoming adaptation of the book of the movie of Transformers.


If you had the power, which book would you adapt into a film and who would you cast in the roles?

We’d turn the instruction manual from our Breville 4-Slice toaster into an epic action movie. Benny would play the narrator, Jordan would play the toaster and Lee would be the love interest/power point.


How to Write a Love Song is spot on – what’s your favourite 90’s RnB love song and why?

End of the Road, but not the original – the cover version by Me First and the Gimme Gimmes.


If there were only one word to summarize Axis of Awesome what would that one word be?


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