Spotlight: Lee Naimo (The Axis of Awesome)

M4H Spotlight with Lee Naimo
 

If you love comedy and music you've likely heard of a lil' trio called The Axis of Awesome, and if you haven't, welcome friend! They shot to fame with their '4 Chord Song', a mammoth kaleidoscope of pop-songs all with the same four-chord progression, and I've been struggling to keep up with them ever since. One-third of their contingency is the effervescent, Lee Naimo. Having started M4H in 2015, I know exactly who was there to cheer us on, and this man, was.

I love live music, I don't think anything compares to the feeling of performing in front of
people and getting an instant reaction to that performance.

Naimo, a multi-talented improviser, creative producer and loving dog owner, gave M4H one of our first donations (which we'll always be grateful for!), so I was keen to have a chat with him and see if hearing really was something he valued. 'I definitely think it's worth taking care of. Even outside of music, hearing is so fundamental to our everyday existence. It connects us to the world in a way that other senses don't and can't.' Delving deeper, turns our Naimo's also lived some experiences of deafness closer to home, 'My Dad worked around farming equipment for years and has bad hearing, and I can feel mine isn't as good as it used to be.' 

On what drew him to to music, the ever humble Naimo replied, 'I consider myself more of a comedian who can play guitar than a musician, but I have been performing music in some form or another for over 20 years.' At some point, you have to give the guy the label, especially if he's also secretly a bassoonist. 'Music is so personal, and I've always admired the musical comedians whose music can be listened to time and again. Even if you know the jokes, you still enjoy the musicality of them.'

I think everything I do in comedy will always have some connection to music.

Having seen cochlear implants turn on and those eyes go wide, I often like to ask people what sound they'd share with someone if that person was hearing for the first time. I guess it should come as no surprise that with his background in laughs, Naimo replied with 'the sound of the person they love most in the world laughing.' It warms me to my core to think of that, and not something I've ever imagined. Probably because my laugh is closer to a malfunctioning fog-horn than a melodic giggle, but that's not why we're here.

We drifted into what we love about music, and why it's so important for him to share it, 'I love live music, I don't think anything compares to the feeling of performing in front of people and getting an instant reaction to that performance...I think everything I do in comedy will always have some connection to music.' However, it was what Naimo chose as his favourite music that moved me, 'I love the album Resolve by Lagwagon, a punk band from California." Turns out that their former drummer passed away from suicide during the writing process, and as an ode to him, they wrote and dedicated every song on their album for him, 'It's heartbreaking and energetic and furious all at once.' 

Even outside of music, hearing is so fundamental to our everyday existence.
It connects us to the world in a way that other senses don't and can't.

When asked if there was one last piece of advice he could give, Naimo hit home for something I've definitely come across, 'I'd try and remove the stigma around hearing tests and hearing aids. I think it's vital to get your hearing checked. Sadly a lot of people are still too proud to admit that their hearing isn't what it use to be.' And for those just starting out in music, 'Keep playing, especially in front of people. Get your music heard, learn from the experience and keep working hard.That's probably more than one piece of advice, but imagine I said it really fast with no full stops.'

By Siobhan McGinnity

Just the Axis of Awesome, being Awesome. (Photo credit: Patrick Boland)

Just the Axis of Awesome, being Awesome. (Photo credit: Patrick Boland)


Head here for more on Lee Naimo and The Axis of Awesome.

If you're interested in taking the first steps to protect your hearing, but not sure where to start, hit us up at musicians4hearing@gmail.com.

We're listening.