Awesomest ever – true

Photo of Benny Davis (BMusStud ’07), Jordan Raskopoulos (BA ’05)

Left to right: Benny Davis (BMusStud ’07), Jordan Raskopoulos (BA ’05)

By Edward Drummond

The Axis of Awesome is currently two-thirds through an eight-month world tour, playing to sell-out audiences and huge enthusiasm, and their YouTube clips have scored millions of hits. Yet it’s probably their Facebook fans’ comments that give a real indication of their worldwide success.

“Please come and visit us in little Luxembourg!!!” says one. “You guys need to come to Minnesota sometime!” And: “Come to the Czech Republic :)” Or, “Axis of Awesome to Denmark ASAP!” Plus “Can’t wait to see you in Hamburg, Germany! :)” And “You are the most awesomest band in the history of ever!”

The trio – Jordan Raskopoulos, Lee Naimo and Benny Davis – met while at the University and taking part in Theatre Sports. Raskopoulos was studying Physics and Naimo was doing Performance Studies alongside English and Film Studies.

Although neither see their degree as leading to their current careers in comedy, Raskopoulos says that, “The University Union and being involved with things like Theatre Sports, SUDS and stand-up comedy on campus – and meeting people like Benny and Lee – did help”.

Naimo explains that, “Being able to play theatre sports without any training was invaluable. You just have a couple of workshops, meet some people and get a team together. That’s where I feel my comedy career started.” Raskopoulos concludes: “University is very much about community as well as education. And if you combine both of those you will have a rich and fulfilling tertiary education”.

It was a bit different for Davis, who studied Music. “It’s kind of half-and-half for me. There were a lot of things I was learning in my degree which gave me these valuable skills like improv and ear training … but all the things I got into which have helped me towards a career in comedy have been extracurricular.” He also mentions theatre sports and, “Being able to play TV theme tunes got me involved with the revues and in comedy.”

It was those campus comedy shows that brought the three together. “Me and Jordan were performing, with Benny as the improvising musician, for every show we seemed to play”, explains Naimo. “It got to the point where we wanted to do something different and I saw Benny doing the four-chord song at a rehearsal and I said you should come and join my band and ride on my coat-tails!”

They have recently released their first proper album, Animal Vehicle, and played their fourth Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August.

“We’ve been building year on year,” says lead vocalist Raskopoulos. “We were originally playing rooms of mostly ghosts”.

Says guitarist Naimo, “It still counts as sold-out if you have two people and 98 ghosts though.” And keyboard player Davis confirms, “So pretty much every show we’ve ever done there sold out”.