The West

The guy on the internet with that song
The 'guy on the internet with that song'

You may not have heard the Sydney musical comedy trio Axis of Awesome, but chances are you have heard - or heard of - their insanely popular Four Chord Song in which they prove just how many hit songs can be made with the same four chords.


Just YouTube it. More than 27 million other people have. You'll be dumbfounded by how many pop songs use the same four chords; from The Beatles' Let It Be to Lady Gaga's Poker Face; from Bob Marley's No Woman No Cry to Pink's U and Ur Hand; and from Waltzing Matilda to Kasey Chambers' Not Pretty Enough.


"I think it's even come up in a court case for something," jibes Axis of Awesome frontman Jordan Raskopoulos, perhaps referring to Men at Work's infamous copyright case song, Land Down Under.

"But yes, it's amazing how that song has caught on and spread around the world.

"I've been recognised on a train in France as the 'guy on the internet with that song'. Which is pretty amazing. And it's not even our most popular song!" He may be clowning around, but Jack Black lookalike Raskopoulos, 31, and his two mates Lee Naimo, 30, and Benny Davis, 27, have a huge online following, with more than 11,000 Twitter followers and more than 67,000 Facebook likes to go with 120,000 subscribers on their YouTube channel.

And the musical comedy trio skewer more than merely four chord songs. Everything from politics to pizza and dating to Game of Thrones is ripe for parody from the odd-looking group who are bringing their new show, Cry Yourself a River, to the Perth International Comedy Festival.

Having already won over crowds at the Melbourne and Sydney comedy festivals, and elsewhere around the world, Raskopoulos is keen to show Perth his stuff.

"We're not even going to try to be serious," he says.

"We do straight-up musical comedy. That's what we do." Indeed, it's been a quick rise since the band formed in 2006.

"We were all students at Sydney University and all part of the theatre scene. We did a lot of theatre sports and improv. We were looking for a side-project and decided to do something musical. And it kind of snowballed from there. It got bigger and bigger and now it's a giant mega-corporation.

"Lee plays guitar. Benny is pretty talented. He plays keyboards, drums, flute - pretty much any instrument you put in front of him. And I am very good at the kazoo and the flight whistle. I have several degrees in those instruments. Plus I am the frontman and leader and everybody knows their place. And if they don't - they're punished!"

Yet Raskopoulos - who ditched his chemistry degree for performing - admits it took a why for him to have the confidence to turn a university side-project into a career.

"I wouldn't have had the confidence 10 years ago. The theatre and comedy stuff had always seemed like a hobby while I was trying to lay down foundations for a solid career. But the cultural aspect of uni appealed to me far more than the actual study. So I didn't go to all my classes but I did go to a lot of stand-up gigs and theatre shows.

"But as it turned out, the hobby could be a reasonably solid career on its own. When I did the TV show The Ronnie Johns Half Hour for two seasons I thought, 'Yes, I could keep doing this'. And I never looked back. OK, rarely looked back."

While more success is undoubtedly on the way, we can already thank the group for replacing George W. Bush's infamous catchphrase "Axis of Evil" with something far more fun and playful.

"We wanted to call ourselves something topical and fun, and "Axis of Evil was a big catchphrase back when we began. But today if you type "Axis of..." into Google the auto-complete comes up "Axis of Awesome" before "Axis of Evil", so we're very happy to have wiped that phrase from the lexicon. Even if that's all we ever achieve, we're stoked."

Axis of Awesome play at the Astor Theatre on Saturday night.

The West Australian

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