Ash are in Leeds after supporting the Pixies in Paris the night before. They’re obviously tired, and maybe a bit hung over, but still they’re enthusiastic, and are obviously looking forward to their final gig of their tour tonight. The stage is set up behind them, and the venue has been cleared. Everything is ready to take the thousands of fans that will be crammed in tonight.
GL- Id like to start on Free all Angles. It was interesting to see that you got a lot of success when the pop industry was quite big, how did you feel about the success it made and how were you able to compete with the more manufactured bands of the time?
Ash-Well I guess we made a more commercial record, and we also knew we had to make a really strong record as well.
GL- yeah because a lot of the songs on that album were, potentially, singles
Ash- Well I guess we knew, that our success from 1977, and then had a great string of singles, so we were trying to write that again. We really spent a year and a half writing it, making sure we had strong enough songs, so we’d take it to our manager and he’d go ‘nah’ so…. It was quite amusing though because there weren’t that many bands playing at the time
GL- that’s exactly what shocked me because you got a lot of success, when you seemed to be in an industry of you’re own competing with other bands of completely different genres.
Ash- Yeah, well we did a lot of those radio things, were they have loads of pop bands playing , and they go through the bands and stuff
GL- You’ve just done one of them haven’t you?
Ash- Yeah, we’ve only done one of them, thankfully! But I guess we had to make our way in to that world a little bit.
GL- yeah I can see that, so how was America?
Ash- Yeah it was good, we kind of toured there for two years, went for it!
GL- was it interesting?
Ash- Yeah it was good yeah
Ash- Yeah very different, They’ve got the rock industry everywhere, so its kind of strange, but its good to be in a country where they listen to rock music a lot as well. Kind of like, rock music’s massive, Urban music and they’ve got pop and all that. Then they’ve got country and western. You know when you get to that side of the country and you listen to all that kind of music, its different.
GL- Moving on to the present, you could see that there was a sunny atmosphere and like a getting over a girl kind of thing when you produced Free all Angles. So what’s behind you’re recent album?
Ash- Its kind of touring the states, taking up that atmosphere, and I guess the situation in the world you know with September 11th and all that kind of stuff. It was quite an era of paranoia around that time.
GL- Yeah I think that’s why a lot of rock bands have emerged at this time, with all the chaos that’s going on
Ash- Yeah you cant help it, you take in you’re environment
GL- yeah, so what was it like recording in America?
Ash- Yeah it was great actually, they know how to get a great performance out of a rock band, and get the sound great, I learnt a lot
GL- You seem a lot heavier in Meltdown. A lot of people have said that you’ve grown up. You’ve down 5 albums now and it does seem that you’ve moved on. Does this mean that we’ve lost the youthful kind of fun side of Ash?
Ash- I don’t think so, I think people sometimes criticise us for been youthful or something just because our music’s got a lot of energy in it
GL- It has got a lot of energy in it but I think that’s what most people like
Ash- exactly so I don’t think we’ve lost it
GL- I think a lot of people were surprised with you’re first single, when we all heard clones it was like, wow, this is a new Ash
Ash- Yeah well we did it on purpose, we wanted to sort of make people think twice about Ash
GL- I read on you’re website that you’re a new ‘beefed up’ Ash
Ash- I guess it is, the rest of the album is, like even the poppier songs are pretty rocking, there are far more powerful drums
GL- I was going to mention that, I mean, he’s really starting to beat them!
Ash- Yeah, its really fucking different, its almost dynamic but reliant, truly, its like a real noticeable difference between the old stuff and the new stuff
GL- Yeah that’s what I wanted to come to, do you find that this album is a combination of all the past albums?
Ash- Yeah, its like ‘Meltdown’ you know it sort of sums it up, it really is, its like, Orpheus, look at that song its really quite a pounding song but then its got a really sugary chorus, with strong melodic chords, so its kind of a really good blend.
GL- So what does playing in Leeds mean to you?
Ash- Well we played our first gigs at the Duke of York, we played their loads, it use to be our favourite venue. Yeah, we played here a lot on our first support tours, and played like, the Irish Centre. We must have played Leeds about 15 times, and then the festivals every year
GL- Yeah you’re playing here this year as well
As- Yeah I remember the festivals here been insane, I remember a few years ago we had to stop the show a few times in the tents, with the crowd just collapsing because it was so insane! There was just this insane bottle war, like with people just throwing bottles everywhere
GL- Yeah well the music scene in Leeds is really expanding, I mean people are calling it the new London or Manchester, so what would you suggest to bands that want to get in to you’re kind of place?
Ash- Well I guess its different in England there’s a lot more media supporting local music. I can remember in Northern Ireland when we started there wasn’t any, I mean, now a days there’s quite a good music scene. I mean as soon as you’re on the mainland its quite easy to break out. Id just keep plugging away. And also the internet that we didn’t have at the time
GL- Yeah, so you’ve been together for how long, 11 years?
Ash- 12 years we’ve been a band
GL- well that’s amazing, so what do you think you’ve learnt over these 12 years?
Ash- I guess I learnt how to separate the whole business side from the making music side, you kind of have to take the business side seriously but never let it influence or get in the way of you’re music.
GL- So you’ve released chart topping singles, you’ve done many albums, what’s for the future of Ash?
Ash- I don’t know, just keep going. Its just sometimes with bands like REM, it took them like 6 albums to really explode. I guess were just addicted to the adrenaline, of people listening to you’re records. We always feel like were on an up- hill struggle, like there’s something always driving you, and you’ve got to get to the next stage. It always drives you when you do big support gigs, like with Robbie Williams last year, it was great playing to half a million people at Knebworth over three days, playing to an audience that we’d never really sell records to, it was interesting.