After an eight year gap only punctuated with a string of singles in between, Irish rock veterans Ash are back with a new album – ‘Kablammo!’. We sent Glasswerk reporter Jennifer Ho to chat to drummer Rick McMurray about what their comeback means.
With the new album name – why, out of all the words in the English dictionary – did you go with the onomatopoeic ‘Kablammo!’?
After the last album title ‘Twilight of the Innocents’ we were just looking for something fun. It came from a friend of ours that had sent us drum samples, and one of the tracks was called ‘Kablammo’. Tim suggested it, and my first reaction was, “what?!”, but now I think it’s the perfect album title. Plus, it’s such a Tim Wheeler word. It was really fun album to make. Especially after being away for ages, we just wanted something in your face. So, ‘Kablammo!’ it was.
Do you find yourself saying “kablammo” a bit more in your day-to-day life now?
It’s very difficult not to scream “kabalammo” at people now, and especially when you’re doing interviews!
After Twilight of the Innocents, you said you’d never do another album, and now you have another album. Why the change of heart?
I suppose we prematurely predicted the death of the album. If you asked us this in 2007 about what the musical landscape might like today, we would’ve said no one would be making albums anymore.
So that explains The A-Z series, where you released 26 single, one every two weeks?
Our 26 singles in The A-Z Series was to try a new way of working creatively and to engage our fans in a different way. We figured with the advent of streaming we’d work with that and be one step ahead of the industry. While our fans received it really well, record companies didn’t want anything to do with it. From that point of view we had spent more money recording it than we had hoped, meaning we struggled to promote it.
And now you’re back. But why now?
For the first time in our career, Ash had quite an extended break. Tim was doing solo records which took him two years to make, and that was a really personal record for him as it dealt with his dad’s death. He needed to do that for himself and Mark and I were really supportive of him doing that. Tim getting that introspective record done was a big influence in coming back and to make a real guitar record. So since the album format is still very much alive, we wanted to get back into it by making something as celebrated as 1977 or Free All Angels.
You recorded the new album in New York where Tim and Mark now based. Do ever feel a bit isolated being in Scotland?
Nah not really, I’ve always had a distance from the other two. When I’m working I give it my full attention, when I’m not I like to give my family my full attention. Previous to New York they were based in London, so there’s always been a distance there – it’s nothing personal!
Do you notice there’s a gap between your albums and your fans?
It’s kind of crazy that we have fans that go back 20 years. It’s weird phenomenon to see older fans with their kids in the front row, We’ve met mothers and fathers with their sons and daughters after the show and the kids are just as passionate as the parents are about all our stuff.
What songs are you looking forward to playing live?
We’ve been doing a few live – we’ve done Cocoon and Shut Down in the three or four gigs we’ve done this year. But we’re still working through songs at rehearsal and getting things into shape at the moment. I’m really looking forward to playing ‘Let’s Ride’, and judging by the reaction to some teaser videos we’ve put out on Facebook, fans seem excited about that one too.
Finally, what else have you said you’ll never do, but have found yourself doing again?
Drinking [laughs]. I’ve said that a lot. I used to say that every week actually. I did manage to take 361 days off without a hangover – I was drinking very little. I probably needed to prove it to myself that I could do it.
KABLAMMO! is released Monday 25th May and can be preordered HERE.
– Jennifer Ho