fredag 19 januari 2018

Ash - från Fozzie 10, 2005

Tim Wheeler: sång, gitarr
Charlotte Hatherley: gitarr
Mark Hamilton: bas
Rick McMurray: trummor

Ashs förra skiva "Free All Angels" var en av mina favoritskivor 2002. När jag såg att de skulle spela på Hultsfredsfestivalen 2004 bokade jag en intervju med dem, innan jag ens lyssnat på deras nya skiva "Meltdown". När jag väl lyssnade på den blev jag lite förskräckt: Ash hade gått och blivit hårdrockare. Vid närmare lyssning hörde jag att det som vanligt låg briljanta melodier bakom allt riffande, och när jag såg dem live på festivalen före intervjun mindes jag varför jag älskar dem.
Jag intervjuade Ash för mitt förra jobb 2002, och när jag nu träffade Tim och basisten Mark igen kände de faktiskt igen mig.
De började med att bläddra igenom förra numret av Fozzie, och tyckte det var lite kul att bli intervjuade för ett fanzine.
 What's happened to you? How did you become so heavy metal?
Tim: - Well, we always were heavy metal to begin with, you know. First of all we started as a heavy metal group, and then we kind of got into Nirvana and then we got into more kind of pop stuff I guess as well. But I think it's still very melodic, the music, it's just a bit more metal influenced, but  not disgustingly so, you know (he laughed).
Yeah, you can still hear the pop melodies in the bottom, but all the riffing kind of gets in front of it...
Tim: - Yeah.
Mark: - The drums as well are a bit more aggressive.
Tim: - I think it's great, it's a great mix. It's sort of what we've always aimed for, you know.
I guess "Free All Angels" is the most "pop-y" you've done.
Tim: - Yeah, but everyone would say that live it was heavier, so it was the music production as well, that went around it.
Do you think that you scared any of your old fans off with this album? I actually got kind of freaked out the first time I heard it, like "What is this?!" I'm liking it more and more, but...
Tim: - Yeah... I think it grows on people. Maybe, I don't know... We didn't plan to intimidate anyone (laughed a little), I think it's really a very accessible album, but it just depends. Maybe if you just like indie music and you don't like rock it might freak you out. But it didn't freak us out, because we like all kinds of music. So I don't know. I think that if people give it time they should like it. It's a grower.
Is there some kind of theme on this album, it seems like?
Tim: - There's a bit of a sub-cultural vibe, and also it's quite influenced by what was going on in the world, there was a war happening, and all the paranoia and fear after September 11, some of that seeped into the music. A song like "Meltdown", I wrote that after going on peace marches, you know, for the war.

I skivhäftet finns en liten humoristisk novell, vid namn "The Grapes Of Ash", skriven av den amerikanske författaren JT LeRoy. Den handlar om att Ash kommer ridande på kameler genom en radioaktiv öken och blir upptäckta av soldater som först tänker skjuta dem, men de räddas av att soldaterna ser Tim iklädd bikini och att de hör att de pratar irländska så de tror att det är U2 som kommer.
"But why didn't you put Charlotte in the bikini though?
'Well in all honesty Tim just looks hotter in a thong. I mean look at his calves?'"
På frågan vad de gör ute i öknen mitt under ett krig när de just släppt en ny skiva svarar de:
"Ash'll be around... Wherever there's lighter fluid so hungry people can eat... Whenever there's a funeral director cremating a guy, Ash'll be there... And when the people are eatin' the stuff they burn to shit and livin' in the houses they also burn to shit. Ash'll be there too."
 How did you get the writer JT LeRoy to write the sleeve notes? It's a really funny text.
Tim: - Yeah, it's cool, isn't it? I met him through a journalist friend from Dublin. We were touring the States a lot, so we would sort of hook up with him when we were in San Francisco. He's crazy... he's cool. He came down to the studio and all the people in the studio were like "There's two girls, a guy and a kid in there", and one of the girls was actually JT. (Mark laughed) He really looks so like a girl, it's amazing.
How old is he?
Tim: - He's like 21 or something. He's really young. He's really talented. But he finds it hard to deal with the world, you know, he's kind of a strange guy.
Mark: - Stroke girl.
The U2 thing in the text was very funny. What do you think about U2?
Tim: - I like them, I think they're great. They're fucking gods. Rock gods, you know. I think Bono will like that.
Do you know if he's read it yet?
Tim: - I don't think so. I saw his agent recently, and he was telling him to go and say good luck to the boys (Ash, alltså, red.).
That's nice.
Tim: - Yeah, but once he reads the album notes... (laughter) But I've got better legs than him!
Oh yeah. You probably do though.
Tim: - Yeah. His are a bit stumpy. (laughter)
Can you say anything about the lyrics - do you think you have changed the way you write lyrics?
Tim: - Yeah, I tried not to write such a personal album this time. "Free All Angels" is all about breaking up and falling in love and stuff, and I thought I'd done that a lot, so I wanted to do something different. So I was just trying to think more about social stuff, thinking about a bigger picture, not just so self-obsessed.
Do you think you've succeeded?
Tim: - Yeah, I think it's cool, it's different, and I like them. I'm proud of them.
"Orpheus", why that title?
Tim: - It's about someone who's been through hell and trying to get out on the other side and not look back. It's loosely based on the myth. I thought of a few things, a friend's mum had just died, so I was thinking about him, and I was also thinking that it could be a relationship song. It's just about escapism, trying to... in the myth of Orpheus he travels through the underworld, through hell, he's trying to claim back his lover and stuff, and he has to leave and not look back.
Jag intervjuade Ash för några år sedan, för en musiksite jag jobbade på då.
The last time I met you - I don't know how serious you were, but you said that you were driven by jealousy.
Tim laughed: - Yeah, that's true! What I was talking about is when you hear great music and it sort of inspires you to try and do something as good as that.
So what have you been jealous of this time, for this album?
Tim: - Maybe like Queens Of The Stone Age and Thin Lizzy... And still stuff like The Beatles, you listen to that music and go "fuck!" (laughed) We saw Pixies a week ago and I was just like "Oh my God, that is so good"! That kind of makes you want to pick up a guitar and do something.
Mark: - And when you see other bands having great success you strive, you just want to get bigger and better.
But you got bumped down to a smaller scene this year!
Tim: - I know, yeah, it's weird.
Also last time, Mark said that you were hoping that Kurt Cobain's spirit would help you write the next album. Do you think it did?
Mark: - That's bizarre, because we would never have known then that we actually recorded the album in the same studio where "Nevermind" was made.
Tim: - So Kurt was guiding us.
Mark: - Yeah, his ghost was there. And Dave (Grohl) hung out for a few days in the studio, it was kind of strange seeing someone who you're a real fan of, like playing drums and being... I don't know, just being around. And we went to his house for a few parties and stuff.
How did it go in the States then?
Tim: - Good. We did a lot of touring, we spent most of 2002 there, and got our own tour in 2003. Just through a lot of supporting other bands we built up a good fan base, so we're just waiting to go back with this new record.
What bands did you support?
Tim: - David Bowie, Moby, Coldplay.
Mark: - Dashboard Confessional
Tim: - 6th Day, Our Lady Peace. Quite a lot, that took seven months. Non stop. (laughed a little)
Do you actually notice difference between people in the States and at home?
Tim : - Well, they're pretty different. I just mean... well, it's the culture and stuff like that. I like the sound of American records, but there are so many bands that are exactly the same. You know? You travel anywhere in the States and it's exactly the same shops everywhere... and all that. And that's coming to Europe as well.
The album is dedicated to Simon J Brown (1982-2003). Who was he?
Tim: - He was this young kid who we used to know, and he died of cancer. He used to come to our shows, and his friends wrote to us and told us about him, and... we went to an awards show and we brought him along, just for the gesture, and we gave him our award and stuff. And then we did some concerts for a teenage cancer trust in the UK as well, and he was there. But then he died.
Mark: - He had a very aggressive cancer, where you have treatments, and it kept coming back, he had it like eight times, really crazy.
Tim: - He was really brave, and he loved our band, and you know, he was just very cool, so...
Mark: - He didn't let it get to him, he was a fighting spirit.
That is so important.
Tim: - We just wanted to make a tribute to him.
I probably asked you this last time as well, but I don't remember what you answered, but I always ask this: which question would you most of all like to answer?
Tim: - Want to answer? Ehm... Last time I probably said "Why are you so great?"
I don't think you did, it was something about socks and stuff I think. Charlotte said something like "How does it feel to be the world's greatest female guitarist?"
Tim: - Okay, that's really cool.
But okay, how does it feel to be so great?
Tim: - It feels really good, thank you. (and then he laughed and smiled the way that makes all the girls I know have a crush on him.)
Mark: - Oh, I don't know. The question would be like "Do you have the biggest Star Wars toy collection in Ireland?" And I had a dream about this last night, and I was like really not sure if I did or not, I was trying to put them all in rows to see how many they were.
Tim: - You probably do. The answer is probably yes.
Mark: - I'd say I've got a good chance.
And then a question that I always ask as well, because of the name of the fanzine: which is your favourite Muppet? Did you ever watch The Muppets - you're so young...?
Both: - Yeah!
Mark: - Loved it.
Tim: - Well, I think you've got the best one, Fozzie. He's a loveable character.
Mark: - Animal is good.
Tim: - I like the guys who sit in the balcony, the old guys who just slag off everything.
Waldorf and Statler.
Tim: - There were so many great characters. I suppose Kermit's the king.
Mark laughed a little: - Kermit's the king of the Muppets.
Tim: - And Fozzie. Animal of course being the greatest drummer. Definitely based on Keith Moon.
Mark: - I love "A Christmas Carol", I watch it once a year. I try to watch it on Christmas eve, whenever I go home.

Charlotte och Rick hade suttit en bit bort och gjort en intervju med någon annan, men de blev färdiga samtidigt som jag, Tim och Mark, så de anslöt sig snällt för att ta några foton. Charlotte har för övrigt gjort en soloskiva, "Grey Will Fade", som tyvärr inte släppts i Sverige, men den går förstås beställa över nätet.


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