on your 10th Anniversar1. Congratulations on your 10th Anniversary in
the Music Industry. Looking back at everything you have achieved so
far, how does it feel to be a part of Ash in 2004?
"Yeah, it's great! For me, being in Ash has got better and better
all of the time, it's like the more we do, the more comfortable we get
with it. We've had our ups and downs you know, but all the downs have
made us stronger."
2. Has the band surpassed your expectations, or do you still have
many more goals left?
"I think the answer is yes to both of those questions. When we
started out, we really didn't have a clue - we had ambition, but no
idea how to realise it, we didn't know how to go about getting a deal
or anything. I think if we hadn't been snapped up when we were, we probably
would've split up, because we were getting really frustrated with not
getting anywhere. But yeah, we've still got a lot of ambitions - we've
had the #1 album and obviously the next thing, would be a #1 single,
that would be great! It's tough to get that, but we could headline a
festival, maybe Reading one year. We'd also like to spread our level
of success in the UK, to other places in the World as well - so there's
still a lot to achieve I think."
3. How does it feel to be regarded as elder statesmen of Indie, even
though you're still a young band?
"It's kind of weird (laughing). On the one hand, we've been around
for a hell of a long time, longer than most bands survive, yet at the
same time, we're kind of around the same age as bands like Coldplay.
But The Darkness and Franz Ferdinand, who are both on they're first
big album, are probably older than us, so it's bizarre."
4. You recently returned to Downpatrick, for a homecoming show and
to visit your old school. How did it go?
"Going back to school was nuts, we sort of walked in, met the select
few in the classes, and saw old teachers and stuff. Then the bell went
and the classes changed, and 200 to 300 kids swamped us looking for
autographs. A few things have changed, but when we opened up the doors
and walked into the school, the smell was just like total deja-vu -
this was the first time we'd been back in 10 years! The gig was amazing,
400 people crammed into this tiny little room at The Arts Centre. It
was a great homecoming, because again, the last time we played there
was 10 years ago, just before we got signed as well. Afterwards, we
went out and had a few jars in the local bar, where we used to drink,
had a lock-in in there, and played a few more songs - which was actually
more fun than the gig, I really enjoyed that! I think that one night,
finished at about 6am or something."
5. Some of your dreams have come true this year - you were joined
onstage by Brian Robertson (Thin Lizzy guitarist) + you also visited
the Skywalker Ranch. What are your memories of these events?
"Well having Brian Robertson onstage, was absolutely amazing -
we did The Boys Are Back In Town
rock 'n' roll is not dead yet!
He's been going for years, he's been through it all with Thin Lizzy,
and he still dresses like a rocker - he's got big drainpipe jeans, that
are the tightest pair of jeans ever, and I think he's just an amazing
guitarist! Doing that on St. Patrick's night as well - there were a
few Irish people down the front in tears (laughing), it was great! Then
going to the big Skywalker Ranch was pretty cool, I don't even remember
much of it, we were just sort of in and out again quite quickly. You'd
probably have to have a few visits to take it all in, as there's so
much there, but it's really impressive. The best bit, was this one cabinet
with stuff from all of the Indiana Jones films, loads of props etc.,
which was amazing. The reason we went there, is that we've been asked
to contribute a song, to a new Star Wars video game. But it's kind of
funny, because when the press got wind of us going to the Skywalker
Ranch, it was completely blown out of proportion. One of the Sunday
Papers said something like, "Ash are going to be in the new Star
Wars film." Good rumour though (laughing)."
6. With Meltdown, you wanted to make a "more coherent record"
from start to end?
"Yeah, I think in the past, most of our records have been a real
eclectic bunch of songs, which is cool, as it kind of runs the gamut
of all the stuff we do. But with Meltdown, we wanted it to have more
direction and impact, so you know where you stand with it - it is a
7. Is it true, that this was your easiest record to make, that it
was very organic the way the album came together?
"Again yeah, I think in the past, the writing process for records
has always been a difficult time. I guess the most difficult, was when
we were doing Nu-Clear Sounds, but on Free All Angels, we took a long
time to get that right - we made sure we prepared and we demoed like
30 songs for it, which must have taken at least 9 months. But this time
around, we got into the rehearsal studio and Tim brought all of his
ideas, and within 4 or 5 days, we banged together like 10 songs. Then
we just went and demoed those, and a few weeks later we did it again,
so out of those 20 songs, we had the whole album done really quickly.
I think our confidence was just really high on this record, we were
really enjoying it."
8. Touring the USA in 2002 / 2003, obviously influenced the recording
of Meltdown. How did you decide on hiring Nick Raskulinecz to produce
"We were doing the demos, and some guy was working next door with
the Gang Of Four, I think. Tim got chatting to him, and this guy was
saying "I've just heard some of the new Killing Joke record, Dave
Grohl's playing drums and it's the best drum sound I've ever heard in
my life - you should check out the producer, Nick Raskulinecz."
Then, a few weeks later, our A&R man at the record company, sent
through a list of all these producers as long as your arm, and we spotted
Nick's name. We're obviously into the Foo Fighters and their last album
sounded pretty cool, so we scheduled a meeting with him, in the middle
of our American Tour, in 2003. We had no days off on tour, so we were
like fuck it, let's have a couple of meetings with producers and fly
to the next gig, get the record company to pay for the flights. We all
had hangovers after the L.A. show, and Nick came bouncing in saying
"Oh man, the demo of that song Clones is fucking amazing!"
He was so enthusiastic, asking us what bands we were into, and when
we mentioned Nirvana, he said "Let's go record at the studio where
Nirvana made Nevermind." We were kind of blown away by his enthusiasm,
so it was like all right, let's give him a shot, and he turned out to
be really good. A little less drinking this time (laughing), but it
was definitely the most fun I've had making a record, it was really
relaxed. In the past, we'd always been living in a residential studio,
so this time, we just had a bit of space to get excited about it. After
we'd finished a day's work, we could sit and have a couple of beers,
and say "That was good today, I can't wait to get in tomorrow,"
and then we were just pumped up for it the next day."
9. What was it like recording @ Sound City Studio, Van Nuys, CA -
where Nirvana made Nevermind?
"It was one of those things, it was like great, we're going to
record there - you're really excited about it, but then you get there
and you're like it's cool, and within 2 or 3 days, it's just a studio
you know. On the way in, you can at least walk past the platinum disc
on the wall, take a photograph of that and forget about it, but it's
10. Would you agree, that your drums have given Meltdown its power?
"Yeah, I think my drumming style has changed quite a bit, it's
a lot more to the fore on this record, and it's mixed a lot higher.
Meltdown has been mixed more like a rock record, so the drums are louder."
11. Although this is Ash's heaviest release to date, was it important
to the band, that you retain your trademark melodies?
"That's the thing, no matter what we write really, the music can
change from songs like Candy, to songs like Clones, but it'll still
always have Tim's melodies, because at the end of the day, that's what
music is, it's about the melodies. You can back it up with a bit more
power obviously, but it's always going to be recognisable as Ash, which
12. Is it true, that after listening to Intergalactic Sonic 7"s,
Tim "couldn't believe how personal most of the songs were"
- so he wanted to broaden his subject matter on Meltdown?
"Yeah, in the past, you'd always been able to tell how Tim was
feeling, at that period in his life, by listening to the album or b-sides,
or lyrics that he'd written while we were on the road - you could always
kind of gauge that. But with this record (pausing), he's been with the
same girlfriend for a long time, so there are a couple of fucking hardcore
songs on it, but he's writing from his imagination and from past experience,
rather than from this point in time, which makes things a bit more universal.
Clones is just a bit of a rant really, it can be applied to a lot of
things. I think we were doing an interview in Germany, and this guy
was saying "So is Clones about all of these Boy Bands, that they're
all the same, they're all clones?" We were like it could be (laughing),
but not specifically, it can be applied to a lot of situations, like
disappointment and being let down you know."
13. As well as contributing more backing vocals to Meltdown, Charlotte
also recorded her debut solo album Grey Will Fade. Can you tell us more
"It's all of these songs Charlotte's written, since she joined
the band - some of her stuff doesn't quite fit in. Her music is bit
more left-field than Ash, she's into more XTC which I can't see working
with Ash, but she just wanted to do it, to get it out of her system.
I think it's cool that she's done it, it sounds really good. A few people
are like "Is she going to leave Ash?" - but no, she just wanted
to get all of these songs off her chest, and to get them out there.
I don't think Charlotte wants the pressure of being the front-person,
she just wants to play guitar."
14. Mark still helps with designing Ash's artwork / logos, but you've
also collaborated with a tattoo artist. Can you tell us about Tim's
phoenix tattoo / Meltdown's sleeve?
"Tim was just getting into tattoos, when we went out to do the
album. He was like "I'm gonna get a new tattoo," and Dave
Grohl was hanging around a lot, because he's really good friends with
Nick. Foo Fighters had just finished a tour, and Tim asked Dave about
his tattoos. Dave said, "It's this Irish guy, Rori Keating (www.roritattoo.com),
who lives down in San Diego, that's where I go to get mine," so
Tim went down there and got the phoenix done, and we were like we should
use that for something. Then we talked to Rori, and asked him to come
up with a logo run, with the tribal designs that he does - like the
Clones logo and the new Ash logo - because Mark was like, we should
try and keep it all around that tattoo idea. Rori came up with a few
ideas, and Mark went through them with him, saying change this / change
that. So we built the artwork around the phoenix tattoo, and then Mark
took that and did the fire etc. It's my favourite Ash sleeve, because
it's really striking."
15. You are now Festival veterans, and will be playing at many over
the summer. If you could choose a fantasy bill, featuring Ash + new
and old bands, who would you pick?
"That's a funny thing (laughing), because if we were asked this
question in the past, we would always have The Pixies on it - but we're
gonna actually be doing Festivals with The Pixies this year! We're also
supporting them in Berlin and Paris as well, at their own shows, so
that's pretty amazing. But other bands I'd have on, would be Nirvana,
The Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, original line-up
of course - that would keep me more than happy (laughing)."
16. Have your rock 'n' roll lifestyles eased off at all?
"I guess I have a bit, but I still go for it from time to time.
Drinking can take it out of you - I found out last week, that I can't
really hammer it as much as I used to. I think the older you get, the
worse the hangovers get, and the gigs take precedence of course, so
you have to keep your habits tempered around that."
17. What happened to the release of the Ash DVD, which was to set
to include all of your Promo Videos, and the spoof-horror film Slashed?
"We've always talked about doing the video collection, and I'm
sure we will do it at some point, we already talked about it again this
year - maybe at Christmas? But as for Slashed, it's kind of difficult
because we never got round to finishing it, it's like 2 years old and
everyone kind of looks a bit different as well, so the continuity's
gone. So I don't know how we're going to finish it, but there are some
cool bits in it, it's kind of funny. Maybe we'll get Mark to edit a
few little scenes and stuff, and put it up on our Website."
18. Were you pleased with the 2003 C4 Documentary, Ash: Love &
"I didn't really know what to think of it, it was an interesting
project to be involved in, but it was quite bizarre, I don't know, I'm
not sure what to say about that (laughing). I think it's a very difficult
thing to pull-off, when you're trying to do something quite different
with a band documentary, without slipping into Spinal Tap-isms."
19. The programme featured darker electronic / experimental music,
which at the time, was the direction everyone thought Ash were heading
in. Is this something that you may return to?
"I think for me, I'm really happy with this album and with the
rockier direction, and I would definitely love to do the next album,
with the same sort of team and a similar kind of vibe. Tim's quite into
experimenting with Pro Tools, and looping stuff up on his laptop, but
I think in our heart of hearts, we're just a rock band really."
20. Are you looking forward to touring Meltdown around the World?
"Yeah, we're going to Europe, but we've got to sort out yet another
deal in the States, because the record label that Free All Angels came
out on, went bankrupt, so we're looking for another deal at the minute.
Hopefully, we'll get the record out before the end of the year, but
we're definitely up for giving it a shot. On the last album, we got
ourselves such a good fan-base, that we could go out there and tour
on our own, and make a little bit of money. I think out of all our records,
Meltdown's got the sound and has the most potential!"
21. By continuing through good times and bad, Ash have earned a great
deal of respect over the last 10 years. This must be very satisfying
"Yeah, it's great - looking back at all of the bands who were coming
out at the time, when we released Trailer, none of them are around,
so we're sole-survivors from that time. It feels good that we were able
to stick it out, as not many bands do. Looking to the next 10 years,
you never know what's going to happen, but we'd love to spread the level
of success that we have here. We're not one of the biggest bands in
the country, but we do really well, so to have that all around the World
would be brilliant!"
22. Ash Fact: Is it true, that Girl From Mars was originally called
Girl From Ards (a place in Northern Ireland), and was written about
a girl, Tim went out with from there?
"No, that's not true at all (laughing), that's a new one on me.
Funnily enough, Ards is the Football team that my Dad supports as well,
so it could have been. In fact, we should've recorded a version called
Girl From Ards, and then we could play that, every time they come out
and get beat (laughing)."
23. Lastly, Chips or Cream Buns?
"Chips - I haven't had any for a while, so I'll have to have some
A very special thanks to Rick, Ash, Ian Cheek and Rosey, for all
of their time and help.