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One of our favourite bands are touring soon. Those purveyors of power pop, Ash are coming back to Australia with a hot off the presses new album called Kablammo!
We had a chat with the main man, Tim Wheeler.
Hello Tim! So where are you at the moment?
Yes I am in New York. It's pretty cold at the moment....snowing.
So you are coming to tour Australia soon. How many times have you been to Australia, Tim?
I am not really sure but it must be somewhere near ten times. Almost every album we did a tour and then a couple of extra times as well.
We obviously love you then.
Oh yeah, we are very lucky. The first time was 1995. It's been many years of coming there.
So you guys have been around for 24 year with the same three core members. What is the secret for you guys success?
I think we were mates in the first place and that's a real big thing. I think our stubbornness keeps us together. We really love what we do and we're good mates really and it's just three of us, which is really good. I am always amazed that a band like Polyphonic Spree existed. That's crazy.
That band is like a football team. Well they can hardly tour Australia because of the size of that band. There last tour was sponsored by a major liquor company.
Yeah and they probably still lost money doing it. I think keep it compact and be good mates.
So tell me about the early years of the band. Was it a bit of a struggle?
We had really good success when were on the indie label. We were quite lucky. We got on the radio and the music press behind us. Before we left Northern Ireland it was a bit tough because we didn't know how we were going to get every heard by anyone else. It was pretty hard as not many A&R people ever check out what was going on in Northern Ireland. We were pretty provincial guys and it was amazing we made it to London. We were very young and we had really young fans too.
1977 is such a classic pop album and you played it in it's entirety on your last Aussie tour. Is there any memorable highlights of that last tour down under?
Ahhh, that was wicked. Yeah it was brilliant fun. It was quite a cool nostalgic trip getting to playing the full album. I think it has really influenced our new record as well. We have gone back to our early sound. It's quite easy to play and lots of fun as well. It's all muscle memory and it cool to see everybody getting misty eyed and remembering their youth and stuff. I never want to look back too much but it was quite nice to get to it and receive such a good response.
You have also done some excellent covers over the years. I remember you played the Pixies "Where Is My Mind?" a few years ago live, which totally blew my mind. Recently you have been doing the classic Undertones number and John Peel's favourite song, "Teenage Kicks". Any chance we will get to hear that on your forthcoming tour?
I like playing "Teenage Kicks" because it was the first ever song I learnt the first day I had a guitar. My cousin taught me a very basic version on how to play it. It's really cool and always gets a great reaction. We sometimes pop other covers. We like something mischievous and shake it up. You got me thinking now so I will work on it.
Way back in 2007 with your album "Twilight Of The Innocents" the band announced it going to be your last album. How did that news go down with the media and your fans? Did you have any backlash or were people upset by that news?
Yeah at the time people were pretty freaked out about it. It was definitely a pretty bold statement to make at the time. Around that time Radiohead put out an album that was pay want you want. Albums were going through a shaky period. They have come back strong. We were a bit worried that people would be pissed off if we actually did make another album. No one seemed to be that mad at all when we were making one. When we said we were not making any more albums, iTunes was massive and people were mostly just downloading single tracks. Things have changed and streaming became really big and vinyl came back and people were buying full albums again.
After that album, you released a whole string of singles. They were just coming out at a rapid rate that people couldn't believe it. Out of all of those singles that came out, which one stands out as your favourite.
Maybe "Arcadia" which was quite an early one. Another one I really love is a ten or eleven minute instrumental called "Sky Burial". The very final one "There Is Hope Again" I thought was very cool. They were really diverse. It was the hardest I have ever worked in my whole life. Making a new single every two weeks was crazy.
You are know to be a great singles band with popular songs like "Girl From Mars", "Kung Fu", "Oh Yeah" and so on. Is there one particular song that you are most proud of? That you would love to known for as being the Ash legacy?
I'm very proud of "Shining Light". It sort of takes on a life of it's own. It's been covered a lot, which is quite an complement. Annie Lennox did a version of that too. A song like "Girl From Mars" defined us early on. It's uptempo, very melodic and it's sci-fi. It's a toss up between "Shining Light' and "Girl From Mars" from me.
So tell me about the new album Kablammo! You mentioned before it was going back to basics. Tell me about the recording and the songs on this new album?
We spent a lot of time writing. It kind of hard to get into an album mindset after doing all of those singles. It was kind of hard to remember how to put an album together. We were definitely thinking a lot about what albums of ours the fans liked the best. Going out and doing those 1977 shows definitely influenced it. We mostly going back to get that three piece guitar band record that would really work well in the live set. The title is called Kablammo! because a lot of it is explosive fast pop songs. It's a fun record as well with good energy on it. It's been amazing to play live and it really suit really well with all our big hits that people love to see us play. It's really fresh for us too.
It will certainly be exciting to hear some of those songs live. Let's wrap this up because I don't want to take up anymore of your time. We are really looking forward to see your show here in Melbourne.
Thank you so much. I hope to see you at the show.
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