1977 Live @ London Roundhouse / Astoria
September 5 / 6, 2008
Questionnaire & Photography: Steve Bateman

On September 5 / 6, 2008 @ the London Roundhouse and Astoria (aka Ashtoria) respectively, Ash will be performing their full-length debut album 1977 - complete with backdrop - along with a host of b-sides and rarities, before later returning to the stage for an encore of Greatest Hits and new material. An epic pair of sets indeed, which understandably, Mark, Rick, Tim and the Ash faithful, are all extremely excited about!

Originally released on May 6, 1996, through Infectious Records and produced by Owen Morris + the band. The 1977 LP, which went straight to # 1 (Ash were the first Northern Irish act to ever achieve this feat), has been certified Platinum and has now sold over 1 million copies worldwide, still remains a firm favourite amongst music lovers 12 years on! Thanks in no small part to its impressive collection of powerfully melodic, hook heavy, punk-pop songs, such as Lose Control, Goldfinger, Girl From Mars, Kung Fu, Oh Yeah, Angel Interceptor, Lost In You and the 'infamous' hidden track, Sick Party.

All of which, perfectly encapsulate the joys of being young, falling in love, endless Summers and what it feels like to have the rest of your life ahead of you.

Written while the Downpatrick group were all still teenagers studying for their A-Levels, and recorded at Rockfield Studios, Wales, the album's title was inspired by "three events which shaped the band." As 1977 was the year of Mark and Tim's birth, saw the explosion of punk and also the release of Star Wars IV: A New Hope, which the record references by opening with the sound of a TIE Fighter and closing with the song Darkside Lightside - each paying homage to the group's long-running infatuation with George Lucas' original sci-fi trilogy.

Although Ash's 1994 mini-album, Trailer (so-called because it was intended as a trailer for what was to later come), was a learning-curve and gave the 3-piece their first proper taste of recording in a studio. 1977 was a chance to hone their skills and make a 'THIS IS WHAT WE'RE ALL ABOUT!' mission statement to the world - and they delivered it with aplomb.

So, to help promote the forthcoming 1977 shows and the 3CD Deluxe Edition reissue of the LP, which is set to be put out through Rhino later this year (further details can be found @ Mark has very kindly answered a special 1977 R*E*P*E*A*T Questionnaire, which focuses primarily on his thoughts on the forthcoming commemorative gigs, his memories of making and touring the album all those years ago, the lasting appeal of a modern classic, and what the future holds for Ash.

All that remains left for me to say is, Good Luck to the guys with both shows, have a really great time and like many other devoted fans, I'll see you down the front…

Lucy: Your band have been quite quiet for the last few months. Are you looking forward to playing gigs again?
Katie Jane Garside: I think I give very obtuse ans

1. Firstly, whose idea was it to play 1977 in its entirety, and can fans expect to see other Ash albums performed in full in the future?
"Well, after we heard Rhino were gonna release the 1977 Deluxe Edition, our agent asked us if we wanted to do any 1977 shows to help launch it. We hadn't really thought about it until then, but it sounded like a lot of fun and a good excuse for a party! No plans as-of-yet to do any other in full shows at the moment, but who knows, in a few years we could do Free All Angels. We were just gonna do the Roundhouse, but because it sold out so quickly, we added the Astoria as it's our favourite venue. Dunno how in demand a Nu-Clear Sounds one would be! : )"

2. Have you been pleased with the reaction from fans, the music press etc. to the announcement, and what was the best thing that someone said about 1977 upon its release in The '90s?

"It's hard to remember the reviews, as it's 12 years now since it was first released… how old does that make me feel! But it's cool to know that it's now regarded by many people as a classic album. The reaction by the fans has been great. The shows sold out quickly and because the 3CD set is gonna be packed with bonus material, they should be content. They're all happy on our forums anyway!"

3. If you could handpick some of your favourite artists / bands to play their albums in full, who would it be and which records?

"I'd love to see Weezer do Pinkerton and The Blue Album again. We toured with them on the Pinkerton US Tour, and it was one of the best experiences ever. I also wouldn't mind seeing The Smashing Pumpkins do Siamese Dream again. We supported them years ago at the SFX in Dublin, but the PA sucked so bad you couldn't even work out the songs. Sonic Youth doing Goo or Dirty would be awesome."

4. Is it rewarding for you all, to think that 1977 is regarded by so many people as one of the great debut LPs of all-time, and do you have any favourite debut records?
"It's a bit embarrassing for me when people say that to you. You'd be a bit of a cock if you nodded along going "Yeah, it is one of the greatest isn't it." My favourite recent debut is the Klaxons' Myths Of The Near Future - they really exploded from out of nowhere with that and deservedly so, the songs are classics."

5. Of the Ash songs that you haven't performed very often, including b-sides etc. which are you most looking forward to playing live?
"Looking forward to playing Innocent Smile off 1977, because we haven't done it in a long time and we used to really spaz-out during it. Also some of that era's b-sides - we got a week of rehearsing beforehand to knock them all into shape."

6. Are the 1977 shows going to be filmed / documented for DVD?
"Yes, they're being filmed - dunno if they'll be commercially released on DVD, but we're definitely gonna put both the shows online. We've just re-launched which is under ongoing construction, so it'll be good to have some great new content for that."

7. What are some of your fondest memories of writing and recording 1977, and are the individual songs evocative of the time in which they were created / do you have a personal favourite?

"We had the greatest time with Owen Morris recording 1977 in Rockfield Studios, Wales. There's many, many stories; playing in drag, the Italian stalker who hid in the bushes outside the studio, the sick party, Tim dancing on acid to The Scream (bonus track on the Deluxe Edition), partying with the Monmouth locals, sledding down the Welsh hills… there was a lot of fun times to be fond of. For me, Lost In You is one of our greatest songs because the music and recording captured the emotion in the lyrics precisely. It was the last song recorded for the album, but arguably the best. There's such a good bunch of singles on there, it's hard to pick a favourite, but Kung Fu and Girl From Mars always get the crowd going mental live."

8. Are there any major changes that you would now make to the album?

"Definitely not, it really captured what we were all about at the time perfectly. Tim's voice has come on a long way, he's a much stronger singer now, but he sounds very vulnerable back then, which was maybe part of the appeal. We could of remixed the album and made it more hi-fi, but then it might have lost a lot of it's charm and those who've listened to it for years, might hate a more polished mix. It has an excitement to the sound that's hard to replicate."

9. Do you remember how you felt when the LP was finished (along with the artwork), and you could hold your own record + buy it in the shops?
"I don't remember getting the actual finished copy, but that's always a pretty satisfying feeling. After all the work you put into something and then taking and holding the final product off the shelf, is a kinda cool vindication."

10. Were there any alternative titles / artwork ideas?
"Yes, we did have a name suggestion box in the studio. The album was almost delayed because we didn't have a title until the final deadline day. I remember some of the alternative titles including: Three Tits - The Good, The Bad And The Ugly - Young, Dumb And Full Of Cum… all kinda Three Stooges references!"

11. Of all the 1977 promo videos, which one was the most fun to make?

"Oh Yeah was cool, 'cause I had to make-out with a Swedish model for 2 days. That didn't bother me too much! Angel Interceptor was fun as well - there's a lot of hidden messages in that video that not many people know about. I'm sure if TOTP or MTV had spotted Tim simulating wanking on the bed, they wouldn't have playlisted it! Ha."

12. Do you have any interesting tales from your time on the road touring 1977, and what was your most rock 'n' roll moment?
"Jesus, we were constantly drunk and pretty out-of-control during that period. There was usually some trouble to be found and we'd find it in one way or another. One of the funniest and silliest moments I remember, was stealing a massive Flipper The Dolphin cardboard cut-out from a Norwegian hotel lobby, then being chased after by the bellboy! Most rock 'n' roll - albeit clichéd moment - was wrecking a Japanese hotel room and landing ourselves with a gigantic bill. That was the last time we ever did that!"

13. Is there a standout gig or performance from that period?

"Reading '96 was amazing for us. That's why we dug it out and mixed it for the Deluxe Edition. Also, the 5 night run at the Ashtoria was amazing - another reason why we're returning there to do the second show."

14. Over the years, I've read on many occasions how if the band could go back in time to give yourselves advice, it would be, "Don't let success go to your head." But if you could sum up the 1977 era with a few words, what would they be?
"Young, Dumb And Full Of Cum. (Actually would've been an ok title!)"

15. Lastly, can you reveal any details about new Ash material - musical direction, song titles etc.?
"We're really going in loads of different directions. Not being tied to the album format has freed us up immensely. We've got some really different production styles going on, everything from full-on OutKast style pop to 80's disco and Misfits! We aim to release more new music in 2009 than in any year before. Keep up-to-date with all Ash developments @ Thanks, Mark."


A very special thanks to Mark + to Tav and Mark @ Outthere, for all of their time and help.

"Making Noise Since 1977"

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looeir musicm the 3rd album?