Live @ Carling Academy Bristol
October 21, 2007
Questionnaire & Photography: Steve Bateman

In the year that Ash announced that their fifth album, Twilight Of The Innocents, is to be their last, stating that from now on they will only release singles in the future. Rick kindly took time out after the band had finished their recent UK Tour, to complete a R*E*P*E*A*T e-mail Q&A - with the accompanying photographs shot during Ash's sublime 24 song set at Carling Academy Bristol (where producer Owen Morris was also in attendance).

As a long-time favourite of the Fanzine, and continuing the tradition of Ash being the most interviewed group for the publication, it's worth noting, that since we last spoke to Tim, Mark and Rick, there have been some seismic changes in their lives.

Firstly, the band has reverted back to being a 3-piece, with Charlotte Hatherley pursing a solo career. Secondly, Tim and Mark now live in New York (where Ash have their own recording studio), whilst Rick resides in Scotland. And finally, and perhaps most importantly, is the group's aforementioned decision to remove themselves from The Music Industry treadmill - having now fulfilled their contractual obligations with Warner Music - which is further detailed in extracts taken from the Official Ash Press Release, issued on June 12, 2007:

"The band feel it is time to make a stand in the future digital arena by only releasing singles, and periodically, will release compilation CDs of these singles."

"Owning their own recording studio means that the band will be able to write, record and release their music almost instantly, so their fans will then benefit from not having to wait the usual 'years' between albums."

"At a time when The Music Industry is in flux and with record sales at an all-time low, marketing music in the traditional sense is becoming increasingly less financially viable. The band hope that by harnessing the power of the Internet, and by being more creative in the way their singles are marketed, the record company can maximise sales, increase profits and enhance their already impressive 13 year career."

As one of the most successful and enduring acts from the last decade, and with the rapid shift in the way people now buy and listen to music (further highlighted by Radiohead's In Rainbows). Full marks have to be given to Ash, for being the first group to take such a bold step! Because you just know, that in the future, many more artists and bands are sure to follow their example…


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. To begin with, if it was R*E*P*E*A*T's round, what drink would you have and which song would you choose on the pub jukebox?
"A pint of Magners with ice, and Gimme Shelter by The Stones."

2. Twilight Of The Innocents, was one of my most anticipated album releases of 2007, but has there ever been a record that you just couldn't wait to buy and listen to?
"As a kid, I remember being really excited to hear The Southern Harmony And Musical Companion by The Black Crowes."

3. What's the best record shop that you've ever been to?
"Probably the most formative record shop was in a town called Newtownards, where I spent most of my formative Saturdays just looking at albums and drooling. I can't believe I can't remember its name."

4. Music fans are fully aware of your decision to only release singles from now on, but by reintroducing the pop song as a singular art form, do you think downloading has, in someways, made music seem more disposable?

"I think if you download music for free, you won't care as much about it as if you had bought it, whether as a physical release or download. If you don't invest in it, it won't mean as much to you."

5. The Ash Files (, is a very popular file-sharing site amongst your fans who seek out rarities and live material. Do you think more artists / bands should have websites like this?
"It's a great way to find material you otherwise wouldn't have access to, but, I think the fun of rarities etc. is that you have to become a detective about it. Having said that, it does appeal to my lazy side."

6. What are your memories of the first ever show that you all played together?
"I remember being worried that the drums weren't loud enough."

7. And can you remember when you received your first royalties cheque, and what you spent this on?

"I think we all went down to Denmark Street to buy equipment. All very sensible really."

8. At what point in your career, did you stop and think to yourself, "We're starting to become a success"?

"I think it was around the time Kung Fu came out; everything was building up and at that point, we weren't even full-time. But we knew that was coming."

9. For you personally, what have been the biggest changes that you've seen take place in Ash and in each other, since the band first emerged?
"Facial hair mainly."

10. When reflecting on his music, Nick Cave once said, "A good song has the ability to continue to reveal itself to you, long after you've actually written it." Does this often happen to you?

"Not only to us, but also to new people along the way. It still amazes me when young kids are singing along to every word of say, Girl From Mars, when they were too young to remember it at the time it came out."

11. Similarly, some songwriters believe that "songs are already there and it's their job to find them." Would you agree with this?
"Hard to say really. There is something like discovery when you write something, but why don't people write the same song at the same time?"

12. Ash songs are renowned for their catchy pop hooks - but of all the hooks, which have most stuck in your head?
"End Of The World on the new record, has so many hooks. It's been stuck in my head ever since we finished it."

13. As your last album, have you been pleased with how Twilight Of The Innocents has been received, and with the reaction to your decision to become a singles band?
"I think almost everyone close to the band, has said that it's our best album, which means a lot to me. And I feel the same way about it, so no complaints there. People seem to be quite divided over our decision to become a singles band, but I think they'll get their heads around it in time."

14. Continuing with this train of thought, you've long been considered as a strong singles band anyway, but of all your songs to date, are there any that you now think of as great lost singles?
"Lost In You was the single that never was off 1977, and Walking Barefoot was only a single in Australia. Probably the biggest regret recently, was Evil Eye from Meltdown. We were all sure this was gonna be the first single off that album, but some people just didn't get it."

15. And of all your other songs, which do you think are the most overlooked?

"The title track off Twilight… I think deserves a lot of attention, but it's still early days. I think it will be looked back on as a classic in years to come."

16. You've now toured all over the world - what's the best and the worst dressing room that you've ever been given at a venue?
"Recently in Ireland, we had a dressing room which was a whole bar. Unfortunately, the stage upstairs was a booth in that bar."

17. What's the ultimate song to walk on stage to?

"You can't beat the 20th Century Fox Fanfare."

18. Over the years, which member of Ash has most surprised the others with something that they've done?
"Probably Mark, who has recently immersed himself in books."

19. Your love of all things Star Wars is well documented, but which would you choose out of being a Jedi or joining The Dark Side?

"I'm tired of The Dark Side. I just can't find a way out."

20. Is there anything in life that you've never tried, but would like to?

21. If you had the opportunity to interview another artist or band, who would it be and why?

"The Knife. Just to see if they'd turn up dressed like crows."

22. Are there any instruments that you've never used, or any styles of music that you haven't yet tried, that you would like to one day incorporate into the sound of Ash?
"The Bassoon, although I have a feeling I might be overruled on that one."

23. Which Ash logo do you think is the best?
"Which one sold the most?"

24. Do you have any favourite haunts in Ireland and New York, that you'd recommend to us?
"Belfast would have to be Katy Daly's pub quiz. They do bingo and everything!"

25. Of all your achievements to date, which are you most proud of?

"Managing to answer this questionnaire, just hours after having a tooth removed. I'm surprised I can type!"

26. If you had to place 5 Ash songs in a time-capsule for future generations to hear, what would they be?

Girl From Mars
Burn Baby Burn
Evil Eye
Twilight Of The Innocents

27. Lastly, chips or cream buns?

"Anything, as long as I can drink it through a straw!"

A very special thanks to Rick and Ash, to Ian @ Ian Cheek Press, and to Tav @ Outthere for all of their time and help.

Bristol Set List

Lose Control
You Can't Have It All
A Life Less Ordinary
Shining Light
I Started A Fire
Walking Barefoot
Dark And Stormy
Jack Names The Planets
Kung Fu
Renegade Cavalcade
Oh Yeah
Girl From Mars
Twilight Of The Innocents
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
End Of The World
Angel Interceptor
Lost In You
Pacific Palisades
Burn Baby Burn

"I'm still breathing, my heart's still beating"

wers to questions...It's never about looking forward to it. Actually maybe I should change the
script, maybe we are looking forward to it. (Laughs). It's difficult to say because the last few months have felt strange, it's felt like going down a plughole. I've got a real sense of vertigo at the moment. So I can't tell you that I'm looking forward to it. I will get through it and find where I land after that. That's what will happen.

Lucy: 'Taxidermy' and 'Drink Me' are quite drastically different in their musical styles, so what kind of sound can we expect from the 3rd album?
KJG: We don't know yet. We're playing a lot of new material tonight so you'll be able to judge that for yourself. When I'm this close up to it, it's really difficult to tell. I'm on a bit of a negative slant today, but usually with our music I can only hear the bits that have gone wrong rather
than anything that went right. When you reflect back on something it's very difficult to give an objective opinion, and I don't believe in objectivity anyway, I think everything's subjective. I just throw a deck of cards and
wherever they land, that's where she finds herself. I'm not really the one to explain my part in it, you must do that as the observer really, and of course that will reflect your part in the grand scheme of things.

Lucy: Do you enjoy playing live more than the creative process in the studio?
KJG: (Laughs) I don't enjoy any of it. It comes and it goes, ok? There's nothing like when you're writing and you manage to catch something by its
tail; when you're looking for those things underground that are skittering out of sight just when you're about to catch them. And when you catch them it is worth it, but it's a momentary pleasure. I've got so much noise upstairs, and I can hear things in my head that to me are absolutely devastatingly beautiful. I'm always trying to download them and get them
here, but they never get here in the right state, they're always very disabled and they don't even begin to imitate what I can hear in my head.
It's a frustrating process in the main.

Lucy: Your lyrics are simultaneously emotionally expressive and cryptic. Are you looking to be understood by your audience?
KJG: I'm always trying to understand myself, but it's like there's a point in the centre of the room, and there's a hundred windows to look at the same point from. All I can do is give you different angles on the same thing. God, you know, if I could find one conclusive thing in anything I would probably have something to put an anchor down on. But I cant, and I haven't met anyone that can. You can pick out anything you like in my lyrics, I don't seek to be cryptic. I love words for the sake of words, for me they're kind of free standing, and they don't really need to be explained. I think every word has its own character and colour and picture and the result you get with lyrics just depends how you put them together. You could just do it in a William Burroughs esque way, or throw the deck of cards, and you'd probably still find something that our tiny little minds would latch on to in order to gain some kind of emotional understanding. I don't think there's a constant, the only constant that there is for me is that there is no constant. I use myself as my canvas, I gut myself and fillet myself the whole fucking time, I'm always hooking myself out of the water, I'm always cutting my own head off and disembowelling myself, and as you can probably tell I'm quite angry about it at the moment. I'm very tired of it all, of my
process and how I find life, because it always seems to be about living and dying all in one breath. I'm getting pretty fucking tired of that.

Lucy: Do you think drugs stimulate or hinder creativity?
KJG: Well that depends on the drug, because I think most things arrive in the form of a drug really. I know in myself that if anything I am, much to my greater expense, an adrenalin junkie. My synapses don't work well enough to put pills in my mouth, I can't do that, despite popular opinion. I don't need any help breaking down, put it that way. There's not much holding it
together. If there was a drug that could put aline between two polar opposites and make them in to one thing I'm sure I would have it
intravenous, but I haven't found it. I think drugscan be a bit of a lazy way for creativity anyway, you're better off in the cold light of day in the mirror.

Lucy: As a band, you are distinguished by the extreme physicality of your live performances. Do you consciously make an effort to put on a show or do your performances just naturally come to you, and whatever happens, happens?
KJG: It's a bit of both, because you see, I think taking the stage is one of the most unnatural things anyone can do. In a way, just walking on stage actually creates an altered state - its not right, no one's meant to do that, unless you're a priest or a magician, or something like that. To put somebody who's very incapable in many ways in to that position creates a combustion reaction inside me. I know that, and I take the stage knowing that. Obviously there's all the usual things that affect my performance; if I'm on my 45th day of a tour I'm probably gonna be pretty fucking tired, so I'll be dictated by that. If I'm doing new material like tonight I don't
know what's going to happen, because we haven't built the train tracks yet. The beauty of playing live is when my drummer goes in to 5th gear or in to 10th gear, and for some reason there's something that hits me in the base of the spine and I'm gone, and that's Halleluiah for me. During the last few months a lot of strange things have been happening onstage, I think the process is changing. I don't know what's going to happen tonight, I've been having quite a tough time on stage, I feel like something's pulling me under, as if something's got me.

Lucy: So does the crowd influence your performances on stage?
KJG: Yes they do. I'm unkind enough to be pretty impersonal about how I do it, so I use them for me to kick against in effect, or to surf on, (I don't
mean physically surf). If you're in an empty roomand there's a couple of people at the back, it doesn't necessarily mean you'll have a bad show -
they might get the show of their lives. And then again when something's really heaving and going off, I get quite a distorted view of it, because I
can feel quite overwhelmed lose my sense of place in the situation. I lose control of myself. I don't know, I probably wasn't meant to do this, I
wasn't built for this. It wasn't a career option, I didn't start there and go there, I didn't pick up the things on the way. I've sort of gone round
and round.

Lucy: As the lead singer of the band, most media interest is focused on you. Do you feel pressurised by your position or do you enjoy being the centre of attention?
KJG: I've been here on this wheel long enough,(and I say this with a little bit of trepidation because I think you have to be really careful with this kind of thing, because the motivation to do it in itself I think is usually pretty corrupt) I'm not doing it for anyone else, I need a cheque through the door like anybody else does, you have to keep eating, you have to keep living. I'm looking for some sense of going home on my own terms, and people's critique of me is not relevant, whether it's positive of negative.
I do need a cheque through the door though, otherwise I'll have to go and be a butcher or something.

Lucy: What is the religious meaning behind the song "For I am the way"?
KJG: If you use the word religion in its truest sense, all it means is communion, it hasn't got any of the attachments to any written word. My
understanding of the word communion is loss of the sense. Another way of looking at it is you've got to get in to get out, and the only thing that I
know to be true is me, is this tiny little dot in the centre of the universe. It's the only thing that I know feels pain; I can see other people's pain and I can feel it in an emotional way, but not in a physical way. I find myself in the unfortunate position of feeling like I am the
centre of the universe and that everything is a projection, made by me - i.e. you two don't exist, you're something that I created. I don't wish that
sense upon anybody because it's not a good one. Through 'For I am the way' I'm saying that you've got to get in, because the only thing one knows to be true is oneself. And on a good day, if you stand on top of a mountain or go to the desert or stand in the ocean, and become completely inconsequential, linear time stops and you become everything and nothing. That for me is
communion, that's how I define religion. I thinkthere's a line in there which goes "Today the only bridge I have I burn" which sums it up really, because it is about cutting all lines of communication in order to really truly commune.

Lucy: Do you think that in the future your creativity will move from the sphere of music in to literature for example?
KJG: It's real hard to say. In a way, that sounds like a much easier life. But for all I know I'm deluding myself. I'm looking for someone to help me frame something at the moment, and someone is actually, someone's being really good to me. I would love to write, but I don't know if I'm good
enough to do it.