COUNTDOWN TO 1977 SHOWS - INTERVIEW WITH TIM

The last of the band interviews. What can you say about the boy wonder, Tim Wheeler?  I'm pretty proud of my interviews with the band, but the Goldfinger story in this one pretty much takes the cake. Nice memory, Tim!  And if we're being honest, a certain blogger on this site had a fair amount of flowery shirts himself in high school.

 

Based on the last question in Mark's interview...are we going to see you wearing bell bottoms and loud shirts at these shows?

I doubt it. Our music from 1996 seems to have stood the test of time pretty well, but thankfully I can't say the same for our dress sense from those days.

Trailer was meant as a precursor of sorts to 1977, and had 3 classic singles in Jack Names the Plants, Uncle Pat, and Petrol. However, it's obvious from the opening chords of Lose Control that 1977 was a whole new monster.  Was it a conscious decision on your part to take it up a notch or did the songwriting just evolve naturally?

It's that classic thing of having years to write your debut and only a short time to write the follow up. Except in this case it was a good thing because we were so young when we started the band. With Trailer we used the best songs from our first couple of developing years as Ash, which cleared the decks for writing 1977. By this time we were doing 1977 I'd learned so much more about songwriting and had a clearer idea of what we could do. We were leaning less on our early influences. A lot of that was down to hanging out with Owen Morris. We'd been doing sessions with him over the previous year where we'd come up with Kung Fu, Girl From Mars and Angel Interceptor and he taught us so much.

Here is a question that has troubled the minds of songwriters everywhere.  How the hell did you come up with the key changes in Goldfinger? I've been listening to that song for 12 years and it still blows my mind (and if I remember correctly, Rivers Cuomo asked the same question). Take us through the writing of that classic single.

I guess this comes down to what I was just saying about having more experience and trying new things. I'd been listening to a lot of Beach Boys, and Brian Wilson is the king of nutso chord changes, he gets away with it because they perfectly support his melodies and he's a genius at making it all sound simple.The clever thing is that the average listener doesn't realise that the chords are unusual for pop music, it's only when you try figuring them that you end up going what the fuck?

At the time, I was also really into John Barry, the songwriter and arranger who did all my favourite Bond themes and his chords are strange, sad, beautiful. He uses a lot of bittersweet melancholic minor chords.I was writing the melody for Goldfinger, with vague ideas of where i wanted it to go. The melody would lead me then I'd try loads of different chords until I'd find the one that seemed to fit underneath it. I wrote it over quite a long time. I can actually remember where I was when I wrote which bits.I started it in my bedroom in Downpatrick in September, feeling a bit confused and out of it after the psycho summer we'd just had. There, I came up with the main verse pattern. I couldn't figure out where to go next so I left it. I probably tried getting the next part every time I picked up the guitar but it didn't come until we were in Japan. It was our first trip there and I had crippling jetlag insomnia. It was my first experience of jetlag. We were only there for around 5 days. I had my 1961 Les Paul Junior (SG) in my hotel room and I was wide awake after going to bed exhausted round midnight and suddenly waking up 2 hours later and feeling totally wide awake and very frustrated. I tried playing some guitar to chill me out and I was playing the verse I had. When I got to the place in the song where I was stuck I tried an E Minor and then an A 7th which were in some whole new key entirely. It made for a really interesting melodic diversion and then I returned to the regular verse key. I thought wow that's cool, I'd better not forget it. Still I didn't know where the hell to go next.A few weeks later we were on tour somewhere in America, sharing a bus with China Drum. I was killing some time during the day playing my guitar in the back lounge of the bus when the chorus came to me. I got the first couple of chords and the rest just flowed out. For a while this made me think writing was some sort of divine thing, that you just have to be patient and the good stuff will come to you, like a gift. It felt like it all was given to me out of nowhere. In reality, I'd been working hard on this fucking song for a few months, every time i picked up my guitar I was trying to figure out where it should go. So if you ever hear me getting all mystical about it again just remind me I'm bullshiting.This left me with a really nice verse and chorus, but I didn't know where this song would fit, it seemed very different for Ash, I thought it might just be a cool b-side.In December we had 3 weeks off at home to write stuff for the 1977 album sessions that were going to be kicking off in January. I didn't really have that many song ideas, we actually had no complete songs. Owen came over to Northern Ireland to stay for a few days and run through any ideas we had. I remember we rehearsed Oh Yeah and Lose Control with him and he helped us get the arrangements into order, but he wasn't that sure whether we had enough other material.We were sitting in my old bedroom, he asked me to go through all the ideas I had, I played through everything I thought was good. He wasn't too excited by anything, so finally I went...all right this is the last idea I have, it's a bit weird and probably would be nothing more than an interesting b-side. I played my weird little verse and chorus and all of a sudden he got really excited, it was the one he'd been looking for. We went out to the freezing cold cottage we used to rehearse in and played it through for the first time as a band. Owen got us to play round the chorus instrumentally as an intro and it really worked, it sounded powerful and different. We got Rick doing some cool drum fills during the breaks in the verses. By the time we got to the end of the second chorus we realised we needed somewhere else to go. As I said earlier, I'd been listening to a lot of John Barry stuff

Added on 01/09/2008 by Chad