I've been an ASH fan for a long time. So needless to say, I'm pretty excited to be given official 'blogger/interviewer' status on this site. My name is Chad, I'm from Nova Scotia, Canada, and I'm here to serve you, loyal blog readers.
My first post is from my trip to hang out with the lads in their NYC studio in May...it's sort of outdated a bit now (for instance, 'Survivor' is now the new favourite 'Ichiban'), but it's still an exciting read. Keep in mind...I drove 14 hours straight to NYC to see these guys, and as such, my memory was a bit foggy.
"The first thing I will say is this: despite how everything appears to be 'quiet', the band are working HARD. Tim told me they are in there 5 days a week and pretty much recording non-stop.
"The studio itself is in a strange building (Mark called it ghetto....). You would never guess that it would house a recording studio and looks fairly industrial. My lady and I just walked into the building with no hassle. It's a nerd dream.
"Stuff I know:
"The band signed a 5 year lease for the studio and are going to do all recording AND mixing there from now on. Claudius was there and he is taller than he looks in real life.
"They have re-recorded 'Coming Around Again' to get the ball rolling, and it sounds INCREDIBLE. (The original session cover of the Carly Simon song is available to download at www.ashfiles.com) Tim played me the extra long edit with the extra long guitar solo...the vocal arrangement is huge. Tim sings it an octave up, and this track is rocking big time.
"They are also finishing up a Beach Boys cover of 'Do You Wanna Dance' which has been floating around since the FAA days. This will be a b-side.
"There are new musical vibes going on in the new songs I heard. There are definitely some classic Tim Wheeler compositions (one I heard was really great, though it was only in home demo form. It included a police siren outside Tim's window. It also had a piano hooked up to a 10 second reverb that sounded incredible), but there is truly an anything goes type of vibe at the moment. It almost harkens back to the strange b-side era of Trailer/1977 in a lot of ways, only they are much better at their instruments and the songs are more formed. There seem to be lots of samples and synths and loops in the songs. I only heard 2 completely finished songs, so it's too early to judge. Coming around again was one, and the other is Prypiat.
"Prypiat has been floating around for a while amongst the elite as a rumoured new track (the song was written during the recording of TOTI but wasn’t finished in time for the album). Tim played it for me. It doesn't really sound like anything they've done before. I guess the production style might be EOTW-ish (though I only had one listen...). It's a great song about someone or something destroying themselves. The arrangement is really big and epic and is quite dynamic, from what I remember. Tim's voice is just getting better and better. I
"It doesn't sound like EOTW at ALL. It just has a similar production style. It's quite a serious song with samples and stuff in the verses. Great, complex arrangement. As much as some fans might hate it, a lot of stuff had a pretty *epic* vibe. The band know what they are doing and it sounds GREAT.
"Other songs I heard in unfinished versions:
"Survivor - has a Stray Cats stomp vibe with lots of chord changes with THE most epic intro of any Ash song ever. Extremely catchy.
"Return of White Rabbit - the best Ash dance song I've ever heard. Imagine the disco part of Tinseltown but multiplied by 1000000000000000000000x. So many hooks in this song, amazing groove, this is a potential single. Tim actually jokingly said it would be their comeback single. Great guitar lines and drum breaks. I can't say enough good things about this song. Mark wrote it.
"Nouvelle Adventures - for the first time in an Ash song, both Tim and Mark are playing bass. This will likely have a spoken word lyric and has a spaceship vibe about it...
"No Face (Jesus Christ) - this is a proper ASH hardcore punk song. The vocals were a scratch track but it's a great new direction.
"Other song titles I saw: Hospital Song, Lay Down Your Arms, (both demoed for TOTI) and Daedalus. There were definitely more, but I can't remember the titles.
"Tim also played me another song that Mark wrote. It has a lot of key changes and is extremely hook-y and well arranged. no vocals as yet.
"There WILL be a release this year, but I'm not allowed to say what it is. It will be announced soon.
"TOTI will not come out in the States, nor will they do any touring in the states. The plan is to work all year on new songs and drive it home next year with tons of singles.
"I got to play 3 of Tim's guitars and his 70s Jazz bass. It was incredible. They guys were extremely friendly and hospitable. The vibe was extremely positive and energy was high. I uploaded more pics to flickr.com/photos/chadpeck
"Mark took us to the top of the building which gives an incredible view of the city. Tim is vegetarian now after a case of mercury poisoning (too much sushi) and gave us a great vegan restaurant to go to. Tim is also trying to get a see-through flying V made. New York City might be the best place on earth."