Ganze acht Jahre ist es her, seitdem Ash ihr letztes Studioalbum veröffentlichten. Nun erschien am 22. Mai mit KABLAMMO! der Nachfolger zu TWILIGHT OF THE INNOCENCE von 2007. Bei uns gibt es das neue Werk der Nordiren nicht nur in voller Länge im Stream zu hören, sondern auch ausführliche Track-by-Track-Anmerkungen von der Band zu lesen.
TIM: We were toying with Evel Knievel starting the record but there’s something really great about Cocoon. We announced the album on Ash Wednesday along with Cocoon and it got a great response straight away. It ties in, somehow it sounds like early Ash. It’s weird because I wrote the music on ukelele. I think that is the secret. We needed to return to some sort of simplicity and the ukelele is a very simple instrument. And amazingly it translates very well to writing pop songs, which was a good new discovery. As soon as we started playing it, it was like ‘oh, this feels great.’
MARK: It came together in five minutes, couple of run throughs, get it down. It instantly sounded great. Coming back to it, it has all the elements of Ash that people relate to, melodic, up-tempo, full of energy.
TIM: Again, going back to the crazy drums. It hurtles along in a reckless way. The reckless way of Rick McMurray. Also it’s a song about re-emergence. It was one of the earlier songs written for the record. I’d done a solo album Lost Domain which is about losing my father to alzheimer’s. During that time I was quite depressed, a bit secluded, isolated. So it relates to that time. About re-emergence, being about to break out of that. Which worked as a nice metaphor for the band too.
RICK: Someone said, when I played them the song – ‘It’s going to be a great opener for the set. You can all come out of cocoons.’ Haha. A Spinal Tap entry.
TIM: We’ll try it! Call Dave and ask him to order three Cocoons.
2. LET’S RIDE
TIM: Let’s Ride is another upbeat pop song. More of a rolling feel to it but still pretty uptempo. It’s one of our fight back songs, about coming back. It starts with “Considered quitting but it just wouldn’t sit.” We put out a Greatest Hits a couple of years ago, and there was one snidy review I read that seemed to assume because we were putting out a Greatest Hits we were about to announce we were splitting up. ** That kind of thing just drives you to, I mean how important are reviews anymore? Probably not very. **
MARK: When we first started we were in a band in Downpatrick called Vietnam. I honestly think the drive to succeed was because we were so slated by everyone in the town as being the worst band around. It made us want to prove everyone wrong. Sometimes that’s good because it does fire you up.
TIM: Another element to that, I’ve been doing quite a lot of Mui Thai kickboxing training and being in an environment of fighters, with their talk about hard work and commitment and pushing yourself through discomfort. It’s very inspiring. That definitely seeped into the lyrics and also Go! Fight! Win!
RICK: I think when you’re put in positions like that it is a test of who you are. When you’re having a rough time, it’s the way you get through those things that count. I think it’s a theme in quite a lot of songs in recent years as well. It’s kind of part of who we are.
TIM: Probably the most indie pop tune on the record.
MARK: It was one of the final ones we worked on. It was another ukelele song. The chorus keeps rising and rising – it’s just beautiful melody.
TIM: When I was writing it was a stream of consciousness, and I was questioning what this song was really about. And then as I developed it I was imagining someone, say from the ‘90s or pre-internet time, say they all of a sudden woke up 20 years later, now. How would they relate to people? I guess they would see a lot of insincere narcissism and technology would be really baffling. I think they’d be surprised by how people connect to each other. It’s essentially a song about someone in modern times trying to find a real connection. Some of the lyrics give it a New York feel. That’s where we live, in the city. So there’s an NYC energy to the song too.
RICK: If you want a soundbite, I think it’s like a Rip Van Winkle for the internet age. Despite that, it’s a very good song.
TIM: This is probably the least Kablammo! track so far, in terms of explosive speed or pace.
MARK: It hits you somewhere else though. It hits you in the soul. Instead of a punch in the face it’s all about the heart.
RICK: Thematically I think it’s a bit Kablammo! because it’s kind of exploring the end of a relationship, several different sides of a relationship going Kablammo! People going in different directions.
TIM: And your life is about to go Kablammo!
MARK: From what I can take from it, it’s that point when you know that the relationship is finished and you’re free, you’re back.
TIM: Giving into instinct and following instinct. The freedom that gives. Abandoning duties and kinda doing what you want.
MARK: Musically people think of Ash as being quite full on, this is nice because it’s kind of different it’s not so Kablammo! in your face, so wall of sound. It’s one of my favourite parts of the album, there’s so much space to it, you can hear everything.
TIM: It’s a bit of an oasis of tranquility. I love moments like that because that’s the sound of the three of us playing in the room. It’s really cool. The guitar solo, there’s no strings at that point. And then all of a sudden, Kablammo! the strings come in at the end and it really soars.
MARK: You can actually hear the fucking twang of the bass string.
TIM: I guess we used to be afraid of having too much space in the sound, we grew up with Nirvana and always wanted a very dense sound.
5. GO! FIGHT! WIN!
TIM: Go! Fight! Win! Lyrically is a similar kinda theme to Let’s Ride, but there is a different kind of groove to the song. A bit more aggressive really.
RICK: Ithink it’s the biggest punch sonically on the album.
TIM: We’ve played it live a couple of times as well, it’s really good fun. On the record we have some cheerleaders as well which ties in with the fighting spirit of it. Yeah, it’s good. It’s got a nice breakdown as well which I think we can play with live and have a lot of fun.
TIM: Definitely a big scene change after all the rocking stuff earlier. The song started life on piano and was definitely inspired by the Apollo missions, the bravery and ambition of all of that. Also it’s a love story. Imagining a loved one going away on a journey, a transformative journey. It’s about devotion. All you’re asking is for them to come back better, in a way, and bring back some moondust for you as well. It’s pretty sweet and sentimental. A soaring ballad with sweeping string arrangements by Elanesh Kerry as well.
RICK: And a classic Ash trademark in the build-up.
TIM: Yeah. The chorus kicks in with a lot of Kablammo! It sneaks in a bit of Girl From Mars with the guitar solo. A little subliminal, musical nostalgic note for you guys! Also it has a bit of a sci-fi vibe with the space exploration which ties into our early space obsessions. I got really into reading about the Apollo missions whilst making the record, there’s this great book called Moondust that was always sitting on my shelf. This one’s for you buzz! Moondust. Kablammo!
7. EVEL KNIEVAL
TIM: Evel Knieval, a tribute to a complete maniac and a great hero for many in the 70s and 80s. A completely reckless, crazy guy.
MARK: When I was a child, before I even went to primary school, my mum was a physio nurse. She dropped me off at the childminder’s and there was a kid in that family who was also an Evel Knievel fan. He thought it would be hilarious to put me on a tricycle at the top of the stairs and push me down. So I went flying down the stairs and out through the glass front door.
TIM: Woah. That’s amazing. With a helmet on?
TIM: Woah. So a tribute to our very own Evel Knievel.
TIM: Here we are with track number two of side two. One thing we thought when we were making this record was that we did want to put together sides. If we’re making an album, we may as well think in terms of that. So it was quite fun opening with the Evel Knieval instrumental on side two. Then we move onto Hedonism. It’s quite a 90s sounding guitar riff. We had it early on in the writing process for the album but it took a while to get the rest of the song to develop. We used to just play this riff round and round and round and we loved it. The lyrics kind of…I always have a bit of a fight inside myself between wanting to completely fuck off and do nothing, party and just have fun. But then, whenever I do that nothing gets done. So I have to be a very conscientious, hard working person most of the time! And I’m a very slow worker. So I always have a bit of a fight between wanting to let loose and working hard. Hedonism is kinda like a throwback to our earlier days when we used to get a lot crazier. Especially the dangerous brothers either side of me.
RICK: Now we’re parents.
TIM: I think there’s still a bit of a hedonistic spirit in you guys. We definitely had our share of crazy times.
TIM: Dispatch is about hardships in a relationship. When you really love someone but you’re going through tough times trying to figure it out. It also develops as quite a pop song.
MARK: It starts off with almost a disco beat to it and then gets all rock.
TIM: Some of it reminds me almost of Europe. There’s some sort of pop metal influence in there as well. It’s been getting a really great response from people as well. So I think it’s going to be killer.
TIM: Shutdown. A short, snappy pop punk song which has an undercurrent of political message. For the last few years Mark was involved with Occupy Wall Street and Rick was very heavily involved with the Scottish Independence Movement. So, er, tell us about your time on the front line. How Kablammo! did it get?
MARK: Well, I mean. It got very Kablammo! at times. I was very conscientious about being an alien visitor in the US at the time. I had to stay away from any of the real flash points. The NYPD were being very, very brutal to a lot of the protestors that were there, not even protestors, people who were just there to voice aggrievances with the current system. They got beat on pretty hard and arrested over and over and over and infiltrated and suppressed. It was demoralising to see it happen. What you think of the land is completely false. Corporate America owns politics over there on both parties. A sad state of affairs is what it is.
RICK: I think for me, what focused my mind was when my daughter was born. It really made me think about what kind of society I want her to grow up in. It makes you question a lot of things, the current political system and the way the less fortunate in our society are treated, which is an absolute disgrace. If something happened to me and she wasn’t able to look after herself I’d like there to be a society that cared about people that were struggling. That’s why I’ve been involved in the Scottish independence. That was more about, not Scottish for a start, but just a chance for part of where I live to create a society along lines that I could tolerate I guess. It hasn’t happened yet but politically it’s awakened a whole generation in Scotland.
MARK: In Staten Island the NYPD, in broad daylight, killed a guy called Eric Garner because he was selling cigarettes on the street. Like four or five of them jumped on him and strangled him to death. There was huge public outcry about this because the cop who had him in an illegal chokehold got away scott free. The day that decision was made thousands of people were in the streets of New York, pissed off and angry. We went and split off into about seven or eight different groups and we dispersed in different directions, so the police didn’t know what to do. If you have one big mass it’s very easy for them to control it and kettle it. So we split off in all directions and went to all different bridges, laid down in front of them and shut the city down at night. There was no traffic coming anywhere. And all the traffic was honking in support.
11. FOR ETERNITY
TIM: This is where the explosion starts to trail off and bits of rubble are falling around and the smoke is starting to clear. It’s a very sweet piano ballad, a very sweet love song really. It feels quite glorious with its soaring strings. It felt like a very nice way to start winding the album down.
MARK: It was one of the last songs we finished for the album and as soon as we heard it we were like, ‘this has got to go on.’
TIM: We had the melody for the verse but we couldn’t find the chorus for a long time. It was one of those where you just have to persevere. I spent a day and a half just trying to get a chorus, going crazy. Got there in the end and it turned out to be a real sweet moment.
12. BRING BACK THE SUMMER
TIM: Kablammo! We’ve hit you in the face, we’ve hit you in the heart, we’ve hit you in the soul, this time we’re going to hit you in the memory. Whatever that is.
MARK: It’s like a reverse black hole. Black holes suck stuff in and destroy them forever, this is kind of spitting memories back out.
TIM: Bring Back The Summer is the final track and is definitely the most nostalgic. There’s references to youth and summer, which I’m sure a lot of our fans are quite attached to, especially with Ash records like ‘Girl From Mars’, ‘Oh Yeah’ and ‘Walking Barefoot’. The 80s feel to it probably ties into the years of our childhood too. It’s less guitary than the earlier tracks but it felt like a real sweet way to end a record and sign off.
RICK: Since it was written it was obvious it was a song that would definitely go on there, that it was the closer. It just wraps things up nicely.
MARK: We actually came back and mixed in waves.
TIM: Yeah, there’s some lapping waves on there.
RICK: Which we did years ago on one of our demos.
TIM: Did we? If you’ve got a good idea use it at least twice. It’s nice. We’re back! Ash is back. We’re reuniting with our fans, Bring Back The Summer. We’re getting nostalgic. We’re gunna have a little cry together at the end of this. We’re looking forward to making another album probably.
MARK: Lots have always said we were one of the quintessential summer festival bands, so this is kind of us just bigging ourselves up.