Archive for A-Z Series

Review: ASH – Live @ Whelan’s, Dublin (June 6th, 2011)

Posted in Gig Review, IRISH NOISE!, Music with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2011 by Tickets There

Ash, Ireland’s favourite pop rock trio are back in Dublin tonight for a highly anticipated appearance at local indie haunt, Whelan’s of Wexford St. Excitement’s been building for weeks so it’s no surprise to see queue’s of hungry Ash fans geared up for a night of sweat, pints and tuneage. Entering the packed venue it seems tonight’s sell out crowd don’t seem concerned that they’ve lost the fashionably late edge by piling in just in time for opening act, The Plea. Fortunately it’s one of those nights you’re glad you came early as The Plea rocket through an incredibly well played set of heavy guitar laden alt-rock gems including ‘Praise Be’ from their split, special tour edition E.P. Definitely a band that requires further investigation and a great start to the night.

Belfast indie rockers LaFarro take the stage next and initially drop the quality a little. While The Plea presented themselves as well seasoned, confident performers; LaFarro singer Jonny Black looks uncomfortable, inexperienced and unexciting on stage. He stares at the floor, doesn’t connect with the crowd and lacks any energy as the band kick off their set. This drop is heightened by poor sound on the vocals which trespasses on the rest of the band’s efforts. As the set continues, Herb MaGee (the “only Catholic in the band”) begins some onstage banter that seems to liven LaFarro’s mood as well as the crowds. From there we’re treated to some great tunes as Johny finds his feet and Dave Magee’s head banging can be properly enjoyed. Nice save and another band you’ll be hearing more of soon.

As the lights go dark, the crowd erupts at the site of Ash taking the stage. On the rare occasions you get to see a band of their size take the same stage as your mates on their EP launch night, it’s hard not to feel that special tingling. ‘Lose Control’ opens the set and pounds the audience with its furious intensity. Tim Wheeler, Mark Hamilton and tonight’s stand in drummer Alan Lynn (LaFarro), all sound fantastic as they command the stage, kick ass and deliver some of the finest hits any Irish band has ever produced. Tickets There favourites ‘A Life Less Ordinary’ and ‘Dionysian Urge’ follow, immediately cementing this as a great night. ‘Twilight of Innocents’ makes an early appearance, which Tim passes off as an “experiment” and leads to mass sing-alongs from the crowd before hit after hit pile drive the crowd into submission. ‘Girl From Mars’, ‘Gold Finger’ and ‘Petrol’ bring us back to our youth while ‘Joy Kicks Darkness’ holds up the recent material’s crown for all to see.

Walking Barefoot’ has to be one of the highlights and it serves as a reminder of how great Free All Angels is. Again, the band are drowned out by the crowd, leaving them no choice but to rip through ‘Oh Yeah’, ‘Kung Fu’ and ‘The Dead Disciples’ which sends the pit into frenzy mode. ‘Shinning Light’, the mega-powered up ‘Orpheus’ and ‘Return of White Rabbit’ – the A-Z singles flagship dance-floor epic, finish the main set; giving all at the front a well needed chance to breath and mop the brow. Before long Ash return and bring us home with the stunning ‘Arcadia’, the punk fused classics ‘Angel Interceptor’, and ‘Jack Names The Planets‘ before calling it a night with one final blow out; the shredding ‘Burn Baby Burn’.

As surprising as it is to think Ash have been around for nearly twenty years, it’s even more incredible how amazing they are on stage. Their energy, passion and enthusiasm ensure they never lose connection with the audience and their songs sound better than ever. While the crowd leave,  ears ringing and looking blown away from tonight’s amazing show, the band brim from the stage at a job well done. Come back soon lads!

INTERVIEW: Mark Hamilton (ASH)

Posted in Interview, IRISH NOISE!, Music with tags , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2011 by Tickets There

© Phil O'Kane - http://www.icedcoffee.ie

Since forming nearly two decades ago, ASH have become the brightest champions of alternative / pop / punk rock to emerge from Northern Ireland. Their career is practically one long repertoire of greatest hits and there’s no sings of stopping them, especially since they’re all at least ten years younger than any other band with similar life spans. In 2009 they embarked on the extremely adventurous challenge of releasing 26 singles within the space of 12 months, working out at a new single every fortnight. This was done to combat the boredom they had begun to encounter while strapped into the machine that is, the music business. Titled the A-Z singles, the project proved to be a massive success and not only showed that Ash could more than hold their own in the ever changing landscape of releasing music, but it also added a healthy new dose of incredible music for fans to enjoy.

2011 sees the band gearing up for a summer tour that’ll take in dates across mainland Europe, Japan the UK and Eire, including dates in Dublin, Portrush, Belfast, Sligo and Cork. We managed to catch bassist Mark Hamilton for a quick chat while the band were camped in London rehearsing (or ‘messing around’ in Mark’s words), to discuss the success and challenges of the A-Z project, the forthcoming tour, band changes, grotesque videos, debauchery filled documentaries and parenthood…not in that order.

TT:       So the tour kicks off this weekend, are you looking forward to it?

Mark:   Ah yeah, obviously there’s a lot of things to get ready. Number one we haven’t played in six months and number two we’ve got a new drummer, or a stand in drummer for this tour because Rick’s (McMurray) about to become a da.

TT:       Really? I hadn’t heard. When is the baby due?

Mark:   It’s overdue now so he’s waiting with bated breath for the baby to arrive and we’ve got in Alan (Lynn) from LaFaro, who are friends of ours from Belfast. Rick’s at home with his feet up, having his last few days of freedom before the baby arrives. I’ve got a two year old and he does not know what’s about to hit him (laughs).

TT:       Speaking of bringing in other musicians, Last year you roped in Russell Lissack from Bloc Party for your live shows. Will he be joining you for this tour?

Mark:   Russell’s got some other things he’s got to do for the next couple of weeks so unfortunately he won’t be with us for June, but he will be back in July. We’ll just be a three piece in June and then Rick and Russell will be back in July so the four of us will be back again, just in time for the show in Cork.

TT:       Before you hired Russell, did you have anyone else in mind for the spot?

Ehm, he was the first person we thought of. We knew that Bloc Party were taking a bit of a break, cause Kele (Okereke) was doing his solo album, so we’d met Russell on tour in the past and he seemed like an obvious fit. We knew that he’d played in an Ash covers band when he was younger so it seemed like such an obvious person to ask and it worked out really well. We didn’t really think of anyone else, it was just perfect. So, the answer to that’s no (laughs). The first person we thought of worked out.

TT:       You’ve mentioned before that you miss Charlotte in the band and that having another person on stage helps add layers to your live sound. Would you ever consider recruiting another musician full time or do ye want to remain a three piece?

Mark:   I think it works in the studio and creatively and stuff to just be a three piece, but it’s been fun having Russell around on tour and it’s certainly worth while having another guitar. A lot of the songs have more than one guitar and have dual guitar parts so it works live. Going forward Russell will go back to Bloc Party whenever they start up again. I don’t know, we haven’t really looked that far ahead yet.

TT:       Going back to the tour, Any hints about the set-list you’re planning or will it change from date to date?

Mark:   Ah we’re just working that out. Obviously all the core singles that people expect to hear will be in there and then we’ll mix in some of the new A-Z songs and I guess a selection of albums tracks from all the years. We’ve essentially got eight albums worth of material to choose from so…

TT:       You’re not stuck for a few tunes?

Mark:   We’re not no (laughs), everyone’s going to hear what they want. We’ll go up and play for an hour and half and hopefully everyone will be happy enough.

TT:       Have you ever considered doing a full tour of every A-Z single?

We talked about doing that once, but then we just thought it would be too much new music for people. I don’t know, we talked about it very briefly and maybe it’s something we could look at again, but I’m not sure. It would be a pretty long show (laughs). Would anyone have an attention span to listen to like, three and half hours of new music? (laughs).

TT:       Speaking of the A-Z, A few years ago you publicly announced that you would stop using conventional album formats to release your music and soon after you released the A-Z single series. Now that it’s all over, are you happy with the decision you made?

Mark:   Well, I think we said that knowing what we were going to do next, well having an idea of what we wanted to do next with the A-Z and it was the biggest artistic challenge and project we’ve ever worked on. I don’t know if we’ll every try to do something that big again because it’s essentially four albums worth of music when you count all the tracks that we didn’t use, because we recorded something like 56 songs.

It was the biggest creative challenge that we’ve ever undertaken but we’ll try to do something inventive and something different again, but maybe not quite as BIG (exhausted sounding). I don’t know how we’ll go about doing that yet. You have to come up with new ideas and the idea of releasing another 12 track album just doesn’t sound very appealing. The A-Z idea was a very daunting idea and that fact that we were going to be making it up as we were going along was quite exciting as well.

TT:       You didn’t have all the songs written in advance?

Mark:   No, not all of them all. We certainly had a bunch of then but not all. We were still writing them as they were being released.

TT:       Did you find it harder to promote the series compared to an album?

Mark:   Well the art work was very generic, it was basically just a colour and a letter (laughs). That was the thing that tied everything together. For videos we kind of picked 5 main singles and we allocated small budgets for each one. It was funded from our own pockets so there were only low budgets allocated for those (few singles) and you can’t afford to make 26 videos.

They were mostly pitched on-line and that’s the way we did it. Most of the things we did were on Facebook or social media on the net. We released through our own Atomic Heart label so we didn’t have the big machine of the record company advertising campaign behind us with back pages of the NME advertising our album ya know? It just wasn’t there any more so it was more streamlined, a different kettle of fish altogether.

TT:       You  mention that you wrote almost 50 songs for the release. Did you hold back at all for future projects or are you working on all fresh material for the next release?

Mark:   Ah no as most of them have been released in some shape or form. A lot of them have been used as bonus tracks in different ways. Some were given away as bonus tracks in Japan, a lot of them were given away as bonus tracks to subscribers on the website. Some were also given away on ITunes and websites, so they all ended up getting used inevitably. There’s probably a handful that are still left but they will get used, probably not on a new project but they’ll get used as bonus tracks in some shape of form in the future.

TT:       Did you worry at all about trying to keep people’s attention for the year while you were doing the project?

Mark:   It was much more low key because of the very nature of it, but I think our fans were very engaged with it because they had new music coming every two weeks and they had something to look forward to and that was quite exciting. Obviously we didn’t have the big public profile around the whole thing but, the core fan base were very engaged throughout. It was interesting to see how it played out.

TT:      Over the past few years you’ve been filming footage for your very own ‘slasher’ flick and last year finally saw some of this footage appear. The one question of everyone’s mind is what happens next and when do we get to see it?

Mark:   Oh yeah, there’s more. We kind of did a bit on the Binary video, but there’s a good bit more. I don’t know when it’ll drop it though, but we probably won’t wait too long. There’s a lot of the Coldplay boys in it so we’re kind of holding it until they come back with new material. Whenever their profiles back up it’ll come out (laughs).

TT:       The question of adventurous music videos has come up in the past with the video for ‘Carnal Love’ being an excellent example. Have you ever entertained the notion of exploring further into the film field?

Mark:   Carnal love, the weird food fetish one (laughs), very strange. I guess, when you start a band you don’t do it to make videos let’s say, but it’s one of those things you end up having to do. Whenever we started we thought they were really annoying, ‘oh you’ve got to make videos, you’ve got to enjoy making them and look the way the director’s making you look’. They kind of annoyed us to start with and then after a while we realized we should probably get a bit more involved in them and start, you know, have a bit of fun with them. So over time we got more involved and have more fun making them. The Carnal Love video is quite twisted (laughs).

TT: ASH fans are always speculating about another notorious video you made during the making if 1977. Any chance that’ll ever see the light of day?

Mark:   Yes actually, we had a meeting about that this morning. It was a tour documentary filmed over a year and a half  after 1977 came out and It’s been hidden away in a vault for almost fifteen years. We’ve always been wondering when we’re going to release this thing and I think we’ve worked out a way how that’s going to be done. It’ll probably be released before the end of the year.

TT:       Are the rumours about the bands various ‘Dionysian’ escapades true?

Mark:   Well, as you say at the time we didn’t want it to be released because we didn’t want out parents to disown us (laughs).

TT:       For nearly twenty years Ash’s core line up of yourself, Rick and Tim have survived massive success, line-up changes in one form or another, major label backing, DIY creativeness, constantly changing styles of popular music, all the while never losing your energy or ending up in court suing each other. What’s the ASH secret that as alluded so many other popular bands?

Mark:   Ah, I don’t know. We’re basically just mates from school. I guess it’s become like a second family and families have fights and feuds or whatever but you always get over it. When you’re younger you can be a lot more precious about your music and more stubborn and not willing to bend or try new things out. Now we’re older and we try to change and experiment more and try things out that we wouldn’t have when we were younger. For example, ‘Twilight of Innocents’ or ‘White Rabbit’, are maybe not what you’d call ‘classic Ash’.

TT:       A few years ago you set up your own record label to release music through. Have you enjoyed the freedom this has brought you?

Mark:   Oh yeah, you can do exactly what you want you know? We didn’t have to answer to anybody so in that way it was nice (laughs).

TT:       Have you found it any harder getting your name out there without the record company backing and Do you think things have changed a lot since when you first started out?

Mark:   To some degree you’ve got a prejudice there, or preconceptions of who you are. You know, we’re not a new band so we’re not going to get that media hype around us because we’ve essentially got two decades of what people think we are. So, even if we come out with new material which sounds like nothing we’ve done in the past, people will still think ‘oh it’s Ash’. To some degree you’re always going to be fighting against that, but you also have to respect that. We just have to go out there and try to think of clever ways to catch peoples imagination and that’s what we’ll keep trying to do.

The A-Z single Vol. I & II or on sale now. Catch ASH on tour in 2011 at the following dates.

03/06/11 – Rock im Park Festival, Germany
04/06/11 – Rock am Ring Festival, Germany
06/06/11 – Dublin Whelans, Ireland
07/06/11 – Portrush Playhouse, N. Ireland
08/06/11 – Belfast Empire, N. Ireland
10/06/11 – Temple House Festival, Ireland
11/06/11 – Pinkpop Festival, Holland
12/06/11 – Breda Club Mezz, Holland
14/06/11 – Abart Zurich, Switzerland
16/06/11 – Roma Vintage, Italy
17/06/11 – Rock Planet in Pinarella di Cervia, Italy
18/06/11 – Trouble Festival, Italy
16/07/11 – Naon-Mugen Festival, Japan
24/07/11 – Sheffield Tramlines Festival, UK
25/07/11 – York The Duchess, UK
27/07/11 – Coventry Kasbah, UK
28/07/11 – Bath Komedia, UK
29/07/11 – Southend Chinnery’s, UK
30/07/11 – Indiependence Festival, Ireland

Ash – Embers (Single Review)

Posted in IRISH NOISE!, Music, Single Review with tags , , , , , on August 26, 2010 by Tickets There

Jez, just when we thought we’d heard all the A-Z series has to offer, Ash go and and blow you away! Their new single, Embers is just savage. Guitars flaring, Ricks drums being beat to shit and what’s that? I believe that’s a very, very catchy chorus in an Ash song.

I know what you’re thinking, why would Irish legends Ash have a catchy chorus, well it seems toe boys have been given a gift for writing 26 songs for one release that put most bands to shame, a point we’ve exhausted over these reviews.

Don’t waste time here reading about it folks (nice advertisement for the site lads!!!Ed), head on over to Ash-Official.com and hear it for yourself.

Ash – Carnal Love Music Video

Posted in IRISH NOISE!, Music, Music Video with tags , , , , on July 28, 2010 by Tickets There

Co. Down rockers Ash have released the video for their latest A-Z song, Carnal Love this week in advance of the songs office release this Sunday. Intresting video, we’re not sure if we love or hate it.

Ash – Summer Snow (Single Review)

Posted in IRISH NOISE!, Music, Single Review with tags , , , , , , on July 18, 2010 by Tickets There

Another two weeks have passed and this time Tickets There guarantees you it’s been worth the wait because Summer Snow, Ash’s latest single from their A-Z series is a wonderful piece of music.

They’re sticking with the more simplistic style of writing that’s dominated the second part of the series but they’ve brought the guitars and bass right to the front for a thundering chorus that seems to conquer the rest of the song. Intro kicks off with a back n forth guitars, some background keyboards and Tim’s voice right at the forefront and sounding good n strong. Short, perfectly written and involving,everything you could want from an Ash track.

I think we’re tapped out with the words for Ash. Unlike them, we can’t produce fresh material every two weeks and that’s why we’re a lowly viewed poxy little blog and they’re the kick ass heroes of Irish pop rock. I certainly hope ye all caught their set at Oxegen and you’ve started your ‘come back to Dublin soon’ letters to their official site. We’ll see you in two weeks for the fifth last review of the series. Until then, enjoy Summer Snow.

Ash – Neon (Single Review)

Posted in IRISH NOISE!, Music, Single Review with tags , , , , , , on February 1, 2010 by Tickets There

Sorry for the lack of updates recently folks. Our editor had a nasty fall last Friday but we’re back on track now and just in time for Ash’s latest release, Neon.

We’re up to the latter I now (single 10 in the A – Z Series inc. Return of White Rabbit). So far the series has been pretty terrific. Tracks such as Space Shot, Arcadia, Ichiban, Tracers, Joy Kicks Darkness and ROWR are  already classics as far as the fans are concerned and they’ve gone a long way in proving that Ash are a band deserving of any and all attention and praise we the people can pile on them. With another seventeen singles to go over the next year, one has to wonder if there’s any stopping the lads in their quest to prove that bands can – work perfectly well outside the classic album format. Judging by Neon, it’s going to be very hard stopping them for making it work.  

Neon is a slightly off beat kind of mesh of sounds heard on the other tracks. Despite the album format disappearing, it’s very obvious that these songs all share a very common tone and structure. I’ve been listening to it since around ten this morning and originally I thought it was one of the weaker tracks like Dead Disciples but nope, proven wrong again. It’s a brilliant track with an oddly catchy chorus. The dark overtones in the verse work so well against the more upbeat direction the chorus takes.

Another winner and it just gets stronger every time you listen to it. Tickets There is back, Ash are back, Ireland get ready…..actually, Ireland, please just don’t slap us for saying something as corny as that.

Click Here to visit Ash-Official.com.