Landing mid-November for a complete nationwide (mainland) tour, Irish pop-punk trio Ash are touring in support of their latest album “Islands” which was released earlier this year! I had the chance to have a quick chat with frontman Tim Wheeler about the upcoming tour and he spoke the entire time with an uplifting spark in his voice the entire conversation, Informing me that in regards to getting over here for the tour, “I can’t wait! It’s always a highlight getting to Australia. It still blows my mind that our music has reached that far from home and we love coming down and the vibe of the place!”
Unlike the spark in his voice, the album “Islands” is a highly introspective collection of songs reflecting a difficult time in Wheeler’s life, “I had to break up in the time leading up to it but its been like three years since. I wrote the songs around that time and the year following that. It was a cathartic record to write really, I’ve always liked to put sad lyrics to uplifting melodies. I think that’s an interesting mix.”. I don’t disagree, after listening to the album I was floored by the honesty in trying to, what appeared like, Wheeler trying to find himself again. It is a wonderful album full of great tunes!
Many people I know are excited for the trio’s return as they’ve always held highly energetic shows with tours reaching all the way back into the 90’s. Even I had grown up listening to the band but like many others, I wasn’t the only one. “Some of my nieces and nephews, I think they were born in 96, they’ve been growing up coming to our shows since they were little kids, now they’re in their mid 20s (laughs). We’re getting a younger audience coming along as well as our older original fans, So it’s crazy when someone comes and sees us who like younger than the band, you know, we’ve been around since ’92.”
What might surprise a lot of you out there is 1992 was when the band Ash was solidified, however between 1989 and 1992, they were an Iron Maiden tribute band! How you would make the transition from classic heavy metal to pop-punk is an experience Wheeler was all too happy to describe. “There was a transition a lot of people went through I guess, you know late 80s early 90s, grunge came along and just kinda killed metal for a lot of people, a lot of people were hard rock or metal fans and Kurt Cobain as well as the Seattle Grunge movement all of a suddenly made it look pretty silly, after that a lot of people jump ship for alternative indie rock. Bands like Weezer as well, they’re partial to heavy metal guitar solos every now and again and some riffing but you can tell that Nirvana really changed a lot of the musical landscape.”
We spent a bit of time having a meandering conversation which culminated with how, in Irish culture, it is common to express stories through song. We sang a few traditional Irish ditties before hitting my personal favorite, “The Rattlin’ Bog”. Wheeler became hysterical and claimed that he didn’t know the song but he’d get the band to learn it and “Maybe we’ll add it to the set for the Australian Tour”. I promised a lot of beer in return so Australia, be ready to pay up!
Wheeler and the band are looking forward to visiting us once again to play shows and have friendly blabs with as many people willing to lend ears and voices to the chorus, “Seeing old friends really is the main thing, I met a bunch of Aussies in Thailand so I’m looking forward to seeing them in Brisbane, We also have a lot of old friends from when we toured on the Big Day Out festival and I also have some family members that moved down to Australia over the years so I’m excited to see them. It’s always very social when we get down there! I think we came down 2016 and maybe 2013 was the time before so. Yeah. It seems to be a visit every two or three years so I’d be sad if I didn’t get to to Australia on an album.”
During the last few moments of the conversation, he also let me know that “I just read the Robert Forster biography “Grant and I” about The Go Betweens and that was awesome, it put me in the mood for some good Aussie music!”.
Tuesday, 13th November: The Zoo, Brisbane
Wednesday, 14th November: Fowlers Live, Adelaide
Thursday, 15th November: Rosemount, Perth
Saturday, 17th November: Factory Theatre, Sydney
Sunday, 18th November: Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Grab tickets to a show in your city HERE!