Ash have had, and are still currently enjoying, a thoroughly busy year. With their A-Z series of singles still in full swing, and themselves being slap bang in the middle of a hectic summer festival schedule that includes Pukkelpop and Fuji Rock as well a number of British festivals, Counteract caught up with drummer Rick McMurray and bassist Mark Hamilton to see how they were getting on.
Luke Deakin: So, hows the festival season treating you so far?
Rick McMurray: well, we did Glasto which is always fun, and we’ve got Reading and Leeds coming up in August as well a load of international festivals in between now and the end of August, so it’s looking pretty busy, but I think we can manage it.
LD: How are you feeling about the A-Z series at the moment?
RM: Yeah, its been a pretty good year y’know, and it’s been a pretty exciting way for us to do stuff. We got started with it last October so we are almost at the end now, but it’s been a really exciting time for us and the fans. A lot of the fans at the start were kind of sceptical about how things were going to work and were kind of unsure of going into new territory. I guess your most hardcore fans can be your most conservative fans aswell, they want things done the way they’ve always been traditionally done, but once they got their heads round how it was actually going to work, I think everybody loved it. I think this was probably the best time be an Ash fan, because you’ve had that kind of anticipation y’know, expectation for new material, every couple of weeks for a whole year.
LD: Are you going to continue releasing material single by single once the A-Z series is finally completed?
RM: I think so, yeah
LD: So you’re not going to go back to the album format?
RM: No…. well…. never say never, but at the moment our focus is on to do something else…
Mark Hamilton: Yeah, try something different, do something new. I mean we’ve got a couple of ideas floating around but we don’t really want to tell anyone quite just yet. We wanted to do the A-Z because it was such a massive undertaking, I mean just to make another album it would’ve been not much a challenge, and we wanted to try something new, exert ourselves, you know. We actually recorded four times the amount of music we actually released in the A-Z…
RM: Yeah, like four albums worth of music, like 54 tracks…
MH: Yeah, so we were lucky in a way that we’ve got our own studio to be able to put that much effort into it. It the biggest undertaking we’ve ever attempted you know, and to pull it off ,and to do it on our own label, and to realease 26 vinyls as well, and two compilation albums and new material every week and bonus tracks every month as well to subscribers. I mean the record company we were working with before, whenever we spoke to them about this, they always thought we were crazy. In their eyes they couldn’t see the profit in anything that wasn’t promoting an album, and when we said we were just going to be releasing singles, they weren’t that enthusiastic.
LD: At least you’re enjoying what you’re doing though, at least you’re having fun, right?
MH: Yeah, we wouldn’t have done it any differently if we had to do it again. It’s been tough but its been so worth it to accomplish something like this, something so alien to the way we were used to working. Wouldn’t change it for the world.
And if you want to catch Ash doing what they do, old and new, in the UK, then you might have to wait ‘til the 17th of August where they are playing Belsonic in Belfast alongside Kasabian.