Ash are an alternative rock band that formed in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland in 1992. The media originally pegged Ash's music as Britpop when the band first found mainstream success. They have had a devoted following since the mid-90's.
Initially inspired by Twisted Sister and Iron Maiden in the early 1990s, Wheeler and Hamilton formed a heavy metal band called Vietnam with a few school friends. After two gigs, they were left stranded when their bandmates left. Requiring a drummer, when Heatley left to go to university they had a few drinks with Rick McMurray who was a year ahead of them in school and had switched from playing the guitar to drums. With McMurray on board, they set out to develop a style of music inspired by grunge bands such as Nirvana, Mudhoney and Pixies.
In 1993 Ash recorded the Garage Girl demo tape, which featured "Jack Names the Planets" and "Intense Thing" taken from Shed, as well as some new tracks including "Petrol". Following Garage Girl, they released their compilation demo tape, Pipe Smokin' Brick later that year, which featured an assortment of their best songs from the other 4 demo tapes. Downpatrick Musician Ray Valentine recorded Ash's demo's at his studio, Cosmic Rays. Ash's moniker at the time was "Genuine Real Teenagers" because they were so young when recording their early material.
The demo tapes had not gained much attention yet and Ash were still playing small shows at local clubs, but in early 1994, Stephen Taverner came across the Garage Girl demo tape. Taverner put up the money so that they could press 1000 7″ copies of "Jack Names the Planets" on Stephen's own LaLaLand record label. The band was on its way and Stephen became their full-time manager.
Ash released their mini album, Trailer, in October 1994, which only included seven songs. They received some airplay from Steve Lamacq on BBC Radio 1 and so followed up their debut single with "Petrol", and "Uncle Pat" on their new label Infectious Records.
1996 saw them release the singles "Goldfinger" and "Oh Yeah" either side of their album 1977, which saw considerable success. The track "Lose control" from that album was featured in the video game Gran Turismo. On 17 February 1997, Ash released Live at the Wireless, a live album, recorded at the Triple J Studios in Australia. The UK fans could buy a limited edition CD of it on the band's own Deathstar label.
During their time touring with Weezer, Ash felt the limitation of a three-piece band. As a result they recruited Charlotte Hatherley who had previously been with the band Nightnurse and she made her gig debut at a few small gigs a week before appearing at the V Festival in 1997. The first single that she appeared on, "A Life Less Ordinary", featured on the soundtrack to the Ewan McGregor / Cameron Diaz film of the same name.
In September 1998, Ash released "Jesus Says" the following month the second album proper, Nu-Clear Sounds, and in November "Wildsurf". The stress of near non-stop touring of 1977 and Nu-Clear Sounds began to affect the band's mentality.
In 2000, Tim Wheeler disappeared for a short while following the commercial and critical failure of Nu-Clear Sounds. He eventually emerged in New York making the self-deprecating, blood, drug and sex fueled video for Numbskull. A note for Stephen Taverner attached to the video said, "I've killed Bambi".
Ash nearly became bankrupt as they prepared to release possibly their last album. Luckily, this was not to be the case. The band retreated to Wheeler's parents' house, to play and write songs in the same garage where the band began.
The single "Shining Light" was released in January 2001, followed by the number one album Free All Angels in April. Subsequent singles released from Free All Angels were "Burn Baby Burn", "Sometimes", "Candy", and "There's a Star" . The single "Shining Light" won the "Best Contemporary Song" award at the 2002 Ivor Novello awards. A new single "Envy" was released, followed shortly afterwards by the singles collection Intergalactic Sonic 7″s with the bonus disk entitled Cosmic Debris. Q magazine named Ash as #2 of its "50 Bands To See Before You Die".
In 2003, it was leaked to the music and tabloid press that Ash were working on a horror film described as a 'teen slasher'. The film, called Slashed, was shot while the band were on tour in America but some scenes were also shot in the UK. The screenplay, written by Jed Shepherd and directed by Alexander Marks included star roles by Chris Martin (Sherbet Bones) and Jonny Buckland (Agent Ford) of Coldplay as a pair of FBI agents hired to track down a supernatural serial killer. Other star performances include that of Moby, James Nesbitt, Dave Grohl and Ash themselves. The film was much hyped due to the celebrity performances but it was never generally released to the public and is currently being held in storage. Rumours circulated that certain scenes were too gory and would not be suitable for Ash's audience, but it was also said that Chris Martin vetoed its release due to scenes of him running around in his boxer shorts, covered in blood, fighting demons which may have been detrimental to his new celebrity status.
On 29 June 2004, Ash released Meltdown. It reached number five in the UK. The band teamed up with Lucasarts for a new Star Wars game entitled Republic Commando. "Clones", taken from the album Meltdown is the first licensed music to be used in anything Star Wars-related. "Meltdown" and "Orpheus" are featured on the popular British movie, Shaun of the Dead as well as appearing on the in-game soundtracks for the video games NHL 2005 and Burnout 3: Takedown. Also featured is their cover of the Buzzcocks song "Everybody's Happy Nowadays" featuring Chris Martin on backing vocals. "Starcrossed" and "Renegade Cavalcade" were later released as singles from the album. Meltdown gets a US release date of 8 March, through Warner Bros. Records imprint Record Collection. Also in 2005, Tim Wheeler received a companionship (a honorary degree) from LIPA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts).
On 20 January 2006, Charlotte Hatherley left the band after nine years leaving only the original members remaining. An official statement reads: "After 9 years Ash and Charlotte Hatherley have mutually agreed to part company. The decision is completely amicable and they wish each other the very best for the future". In an interview in July 2007, the other band members suggested they asked Hatherley to leave as they "wanted to be a three-piece. On 6 June 2006, NME reported that Ash were in a New York recording studio and had twenty seven "rough" songs. Wheeler hinted that the eventual album is likely to be more retro sounding than any of their previous material. No shows were planned for the remainder of 2006, but Wheeler says Ash are hoping to test out their new songs "in tiny New York bars" once the album is completed. Early in 2007, Ash announced a full-length UK tour for February and March 2007. The tour is a warm-up for their album release in June and summer festival appearances, including the Isle of Wight Festival on 9 June 2007. The tour is of small clubs nationwide and calls at Preston, Newcastle, Glasgow, Norwich, Liverpool, Sheffield and Southampton amongst others. Named "The Higher Education Tour", Ash are to work closely with the National Union of Students (NUS), including student pre-sale, which explains their gigs at universities in Southampton, Keele, Sheffield, Exeter, Warwick and Kings College London amongst others. Support will be the indie-rock band, V//Formation.
On the 19 February 2007 Ash released the first song from their new album, which was announced as being called Twilight of the Innocents. This new material was a download only sneak-preview track called "I Started A Fire". The first physical single "You Can't Have It All" was released on 16 April 2007. The release of YCHIA coincided with an in-store gig and signing in Virgin Megastore, Belfast. The music video for "You Can't Have It All" debuted on MTV Two on 11 March 2007. Other singles are "Polaris", "End of the World" and probably "Twilight of the Innocents", as Tim said on an interview at the band's site.
On 12 June 2007 Ash revealed that Twilight of the Innocents would be their last album. They however denied that they were splitting and instead stated they would only release singles from now on as "The way people listen to music has changed, with the advent of the download the emphasis has reverted to single tracks".
The band are also playing at Reading University's Summer Ball 2008 and headlining Middlesbrough Music Live Festival on 1st June 2008.
On 12th May 2008, Ash announced they will be playing at The Roundhouse in London, on September 5th, a gig which will be focused on Ash's old B-sides/classic tracks and entire album, 1977 will also be played. This show will be repeated at London Astoria the following day, September 6th.
On 30th May 2008, Ash previewed a new song entitled "Ichiban" whilst playing at St George's Hall in Bradford.
In March 2008, Ash contributed their recording of "Please Let That Be You" to the album Friends of P -- Tribute to The Rentals.
On 15th June 2008, Ash played live at Loughborough University's Students Union, performing classic songs like "Burn Baby Burn" and "Girl From Mars" whilst also previewing new material promised to be released early next year.
It has also been rumoured that Ash have a new song entitled "The Lost Ganj", though this has yet to be confirmed.
The band plan to release their new material online early next year, with March being a possibility.
The Philadelphia Inquirer Jonathan Storm column: in Lalaland, dumped but full of gumption.(Television program review)
May 31, 2007; Byline: Jonathan Storm May 31--Surrounded by a high-toned, lighthearted production, Debra Messing (Will & Grace) breezes back to...