Ash formed in June 1992 in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, after Tim and Mark’s previous band Vietnam seized existence. They hooked up with local boy Rick McMurray and began gigging and recording material. The band’s Garage Girl demo recorded at Cosmic Rays Studio was dispatched and impressed independent label LaLaLand who released their debut single “Jack Names the Planets” on a limited edition 7”, good reviews and airplay from Radio 1 DJ Steve Lamacq soon led to a deal with Infectious Records.
Their debut EP Trailer was quickly recorded and released in October 1994, boasting three glorious singles. The band with a growing reputation headed to the studio with Owen Morris and recorded their brilliant debut album 1977 titled after the year they were born and the year Star Wars was released, boasting five singles including four top 20 hits. In 1997 Charlotte Hatherley, previously a member of the band Nightnurse was welcomed to the Ash fold as an extra guitarist.
The band returned in 1998 with the darker Nu-Clear Sounds an album that was full of great rock tracks and ballads which received critical acclaim but commercial disappointment. The infamous “Numbskull” video finally convinced the people that Tim had indeed gone mad.
However Ash returned in 2001 brighter and bolder than ever with Free All Angels which crawled to the top of the album charts and had many crowning Ash the most important band in Britain. Several awards followed, including Best single at the NME Brat Awards & Q Awards and Tim picking up an Ivor Novello award for the top ten single “Shining Light”.
Ash spent most of 2002 touring America, including support a slot with Coldplay. The band survived a bus crash on tour after a gig in Detroit returning to the UK for the release of new single “Envy” and their 10 year singles collection Intergalactic Sonic 7”s.
The riff filled full on metal assault of download only single “Clones” introduced Ash back to the public eye with a bang in 2004. The pop punk genius of “Orpheus” preceded their new album Meltdown which saw Ash coating their trademark sugar melodies with bone crunching riffs. In 2005 the popular Star Wars Republic Commando game is finally released using “Clones” as title music. Meanwhile Meltdown gets a US release date through Warner Bros imprint Record Collection. Back in the UK Tim Wheeler receives a companionship (a honorary degree) from LIPA (Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts)
On the 20th January, 2006, after 9 years together, Charlotte Hatherley left the band to pursue her solo career. An official statement read: “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”. Ash decamped to a New York studio to write and record their fifth studio album. In March, “Glow”, a collaboration between Tim Wheeler and legendary dance produce Arthur Baker, is released as a single to critical acclaim. The song was originally recorded back in 1997, but was re-recorded for Arthur Baker’s new solo album.
Tim stumbles across unwanted studio in space Manhattan. The room is perfect and Ash take on the lease. Having their own base to record and rehearse from is something they’ve always dreamed of. Rick regularly darts across the pond from Scotland and after several rehearsals the band have 27 songs to begin work on. The transition back to a 3-piece is both exciting and prolific.
Ash hit the road in Febraury for the “Higher Education” UK tour, which sees the band playing smaller venues to preview tracks from their upcoming new album. The free download single “I Started a Fire” is released to coincide.
The bands new album “Twilight of the Innocents” is preceded by the singles “You Can’t Have It All” and the epic ballad “Polaris”, both of which chart in the top 40. However, in the age of digital downloads and diminishing album sales the album fares less well; in June, Tim announces from the stage at the Isle of Wight Festival that “Twilight of the Innocents” will be their last album. Rumours of a split spread before Tim later clarifies a dramatic shift in focus, the band will concentrate on releasing singles.
Mark reveals to fans that work on the ‘singles only’ future is under way, as the band performs two 1977 shows at London’s Roundhouse; the gigs are recorded for a special re-release of their debut album.
2009: Nearly 12 months of work at their Manhattan command centre has produced an enviable payload of new tunes: the ultimate singles band are about to unveil the ultimate singles collection.
The band announces what amounts to a creative Everest, the ‘A-Z Series’: 26 singles in one year, a single for each letter of the alphabet, one release every fortnight. The first taster is free download Return of White Rabbit, and the UK press loves it; a refreshing electro take on the unstoppable Ash formula, it suggests the ambitious new release schedule has revitalized the band.
The unique subscription service run from the band’s website and own label ‘Atomic Heart Records’ is kicked off with ballad True Love 1980 and is promptly followed by another Ash innovation, the A to Z Tour. The band embark on an alphabetical tour of the UK, a brave – if not foolish – trip around the British Isles from Aldershot to Zennor, bringing the Rock back to some of the nation’s lesser known music venues.
The A-Z Singles Series continues a pace with the release of letter G, Ichiban at the beginning of January and the announcement of a spring tour of the UK. At the end of the month, Ash are back in their New York studio to record further tracks which will complete the year-long run of single-sided alphabet singles.
In October Ash play some special live shows to mark the release of The Best of Ash and the previously unseen ‘Teenage Wildlife’, an infamous tour documentary narrated by Ewan McGregor. Charlotte Hatherley performs with the band once more for the UK tour. The shows included the four piece playing the seminal Free All Angels album in its entirety.
In June the band celebrate their 20th birthday with a one off birthday show at The Relentless Garage in London. To coincide with the #ASH20 celebrations the band released an EP of cover versions entitled Little Infinity. In November Ash return to North America and put out a Special Edition Coloured Triple-Vinyl US release of their famous A-Z Series, again through Noyes Records.
Ash marked the start of 2013 by returning to SXSW after a seven year absence coupled with several US headlining dates around the annual music festival.
Ash head to Australia in August to play a series of 1977 themed shows, playing the album in full as well as various B-sides from the same era.
Tim and Emmy reunite again in December to play tracks from their This is Christmas in London and Belfast.
Ash head out with Deaf Havana on a west coast tour of the US in January preceding their highly publicised appearance on the Weezer cruise in February.
The band celebrates the 20th anniversary of debut single “Jack Names the Planets” in March by releasing the 2011 version as free download for the day.
In September Tim announces his debut solo album Lost Domain and premieres the track “First Sign Of Spring”. Released in November it deals with the death of Tim’s father to dementia and the subsequent effect it had on the singer’s life and family. Tim’s first solo tour in support of the album follows in November.
Ash are expected to release their long-awaited follow-up to the A-Z series.