Tim Wheeler ranks Ash’s albums

Ash rehearsing at Atomic Heart Studios, Feb 2015. Photo by Ken Grand-Pierre
Ash rehearsing at Atomic Heart Studios, Feb 2015. Photo by Ken Grand-Pierre

Tim Wheeler spoke to Noisey recently to rank Ash’s current eight studio albums from worst to best. Below is the list along with a brief comment from Tim about each album:

“I don’t really like the recording much, and it’s all the songs we had from our first two years in the band. I guess it was the best songs we had, except from “Girl From Mars,” which we held back on purpose. Listening to it I think half of it is good and half of it isn’t so good.”

“We got to record it in LA at Sound City, which was part of living out our fantasies as teenage Nirvana fans, getting to record where Nevermind was made. But I think we toured Free All Angels so much in the States, and we were sharpening up as a live rock band, and that really fed into the music. And I guess bands like Queens of the Stone Age had emerged as well, and we loved the playing. Rick was all about Dave Grohl’s drumming on that one album of theirs [Songs For The Deaf]. So we were quite influenced by that stuff and all the time we spent in America. Also I think it was written pretty fast, after being so burnt out from touring, so it’s not quite as song-focused as some as the other records.”

Twilight of the Innocents
“This was a record we put out and said it was going to be our last one. I guess it didn’t quite connect with radio the way the other albums had. I’m really proud of it though because it was our first self-produced record and the first one we made after setting up our studio in New York. We put a lot of work into it and I’m particularly proud of the final track on the record, the title track, which was always monumental to play live. We got to work with Paul Buckmaster on the string arrangements for that song.”

Nu-Clear Sounds
“We don’t play much of it live so we forget what it’s like, but there are some really cool sounds, some really cool songs. Maybe if two of the songs were better it’d be an absolute blinder. It starts really great with “Projects” and “Jesus Says. If we put “A Life Less Ordinary” it would’ve done well, because that was the in-between single. It never found a home on a record. Looking back, I think that’s one of my big regrets. That would have been a good move. Nestling it between tracks two and three, it would’ve been fantastic.”

A-Z Series
“It was experimental in both the method of release and the music we were doing. We were trying to surprise people every two weeks with a different style, but it was such a big challenge. It was really exciting and a very creative time. Definitely the hardest I’ve ever worked in the studio. We were also self-releasing, so that was crazy. We were completely winging it all the time. And we did vinyl for every single, every two weeks. Part of the idea was that it’d be digital, but because we did the seven-inches we needed two months lead time to press the vinyl, so that made things quite hairy at some points. We also did a subscription service, which was quite interesting. Our big dream was to go top 40 every two weeks. I think if we only had 2,000 more subscribers we would have done that, but we came quite close. That was the kind of statement I really wanted to make.”

“I’m most excited about it this minute so I’d like to put it first but I’ve got give it a bit of time. I’m going with tried and tested at the top of the pile. I feel it’s got the essence of what’s best about Ash. I think because we’d gone away from making albums for a while. I’d definitely felt the pressure of living up to 1977 and Free All Angels, in the sense that there needed to be stronger songs. I spent a long time focusing on songwriting. I think there’s a sense of nostalgia and looking back on songs like “Hedonism” and “Bring Back The Summer.” I think you can still hear we’re having fun. That’s part of the reason why we called it Kablammo!—we wanted it to be a fun and exciting pop record.”

Free all Angels
“It’s not quite as noisy as the previous two, but it’s up-tempo and rocking. Alan Moulder mixed it, so it has a slightly more posh sound. I think it has a great bunch of songs, a great bunch of singles on it. Some of our defining songs are on there. It was kind of a hard time after the Britpop scene fell away, pretty much all of the UK indie bands were flopping with their follow-up records and then getting dropped. If this record hadn’t been a success it probably would’ve been the end of our career. I knew I had to get back into the pop style of writing, like I did on 1977, because I thought that is what we hadn’t pushed enough on Nu-Clear Sounds. That was the one thing that was missing, definitely.”

“I guess it’s the album we play most songs from, so we’re still very much in touch with it. A lot of the songs are what defined us and how people view us. I’m very proud of it because of how old I was when I wrote it. Some of the songs are simple, but some are clever and I’m surprised when I look at them. We still play a lot of it live and it stands up with everything we’ve done.”