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Ash’s rising star on the high and lows of 2001

Published: December, 2001
Source: Planet Sound

This time last year was probably the most nervous of Ash’s career, Tim Wheeler can afford to say it with a laugh now, but the band were “about £1,000 away from bankruptcy.” The commercial failure of second album Nu-Clear Sounds had cost them dear, and Tim had writers block. But confidence was regained thanks to a low key tour, and unless you’ve been living on mars, you can see why Tim’s keen to tell us about 2001 itself.

Although Ash faced financial chaos a year ago, Tim Wheeler insists the band were never going to quit. “Were to young and stupid to think of doing anything else”, he laughs.

“I knew our new album was a classic, but then I get angry when Nu-Clear Sounds gets dismissed so quickly. I thought that would do a lot better than it did, so I wasn’t that certain that Free All Angels would get us back in people’s minds.”

Uncertain of the reception awaiting Ash’s return after three years away, Tim Wheeler instantly picks hearing the Number 8 chart position of “Shining Light” as his highlight of 2001. “That was such a massive relief” grins a still relieved sounding Tim. “So many of our contemporaries have already fallen away. We’re lucky to be young enough still to maybe want it more than they do - Free All Angels making number one still meant a lot to us.”

Known for speaking his mind - rows with Starsailor and Westlife have resulted - Tim Wheeler picks the success of Pop Idol and Popstars as the 2001’s low point. “I despise Hear’say” he spits “All Popstars did was to show how easy it is to get famous without doing anything to achieve it. The five people they chose are so bland and boring, I haven’t watched Pop-Idol having seen Popstars, I know I’d be just as annoyed with it, I’d kick my TV in.”

Although he hates Hear’say Tim Wheeler isn’t totally anti-pop, as he names Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out Of My Head” as the years best single. “See that’s what pop should all be about” reckons the softly speaking chap. “Every time I got in a a taxi, it seemed like it was on the radio, but it’s such a catchy song I didn’t mind. I’ve not danced to it myself, no, but only because I’ve not had time to go clubbing. If I did I’d be up there.”

Having chosen Kylie’s song as 2001’s best single, Tim Wheeler names Irish singer-songwriter David Kitt’s, The Big Romance as the years finest album. “We were on the same festival bill” Tim recalls, “David had his brother whose only eight, on stage with him. So he was different straight off. The albums got a lot of unusual textures and beats. It’s not a typical songwriter album at all, I’d recommend it to any reader, definitely.”

Taking things easy over the festive period after a manic 2001 on tour, all that’s left for Ash is the new years ever release of “There’s a Star

“We wanted “Walking Barefoot”, out as a single, but the chorus of ‘we’ve been walking barefoot all summer’ just didn’t sound right at Christmas” laughs Tim.

“We’ve covered Fixed Stars “Here Comes the Music” on the B-side. It’s a great pop song, but it’s taken me two years to find their original version. While there more know for covering gems on their B-sides, Ash recently dared to cover “Teenage Kicks”.

“Ah, it was only old punks who got hacked off with that” laughs Tim “If nothing else, we got a huge laugh out of seeing James Nesbit dancing to it when we played it in Belfast. Jimmy’s dancing is seen on the DVD of the single. As for 2002 I’m on such a roll, I’m writing two new songs for our Best of album, can’t wait”