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“I had to lose a cymbal to accommodate Tim’s guitar”

Published: September, 2007

So you’re in Germany with Sportfreunde Stiller how do you know those guys?
We supported them in Germany on the Meltdown tour, after we had met them in Spain, earlier that year. They’ve been huge Ash fans for years, and loved having us open for them. We had a great reaction from their audience last time so we jumped at the chance to do it again. They are lots of fun to tour with; there were plenty of drunken antics last time around, and I’m sure they will be repeated, although I’m not sure we can top Mark on the dancefloor with a burning newspaper sticking out of his ass…

You recently returned home to support Snow Patrol at Ward Park; the biggest show Northern Ireland has ever seen. How did the show go?
The show was great. We had an amazing reaction from the audience, especially for a support show. It was almost like doing our own show. It was great to catch up with friends and family again, as it was our first time back since the Spring and Airbrake show in June. My dad couldn’t stop talking about “Twilight of the Innocents”. I think it must be his favourite song of all time! The whole day was a great way to end the summer, and we were really happy that we ended it back home. Of course there was mucho partying after the gig. I think Mark had to be shown to his room by the hotel staff at 4am, while I got back at about 8am on Sunday morning. Thank God for late checkouts!

You’re good friends with Snow Patrol. How do you know them and what do you think of their success?
We’ve known them for years, since they supported us on the Free All Angels tour. They were struggling at the time and not really happy with their then record company, and I think they were glad of that tour. Since then they’ve gone on to phenomenal success, and they really deserve it. I’m very proud to see them do so well.

The Dead 60s also played that day, and you’ve just announced them as support on the upcoming UK tour. Any coincidence?
Yes. They’d been suggested to us a while ago, but that was the first opportunity to check them out live. We watched a few songs and were really impressed. They seemed to get the crowd moving, which is tough especially at that time of the day. Mark spoke to them after the show, just to say hello, and a few weeks later we had them confirmed for the tour. I’m looking forward to it. I think they’ll fit in well musically.

You returned to the Water Rats for an XFM party. What was that like and did the Tube strike affect the show?
Yeah, back at the Water Rats! Who would have thought. I think the last time we were there was pre Free All Angels, when we did a secret show playing all the songs from that album. I guess there was a little more room on stage, but not much. I don’t know how we squeezed on there as a four piece. The whole affair was pretty intimate, but for me it was a bit of a nightmare on stage. I was very pleasantly surprised to hear the mixes from the show. The performances were not like I remembered at all. We sounded great. If you wanna check some of them out there’s an EP on 7 Digital. We were worried that a lot of ticket winners wouldn’t have made it down because of the Tube strike but it was pretty packed. Well, it is the Water Rats…

Letterkenny and Wexford. Not an obvious choice of locations. What brought those about and how did they go?
Well I guess we just wanted some new experiences, and I think we got them! The Letterkenny gig was in a bizarre nightclub/restaurant complex, but at least it had a proper stage! In Wexford the stage was the size of my drum riser, making the Water Rats gig look like an arena show, owned by a poor excuse for a pint of beer company. I had to lose a cymbal to accommodate Tim’s guitar. Tighter than Fugazi playing a secret show in Anne Widdicome’s vagina. Definitely some of the stranger places we’ve played, but we had a laugh doing them.

You played B-side Festival with Echo And The Bunnymen in Spain. How did that go?
It was a hellish day, which began at 6.15 at Dublin airport, the busiest airport in the world, it seems. Its made of portacabins, chewing gum and dirty socks, but they assure us it will be finished by Spring 2008. I can’t wait to go back there… From here we flew to Gatwick, with no time to explore Alan Partridge’s favourite place in the world (Gatwick Village), and then onto Alicante on what can only be described as Easy-Ryan-Chav-Moron-Jet, which ran late, diverting us from the beautiful hotel showers, which were so desperately needed, to the dusty festival site. Soundcheck over, we piled back in the van for some exotic catering at the hotel, followed by a 23 minute kip, then back down to the site. The show itself made up for the day we had, reassuring us that we CAN play the set in our sleep! The minor problem of the lighting rig cutting out for a couple of songs was brushed off by the local crew, who pointed at it, shrugged, and simply said, “It’s Spanish”. The Bunnymen were great, the Mack was on top form as usual, although speaking in some bizarre version of English. I’ve never heard such an inventive use of the word trumpton anywhere else…

The B-sides of “End of the World” got a great reaction, especially “Seventh Circle”. Why did it take so long to be released?
Thanks. It was one of those songs that we could never find a home for. It was written back in 2000, before the recording sessions for Free All Angels, but it just didn’t fit the mood of that album. We gave it another shot on the Meltdown sessions, but again it felt out of place with the new rockier material. We had to settle for it being a B-side which is a shame, cos its such a great song. You can’t hold onto a song forever though.

You were in Manchester to play a street gig for T-Mobile Transmissions. How was that?
It was cool. We spent the day with Danny MacNamara from Embrace who was showing us around Manchester. We checked out a bunch of potential venues for the gig which was an acoustic set. All totally spontaneous of course! We went back to the Roadhouse, which we last played in in 1994 or 95, supporting Drive Like Jehu. We also checked out Manchester City’s new ground, giving Mark a chance to inspect the pitch before Villa lost in a boring one - nil match on Sunday. We ended up doing the show in the Museum Of Science and Industry, in amongst a bunch of old prop planes. I think it’s to be broadcast in the next few weeks. Before the UK tour anyway.

Speaking of which; can you tell us anything about the tour?
I’m really looking forward to it. It’s been so long since we’ve done a big UK tour, over three years now. I’m just itching for it to start. I think we might throw in some songs we haven’t played this year, from the back catalogue. It’s great to have enough material that we can mix it up a every night. Myself and Mark are gonna DJ after some of the shows, which will end up with someone in casualty, no doubt.

Any more touring after the UK shows?
Yeah. We have a European tour coming up in November/December. We’ll be going to Norway and Germany mostly. We’re also looking into some Irish shows in December to finish the year. Nothing is booked yet, but keep an eye here or on the MySpace site. They’ll be up there as soon as we know.

Thanks Rick.