“I was going to judge the Star Wars X-factor…”Published: July, 2007
We spoke to Mark before one of the Koko shows last week to get a catch-up on all things Ash.
Hi Mark. How are things?
Yeah, I’m good thanks.
We’ve not spoken since the Isle of Wight festival. How was that?
It was good. It was the weekend after the Skye festival, where the weather had been pretty miserable. But the Isle of Wight was the complete opposite of that. In fact it was scorching. The show went really well too. Plus, of course, that was where Tim made the big shocking statement of “This is the last song from our last album” and people thought we were splitting up! One guy we know was actually crying afterwards. But we were like, “No, we’re not splitting up, we’re just not gonna stick to the regimental format of releasing albums every three years.”
Indeed. So it’s singles only from now on. That whole announcement got plenty of coverage.
Yeah, it was all over the internet and in lots of the papers. It’s good to be making news!
And you’re happy with the decision?
Yeah, absolutely. I think next spring, once we’ve finished touring Twilight of the Innocents, we’ll probably start releasing stuff straight away. We’ve already got some songs that never actually got recorded for this album. As soon as we have the time, we can just go into the studio and start recording them.
How did the decision to do this come about?
Well the basic idea was Tim’s. He was looking back to when the Wedding Present put out a single once a month and thinking about how much better that could work now because of downloading. And we just thought, we’ve got the ability, we’ve got our own studio, you can release stuff online, there doesn’t need to be that massive wait between releases, let’s do it.
Did anyone try and talk you out of it?
I think it took a bit of time for us all to really decide this was the way we’d go forward. It’s quite odd when you suddenly think like, wow, we’re not going to do things the traditional way any more. But the label are really behind it. The record companies are hurting at the minute and they need to come up with new ways of doing stuff and they think it’s a great move.
Would things be released worldwide at the same time?
Yeah, everywhere. What we’d really like to do is to sell them via ash-official.com, rather than having to go to some other third party site. We’re looking into sorting that out.
Can you actually make money from just releasing singles?
Oh for sure, yeah. The way things are going at the moment, you’re actually making less and less from albums. You have this big, expensive marketing push and we’ve never seen any royalties, because you have to recoup all that money first. We’ve always made our money from live shows, publishing and merchandise. And the labels are now looking at ways for all those things to be incorporated together. Bands will basically sign to them as a marketing company who provide funding, with all these things brought under the one umbrella. So, yeah, it’s shaping up to be a total creative transition for us. I’m really excited to see how it goes.
So nobody should be worried that this is the beginning of the end for Ash?
No, not at all! It’s the end of a phase, but we’re really looking forward to pushing things on from here in lots of different ways.
And in the meantime, the last proper Ash album has been released.
Yeah, it came out this week. It’s great to have it finally out there, with the hard copies in the shops.
Have you bought a copy yourself?
Not yet, actually. But I think there’s an HMV round the corner from our hotel, so I’m going to try to pop out and get one later on.
Have you decided what the next single will be?
Yeah, it’s going to be “End of the World”. I think that’s potentially the most commercial song on the record. It’s a real singalong anthem. And the message of the song really ties in with everything that’s going on at the moment with Live Earth and climate change and everything.
And you’ve announced a big autumn tour.
Yeah, 12 shows in big venues. It’ll be our first proper UK tour since Meltdown in 2004. I can’t wait.
Are you looking forward to any of the dates in particular?
We’ve played Brixton Academy a couple of times and that’s a big old room to look out on, so that should be good. And I really love the fact that we’re going back to play Barrowlands in Glasgow, cos that’s always a mental crowd. There’s something in the water there. And also Manchester Academy. We played a couple of nights in the smaller room there earlier in the year and they were both brilliant. Manchester’s another place where the crowd always seems to be really great for us.
So what are you doing in the next couple of weeks?
Well, I was supposed to be going to a big Star Wars convention, but I think we have to go back to New York and shoot the video for the next single instead. I was supposed to be on a panel of judges for like an X Factor-style competition where bands played Star Wars themed music! I’m a bit disappointed to be missing it, to be honest.
Are you back in New York for a while?
We’ve got two weeks off there and then we’re back over here to do a crazy run of shows that starts off at a festival in the Arctic Circle in Norway and then we’re flying off to Japan and then Korea and then down to Australia and then back to the UK, for a surfing festival and, of course, Reading and Leeds at the end of the summer. So the schedule is looking pretty full. We’ve got a bunch of other European festival dates amidst all that too.
Are you looking forward to some time at home?
Yeah. I’ve not been home for about a month now, so it’ll be nice to get back for a couple of weeks.
Do you have plans?
I’ll probably just sit around and twiddle my thumbs. But it’ll be a good time to do updates on the website and that sort of thing. And we’ll probably start getting a plan together for “End of the World”. We want to come up with some good creative ideas for that. And I’m going to finally edit Slashed and put it up on YouTube. I think people should be quite interested to see a video of Chris Martin getting murdered!
But before that, you’ve got two more Koko shows.
Exactly. They’ve been really fantastic so far. Thanks to everyone who’s come down for them.
Where did you get the trees from that are on the stage?
Actually, they’re all from renewable forests.
You didn’t just pinch them from a nearby park?
No, they’re all ethically sourced!
Have you been enjoying yourselves after the shows?
Absolutely. Actually, everyone was still drinking at 4am last night. I’m feeling it today, because we had to get up and do a session for 6 Music at ten o’clock.
Was it live?
Yeah. I think I was practically asleep, but I got through it. I actually think it’s one of those things where your muscles and your fingers go on auto-pilot and do it. So the brain’s not functioning, but the body seems to carry on regardless. Good job too.