Skip to main content

Tim & Rick talk to Steve Lamacq

Published: April, 2001
Source: BBC Radio 1

Are you vaguely stable now after the roller coaster lifestyle ride of your past?
Tim: I think we are actually. Until we started promoting the new album, Mark was the most together we’ve ever seen him - he’d really grown up there for a while. He’s the most stressed out person I’ve ever met in my life.

Was there a time when you looked back and thought we were pretty close to losing the plot?
Tim:: There was a couple of times when making Nu-Clear Sounds wasn’t easy and a few times touring 1977 when we came pretty close to burn out. But I think since then we’ve learnt how to chill and take things easy. We know our limits.

Rick: It’s a fine balancing act right on the edge, but we’ve never fallen over. We did peak over a few times, but we’ve taken a step back from that now. We’ve got a periscope so we can look over a few times.

Did you find it stressful living up to people’s expectations?
Tim: I think we enjoyed it, the bad reputation and stuff. When you are 18 or 19 it’s the kind of thing you are into. We’d do our best to live up to it and cause trouble.

Rick: There was always this attitude if there was a journalist on board [on tour] it would be “right we’ve got to show them how hard we party tonight”.

Is there anything you did which you regret?
Tim: Yeah, there was this one time in New York. We’d done a gig and got a bit drunk during the show, and we were really on the edge of burning out. We had this dinner I had to go to with the head of MTV, I don’t really remember what happened, but I don’t think I made a good impression. I woke up the next day with puke down the top of my shirt, lying on top of this bed, not remembering how I got there. We were two hours late for a really important interview for MTV. We couldn’t even find Mark. We were being sick in the Green Room before it and could barely even speak. I think the shit hit the fan after that and it screwed up our American career for a while. I’m kinda glad we did because I don’t think I could have taken touring any longer.

Rick: If MTV had picked up on us we would have stayed out in America for another six months and imploded.

Did you find the direction you were looking for, because it sounds like a much more natural album?
Tim: Yeah, it was totally unselfconscious compared to Nu-Clear Sounds. It was pure Ash, not really worrying about anything, writing lots of songs and not being concerned about the direction. It was later when we’d wrote them all that we picked the songs. We picked all the up-beat up-lifting songs because we thought music was a bit dire at the time.

Does it come down the feeling in the band - if you’ve had a great night then the songs come?
Rick: I think it was just a case of getting together when we felt like it. Getting together and having a jam, doing it slowly and really enjoying it - instead of having this pressure of a deadline for so many songs to be written. It really did feel like the early days when we first got together.

As you were coming out with songs were you thinking that’s not bad, that’s another one”. Were you quite prolific this time? Tim: Yeah. I’d write a song almost every day. Sit down with a guitar and just think of a tune. You hear that Neil Young was tapping into a magical reservoir of melodies, I think I was swimming in it.

Rick: It was amazing, every time I rang Tim to ask is there any new songs and he’d be “yeah, there’s this, there’s this, there’s this…” It ended up by the time we came to do the album we had the demo totally finished - lyrics and everything for 30 songs. And there was a few other ideas we got together in the studio. I thought “wow this is going to be great, we are going to have so much fun recording this”.

You worked with Owen Morris again, was that a wise choice given he made you wear dresses in one recording session?
Rick: It was the only choice for that magical madness. I was dressed up in some weird gear at the end of the session - PVC bra and belly dancing costume while recording “World Domination”.

Tim: We had guns as well and stuff like that. We think he’s related to Hunter S. Thompson or something. He’s just mad, he likes to drink, he’s crazy.

You can almost say the new album sounds like it falls between 1977 and Nu-Clear Sounds?
Tim: Yeah, I don’t like it when people say it’s gone back to the sound of 1977. It gives people the wrong idea because it is a move on.