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“You’ve caught me in the middle of doing some laundry”

Published: May, 2007

We gave Rick a shout in Dublin on Friday for the latest news on all things Ash.

Hi Rick, how are you?
I’m good, thanks, You’ve caught me in the middle of doing some laundry in the sink of my hotel room.

Ah, the glamour.
Yeah, I know.

So where are you?
We’re in Dublin. We’ve come here after the German tour. The last gig was on Tuesday night in Berlin.

How did the tour go?
Yeah, it was good. Before it started, we weren’t sure how ticket sales were going and everyone was on a bit of a downer about it, but when we got there it was all fine. There was a decent audience at all of them and the people that were there were really into it, so we came away pleasantly surprised. The new stuff went down well too. Having not done anything out there for years, it seems we’ve managed to retain some sort of a fanbase there, which is great.

Is the plan to go back once the album is out?
Yeah, I think we’re doing a festival near Leipzig. It’s this beautiful festival right by a lake. Hopefully we can repeat last time’s experience of stealing a rowing boat, going out in it and smoking a few jazz cigarettes on the way. That was very pleasant.

Did you party hard on the German tour?
Well, nothing too crazy that I can recall. Just a few beers and a few smokes at the end of each night. Although me and Mark did have a go on a bottle of Jamesons one night. Actually, Mark had rather more of a go on it than me. I think he paid the price for that the next day.

Were you pleased with how “You Can’t Have It All” did?
Yeah, it’s a really good start for the first single back after being away for a while to go Top 20. And now we’re looking towards the next one, “Polaris”, which has just been Record of the Week on Radio 2, which is something we’ve never had before. Jo Whiley’s played it as well, and she seems quite into it. We’re still about six weeks up front, so hopefully over the next couple of weeks it’ll start picking up even more.

How would you describe “Polaris” for those who haven’t heard it?
Erm, let me see. It’s probably the most piano-driven thing we’ve done. I’d hesitate to call it a ballad, cos I think it’s a bit more upbeat than that, but it’s very anthemic, with lush, orchestral strings. It’s a great song. It’s certainly getting a lot of notice in the live set.

When is it released?
I think it’s June 18th. So we’re already getting radio spins about six weeks up front, which is a good sign. And then the album comes out a couple of weeks later, on July 2nd.

And you’ve announced some dates in Ireland.
That’s right, yeah - everyone’s pretty excited about that. I think the Belfast show is almost sold out already. And the Derry one as well.

It’s nice that you’re not just doing Belfast and Dublin.
Yeah, we’ve played at the Nerve Center in Derry a couple of times and it’s a cool venue. We really like it up there.

So what are you doing in Dublin?
We did some Japanese promo yesterday, for Snoozer magazine which is a massive Japanese magazine who’ve always been quite big fans of the band. I think they’re doing a cover piece. So they come over to interview us here. And then we’re playing the Trinity College ball tonight.

Have you played at many university balls?
Yeah. we’ve done quite a few in our time. Cambridge and York spring to mind. This year we’re doing this one and then Hull as well.

Are they different to a normal gig?
Oh, very different. Compared to our usual audience, the people are much better dressed but much more drunk! They’re all done up in ball gowns and tuxedos and you always go on quite late. It should be a good laugh.

Do you make a bit more effort yourselves with the clothes?
No, I think Tim’s brother suggested that we wear tuxedos tonight, but I think I might ruin a tuxedo the amount I’d sweat through it. It would work for a video, but not a whole gig.

Talking of videos, you’ve filmed the “Polaris“ video since we last caught up with you folks
Yeah, that’s right. The edit is being sorted out at the minute, but we’ve seen a few preliminary versions of it and it’s looking amazing. We couldn’t see the explosions because they were going off behind us, but they’re absolutely fucking mad! It’s great. Hopefully that’ll be getting played pretty soon.

Sounds quite dangerous.
Yeah, we were in this little forest just outside London miming to a bunch of explosions. It was fantastic.

How was the Soccer Am appearance?
It was good. Me and Mark took penalties. I’m afraid we missed, but we were pretty close. At least we didn’t totally fuck up. I was just a little bit wide and Mark kind of skyed it. Actually, we did manage to commandeer a soccer ball from there, which has been keeping us very amused on the European tour. We took it into a little park in Munich and had a barbecue and a bit of kick-around for about two hours. We slept very well that night. But the next time we played I strained something. And the time after that I strained something else, but on the other side.

Sounds like you need to stretch before you play.
I suppose we did rush headlong into it. But I was pulling muscles I didn’t even know I had! Actually, we were out on tour with The Enemy and we saw them having a kick-around too. They seemed to be pretty handy. I think they’re doing Trinity Ball as well, so if we have a game with them, I think we’ll have to resort to cheating. Although The Enemy have had a bit of bad luck recently, so I don’t really want to add to that.

What happened?
Their bass player turned up on the tour with a broken finger and then they had to pull out halfway through the German dates because the singer’s throat went mental. It swelled up in a big way. And then the bass player had an ear infection too.

Did you see them on the dates they did do?
Yeah, I really liked them actually. They were with us on a few dates before the German tour as well - we did Brussels, Amsterdam, Oslo and Stockholm with them. They’ve really got their shit together - they sound like a great live band.

And pleasant fellas?
Yeah, nice guys, cool to hang out with.

Did you take them to one side and give them some advice a la Bono?
No, no. I don’t want to spoil the surprise for them! I know what it’s like when you’ve been in a band at that age, you’re getting advice from everyone, telling you not to get to bed too late and not to get into too much trouble. And did we listen? No. So will they? No.

So what have you got coming up over the next few weeks?
After Friday we’re going home for a little bit and then we’re back for the Isle of Skye festival at the end of May. It’ll be interesting to see what the weather’s like at that time of year, way up north! I would think it could be changeable. And then we’re back over here to play a Red Bull motocross event at Slane Castle, which looks pretty mad. I’m sure you’ll hear about the injuries from that afterwards!

And then you’re just looking forward to the album coming out.
Exactly. It’s been good these last few weeks, though. I really enjoyed the German tour. We’d finish the soundchecks by 2pm and then we’d just be out playing football or having a little wander around the towns.

It’s not a bad life.
No, you definitely can’t complain. Now, I’d better go and finish off my laundry and then perhaps I’ll go downstairs for some colonic irrigation. I’ve accumulated a lot of German sausages that I need to get rid of…