Ashs Mark Hamilton and Tim Wheeler met in Downpatrick, Northern Ireland, when they
were 11. I moved into town, and I was the new kid. Tim
was the first person I met, and he was very short and small not
physically very strong so he was never a very good soccer
player, explains Hamilton.
Everybody wants to be a professional soccer player in
Ireland, to escape the boredom of normal life. Either that, or to
become a rock star he says. And I had two left feet, so we might as
well try to become metal rock gods. So, right from the age of 11, we had
The duo got guitars when they were 12, and taught themselves how to play. Because we
didnt get any lessons, we didnt know how to do covers. So we
just started writing our own songs straight away.
When we were 13 we got fed up with band members who werent
taking things seriously, so we fired everybody. Wed decided
they werent dedicated enough. But by the age of 15, we got drummer Rick McMurray
in, were a three-piece for about five or six years, then Charlotte Hatherley
Playing the Local Circuit
Ash played the punk circuit in Belfast for about three years.
We were stuck in kind of a rut because youre playing to the same people in the same
three-to-four clubs every weekend and we were thinking,
Nothings gonna happen here, recalls Hamilton.
Everyone was saying, Hey, youre gonna have to go off
to college and we were thinking God, if we go off to
college, that means were all gonna split up, he says.
Top of the Pops
The band had recorded demos and had sold about 500 copies in its local
town of 15,000. We sent our demos to London, and a guy who used to
work as Nirvanas press agent listened to our tape. There were a
couple songs he loved and he said, I want to find out who these
guys are, says Hamilton. He didnt realize how
young we were.
Within two years, we were on the Top of the
Pops and having hits, so that was good, he adds. Just
kind of a lucky break.
Free All Angels, which came out in the U.S. in June, was
released in Europe a year and half ago, so Ash has already toured the
world in support of the album.
Kinetics Rock Baby
The rock band is signed to a US dance label.
Kinetic decided that they
wanted to break a rock band, and they wanted us, says Hamilton.
Its great. Weve got their complete attention.
Some of Ashs biggest influences were Nirvana, the
Pixies and Iggy Pop. A lot of bands over here seem to have a lot
of anger and frustration,
but America is probably one of the wealthiest countries
in the world
with one of the highest standards of living. You dont have to be so angry, he jokes.
Were pretty happy with ourselves and with what were doing,
so theres a lot of melody and tunes going on, says Hamilton. And we try to keep the energy there as well.
Wheeler Drives Songwriting
Wheeler is the main songwriter in the band. And when it comes to
cranking out new tunes, he plays acoustic guitar. Ill come in
with riffs and stuff but not really lyrics, explains Hamilton.
Tim does all the words. And then we just jam it out. Because
weve been together for like 10 years, we kind of just know where
to go with this thing. Its really quite simple.
Ash just finished recording a new record in Los Angeles with Foo Fighters
producer Nick Raskulinecz. The record should be out by Spring 2004.
| Free All Angels
(click the image below)
(click the image below)