Ash: Rick McMurray

Dirty Ash

The phenomenal Ash returned a month or so ago with the most glorious set of tunes you could wish to hear all summer. I had a brief chat with drummer extraordinaire Rick McMurray to find out how it all came about:

AD: Hi Rick, and congratulations on your new album, which we believe to be the finest of the year so far. It seems to me that you’ve taken all the best bits of all your previous records and merged them together. It also seems that you personally play a more prominent role in the new material than you have done in the past. I think Tim was quoted as saying you’d turned into a “drumming monster”. Did this just happen, or was it a pre-meditated idea that you just wanted to let rip?

RM: It was kind of an overnight thing really. Nothing really changed between the recording of “Free All Angels” and the ideas behind “Meltdown”. I think it’s probably been in the back of our minds to make a much heavier album since we first started though. We just thought “Ah f**k it, let’s do it!” this time around. Plus I bought myself this fantastic vintage kit and so I’ve probably been paying more attention to my drums recently!

AD: With the forthcoming release of Charlotte’s solo album, has it crossed your mind to make one yourself then?

RM: No, not really. I’m not much of a songwriter, to be frank! I suppose if I had some spare time and we weren’t busy touring, promoting and recording I’d feel like having a crack at writing, but I haven’t got any plans to do so. They’d almost certainly turn out to be B-sides if I wrote them though…

AD: You never know. Anyway, one of the things I like most about “Meltdown” is that you could release literally ANY track from it as a single. Do YOU regard it as your strongest album?

RM: Yeah I do actually. A lot of people and press are saying that it’s the heaviest thing we’ve done, but that we’ve still got the seriously strong melodies, so that’s good. We worked hard to keep that kind of consistency and add the extra “rock factor” this time around and I think we’ve managed to make a record that appeals musically to the senses. I think it’s great that I read a line in one review that said “Ash go Black Sabbath” too!

AD: My favourite tracks are “Meltdown”, “Detonator” and “Clones” – which ones are you the happiest with?

RM: Er…the last two you just mentioned actually! It was nice to have something to say as well - you probably already know that “Clones” was about Tim’s disillusionment of going on the Iraq anti-war peace march and nobody seeming to take a blind bit of notice. “Detonator” was more a thinly veiled ode to an orgasm! Actually that one seems to have been the least popular with the press so far, so I’m glad you like it!

AD: So how much did America influence the direction that you took on the album?

RM: Well we certainly picked up a lot of things from other bands; because the States is a lot more rock oriented than the UK and we spent about 9 months touring with bands of that ilk, it’s bound to leave an impression on you. The great thing is though, that you have to be totally on top of your game at those shows and I think a lot of that is reflected on “Meltdown”.

AD: Ash do actually seem to be getting better and better every time an album is released. How much longer can you continue the trend, and how the hell do you better THIS album?!

RM: Ah well that’s the thing. But then we ALWAYS think that when we’ve put an album out before, so we don’t really worry about it. This time around, we switched producers – Owen (Morris) agreed with us too; in fact it was him who brought up the point – we all decided that he’d taken Ash as far as he could, and that’s why we enlisted the services of Nick Raskulinecaz (Foo Fighters). Anyway, it was a case of just enjoying ourselves while we were over there and I think as a result, we’re now playing better than ever.

AD: On the inside sleeve of “Meltdown”, there are 15 tracks listed. Now, call me stupid if you like, but I can only hear eleven! What the hell happened to the other four?

RM: I think the reason for that was because we only wanted to put one ballady track on the album, and there a few other slow ones left over. You may seem them on a B-side at some stage, but there is one more dance oriented song that we did and you never know, we might put it out as a one off single some time!

AD: I shall look forward to it enormously. Thanks for your time Rick and good luck!

RM: Cheers.

What? You’ve read the interview and you STILL haven’t bought the album? Are you stark raving mad? No, don’t answer that - it’s quite clear that if you haven’t bought (or don’t intend to buy) this album, you will deservedly be bullied for the rest of your days, and I for one have no sympathy.

Interview and transcript; Tone E


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