Barrowland, Glasgow, Sun 28 Oct
‘There’s always been a fight within ourselves between wanting to rock out and also wanting to be totally pop,’ says Tim Wheeler, grinning. ‘So there’s always a real tension to what we do.’
And there, in a nutshell, is the secret of Ash’s remarkable success. He’s talking about their fifth album, Twilight of the Innocents, but could be referring to any of the 20 hit singles the band have produced in an amazing career which started in the early 90s when they were still at school. These days Ash are veterans of British indie rock, something which the 30-year-old Wheeler finds hilarious.
‘I keep meeting bands who are big fans and grew up with us, yet who are the same age or older,’ he says. ‘It’s incredibly weird.’
The band fuelled their own rejuvenation recently. For the making of Twilight of the Innocents, they reverted to their original three-piece line-up, long-term guitarist Charlotte Hatherley amicably leaving to pursue a solo career. They also relocated to New York and produced the album themselves for the first time.
‘I’ve always admired people who have a singular vision like Brian Wilson,’ says Wheeler. ‘Producing ourselves was a slow process, cos we were learning as we went along, but it turned out great. It was nice not having our ideas diluted by anyone else. And being in New York meant we felt isolated from the UK music scene in a nice way. That gave us freedom to do whatever we wanted.’
The band recently announced that Twilight of the Innocents is to be their last conventional album, future releases being conducted as individual downloads. It’s a move which has split opinion, but Wheeler is right up for it.
‘The album has been a sacred idea for such a long time, but it feels out of date now,’ he says. ‘With the internet we can reach people a lot quicker. People will be convinced soon, when they see how it works.’
I suggest that if any band can pull it off, it’s Ash, since every song they write sounds like a hit single anyway. Wheeler laughs.
‘What can I say. I just love hits.’