This is the eighth of twenty-six exclusive reviews of the A-Z Series by Northern Irish band Ash. Type “Ash” or “A to Z series” into our search engine to find our other articles on this topic.
Our guest for this single’s coverage has chosen to hide his true identity in hopes of not being found by a police officer known as John McClain (think Die Hard). For these reasons he will be refereed to as “Fireska” throughout this interview. Fireska is a well endowed Ash fan who prides himself as being an authority on the band’s entire discography. He even runs an amazing site which holds live bootlegs by the band called The Ash Files. We chatted with Mr.Fireska to find out why “Space Shot” is one of the best The A-Z Series has to offer.
Randomville: How did you get into Ash?
FireSka: Back in 1995 and 1996 several Ash songs like “Goldfinger,” “Oh Yeah,” “Jack Names The Planets,” “Kung Fu,” and “Angel Interceptor” were in regular rotation on the modern rock radio station. During 1996 I became heavily fascinated with ska/punk music (this is also the year I birthed the name FireSka) and was into the ska/punk band Goldfinger. I really wanted to put the song “Here In Your Bedroom” by Goldfinger onto my 1996 mix tape and would sit near the stereo eagerly awaiting the song to be played on the radio so I could hit RECORD. One day I was sitting around playing with toys or something and I heard the DJ say “Goldfinger” so I instantly ran over and hit RECORD. It turns out that rather than “Here In Your Bedroom” by Goldfinger, it was Ash’s song “Goldfinger.” Something inside of me told me to just let the tape keep recording. After all I didn’t think it was a bad song. It was just a bit soft for my tastes back then.
Anyway, now I had my first Ash song and would come to know it well since I would constantly listen to the tape throughout 1996 until I started having enough CDs to switch over. Flash forward seven years: It’s 2003 and I was in college going through a phase of rediscovering old music I used to like by reading through old DJ playlists from 1995 and 1996 online. While scrolling through the playlists I came across “Goldfinger” by Ash and remembered the song from my old mix tape and liking it. So I decided to download the song. I also noticed a few other familiar titles on the DJ playlists that I remembered being on the radio as well.
So I downloaded the same songs I mentioned earlier. Until 2004, these were the only Ash songs I had on my computer. Like with many bands that I only have a few songs from, if I like them enough I like to eventually check out more of their material. So, one day I decided to check out some more Ash and downloaded the entire 1977 and Trailer albums. The rest is history… Eventually I bought all of the albums because I wanted them on CD. Then I started collecting some of the rarer singles… and like I said: the rest is history!
Randomville: I know that you are into A LOT of bands. What has made Ash stick out as one of your favorites?
FireSka: Ash is my favorite band for quite a number of reasons. First, I find that they can pull off almost any style of music well. I’ve found that my changing music tastes have coincided to the changes they have gone through as a band. Yet, they never completely abandon any of their styles and each style is fitting for me depending on my mood. They have songs for “getting pumped up” (ex. “Lose Control,” “Innocent Smile,” “Sneaker”) and songs that make you feel better when you’re feeling down (ex. “Candy,” “So The Story Goes”) or angry (ex. “Melon Farmer,” “Radiation”). They have a song that fits every mood I ever went through and some of their songs can actually change my mood. So yes, song variety and quality are major reasons. But my love for Ash also goes beyond their songs.
The band members themselves are very personable, non-cocky, people who I consider distant friends and can relate to somewhat on a personal level. Also, the chemistry amongst Tim, Mark, and Rick is very admirable, for they are good friends with each other and have stuck through thick and thin for over eighteen years. They have never stopped making music and have never sunk so low as changing their style to the requirements of the media. The money they make doing it just seems like a bonus. And furthermore, some things they do for their fans are quite amazing.
Speaking of the fans, this is the final reason Ash is my favorite band. They have some of the best, most close-knit group of fans I have ever encountered with a band. The fans I have encountered for the most part are some of the most fun people to talk and debate with. They are usually very open-minded people with welcoming and warming personalities. I’ve become good friends with a number of their fans and have shared experiences with them I will always remember and cherish. Ash fans = automatically bad ass.
Randomville: So “Space Shot,” why do you love or hate it?
FireSka: I hate it!!! Just kidding! Excluding “Return Of White Rabbit,” “Space Shot” is actually my second favorite song so far from The A-Z Series (“The Dead Disciples” is my first). I was really excited about hearing the recorded version ever since I heard the bootlegs of them playing it live. I really like everything about it from the instrumentation to the lyrics to the mood it sets. The synthesizer parts are really cool and not overdone. I think the song could be a huge success for Ash, even in the USA, if promoted properly. Also, Tim doesn’t overdo the “woh-oh-ohs” in it, which some of the more recent Ash songs do and I am not as much of a fan of. In the end: “Space Shot” is awesome!!!
Randomville: What do you think of the music video? (see it at the end of the story)
FireSka: I think it’s really cool. It reminds me a bit of Star Wars crossed with Space Invaders, which knowing Ash, I’m sure one of the two, if not both, inspired the video. I really like the almost clay-looking asteroids and the costumes used for the actors. I always smile big on each part where the “storm trooper-looking” men are dancing awkwardly. My only complaint with it is that I wish it weren’t in black and white. Or maybe they could have done mostly black and white with certain key objects colored. Either way, it works well and is fitting to the song. I’m a big fan of music videos that tell a story and are not just shots of the band playing. So this one gets a thumbs up from me.
Randomville: What would you say is the best and worst thing Ash has ever done?
FireSka: Interesting question. The best thing they have done is they have stuck together and not stopped making music. The worst thing they have ever done is go five+ years without touring in the United States. How does one expect to maintain a fan base (other than the hardcore fans) with such a long gap between touring? I feel that each year Ash does not tour here; they lose a good chunk of fans. In my opinion, touring is very important to keeping the momentum going and building/retaining a fan base.
Randomville: Do you find yourself enjoying The A-Z Series?
FireSka: Yes, definitely. The A-Z Series is an example of my answer to your above question regarding the “best thing they have done”. The one thing I really love about the series is the excitement of getting a new song (and surprise songs) every two weeks. I also really enjoy reading other fans’ comments about the songs and all of the discussion that has gone along with each song’s release. I’m also really happy that they are doing it right with top quality mp3s, posting the lyrics, including the artwork with each release. To me they haven’t disappointed at all with the A-Z Series.
Randomville: You are quite into band management/marketing. Do you feel upcoming bands can learn from Ash? And if so than what exactly can they take from them?
FireSka: Oh yes, up and coming bands can definitely learn a lot from Ash; especially when it comes to sticking together, never giving up, and practicing a lot. I’ve been extremely interested in the business side of the music industry since twelve years old; younger than most. Since then I’ve followed a number of bands similar to as I do Ash nowadays. From my experience managing a band myself, the hardest part is ensuring they stick to constantly working on the music and keeping their faith in their own music without getting too faithful which turns into cockiness.
I think it’s important for bands to learn from the past, stick to and focus on the present, and not jump TOO far into the future. It’s important to let things flow naturally and from what I can tell, this is exactly what Ash has done. I don’t think they could have done it without their manager Tav, especially back in the early 90’s when I’m sure they were somewhat immature teenagers. I don’t know how Tav did it! But good management is key for the long-term success of any band.
Randomville: Something our readers might not know is that you are quite the musician when it comes to synthesizer-based tunes. How did you get into all of that?
FireSka: Well, I’ve actually always played one instrument or another since I was a young child. After much inspiration from some of my favorite bands (Ghostland Observatory was a huge inspiration) and the music scene here in Austin, I decided to get a synthesizer so I could play around on that. Now when I do have the time and want to play music I just turn on my synth and play away. I really love the variety of sounds and songs one can produce from a synth. And I really enjoy getting together with other musicians and jamming away, even if nothing becomes of it. If anyone in the Austin, TX area wants to jam sometime, just let me know!
Randomville: Nice, and can you tell our readers what the best Ash B-Side is? (Fireska is known to many Ash fans as the authority on Ash B-Sides) And what is The Ash Files?
FireSka: Well, my personal favorite Ash b-side is “Sneaker.” Though, technically it is not a completely Ash song (It’s a cover from a band Mark and Rick were in called Sneaker) so I would have to say either “T. Rex” or “Where Is Our Love Going?” And I’ve been fortunate enough to hear two of those three songs live! It’s very, very hard for me to pick favorites when it comes to Ash B-sides and I’m really just basing my answer on which ones I’ve listened to the most on my Last.fm. The Ash Files is a website I decided to create in order for Ash fans to have a single community-like source to upload, discuss, and share Ash’s live recordings. Prior to The Ash Files, the only single source to go to for Ash bootlegs/live recordings was Chad’s FTP which often times was down and not user-friendly. There are literally hundreds of Ash bootlegs floating around on CD, in digital, and in cassette form.
The Ash Files is a place to “archive” these digitally and allow anyone to obtain and listen to them. I have always thought that people recording shows and “hogging” them to themselves or exchanging them for huge amounts of money (which is like making money off of someone else’s music) was ridiculous. With the digital days, the days of “tape trading” are really quite dead. Hopefully with the Ash Files, those generous enough to record Ash’s future shows can share their recordings there. There are still a good number of bootlegs known to exist that are not on The Ash Files.
I also thought it was a good idea to have sections of the site where users can upload their covers or their own remixes of Ash songs. There are a lot of talented musicians out there and with over 2,000 members at The Ash Files, this gives those who work hard on their covers/remixes an outlet to distribute them. I’m hoping that over the next few years more people will post their own covers and remixes to the site. Check out The Ash Files here – The Ash Files. The website is 100% FREE! If you like the website, donations are always appreciated. Randomville: What are some of your favorite demos??
Randomville: And to finish this interview, Describe “Space Shot” in One Sentence.
FireSka: “Space Shot” is a tantalizingly swell rock song.