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This is the tenth 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.

“Command is the best The A-Z Series has to offer, and makes me extremely proud to be an Ash fan!” – Grant McGilberry

j_command

For our coverage on Single J (Command) we decided to get insight from one of the band members of  Ash. We sat down with Mark Hamilton (Bass player) to see what the recording for the series has been like and what fans can expect in the future.

Randomville: [From New York] How are you keeping warm with this crazy weather we’ve been having? Apparently it’s supposed to snow again…

Mark Hamilton: I’ve been building an igloo to keep warm. This bad boy took around seven hours to build in the back yard of my mother-in-law’s place in New Jersey.

It’s been standing for around three weeks now and my back’s just about recovered!

Tim Wheeler and Mark Hamilton in NYC

Tim Wheeler and Mark Hamilton in NYC

Randomville: So how did “Command” come about?

Mark Hamilton: It’s Tim’s song. He brought it into the studio and we started rocking out the riffs. We’ve just recorded a cool acoustic version of it too.

Randomville: What would you say the lyrics are about?

Mark Hamilton: Not totally sure, they’re a bit abstract but seem to be about losing touch with your roots or the breakdown of a family relationship. Tim sometimes writes autobiographic songs and then sometimes he seems to expand feelings into stories. There’s a few clues in here that makes me think I know where he’s coming from but I’m not going to divulge them. I guess in the end they’re open for interpretation.

Randomville: Was the process of writing/recording for it similar or different than previous tracks?

Created by Elisa Della Tor
Created by Elisa Della Tor

Mark Hamilton: A lot of the A-Z series tracks have been very experimental, being worked on in computers, using different instruments and more sounds than we traditionally have in the past. “Command” is actually one of the few A-Z songs that has that straight up classic Ash sound. It came together very quickly and was very natural to record. It could easily have been from the 1977 period.

Randomville: Which track would you say is your favorite out of The A-Z Series so far?

Mark Hamilton: So far… it’d have to be between Arcadia or Neon. They’re kinda like twin sisters that have a similar sound to them and they we’re both great songs to see develop and evolve in the studio. I have a lot of love for Return of White Rabbit, which as a prequel to the series really set the tone for the entire experiment. My absolute favorite tracks are still to come; N, O and Q are probably my current top three.

Photo by Ciara McMullen
Photo by Ciara McMullen

Randomville: What challenges of bass playing have you faced in the recording process for A-Z?

Mark Hamilton: I’m not classically trained which can sometimes be problematic when we’re in the writing phase. I learn everything mathematically and how it looks on the fret board. When / if we change keys I basically have to go through the whole memorizing process again which can be a pain in the ass if there’s a lot of notes. We’ve just recorded a song with a working title of “Ice Cold” that has taken up a lot of RAM…

Randomville: Would you say that the establishment of Atomic Hearts Records has given you guys more freedom? And if so, how?

Mark Hamilton: Definitely more freedom creatively. We’re our own bosses, there’s no one telling us to go in any direction or sound and it’s all been self-produced. There are limitations, as financially we have to be way more conservative.

Randomville: Was the “cabin fever” perspective of recording present? Or  did you guys use the city (New York City) as a form of inspiration?

Mark Hamilton: Cabin Fever is when you’re stuck in a small apartment with a difficult baby during the winter! At times getting into the studio has been a nice escape for me! New York is obviously a constant inspiration though. “Neon.” “Tracers.” and “ROWR “are all very NYC inspired.

Randomville: Besides your signature Gibson Thunderbird (Aka your Decepticon bass) what other instruments/bass guitars/pedals did you use throughout recording for The A-Z Series?

Mark Hamilton: Tim’s got a sweet Fender P bass that’s on a number of tracks. The Decepticon bass stays in the UK; I have another two Thunderbirds in the US. ‘Emily Strange’ was used on most of the A-Z recordings.

Photo by Pete Ciccotto
Photo by Pete Ciccotto

Randomville: Are you excited for the upcoming tour and what can fans expect?

Mark Hamilton: I’m always excited before any tour and we’ll be setting out to better last year’s A-Z jaunt. We have a massive announcement that will be made in the next few weeks. People are going to be freaked when they hear it!

Randomville: Has a support act been chosen? Will this be a band Ash has never toured with yet?

Mark Hamilton: Right now The Paroltones have been confirmed, but there’s more options on the table that will allow us to tour more extensively and will allow us to be released in a new territory that we’ve never visited before.

Randomville: Who is a band you would like to work/tour with and why?

Mark Hamilton: Having Emmy record Tracers was cool. She’d definitely be great to do more things in the future with. Panama Kings were the best band we’ve toured with; I love those guys and would love to tour with them again. They deserve to blow up; maybe then we could support them!

Randomville: You have been a father for a year now. Would you say that big impact on your life has inspired your song writing/work ethic?

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Mark Hamilton: There’s one song that Scarlett inspired called “Disenchanted” that is set to be a Japanese bonus track. Those lyrics are pretty serious and deep. Your child is going to come first above everything else so I’ve been very lucky that I can juggle when I’m in the studio.

Randomville: And lastly what do you hope the band will accomplish in 2010 and when The A-Z Series finishes?

Mark Hamilton: I really can’t think beyond the A-Z yet as we’re still finishing the recording / mixing of the final tracks. We’ve jokingly talked about doing the periodic table but I wouldn’t put it past us doing something that insane!

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