Volume 92, Issue 95
Friday, March 26, 1999
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The Ashgrove find diversified direction
By Anthony Turow
The Ashgrove's way of making music could be likened to a blender take one part U2, add some Tragically Hip, garnish with Sloan, then mix.
While some bands wear their influences on their sleeve, The Ashgrove are a truly collaborative group, taking parts from the whole and assembling them into something entirely new.
"Our guitarist [Ryan Buckley] is a huge Brit-pop fan," explains drummer Rick Lobb. "He does the bulk of the writing for most of the lyrics and music. His guitar lines are mainly inspired by the Beatles, U2, Stone Roses and Blur. He likes, listens to and draws from those bands.
"Our rhythm guitarist [Lon Doherty] though, is into The Hip and Rage Against the Machine," he continues. "And [Bill Snowden] our bass player is really into the East Coast music scene, like the SuperFriends and Sloan."
The plethora of influences could create problems for a band which does not agree on which direction they want their music to take. For Lobb though, the band's direction is clearly mapped out. "We just want to try and make music that, when you play it, gives you the chills."
This goal was also brought into the studio when they recorded their third album, Photo Album. "We record it how we want it to sound live. Whatever we do, we want to be able to do it just as good, if not better, live."
But the live music scene, according to Lobb, only offers opportunities for those already in successful positions. He believes the proliferation of DJs are the main culprit in the reason independent bands are not getting as many opportunities to reach the public.
"When we started, there was a huge market for indie bands," Lobb says. "On a Tuesday night the Horseshoe would be packed with people who wanted to see independent bands. Now people don't check out indie bands as much they'd rather go to a club with a DJ."
This doesn't mean the band, which is rounded out by vocalist Jeremy Jongejan, can be easily deterred. Photo Album marks a big step forward in terms of accessibility and potential. The single "Never Change" was recently featured on London's FM 96 in the Battle of the New Rock competition. It was narrowly beaten by a new song from Ben Folds Five, but Lobb is happy with the exposure. "Hopefully people will hear the song and make a connection."
Making the connection is crucial to a group trying to carve their niche in a crowded marketplace and Lobb acknowledges the perils of being independent. "Getting noticed is the hardest part. And just trying to get your music out there." And with The Ashgrove, the emphasis is strictly on the music.
"When we play live we try to create an atmosphere," Lobb says. "We focus on how the music sounds rather than just jump around and gyrate to the music."
With the importance this band places on music rather than image, The Ashgrove are a no frills ensemble poised to draw attention by retreating from glam and gimmick.
The Ashgrove is playing at The Whippet Lounge tonight.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999