Volume 93, Issue 50

November 26, 1999


Western alumnus proves she is better than good

Big Sea prompts waves of delight

Ashgrove reaps the rewards of hard work

Inaccuracies a cynical take on the gender gap


Ashgrove reaps the rewards of hard work

By Luke Rundle
Gazette Staff

While getting noticed amidst the glut of competition that currently clogs the industry is extremely difficult for most independent bands, maintaining that attention is even harder.

For the Goderich-based pop group The Ashgrove, however, this task appears to be an easy one. With their second CD, Photo Album, currently receiving airplay across Canada and a recent feature spot on MuchMusic, it's apparent their hard work has yielded a bountiful harvest.

Things sure have changed for The Ashgrove since their humble beginnings in 1994, when the five piece rattled off antiquated tunes for kicks in local bars. "We never had anticipated that it would go this far," says lead vocalist Jeremy Jongejan. "The band just started out for fun as a cover band and we played for a year doing covers. Then we wrote a song and thought, 'Wow, we can do this,' which kind of surprised us."

After the production of their debut album, somnambulant, the band underwent some internal lineup changes, adding rhythm guitarist Lon Doherty to the mix and replacing departing bassist Chris Colbourne with Bill Snowden. Combined with original members Ryan Buckley (guitar), Rick Lobb (drums) and Jongejan, the union spurned the band to create a followup album.

However, as is the case with countless indie artists, the nasty subject of money reared its ugly head. Fortunately, Lady Luck arrived, in the form of a wad of cash from a FACTOR government grant.

"Our manager told us about this independent organization that stems from the government. You apply for a grant or a loan, put down your project ideas, your budget costs and FACTOR will decide which bands seem to be the most promising," Jongejan explains. "So we tried it, figured we had nothing to lose and a couple months later, it came back. They pay 50 per cent of your production costs, so we were very grateful for that."

The result was Photo Album, which has proved to be quite a valuable collection of material for the group. Infused with their curious blend of rock, pop and alternative stylings, the album has generated a significant buzz amidst the Canadian music scene.

The single "Never Change" has received heavy rotation at radio stations across the country and has garnered the group opening slots for major headliners such as the Killjoys, Rhymes With Orange, 54-40 and the Headstones.

But perhaps the largest benefit from Photo Album's success was a recent slot on MuchMusic's RapidFax. "It was just great to see ourselves on TV," Jongejan recalls. "They came to check us out at the Reverb [in Toronto]. It was actually about three or four minutes that we got, but that's a full piece. People were taping it and the phone was ringing off the wall, so it was pretty exciting. It just goes to show you how much exposure you get for being on for such a little amount of time."

Jongejan and his bandmates' recent success has not swelled their heads even slightly. "I'll be driving down the road and the song will come on and it's totally exciting. It never wears off and it doesn't even feel real," Jongejan gushes.

"It feels like you've got the tape in the stereo, until the announcer comes on at the end. I still get chills from it every time. There's tons of guys who have that as their dream, to get their song on the radio, so we consider ourselves very fortunate."

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Copyright The Gazette 1999