Volume 94, Issue 70
Friday, January 26, 2001
|ARTS AND ENTERTAINMENT
The Ashgrove's show is the thing
Gazette File Photo
By Aaron St. John
Sometimes being from a small town means you make the largest sound. Just ask The Ashgrove.
Formed in Goderich, Ontario, the five-piece band has been producing big, sweeping rock and roll for seven years now. According to the band's guitarist and songwriter, Ryan Buckley, the group has no interest in being ordinary.
"We're definitely a modern rock band, but there's a melodic and pop sensibility about the music, and it's full of energy. We kind of slip between the cracks. We're not really heavy, but we're not the kind of generic pop that's making a run on radio."
He continues, "That's always been the kind of things we've been into that big sound. My songwriting sights have always been picturing a huge stadium with thousands of people singing along with cigarette lighters rather than just ripping it up for the local skate punks down at the club."
Though The Ashgrove was born and bred in Southern Ontario, Buckley's personal background is a little different. Born in Barnsley, England, he and his family relocated when he was 10-years-old. Buckley views this experience as beneficial for his songwriting.
"I think songwriters are like observers," he reveals. "You see things and you filter them through your own experience and emotions, then you give it back up as a song. Being kind of foreign gives me kind of an outside perspective that helps with that."
With the successful release of their full-length record, 1999's Photo Album, The Ashgrove has been steadily making progress towards the big time. Discussing this success, Buckley is nearly giddy when describing the thrill of hearing the band's music on the radio. "It's always a real rush," he confides. "It always takes me a while to clue in that it's us, though. I hear it and then I'm like, 'Hey, that's us!' It's a big thrill and I hope the veneer never wears off."
Buckley is realistic about the difficulties involved with being successful in the Canadian music industry. "It's tough, it really is. You've got to work really hard and make your own luck. The support is there, but it's not easy. There's no established scene for you to just jump into," he sighs.
On the other hand, Buckley sees some encouraging improvement in the climate. "When we first started up, in the mid-'90s, it was the aftermath of the whole grunge thing. At that time, it was really easy to be in a band and as a result, there were a lot of bands that maybe shouldn't have been on the road," he scolds.
"That's died down though, so now if you go out to clubs, the bands you see are all really good. It's competitive because the bands that are doing it are serious about it."
As a band without major label backing, The Ashgrove can use all of the help they can get. To that end, Buckley sees the Internet as doing the band a great service. As he explains it, "For an independent band, promotion is really important. If you want to remain indie and sell records, the Internet is great for that; it's a great marketing tool. There are lots of great things on the web for bands that can really help you out. If it gets people out to the shows and buying the record and telling a friend, then it's cool."
Getting people to see The Ashgrove in concert is considerably important to Buckley and his bandmates, as they view the live arena as being the centre of their existence. "The bottom line is we really try and take the show seriously and get that element of professionalism. We don't just walk around smoking and drinking on stage. It is a good time, but at the same time, we do it with respect," he says.
"The record and stuff is important, but the show is the thing. When you're working together live, that's the time when the chemistry is apparent and immediate. It's what we love most playing without a net."
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