Thursday, May 11, 2017

Daniel Ash: Playing His 'Greatest Hits' for Poptone

by Tom Reardon

We’ve been rehearsing for about six weeks in Burbank, in a studio there. It’s all sort of falling into place, touch wood. Hopefully we’re going to have a lot of fun this year. We’re doing this through October. Then after that, who knows?

Are you still based in Los Angeles?
I live near Ventura. I live in a little sleepy town near Ventura. I’ve lived here since 2000. I got out of LA about 17 years ago.

How did Poptone come about?
I woke up about 4 a.m. one night with my headphones around my neck and I had this revelation that, “Oh my god, I need to go out on the road.” It is a complete contradiction and turnaround from what I’ve been saying for years. I never thought I would play live again. I was sort of over it and suddenly, nine [now 12] weeks ago I had a complete change of mind.
I can’t explain. I had no desire [to play live], and I now I have a complete … a real desire to do it.

It was just this voice in my head saying, “Go out on the road. This is what you’re supposed to do.” It was like there was no contradiction in myself at all. I left it for a couple of days thinking, is this feeling going to pass, and it was still strong. The obvious choice was to contact Kevin [Haskins]. It just came together.

Kevin’s daughter, Diva, plays bass. Long story short, she got the job, and we’ve been rehearsing. We haven’t stopped for the last six weeks. First official gig of the tour is with you guys on May 11. We’ve got it planned out so we don’t do the whole thing in one go. We have breaks in between. That’s the civilized way to do it. I think we’re allowed to do it that way now.

Yes, I think you're right. How long has it been since you have played live?
It’s been seven or eight years since our last tour. [Love And Rockets played Coachella in 2008.] There was a lot of dust on my foot pedals.

Are you a gear guy? I've always been curious how you got such great sounds.
Oh, god no. I’m the antithesis of a gear guy. I have no interest in it all. Having said that, I’ve caught myself recently looking at gear magazines and all the new effects pedals. But, I have stuck to my old boss pedals. That’s all I really need, and a wah-wah pedal. I’m definitely not a gear head, no.

How has it been to revisit some of these songs?
Some of these songs I was sort of dreading because I thought it was going to be so hard to recreate live. Songs like “Twist” from Tones On Tail. The ones that I thought would be difficult are ending up being my favorites to play. I love “Twist.” It’s such a quirky song. Of bands I’ve been in, I would say my favorite is Tones On Tail. Always has been. It sounds like it’s from another planet, but it’s very commercially accessible.

I have to say, Daniel, that I love Tones On Tail. I love turning people on to the music so much.
I think … it stood the test of time really well. That Tones stuff could have been recorded last week and it would still sound fresh. Things like “Twist” is really fun to play live. Things like “Movement of Fear” which is very dark. Very spacious. It’s just a bass line and a vocal. Talk about minimal. It doesn’t get much more minimal than “Movement of Fear.” That Tones stuff is a lot of fun in the rehearsals. All of it, really. We haven’t chosen one song that we don’t like [playing].

Your discography is pretty huge, how did you come up with what to play?
Between Kevin and myself and Diva, we’re basically choosing the favorite tracks. It’s like, you know, the greatest hits although they weren’t exactly hits because we were always in "alternative" bands. They’re all sort of favorite songs. We’re doing Adam Ant’s “Physical” because it is just a blast to play it.

Are you doing anything from your solo work?
We're doing “Flame On” which is very Iggy and the Stooges. The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind The Bollocks was a work of art as well. That’s brilliant. It’s actually really well recorded. It’s not got that thin punk sound. Steve Jones’ guitar sound can’t be beat. It’s sort of the opposite of my sound. I try and get the guitar sounding like a razor blade. He’s got all that bottom end.

Here we go again talking about gear. I think it’s because you told me you are a musician at the beginning of the conversation. It’s hard not to talk about bits and bobs. Wobble boxes, as I call’em. The thing is not to keep talking about it. Just keep it to yourself that way nobody can steal your sound. There are certain little tricks and chords you don’t want to tell anyone about. You have to have your own thing.

We never had a T-shirt deal, for example. There is no Tones On Tail T-shirts out there. We had a deal for Bauhaus and Love and Rockets, but we never had one for Tones. We’re going to bring some on tour. People don’t know who Tones are. They’re going to find out on this tour.

I assume Diva understands she has some pretty big shoes to fill ...
I was really nervous at first. It’s in her DNA. She got it. She’s playing those bass lines really favorably. The big test for any bass player who is going to play on this stuff is to play “Go.” That’s the tough one. The sound, the inflections, the whole thing … she nailed it. We went through so many fuzzboxes to get that sound on the “Go” bass line.

You’ll never guess what got that damn sound. It was an orange boss pedal. We’ve been rehearsing six weeks solid to get it right.

No comments: