So much of having a productive career as a musician depends on whether or not you can find your voice.
All things considered, Ash figured out its niche pretty early on, but not before singer Tim Wheeler and bassist Mark Hamilton tried and utterly failed at starting an Iron Maiden-inspired heavy metal band.
"We were trying to do music that was kind of like Iron Maiden, but we weren't even good enough to play Iron Maiden songs," Wheeler recalls for Q1043's "Out of the Box" with Jonathan Clarke.
But then, like it did for so many young music fans in the early '90s, Nirvana came around and inspired Ash to stick to the chords and scales the band knew how to play. Things started going well.
The result was a punchy punk rock-inspired alternative sound that has woven over the years through Britpop, pop punk and indie rock corridors.
Ash has always tried to keep its fingers on the pulse of popular music and deliver its message accordingly.
In 2009, the band announced it would no longer do albums because people weren't consuming music in album form so much anymore. Instead, the band released a new single every two weeks for a year. Twenty-six new songs later, fans hadn't really embraced it.
"We were seeing people's relationship to albums changing through streaming," Wheeler says. "We were trying to get ahead of things and I think we were a bit too ahead of the times."
Nine years later, Ash has, of all things, a new album coming out!
The new full-length, Islands, is due out May 18.
In advance of the record, Ash has released the profane new track "Buzzkill." Wheeler explained how the out-of-character song came about.
"I do this thing where I try to write 10 songs in 10 hours when I'm in a writing period," Wheeler recalls. "So a few songs into this song challenge thing I do, I end up just writing some stuff as a joke just to kind of fill the hour. So that was one. I just wrote it for fun. I didn't think for a second while I was writing it that anyone would kind of like it beyond a joke."
Wheeler says he played the song for some friends later that day and they loved it. When the band played it together "it just sounded brilliant. And here we are."
Watch the full interview above, including a live version of the song "Shining Light."
Check out the official audio for Ash's new single, "Buzzkill":