A Journey Into The Heart Of Ashland
A Journey Into The Heart Of Ashland
2019 was definitely to be an epic year for the pop rocking duo known as Ashland. As 2019 spun to its conclusion, Ashland found themselves on a cross country tour with the likes of Our Last Night, I See Stars and The Word Alive. A brand new album entitled Over The Moon as also issued via Rise Records, and now in 2020, Ashland find themselves ready to take on the New Year with an dynamic amount of passion and conviction. Highwire Daze recently caught up with Ashland members Asia Marie and Aaron Wood to find out a whole lot more about the songs and concepts behind Over The Moon, highlights from their tour with Our Last Night, working with producers Kris Crummett and Matthew Amelung, and a whole lot more. Read on as we journey into the heart of Ashland…
Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Ashland, and how long the band has been together.
Asia: I’m Asia Marie. I sing and write songs. We’ve been playing music for awhile but I think we started getting serious about it when we put out our first EP in 2015.
Aaron: I’m Aaron. I play guitar, I write, I drive, but mostly I try to annoy Asia as much as possible.
Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
Asia: We’re all kind of scattered throughout central Illinois. But St. Louis is the home base of the band. The music scene there is spectacular. The kindest most supportive people in the world.
Aaron: Yeah if it weren’t for the strong St. Louis music community we would be nothing.
How did you wind up signing with Rise Records?
Aaron: Here’s the condensed version of a long story: When we were on InVogue, one of the guys there was friends with Craig Ericson. Craig liked our “Wildfire” album and brought us on at Rise.
Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title Over The Moon.
Asia: Not really haha. When we finished the album and were listening through for the first time, the song “Over The Moon” really seemed to stand out from the rest of the songs. We loved that title and thought it would be a great album name.
Select two songs from Over The Moon and what inspired the lyrics.
Asia: Motivation & Gotta Go – I have pretty low self esteem and it can make this career choice pretty difficult at times haha. There have been many moments when it would’ve been easy to just give up and not have to deal with feeling like crap and worrying what everyone thinks and having our hard work pushed aside. But giving up on something I care so much about is out of the question. I’m not willing to give up on a dream just because something feels too difficult or I’m not getting my way all the time. I have to constantly remind myself of that and that’s what Motivation and Gotta Go are both about.
How did you recent tour with Our Last Night go and what were some of the highlights?
Asia: It was amazing! Like every tour, it was a learning experience. We had some obstacles like getting sick and technical difficulties on stage. But the more we experience those things, the better prepared we are for the future. We couldn’t have asked to tour with better people too. All the bands and crew were just incredible- hard working, kind, supportive and generous. We weren’t expecting to have green rooms as the openers on this tour and we had one almost every single night because the bands who had buses would let us have them. We felt so cool haha
Aaron: Oh my gosh it was such an incredible experience! As Asia said, it was also a huge learning experience but it really started a fire within us and now we are much more equipped as a band to handle adversity moving forward.
What could one expect from a live Ashland show?
Asia: Saucy blazers and stick tricks.
Aaron: Hopefully inspiration, encouragement, and a good time!
Ashland is such a interesting name for a band. Where did the name come from?
Asia: Aaron and some past members picked the name and it didn’t have a meaning. But when I joined, my grandma told me a story about an old town that had been destroyed by a fire. When the town rebuilt, they renamed it Ashland. So we like the idea of strength and revival coming out of the storms and trials of life. It identifies with who we are.
One of your collaborators on the new album Matthew Amelung passed away from cancer recently. What was it like working with Matthew and did you know he was fighting cancer at the time?
Asia: Yeah, he was fighting it for quite awhile. You definitely wouldn’t have known if he didn’t tell you. He was pretty sick but anytime he was around people he was ALWAYS energetic and happy. It’s a little bittersweet knowing that he left us still doing what he loved to do. Being a producer is incredibly hard work, so in a way I kind of wish he had taken more time to relax. But he found so much joy in his work that I don’t think he would’ve ever considered stopping. I’m thankful he didn’t and we got to spend that time with him. He was my favorite person in the world to work with. He helped Ashland find our sound, he understood us as people and artists, and it’s difficult to know we won’t ever get that connection with anyone again, cause Matt was there from the beginning.
Aaron: Matt was there from day one. Our closest and dearest friend as well as our mentor and biggest advocate. If it weren’t for him, we would have never broke into the STL scene and in turn would have never been awarded the opportunities we have. The last sessions with him were bitersweet, he was working through so much pain but it never slowed him down. We will never be able to fully express our gratitude, and we will never have a connection with anyone like we had with Matt. I miss him every single day, but I take comfort knowing we were lucky to have shared time and created with him as much as we did.
What did Kris Crummett contribute to the overall recording process?
Asia: Kris was phenomenal. He and Matt actually knew each other. I know Kris works with a lot of artists we love so we were really excited for the opportunity to work with him. He was very open minded to what we were going for with Over The Moon. It’s important for me to feel like I can express all my weird ideas to a producer and get honest feedback and Kris was all for it.
What’s up in the New Year for Ashland?
Asia: We plan on touring as much as possible and maybe possibly perhaps some new music!
Aaron: What Asia said!
Any final words of wisdom?
Asia: Follow your heart. Take risks. Learn from your mistakes. God is good.
Aaron: Trust yourself.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Talia Farber)
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