Ash were still teenagers when their seminal debut album, 1977 shot to the top of the charts. Released 20 years ago, the album featured some of the band’s biggest hits, including Goldfinger, Oh Yeah and their career-defining pop classic, Girl From Mars.
Two decades later and Ash are back to celebrate 1977’s 20th anniversary! The band are currently playing the album in full at a string of sold-out shows around the UK and Ireland.
Band members Tim Wheeler, Mark Hamilton and Rick McMurray recently stopped by BIMM Dublin to discuss their career with Events and Guests Assistant, Stevie D’Arcy (also a BIMM alumni). The band opened up about achieving success so young and their legendary five shows at London’s Astoria, likening it to a dream come true:
“Our experience of the first album was amazing. Five nights at The Astoria, top ten singles at such a young age. All our dreams came true at once.”
The album, which was produced by long-term Oasis collaborator, Owen Morris, soundtracked the summer of 1996. But despite its success, the band revealed they were keen to get away from their pop image.
“On our second album there were expectations as what we should be, so we tried to break from what people thought. We had been in the ‘pop’ Smash Hits magazine, and we wanted to get away from that image.”
Nu-Clear failed to make the same impression as 1977 and had moderate success in the charts, which didn’t go down particularly well with their record label.
“We had been locked on a farm being told to write the album. Writing under pressure is difficult. The label saw Nu-Clear Sounds as a flop. Our first album 1977 had five hit singles, but Nu-Clear Sound only had one.”
But it was all rectified when their third album, Free All Ages topped the album charts in 2001. It featured a host of hit singles, including Burn Baby Burn and Shining Light, which peaked at number 8 on the UK singles chart. They explained what happened:
“For the third album, we took a year off to write. It was a massive relief when there were hit singles. Tim came up with Shining Light and called up saying I think I’ve got it! It was a huge relief as we were on the brink of being bankrupt.”
On songwriting, Tim Wheeler revealed he had recently been challenged by The Vaccines’ Justin Hayward-Young to write 20 songs in 24 hours!
“The first time I tried, I got to eight songs. I was surprised that there were a few good ideas in the songs I wrote.”
The frontman also shared his advice to our eager BIMM students and mused on the importance of trying new things, telling the audience:
“It’s important to keep changing your sound and set yourself challenges. People know if you’re excited about a new song.”
Tim, Mark and Rick were fantastic guests. It’s been 20 years since their debut, but the songs haven’t aged one bit!