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ON THE RISE: Ottawa’s Dale DeLong On Bringing Their Music To The Masses!

ON THE RISE: Ottawa’s Dale DeLong On Bringing Their Music To The Masses!

Cleveland-based band Ottawa has exploded onto the Indie Rock scene hard with the release of their punchy new single “Strangers”.  The spirited track is the first release out of 6 brand new, upcoming songs set to trickle out throughout the rest of the summer. Ottawa features the collective talents of Dale DeLong [Lead Vocals], Tim Czajka [Guitar], Jeremy Barnes [Bass] and Will Hooper [Guitars & Backup Vocals]. More Manchester than Midwest, Ottawa creates ambitious Indie Rock that’s equal parts steel-town grit and new wave gloss. Their energetic performances and captivating hooks have helped them generate a buzz far beyond their hometown. After writing and recording for the past twelve months, the band is taking their passion to an elevated level as they set out to promote the releases this summer. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Dale DeLong to discuss his musical roots, the formation of the band and everything they have in store for music fans in the months to come!

Going all the way back to your humble beginnings, both as an artist and as a band. What went into finding your creative voice early on?

That answer is going to be very different for all of us, but for me, I always had this sense that I was meant to front a band, from singing along with New Kids On the Block as a kid to actually looking for guys to start a band with, it always felt very natural. Melody always has come very easy to me, I don’t really know how to explain it; it just comes out. As a band, you’re essentially trying to impress each other, early on. It’s like, “you have a guitar, and you aren’t 50?” Let’s do this.

There is no doubt that music is your true love, so let’s start at the beginning. What are your first memories of music?

I remember my mom blaring ‘Conga’ by Gloria Estefan and I didn’t really care for that too much, but one day I remember her playing “I Can’t Tell You Why” by Eagles. I was maybe 6 or 7 and it just made so much sense to me, like it was made just for me to hear.

Dedicating yourself fully to your art is a big step. Did you ever have any reservations about taking the plunge?

It’s scary. We all still have jobs but, fingers crossed, hopefully for not much longer. The band is taking up more and more time the further we get into it. There’s no reservation in the plunge, it’s just about taking it at the right time, so it sticks.

Who were some of the performers and people behind the scenes who helped to shape the artist we see today?

The Strokes, The Cure, Oasis, The Beatles, Cranberries, Smashing Pumpkins…I’ll toss Jeremy, our bass player, a bone and say Rush (not my thing but it helped shape him). Don Henley, 2Pac- Any new wave band, loads of producers /Engineers, Jimmy Lovine, Matt Goldman, Mark Needham (who mixed two songs for us), Brandon Flowers, Tom Petty, Wilco…it’s endless really.

You are clearly very driven when it comes to your career. Where do you find yourself looking for inspiration to fuel your creative fire?

When you know you’re working toward making your dreams come true, drive just happens and you don’t think twice about it. I’m not consciously driven, its just reality for us at this point; no looking back. The buzz of writing something new that’s so fucking good, and hasn’t been done yet NEVER gets old.

How did you all initially cross paths and form Ottawa?

Tim and I went to high school together. It took me so long to try and convince him to play with me because he never took me seriously- I think because I was a class clown in school. I met Will through a Craigslist ad I posted when I gave up on college and moved home to start a band, like, 10 years ago. That’s when Tim started to come around as well. Needless to say, this band had a couple other iterations along the way, which is pretty typical. Jeremy joined the band two years ago; we kind of needed a new bass player/drummer situation and posted another craigslist ad, assuming nothing would come of it. Jeremy had apparently heard our song “Roman Candle” somehow so he responded right away. He was very good and grounded- he and Tim had an immediate bond over some type of handy work discussion, Will and I ignored, now here are. The 4 of us are Ottawa. Anyone playing drums with us will be a friend or someone hired- we just like being a 4-piece, it works for us.

For those who may be reading this before hearing your work — How would you describe the sound you have created?

We are guitar driven with big choruses; the type of music that you’d clap along with the kick drum to and scream the chorus at a festival. It’s kind of British/ new wave-ish.

What do you bring out in each another creatively?

We aren’t competitive with each other; we only want what’s best for the songs. That being said, we do really push each other. I tend to be the most vocal when we’re writing all together, mostly because I’m the only one with a microphone. There’s a constant push and pull when we’re writing, but when everything finally clicks, there’s a collective like looking at each other like “this is it”.

Ottawa recently wrapped up a long studio session in Atlanta with producer Matt Goldman (Glow in the Dark Studios). What were the highlights of the experience and what have you been cooking up for us?

It was probably the best two weeks of my entire life. The accommodations weren’t the best, lol, but that made it even more fun. We were all sleeping on children’s bunk beds at night, then we’d wake up, drink coffee and make magic. Anything felt possible with Matt, he was steps ahead in his head and he totally got what we were after. Before meeting him we didn’t really know what he was like or what music he liked, because a lot of the records he’s made were kind of metal or whatever. It turns out his favorite music was more along the lines of what we do, so it was just amazing.

What can you tell us about the songwriting process for your music?

Typically, it’ll start with some random melody I have, or a just a title even. I’ll bring the guys some slow ballad-type thing and before you now it, its some Indie Rock banger. Will was playing an acoustic guitar in the studio and we wrote a new song in like 20 min called “Plan of Attack”- it’ll definitely see the light of day.

Did you have any goals, aspirations or a specific vision when hitting the studio for this batch of songs?

Our only goal was that the recordings do the song’s justice; we knew the songs were awesome because we worked our asses off writing them. We’re very proud of this batch of songs!

You’ve been able to live with the songs for a little while now. Which ones resonate with you the most and have you excited to bring to the fans?

Our favorite collectively is a song called “Friends” which we almost scrapped because we couldn’t quite figure it out, then one day, we just did. We’re pumped about all of them but it seems like “No More Love Songs” is the one people are reacting to the most, so we’re really excited to get that one into the world.

I think a lot of people might take for granted what you do to keep things moving forward. Can you talk a little bit about what goes into keeping a band like Ottawa on the rails and moving in the right direction?

I could go on for hours about this — It’s all about the songs! Every new song is a jolt of lightning. The truth is, if we we’re going to quit, we would’ve already. Trying to get this going can be exhausting but when it’s what you’re meant to do, you don’t question it, you just do it.

What were the biggest challenges you faced as a young band?

It would have to be finding the right people to work with, both in and out of the band.

What stands out as your creative milestones?

I can’t pinpoint one thing but finishing a song you started on a random night where you pick up your guitar because you’re lonely, or need to feel like you’re working when others aren’t, is a great feeling.

You have a lot of productive years ahead of you. Where do you see yourself headed musically in the future — with short and long term?

Short-term: releasing these songs and praying to God people like them so we can quit our day jobs, lol. Long-term: festivals all over the world, playing MSG, The Tonight Show, SNL- the whole gamut. I know this may sound farfetched or too ambitious but other bands have done it, right?

As an artist, so many things can be said about the current state of music. What excites about the music today?

The amount of truly talented people being able to put their music into the world is pretty great.

What are you currently listening to for inspiration and what songs are your guilty pleasures?

The War on Drugs, The Killers, Ryan Adams, Old U2… I personally don’t really believe in guilty pleasures because even if something is super lame, there’s usually a team of fantastic songwriters behind it (which I think is awesome), but for the sake of it I think that yoddle kid’s song ‘Famous’ is a pretty good tune. The whole situation is bizarre, but it’s a nice little song.

What do you think people would be most surprised to find out about Ottawa?

We aren’t really the type of people going out partying all the time although we aren’t boring by any means. Personally, I put sleep before most things. You also won’t be seeing us out at swanky night clubs or anything, not that anyone would assume that about us, lol. Tim is a relatively quiet guy but when he get a little toasty that’s when I get texts and voicemails saying how proud he is of what we’re doing and “we’re going to make it”, lol. I look forward to those.

What’s the best way for fans to help support your band in this day and age?

Listen to our music and tell everyone you know and have ever met to do the same!

You have certainly faced your own challenges and learned some things from your time with this project. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey so far?

When things get really, really hard, that’s right when you’re about to be great- so keep going!

Follow the continuing adventures of Ottawa on social media via Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter. Visit the official website of the band at www.ottawatheband.com.

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Out of The Darkness: The Outfield’s Tony Lewis On Creating His Debut Solo Album!

Out of The Darkness: The Outfield’s Tony Lewis On Creating His Debut Solo Album!

Tony Lewis – Photo by Harvey Pearson

The Outfield was an undeniable force. The band took the airwaves of the ’80s by storm with their infectious pop songs, including “Your Love,” “All The Love” and “Say It Isn’t So.” Their 1985 debut album, “Play Deep,” reached triple platinum sales status and Top 10 on the U.S. album charts. “Your Love” peaked at #6 and is still featured in a number of compilation albums and commercials, and has been covered or remixed more than 1,000 times by other artists. More than 30 years later, “Your Love” continues to make waves with an average of 1 million streams per week on Spotify and more than 5 million monthly views of the video on YouTube, while still in rotation at more than 300 major market radio stations across the country. Collectively, The Outfield has more than 170 million total views on YouTube videos and 125 million streams on Spotify.

Following the 2014 passing of his longtime friend and collaborator, Tony Lewis took a break from music. However, the London-based musician, songwriter and record producer couldn’t stay away for long. In 2018, Tony Lewis of The Outfield announced the release of “Out of The Darkness,” his first solo album. The new 12-track album, slated for release on June 29 via Madison Records, was written and recorded by Lewis over the past two years. It is his first for the Atlanta-based label. Fearless during the process, Lewis produced, recorded and played all the instruments on the new album. This new collection of songs isn’t a rehash of his musical past but an exciting new chapter in his career and paves the way for an exciting future of possibilities for him as an artist. In support of the album’s release, Lewis will hit the road this summer on the Retro Futura Tour, alongside Belinda Carlisle, ABC, Modern English, Kajagoogoo’s Limahl and Bow Wow Wow’s Annabella. The July and August outing – including a July 28 show at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles – will mark his first tour in more than 13 years.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Tony Lewis to discuss his life in music, the making of “Out of The Darkness” and what the future might hold for him as a solo artist.

How did music come into your life and what drove you to pursue it professionally?

Basically, it all got started when I picked up an old acoustic guitar out of a dustbin! [laughs] It was my sister’s friend’s brother who got an electric guitar and he was going to throw away his acoustic. I said, “Don’t throw it away. Can I have it?” I was about 14 or 15 years old at the time. He said, “Yeah, yeah, sure you can have it.” I took it home and I didn’t know how to tune a guitar, but I played along mono record play. I would play old ‘60s singles fast, so I could hear the bass lines. I would put it back to 45 RPM, so I could play along with the record. I just made up chords as I went along! I eventually got a cheap electric guitar. I’m primarily a bass player, as you know, but I like playing guitar as well. I was left handed back then and I saw a left-handed bass in a guitar shop. I saved up a lot of money and, when I went back to the shop, it had sold. Someone at my school said, “You’re going to have to learn on the other hand. It’s going to take you about six months.” It took me every night of those six months! [laughs] In the ‘70s, it was very rare that you could get a left-handed guitar, let alone bass! That’s why Jimi Hendrix played the Strat upside down because he couldn’t get a left-handed Strat! From there, I got into a school band with Alan Jackman and two other guys. We didn’t even know how to tune guitars back then, but we played in pub playing covers. Around that time, I met John [Spinks] and we were in a prog rock band years and years ago. There was another guy who sung with the band. I said to John, “He’s not a very good singer, is he?” He said, “No but he’s got a nice van!” [laughs] We did gigs in this very nice van with him before taking a break because the punk rock thing had happened. As I said, I was playing covers in clubs and John came down to a club I was playing. I was singing “Message In A Bottle” by The Police. I thought everyone could sing it! John said, “Wow! That voice! We’ve got to do some recording!” We went to a local studio, raised demos and toured all over England as The Baseball Boys. Eventually, we got signed to CBS. The rest is history!

You and John Spinks made amazing music together through the years. I’m sure he had some influence on your latest project as well. What did you bring out in each other creatively?

We feed off of each other with ideas. I would have guitar ideas and John would have bass ideas or I would play guitar on one track and he would play bass on one of the tracks. We never had any egos as far as who was playing what. We found out that we could play the drums on the computer, so we didn’t always need to go out and record in the studio. After working with various producers, we taught ourselves the tricks of the trade on how to produce. We both like the same sort of music from the Beatles to the Rolling Stones to The Cars to Thin Lizzy. I was also a big fan of T-Rex, Bowie and that sort of ‘70s stuff. John and I fed off of each other creatively and I loved recording music together.

Tony Lewis – Photo by Carol Lewis

There were periods when you took a break from music. What can you tell us about that and what brought you back to create a powerful new solo album?

I haven’t toured in about 13 or 14 years. We recorded “Replay” and brought Alan [Jackman] back to record because we wanted to get the original lineup back again to make a final album. It was an album to say to the fans, “Look, this is for you. This is what we do.” We did some recording over a year period and got Alan to do the drum tracks afterwards. We did it at a studio in the East End of London. We put it out to iTunes. After that, basically every week, John would send me mixes or a vocal for this or that. Thank God for the Internet because we were able to send each other sound files rather than going to each other’s houses all the time because we lived quite far apart. After John’s passing, I took a four-year hiatus. For two years, I didn’t even want to pick up a guitar, let alone think about playing music again. The title of the new album, “Out of The Darkness,” represents a journey back into the music industry after four years away from the industry and 14 years of not touring. After 33 years of being known as the singer of The Outfield, I wanted to reemerge as a solo artist and show them I have more than one string to my bow. I produced all of the music and played the majority of instruments. Through this album, you can hear my journey through love, loss and the beginning of a new chapter. Early on, I’d recorded a lot of backing tracks but I struggled with the lyrics. My wife, Carol, saw my frustration and offered to help me — basically to shut me up! [laughs] I worked very personally with my songs. Sometimes I would go through songs with the acoustic or a backing track and I would think, “I can do this song with this backing track.” It grew from there and it was quite an easy way of recording. It wasn’t stressful and almost effortless. It just grew and grew and grew into an album.

With the first three songs on the album, there is the spirit of The Outfield but after that it becomes more about how I write and how my approach to music is different than John’s. He was very major, and I was very minor. I could put a positive spin on a dark song. Through our ideas in the studio, and that dynamic, that’s how we made it a bit more interesting. For “Out of The Darkness,” I wanted these songs to just be about me rather than me trying to deliver an Outfield sounding album. This album shows a different side to me. Being in The Outfield for years, a lot of people think, “Oh, well, he’s just the bass player and singer.” I wanted to show people I can produce, record, play guitar, keyboard and drums. I also wanted to hear what it sounded like as an album. When I was halfway through the album, this guy named Randy Sadd [of Protocol Entertainment] contacted me. He is based in Atlanta and did promotions for The Outfield through 2010-2011 period and is a great friend of ours. He said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’ve put some songs together. Can I send them to you?” He said, “Yeah!” He knew Tanner Hendon from Madison Records and they had some meetings. He really liked what I did, and it just grew from there.

Did you encounter challenges during the making of the record?

I wouldn’t say there were any challenges. It wasn’t like the label had said, “Can you write a ballad” or “Can you write a love song?” There was no pressure! I was basically just left to make my own music and I didn’t have to run it past anyone or deal with any decision-making. That’s quite the refreshing part of being a solo artist; you don’t have to run it past a committee! You are just your own person! I tried to get some feedback from Tanner, Randy and my wife from time to time. Sometimes you can be a fish in a bowl and be able to stand back and see where it’s going wrong. I’ve got a pretty good idea about how a song is structured and how it works. I understand radio as well. You can’t have an introduction of just keyboards! You’ve got to grab people’s attention, so I understand that totally!

Although this solo album is new to us, you’ve lived with these songs for a while now. Where are you headed musically in the future?

I’m already over halfway through the second album! I’ve got recorded stuff ready to go! I did that while waiting and mixing this album. You know, mixing and mastering is a long process. Tanner, who owns the record company, is also the drummer. He drummed with Paul Rodgers and Bad Company. So, I said, “Would you like to drum on some of these tracks?” He drums on about five tracks on this album because I love the feel of a drummer. It’s got a great feel to it! That was the pure luxury at all! How I see myself beyond the likes of this album? I don’t know. I’m not even thinking beyond the Retro Futura Tour. I’m just going to see how it goes because this is going to be the first tour that I’ve done without John. I’ve known him for over 40 years and we had done so many tours together. He was my best mate and it’s going to be very weird to look over and not see him there. That’s why I didn’t want to continue on with the name The Outfield when he passed. The Outfield is no more. I’m Tony from The Outfield! For the Retro Futura Tour, there will be a band there and we will go through The Outfield stuff and some of my stuff and take it from there! I’m not even thinking further down the road.

Perfectly understandable. What are you most looking forward to about the Retro Futura Tour?

It’s going to be great to see the fans again and say thank you for all the support and always being there for me. Hopefully, I will gain some new fans as well! To be on stage playing — you can’t beat it! On this tour, to go out there and do four songs, I’m not even going to break a sweat! [laughs] It’ll be like, “Come on, Tony! Finish now!” I’m used to playing two hours! That will be a bit strange but I’m really looking forward to seeing the other bands ABC, Belinda Carlisle, Annabella from Bow Wow Wow. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone and getting back in the swing of it again!

How have you most evolved as an artist over the years and when did you come into your own as a frontman?

I suppose we’ve learned a lot of tricks of the trade and producing. I tend to lean toward the guitar more than the bass, which is surprising because I am a bass player! I’ve never ever rehearsed on the bass because I think the guitar allows you to create more colors. I gained a lot of experience from the tours because you can be a great recording artist but if you can’t get up there and deliver, you shouldn’t be doing it! [laughs]

You just get up there and you do it. Obviously, this tour is a whole different experience because I don’t know the band. However, when you’re on stage and you’ve got your mates with you, you feel like a force. You feel like you’re powerful. Liam Gallagher was quoted, during his first solo venture, as saying that he actually missed his brother! He said, “This was strange. I wasn’t expecting this. I’m suddenly making all the decisions on my own and playing with the band.” I can relate to that with this new chapter, but it doesn’t happen overnight, obviously. I said to my wife, “Every time I see bands on TV, I feel like the iconic frontman, like Robert Plant or Mick Jagger, is missing.” If I see bands that don’t have that iconic frontman, I struggle with who it is I’m supposed to look at. Is it the singer, the drummer or the keyboard player? Every band has to have a focal point. I just wish I was a foot taller! [laughs] That’s all I wish!

What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as an artist?

What I’ve learned is that no matter what you’re doing, just have faith in it, totally believe in it and sell it! Don’t just go through the motions. Don’t say, “I think I’ll just sit down and write a song because the bloke next door wants me to write a song about a lawnmower.” I’d be bored to death if I did that! It’s all about looking at life, yourself, where you’ve come from and what those experiences have given you. Never forget your roots! Being raised up in two rooms is something that never leaves you, that strong upbringing. I remember hearing the Beatles for the first time when I was 9 years old; I heard “Penny Lane” on the radio. I thought, “That song makes me feel safe.” If you pick up a guitar, piano or any other instrument, just keep practicing until you can put a song together or get in a band if you can’t do it on your own. With this album, I did it all on my own, just because I wanted to see if I could do it! Having that band thing is still good. Recording at home is great but there is something magical about getting a band together in a proper studio and everyone is pitching in ideas! That’s what makes a band a band! Whatever you do, believe in yourself and love what you’re doing! If you don’t love what you’re doing, go and get a day job! [laughs]

That’s true! Thanks for your time today today! It was a pleasure and I can’t wait for everyone to hear this new album!

Thank you, Jason! It was great chatting with you! Hope to see you soon!

For all the latest news and dates for Tony Lewis, visit his official site at www.tonylewismusic.com. Connect with him on social media via Facebook and Instagram.

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The Legendary Ann Wilson Reveals Details New Album ‘Immortal’

The Legendary Ann Wilson Reveals Details New Album ‘Immortal’

ANN WILSON of HEART, one of rock’s most distinctive and powerful vocalists, will release her new solo album September 14 on BMG, marking her debut for the label. Fittingly titled IMMORTAL, the album features 10 musically diverse tracks that pay homage to some of the singer’s favorite songs and artists, all of whom have passed away in recent years and whose music poignantly lives on (the full track listing is below).

For the new release, ANN has teamed with original Heart producer Mike Flicker (Dreamboat Annie, Magazine, Little Queen, Dog and Butterfly and Bebe Le Strange, among others). Look for the iconic Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee to perform some of the album’s songs when she tours North America this summer with Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers for the “Stars Align Tour” (see below for full upcoming tour itinerary). The songs will also be featured in ANN‘s first-ever solo television special (details TBA), taped this past April at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles, IL, to coincide with the album’s release.

ANN chose the album title IMMORTAL after revealing some working titles early on in the project. “The original working titles evolved as the concept for the album evolved; a little bit at a time,” explains ANN. “As my understanding of what I had undertaken grew and clarified, I realized a larger truth; that the souls may have departed but the songs will forever be their resonances. These are the poets of our time and their expressions must be handed down. Poetry is lasting and elemental like carvings in rock.”

The finely etched tracks that comprise IMMORTAL cover a lot of musical ground, with many highlights including songs by Leonard Cohen (“A Thousand Kisses Deep”), Amy Winehouse (“Back to Black”), David Bowie (“I’m Afraid of Americans”), Lesley Gore (“You Don’t Own Me”) and Tom Petty (“Luna”). ANN says the criteria for choosing this collection of songs was easy. “First of all, I had to LOVE them! They had to be songs I could get inside of authentically as a singer. Lyrics are important to me but the most important thing is always the marriage of words and melody that makes the song magic!”

With sexism at the forefront of the national conversation, ANN says this did factor into the inclusion of “You Don’t Own Me.” “‘You Don’t Own Me’ was originally an early feminist anthem in the 1960’s and ’70’s. Since then the idea of self possession has grown to be more universal…This song is about refusing to be objectified and owned. By anyone.”

IMMORTAL includes some very special guests as well. “Warren Haynes plays on Tom Petty’s ‘Luna’ and ‘You Don’t Own Me,'” ANN reveals. “Ben Mink is featured on Leonard Cohen’s ‘A Thousand Kisses Deep’ and Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black.’ They are both musicians and great people whom I admire. It’s always a pleasure and an honor to work with them. Their souls shine through on these songs!”

Producer Mike Flicker brings an important element to IMMORTAL. “Mike was the first producer to believe in me,” ANN says. “He was my first teacher in the studio and knows how to provide that special support needed to bring out my soul in the recording process. It is exciting to work with him for the first time since 1980. I have traveled many, many miles since then but the old feeling is still there and fresh on Immortal. He has fearlessly helped me bring my ideas to life once again and it’s been a great collaboration.”

The IMMORTAL track listing is as follows:

“A Different Corner” (George Michael)
“A Thousand Kisses Deep” (Leonard Cohen)
“Back to Black” (Amy Winehouse)
“Baker Street” (Gerry Rafferty)
“I Am the Highway” (Chris Cornell, Audioslave)
“I’m Afraid of Americans” (David Bowie)
“Life in the Fast Lane” (Joe Walsh, The Eagles) in honor of Glenn Frey
“Luna” (Tom Petty)
“Politician” (Cream) in honor of Jack Bruce
“You Don’t Own Me” (Lesley Gore)

The “Stars Align Tour” with Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers kicks off July 18 in West Valley City, Utah, and makes stops in over 20 cities across the U.S. and Canadaincluding Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Toronto and Nashville, before wrapping August 26 in Tampa. In addition, ANN has a handful of headlining dates coming up this summer.

ANN WILSON‘s upcoming tour dates are as follows:

Headlining Dates:
Snoqualmie, WA
Snoqualmie Casino
Bremerton, WA
Admiral Theatre
Salem, OR
Elsinore Theatre
Jacksonville, OR
Britt Pavilion
Lemoore, CA
Tachi Palace
Albuquerque, NM
Route 66 Casino
Aspen, CO
Belly Up
Stars Align Tour with Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers:
West Valley City, UT
USANA Amphitheatre
Irvine, CA
Five Point Amphitheatre
Chula Vista, CA
Mattress Firm Amphitheatre
Houston, TX
Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land
Dallas, TX
The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
St. Louis, MO
Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre
Chicago, IL
Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
Detroit, MI
DTE Energy Music Theatre
Toronto, ON
Budweiser Stage
Boston, MA
Blue Hills Bank Pavilion
Camden, NJ
BB&T Pavilion
Lewiston, NY
Artpark Amphitheatre
Cincinnati, OH
Riverbend Music Center
Indianapolis, IN
Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center
Pittsburgh, PA
Heinz Hall for the Performing Arts
Holmdel, NJ
PNC Bank Arts Center
Wantagh, NY
Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
Nashville, TN
Nashville Municipal Auditorium
Charlotte, NC
PNC Music Pavilion
Vienna, VA
Wolf Trap
Jacksonville, FL
Daily’s Place
West Palm Beach, FL
Coral Sky Amphitheatre
Tampa, FL
MIDFLORIDA Credit Union Amphitheatre
^with Jeff Beck only
with Cheap Trick
Lincoln, CA
Thunder Valley Casino Resort

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Fueled By The Promise of a New Beginning: FF5 Releases “Fire On The Highway” Video

Fueled By The Promise of a New Beginning: FF5 Releases “Fire On The Highway” Video

Fueled by the promise of a new beginning, Curb Records’ pop duo, FF5, release red hot music video for “Fire on the Highway” off their latest release EL COMPADRE. Shot in Nashville, TN the video starring FF5, which is comprised of brothers Jacob and Josh Olds, shares the story of two band members looking to say goodbye to the past in order to make room for a new future.

Directed and produced by Ryan Camp, the video features Jacob and Josh enjoying the freedom of cruising around with the possibility of something new on the horizon. Music City supplies a number of scenic shots and helps set the scene as a place filled with dreamers trying to make it. Along the journey, Josh makes stops collecting old band memorabilia and reflecting on a decade long career as Family Force 5. The night ends in an epic blaze of goodbyes and hello to a new era.

Built on powerful melody and brilliantly sculpted beats, new song “Fire on the Highway” redefines the possibilities of pop and shows the strange synergy at the heart of FF5. With its shimmering textures, the song draws from Jacob’s affection for ’80s pop and Josh’s raw rock-and-roll energy to dream up a hypnotic yet hook-driven sound. Like most of their new material, the synth-laced track was shaped by the band’s belief in following through on the beautiful mistakes that so often occur in the creative process.

FF5 (Family Force 5) is the brainchild of twin brothers Jacob and Joshua Olds: two Atlanta-bred musicians with wildly divergent sensibilities and a shared passion for shattering boundaries. Although the Nashville-based duo have endured much upheaval over the years—label drama, lineup changes—FF5 now return with new music that proves their chemistry to be more potent than ever. Their latest release EL COMPADRE premiered on Billboard.com and is available here.

For more information on FF5, visit http://ff5music.com/.

Connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or YouTube.


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Backstreet Boys Release New Single and Video, Sign to RCA Records

Backstreet Boys Release New Single and Video, Sign to RCA Records

On the heels of their 25th anniversary, the Backstreet Boys have signed with RCA Records who released their electric new single “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” today May 17th, along with its official music video directed by long time BSB collaborators Rich + Tone.

“The minute we heard this song we knew it was special,” says Kevin Richardson. “I geeked out over the piano and synths. When that groove drops on the second verse, COME ON. Great verse, hook and melodies. Just makes you wanna listen over and over again.”

In support of the new single, BSB will return to the Good Morning America Summer Concert Series in New York’s Central Park on July 13th. The group will also perform at a series of summer radio shows like this year’s KIIS FM Wango Tango before returning to their record-breaking “Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life” Las Vegas Residency. Tour dates below.

Recorded immediately after the first leg of their highly successful Las Vegas residency, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” has the energy of a group who had a remarkable year and who channeled their excitement into a new song that hits harder and funkier than ever before.

It’s hard not to think the group’s latest activities didn’t shape this track. Whether it’s the creative relationship with Florida Georgia Line that earned BSB their first #1 Country radio single; working with a variety of new and young producers; there’s an undeniable energy and creativity surrounding the Backstreet Boys and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” is an extraordinary new track from a group who continues to impress 25 years into their storied career.

“We’ve been working our ass off for 25 years,” says AJ McLean  “and with the support of RCA and our contemporaries, we know we’ll be performing for fans, both old and new, for a really long time. It feels like we’re just getting started.”

“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” – now available on all digital platforms – was written by Stephen Wrabel (Ellie Goulding) and produced by Stuart Crichton (Kesha) and Jamie Hartman (James Bay).

For 25 years, the Backstreet Boys have been one of the most successful groups in music history and continue to be one of pop’s most influential performers in the world. With countless #1s, record-setting tours, numerous awards and worldwide sales in excess of 130 million, BSB has been recognized as the best-selling boy band in history.

To Purchase or Listen To “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”:

Multi-retailer – http://smarturl.it/bDGsBMbH

Official Video – http://smarturl.it/bDGsBMbHv
Tour Dates:
May 19th – SPF Vegas 2018 at Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas – Las Vegas, NV
June 2nd – Wango Tango at Banc of California Stadium – Los Angeles, CA
June 15th – WBLI Summer Jam at Jones Beach – Wantagh, NY
July 13th – Good Morning America Summer Concert Series – Central Park, NYC
August 18th – Winstar World Casino & Resort – Thackerville, OK
“Backstreet Boys: Larger Than Life” Las Vegas Residency
Zappos Theater at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, NV
July 25th, 27th and 28th
August 1st, 3rd, 4th, 8th, 10th and 11th
October 24th, 26th, 27th and 31st
November 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 9th, 10th, 14th, 16th and 17th
For more information on Backstreet Boys please visit:

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Diamante Drops ‘Volume II’ EP, Debut Album To Drop On June 15th!

Diamante Drops ‘Volume II’ EP, Debut Album To Drop On June 15th!

Revving up for her debut album release on June 15th, Diamante has released Volume II, a collection of songs from her forthcoming album, Coming In Hot – out June 15th on Better Noise Records, featuring the viral title track and four previously unreleased tracks, “Black Heart”, “I’m Sorry”, “Kind of Love” and a cover of Heart’s “Crazy On You”.

Produced & mixed by Howard Benson [Chris Cornell, Kelly Clarkson, My Chemical Romance, Halestorm], the songs brings to light a signature sound the artist has been developing meticulously since age 13. With sultry vocals, pop sensibility, and unabashed rock swagger, the multicultural solo artist draws from myriad influences and calls to mind legends from a spectrum of rock icons including Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Debbie Harry, Mötley Crüe, Def Leppard, and Bowie.

Additionally, Diamante has teamed up with Bad Wolves as a guest vocalist on their latest single “Hear Me Now”. The official music video has garnered over 2.5 million views since its release and peaked at #3 on the iTunes Rock Charts. She is currently appearing with Bad Wolves each night to perform the track on their tour with Shinedown and Five Finger Death Punch.

Diamante will be on the road supporting labelmates Bad Wolves and From Ashes to New on this summer on the “What’s In Your Head?” Tour. All tour dates listed below. For tickets and additional information, visit www.diamanteofficialmusic.com

May 11 – Westfair Amphitheatre – Council Bluffs, IA
May 12 – Eagles Ballroom – Milwaukee, WI
May 14 – Salem Civic Center – Salem, VA
May 16 – Legacy Arena – Birmingham, AL
May 17 – Ford Center – Evansville, IN
May 18 – Mark of the Quad – Moline, IL
May 20 – Alerus Center – Grand Forks, ND
May 30 – Casper Events Center – Casper, WY

June 4 – The Annex – Madison, WI
June 6 – Varsity Theater – Minneapolis, MN
June 7 – Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
June 8 – The Machine Shop – Flint, MI
June 9 – Piere’s Entertainment Center – Fort Wayne, IN
June 11 – The Basement – Columbus, OH
June 12 – The Westcott Theater – Syracuse, NY
June 13 – Aura – Portland, ME
June 16 – Baltimore Soundstage – Baltimore, MD
June 18 – Chameleon Club – Lancaster, PA
June 19 – Gramercy Theatre – New York, NY
June 20 – Upstate Concert Club – Albany, NY
June 21 – The Loft – Poughkeepsie, NY **headline date**
June 22 – Norva – Norfolk, VA
June 23 – The Tarheel – Jacksonville, NC
June 24 – Capone’s – Johnson City, TN
June 26 – Soul Kitchen – Mobile, AL
June 27 – Sidetracks Music Hall – Huntsville, AL
June 28 – The Metroplex – Little Rock, AR
June 29 – Diamond Ballroom – Oklahoma City, OK
July 1 – XR Club – Amarillo, TX
July 2 – Jake’s Sports Cafe – Lubbock, TX
July 5 – Gothic Theatre – Englewood, CO
July 6 – Sunshine Studios Live – Colorado Springs, CO


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Christina Aguilera To Embark On First Tour in Over A Decade

Christina Aguilera To Embark On First Tour in Over A Decade

Grammy Award-winning superstar and pop icon Christina Aguilera has announced a new North American tour this fall, her first outing since 2008. The music powerhouse will kick off the tour, produced by Live Nation, on September 25th and travel to 22 cities, performing at many of North America’s most intimate venues including two dates at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, two dates at The Chicago Theatre, and stops in Boston, Oakland, Denver, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and more.

American Express® Card Members can purchase tickets before the general public beginning Monday, May 14th at 10am local time through Thursday, May 17th at 10pm local time.   Tickets are on sale to the general public starting Friday, May 18th at 10am local time at LiveNation.com.

Christina released new song “Accelerate feat. Ty Dolla $ign and 2 Chainz” earlier this month, the first song from her forthcoming and highly anticipated album, Liberation. She will also be performing “Fall in Line,” her newly announced duet with Demi Lovato, at the Billboard Music Awards on May 20th.

Liberation will be released Friday, June 15th and is available for pre-order now. Every online ticket purchased for Christina Aguilera’s 2018 tour includes a standard CD copy of her new album, Liberation. Instructions on how to redeem a copy will be provided by Ticketmaster within 24 hours of ticket purchase via email.


Tue Sep 25 Hollywood, FL Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Fri Sep 28 Atlantic City, NJ Mark G. Etess Arena at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Sun Sep 30 Washington, DC The Theater at MGM National Harbor
Wed Oct 03 New York, NY Radio City Music Hall
Thu Oct 04 New York, NY Radio City Music Hall
Sat Oct 06 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun Arena
Mon Oct 08 Boston, MA Boch Center Wang Theatre


Thu Oct 11 Orillia, ON Casino Rama Resort
Sat Oct 13 Detroit, MI Fox Theatre Detroit
Tue Oct 16 Chicago, IL The Chicago Theatre
Wed Oct 17 Chicago, IL The Chicago Theatre
Fri Oct 19 Denver, CO Pepsi Center
Mon Oct 22 Oakland, CA Paramount Theatre – Oakland
Wed Oct 24 Indio, CA* Fantasy Springs Resort Casino
Fri Oct 26 Los Angeles, CA Greek Theatre
Sat Oct 27 Las Vegas, NV The Colosseum at Caesars Palace
Mon Oct 29 Phoenix, AZ Comerica Theatre
Thu Nov 01 Sugar Land, TX Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land
Sat Nov 03 Thackerville, OK* WinStar World Casino and Resort
Sun Nov 04 Tulsa, OK* Paradise Cove at River Spirit Casino Resort
Tue Nov 06 St. Louis, MO Peabody Opera House
Fri Nov 09 New Orleans, LA Saenger Theatre
Sun Nov 11 Atlanta, GA Fox Theatre Atlanta
Tue Nov 13 St. Petersburg, FL The Mahaffey Theatre

*Not a Live Nation date

About Christina Aguilera  
Christina Aguilera is a Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter renowned for her powerful voice and hit songs. Throughout her career, she has sold more than 43 million records worldwide. Aguilera has achieved five No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart making her the fourth female artist to top the chart over three consecutive decades (1990s, 2000s, and 2010s). She has won six Grammy Awards including one Latin Grammy Award. She has also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and holds the prestigious honor of being the only artist under the age of 30 included in Rolling Stone Magazine’s list of the 100 greatest singers of all time. In 2011 she entered the world of television as a coach on NBC’s Emmy Award nominated show The Voice. Aguilera continues to use her voice for good. She has served as global spokesperson for Yum! Brands’ World Hunger Relief effort since 2009 and has helped raise over $150 million for the World Food Program and other hunger relief agencies.

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Phil Collins Announces Dates For ‘Not Dead Yet, Live!’ Tour

Phil Collins Announces Dates For ‘Not Dead Yet, Live!’ Tour

Confirmed today, Phil Collins Not Dead Yet, Live! tour is coming to North America this October for 15 shows only. This limited engagement by the legendary performer will feature Phil Collins accompanied by longtime guitarist Daryl Stuermer, keyboardist Brad Cole, bassist Leland Sklar, percussionist Luis Conte & his 16 year old son Nicolas on drums along with a horn section and backup singersA fitting sequel to his recently released and much-awaited memoir “Not Dead Yet”Phil Collins Not Dead Yet, Live! will be a celebration of his epic career.

Kicking off October 5th in Ft. Lauderdale. the singer-songwriter will make stops in Washington, Philadelphia, Boston, Toronto, Newark, Brooklyn, Montreal, Cleveland, Columbus, Minneapolis, Chicago, Oakland and Las Vegas before the final performance October 28 a the Los Angeles Forum. With 100 million record sales and an unstoppable catalogue of Number 1 albums, Collins is one of the world’s most acclaimed hitmakers.

Citi® is the official credit card for the Phil Collins Not Dead Yet, Live! Tour. As such, Citi cardmembers can take advantage of a Citi Presale powered by Verified Fan opportunity for tour dates in the United States. Citi cardmembers can register now through Wednesday, May 9th at midnight to unlock access to tickets and use their Citi card to complete the ticket purchase if verified. The Citi Presale begins Friday, May 11th at 10am and will continue through Sunday, May 13th at 5:00 pm. To register for the Citi Presale powered by Verified Fan visit: citiprivatepass.com

Additionally, fans may register now through Friday, May 11th at noon (local times) at www.philcollins.tmverifiedfan.com to unlock tickets for the Verified Fan on sale Monday, May 14th 10am through 11:50pm at www.ticketmaster.com. If tickets remain, general sales begin Tuesday, May 15that10am local time.

The tour is presented by Live Nation & S2BN Entertainment Studios by Arrangement with Solo & Tony Smith Personal Management.


Oct. 05 – Ft. Lauderdale, Fl. – BB&T Center

Oct. 07 – Washington, DC – Capital One Arena

Oct. 08 – Philadelphia, PA – Wells Fargo Center

Oct. 09 – Boston, MA – TD Garden

Oct. 11 – Toronto, ON – Air Canada Centre

Oct. 13 – Newark, NJ – Prudential Center

Oct. 14 – Brooklyn, NY – Barclays Center

Oct. 16 – Montreal, QC – Centre Bell

Oct. 18 – Cleveland, OH – Quicken loans Arena

Oct 19 – Columbus, OH – Nationwide Arena

Oct. 21 – Minneapolis, MN – Target Center

Oct. 22 – Chicago, IL – United Center

Oct. 25 – Oakland, CA – Oracle Arena

Oct. 27 – Las Vegas, NV – MGM Grand Garden Arena

Oct. 28 – Los Angeles, CA – The Forum

For complete tour and ticket information visit: www.PhilCollins.com & www.LiveNation.com

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P!NK Announces Dates For Beautiful Trauma World Tour

P!NK Announces Dates For Beautiful Trauma World Tour

After incredible success and demand, esteemed performer and international pop icon P!NK today announces her Beautiful Trauma World Tour will extend in to 2019 with an additional 37 spring dates across North America. Produced by Live Nation, the new outing will kick off March 1, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, FL and the highly praised show will make stops in Nashville, New Orleans, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and more before wrapping May 21, 2019 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

To ensure tickets get in to the hands of fans, Fan Registration for the North American tour dates will be availablehere through Ticketmaster’s Verified FanÒ platform beginning today, Thursday, May 3 at 10am local time through Sunday, May 6 at 10pm local time. Presale tickets for registered fans will go on sale beginning Tuesday, May 8 at 10am local time, while limited supplies last.

Citi® is the official presale credit card for the Beautiful Trauma World Tour 2019. As such, Citi® cardmembers will have access to purchase U.S. presale tickets beginning Tuesday, May 8 at 10am local time until Thursday, May 10 at 10pm local time through Citi’s Private Pass® program. For complete presale details visit www.citiprivatepass.com.

U.S. and Canadian residents who purchase tickets online will be able to redeem (1) physical copy of P!NK’s new album “Beautiful Trauma”. All albums must be redeemed by the end of the tour in May 2019. Tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning Friday, May 11 at LiveNation.com.


Friday, March 1, 2019 Fort Lauderdale, FL BB&T Center
Sunday, March 3, 2019 Tampa, FL Amalie Arena
Tuesday, March 5, 2019 Jacksonville, FL Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Arena
Thursday, March 7, 2019 Columbia, SC Colonial Life Arena
Saturday, March 9, 2019 Charlotte, NC Spectrum Center
Sunday, March 10, 2019 Nashville, TN Bridgestone Arena
Tuesday, March 12, 2019 Atlanta, GA Philips Arena
Thursday, March 14, 2019 Birmingham, AL Legacy Arena at The BJCC
Saturday, March 16, 2019 Bossier City, LA CenturyLink Center
Sunday, March 17, 2019 New Orleans, LA Smoothie King Center
Tuesday, March 19, 2019 Houston, TX Toyota Center
Thursday, March 21, 2019 San Antonio, TX AT&T Center
Saturday, March 23, 2019 Oklahoma City, OK Chesapeake Energy Arena
Sunday, March 24, 2019 Dallas, TX American Airlines Center
Saturday, March 30, 2019 Glendale, AZ Gila River Arena
Monday, April 1, 2019 Denver, CO Pepsi Center
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 Salt Lake City, UT Vivint Smart Home Arena
Friday, April 5, 2019 Vancouver, BC Pepsi Live at Rogers Arena
Monday, April 8, 2019 Portland, OR Moda Center
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 Sacramento, CA Golden 1 Center
Friday, April 12, 2019 Las Vegas, NV T-Mobile Arena
Monday, April 15, 2019 Fresno, CA Save Mart Center
Wednesday, April 17, 2019 San Jose, CA SAP Center
Friday, April 19, 2019 Los Angeles, CA The Forum
Friday, April 26, 2019 Detroit, MI Little Caesars Arena*
Saturday, April 27, 2019 Detroit, MI Little Caesars Arena
Tuesday, April 30, 2019 Indianapolis, IN Bankers Life Fieldhouse
Thursday, May 2, 2019 Milwaukee, WI Wisconsin Entertainment and Sports Center
Saturday, May 4, 2019 Fargo, ND FargoDome
Sunday, May 5, 2019 St. Paul, MN Xcel Energy Center
Tuesday, May 7, 2019 Omaha, NE CenturyLink Center
Thursday, May 9, 2019 Lexington, KY Rupp Arena
Saturday, May 11, 2019 Columbus, OH Schottenstein Center
Monday, May 13, 2019 Toronto, ON Air Canada Centre
Friday, May 17, 2019 Montreal, QC Bell Centre**
Saturday, May 18, 2019 Montreal, QC Bell Centre
Tuesday, May 21, 2019 New York, NY Madison Square Garden

*Re-scheduled date. Tickets for previously scheduled March 25, 2018 performance will be honored.

**Re-scheduled date. Tickets for previously scheduled March 23, 2018 performance will be honored.

Since her debut in 2000, P!NK has released 7 studio albums, 1 greatest hits album, sold over 50 million albums equivalents, over 75 million singles, over 2.4 million DVDs worldwide and has had 15 singles in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart (four at #1). In addition, she is the recipient of three Grammy Awards (19 nominations), one Daytime Emmy Award, three Billboard Music Awards, seven MTV Video Music Awards (including the 2017 Michael Jackson Vanguard Award recipient), two MTV Europe Awards, two People’s Choice Awards, was named Billboard’s Woman of the Year in 2013 and has sold out arenas all over the world.  Her seventh studio album, Beautiful Trauma is certified platinum, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s 200 chart and marked a career high for first week sales.  Additionally, the album debuted at #1 in 10 other countries, on Billboard’s Top Album Sales Chart and Digital Albums Chart. The first single, “What About US” is also certified platinum, received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance and reached #1 on the Adult Pop Songs chart earning her ninth leader on the chart, the most number-ones at the format for a female (second overall).

P!NK is a huge supporter of various charities, including: Make a Wish Foundation, Autism Speaks, Human Rights Campaign and No Kid Hungry.  She remains on the UNICEF team as an Ambassador.  She recently graced the cover of People Magazine’s The Beautiful Issue.

For More Information:
Official Website: http://www.pinkspage.com
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pink
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/pinkofficial
Twitter: https://twitter.com/pink
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/PinkVEVO
Press Assets: https://rcarecords.com/artist/pnk/

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ASH’s Tim Wheeler On The Band’s Evolution, Eclectic New Album and Bright Future!

ASH’s Tim Wheeler On The Band’s Evolution, Eclectic New Album and Bright Future!

Tim Wheeler and Mark Hamilton’s friendship and musical adventures began in 1989, when the two 12-year-olds founded (unheralded) heavy metal titans Vietnam in their hometown of Downpatrick, County Down. Though the band ultimately fell apart as grunge re-arranged the face of rock music, the duo remained united, recruiting 16-year-old drummer Rick McMurray for their new vehicle, ASH, a classic power trio inspired by Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Pixies and local alt rock heroes Lazer Gun Nun. The group’s debut single, “Jack Names The Planets,” was funded and released by London-based radio plugger Stephen Taverner on his own La La Land label in 1994, picking up airplay and plaudits from influential Radio 1 DJs John Peel, Steve Lamacq and Mark Radcliffe. That same year, Korda Marshall, the former Head of A&R for RCA Records, snapped up the teenage rockers as one of the first signings to his newly created Infectious Records label.

The group’s first two Infectious singles, “Petrol” and “Uncle Pat,” topped the UK indie charts. The third, the irresistible “Kung Fu,” equally indebted to martial arts legend Jackie Chan and punk pioneers Ramones, marked the trio out as one of the UK’s most exciting new bands. 1995 saw Ash crack the UK Top 20 for the first time, with pop-punk classics “Girl From Mars” and “Angel Interceptor,” before the Top 10 success of “Goldfinger” prefigured their debut album, “1977,” crashing into the UK album chart at number one. The years following were something of a blur. The band closed Glastonbury festival in 1997, headlined Reading festival as a quartet in 2001, and racked up a second number one album (“Free All Angels”), a Top 10 album (“Nu-Clear Sounds”) and six more Top 30 singles in between. “Free All Angel’s” lead-off single, “Shining Light,” earned Tim Wheeler an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song while the incendiary “Burn Baby Burn” garnered a Single Of The Year accolade from Q magazine. In 2004, the band’s fourth album, “Meltdown,” showcased a heavier sonic approach, debuting at number five in the charts, and securing the band an opening slot on U2’s world tour.

Flash forward to 2018 — Twenty-five years on from their emergence as teenagers on Belfast’s DIY scene, ASH return with another irrepressible album that more than holds its own in what is a seemingly already over-stocked catalogue of hits. The trio’s seventh studio collection, ‘Islands,’ is due for a May 18 release on Infectious Music and serves as an open-hearted set of songs dealing with love and loss, friendship and betrayal, identity, salvation, redemption and rebirth. Pound-for-pound, it’s also the strongest, most exhilarating long player of Ash’s storied career, an album which reaffirms the trio’s status as one of the most idiosyncratic and thrilling guitar bands. Produced by Tim Wheeler, ‘Islands’ features additional production from Mark Hamilton, Rick McMurray and Claudius Mittendorfer – who also mixed the album at the band’s studio in New York.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Tim Wheeler to discuss the band’s early years, the moments that helped mold them as young artists and the making of their powerful new album, ‘Islands.’

Let’s start at the beginning. How did music come into your life and begin to take hold?

I think I was around 10 years old when I became a metal kid. I was big into Iron Maiden, Megadeth and stuff like that. I started a heavy metal band with our bass player, Mark [Hamilton], when we were 11 years old. Here we are, 30 years later, still playing together! [laughs] Damn! [laughs] Around 1992, we got more into alternative rock, which was around the time Nirvana was blowing up. We were also big big fans of Pixies, Mudhoney and Teenage Fanclub. Then more of a punk influence came into my life, so when we were 15 years old, we started Ash. We got signed when we were 17! Two weeks after leaving school, when we were 18 years old, we had our first hit single, which led to 18 Top 40 hits in the UK over the years and a couple number one albums! We’re still doing the same thing! [laughs]

Well, it’s good work if you can get it! [laughs]

Yeah, it’s awesome! [laughs]

Tell us more about those early years. Ash took off at an incredible rate. What are some memories of the band early on and what are some of the moments that had a big impact on the future of the band?

I really enjoyed the first few years, when we were 15 or 16, going out and playing Belfast and small gatherings with other grunge minded bands. Those were really good times because they were really carefree and fun. We would always have to get our slot finished at a certain time so that we could run, with our guitars on our backs, to catch the last bus home! That was pretty exciting! Things really blew up for us at 18 and we had a year-and-a-half of full-on touring! There was a worldwide fanbase, which was kind of nuts. Our second album wasn’t as successful, so I think we had a taste of huge success and then almost a sense of huge failure quite early on, so I think that was really good for us. It was a good lesson to learn. When we came back strongly on our third album, I think that gave us longevity. Having that difficult time with the second album gave us strength and let us know we could get through anything. I think that’s a big part of why we’re still here today!

What stands out when you think about being on stage for the first few times in Ash?

I guess the physical feeling of it. The physical feeling of volumes from really loud guitar amps and drums. The vibrations really go through your body and I love that excitement. I’m even talking about playing on the small stages with 10 people watching us! It’s such a buzz! Once you start adding an audience who is getting really into it, there is nothing like it! That first moment when you walk on stage and hear a crowd cheer, that’s one of the best buzzes you can get!

How did moving to New York years ago impact you in a musical sense?

I had only been in New York for four months before we found a studio, which was great. I had lived in London for nine years and we had always wanted to have our own studio and space. It’s kind of funny how quickly I found it when I moved to New York. It was a bit slow because we had to set up the studio and I had to learn a lot about how studios work. I became much more of an engineer. I think that’s something else that has gotten better and better over the years. At the beginning, everything was kind of hard. It was also fantastic to have our own space for the first time! From 2009 to 2010, we did 26 singles in one year. That was a real product of having our own studio. We had really figured out the space by then and became really prolific. That was great and was the kind of thing I always wished I had in London!

Where do you look for inspiration these days?

I always buzz on making new songs. I do this thing quite often where I try to write 10 songs in 10 hours, once a week. That keeps me on my twos. Fun, weird stuff always comes out of those sessions, so I keep finding new ground. I write them with no pressure; apart from the time pressure. There is no quality pressure! [laughs] That keeps it really playful and the fun ideas coming. On this new album, “Islands,”1 I did a bunch of traveling like the islands in Japan, off the coast of Spain and off the coast of Ireland. The traveling also gives you fresh ideas as well!

Tell us more about the 10 songs in 10 hours approach. Are these songs geared toward Ash?

I’m kind of just write anything. Sometimes I might do stuff with a lot of keyboards but as I’m getting close to a time where our drummer, Rick [McMurray], is coming to New York, I might focus more on guitar songs. I just like having fun and there are no real expectations. I know that if I write that quantity of songs, there are going to be a certain amount of good ones and a certain amount of absolute rubbish! [laughs] I’ve found that there is definitely fun stuff in there. In the old days, I used to write at least one song a day when I was in a writing phase. That was my way of defeating writer’s block because if you are practicing it regularly, a lot of pressure can start to build up in your mind and everything becomes so important that you become stalled. My way is to just keep writing all the time, so back to the 10 songs in 10 hours thing. Doing that regularly keeps me going. The other thing about doing this is that I get other friends to do it on the same day! We all get together and play back our ideas, so there is kind of an instant sharing thing. Knowing that I’ve got an audience that I’ve got to play some things to helps the process along. Those are the current tricks I’m using but I might switch it up again soon because I’ve been doing it for four years now and I have 300 songs! [laughs]

You mentioned your new album, “Islands.” How did this record take shape?

I really rely on the others guys, Mark and Rick. They are the ones who will help me filter through the songs. I can kind of tell from their reaction if a song is good. Sometimes, I’m too close to it to know. We spend a lot of time in the rehearsal room jamming through stuff and we can tell what feels good. Normally, we aim to get to get 12 songs that we’re all really buzzing about, sound great with the band and have cool melodies or lyrical ideas. That is always the starting point. The rehearsal process is a big part of what helps shape the album. With “Islands,” we just picked the 12 best songs together and said, “This goes together really well.” That’s how it came about.

You guys have worked together for ages. How has the creative dynamic changed, if at all, over the years?

It’s gotten really easy! It’s a well-oiled machine at this point. It’s fun and we always look forward to it! Rick lives in Scotland and Mark and myself live in New York, so we don’t get together all the time but, when we do, we are normally looking forward to it! There is typically a big bunch of material to go through, which is stuff we are really excited to work on. It’s great! I can really hear the ideas come to life once the guys are playing with me! It really starts to sound like Ash. I think this is a case where things have gotten better and easier over time. We are pretty calm and we’re never really stressed out. We truly enjoy the process!

You have a great variety of songs on “Islands.” I’m sure some come easy and others are harder to nail down.

Yeah! Songs like “Annabelle” and “Buzzkill” sounded great the second we started playing them. “Confessions In The Pool” was a bit more of a challenge because most of the song is based around two chords repeating. It came down to finding a way to make it interesting throughout the whole thing. We had a really long, rock-out, jam-out session at the end of that, which was probably five minutes long to begin with! We knew it needed to be edited down, so reluctantly cutting out bits was a bit of hard work; finessing the end of the whole thing. Some had a slightly different spout to them like “Did Your Love Burnout?” We’d never really played anything like that before, so I had a bit of doubt in my mind to whether it was good or if people would like it because it was taking a bit of a chance. I’m getting really good feedback from it, so I think it’s really worked!

You are involved with every element of the record making process. Do you gravitate to areas you might not have been attracted to initially?

Yeah, I am quite good at programming synths that make appearances here and there. I can do a decent amount of engineering. We used to have quite a big team with us while making records but now I can handle most of it. I wish I didn’t because I would love to have someone’s help sometimes! [laughs] I can do a good rough mix but I wouldn’t do a final mix of a track. The mixing side of it is something I never thought I would understand and now I’m getting a bit of an idea. I’m becoming a real studio nerd! [laughs]

What are the biggest challenges in bringing “Islands” to life?

This is definitely the one where I’ve done the most engineering. I think self-motivation was a big thing. There would be times where I would come to the studio by myself without anyone’s feedback. The guys are here a lot in the early stages of a record but once it gets into guitars, keyboards and vocals, I often just do that by myself. The hardest thing is to get the discipline to come in and also to say something is finished. It’s nice if someone else is there to go, “OK, that’s good. You don’t need to work on that any harder!” [laughs] Knowing when to stop is a big challenge! [laughs]

How have you evolved as an artist over your career?

I guess I’ve got a much bigger overview of the whole thing. I can remember our first times in the studio and not really knowing how to arrange a song or shape it from beginning to end. I remember our first producer, Owen Morris, was really good at helping us edit stuff down. He was really good for quality control. Now, as soon as I write a song, I can picture how the whole thing is going to sound from the drums, bass line, where additional embellishments need to be or when there needs to space on the track and when it needs to be full. Normally, right from the get-go, I have a clear idea of where I want it to get and then I work toward getting there. In the old days, I was a lot more blind and needed a lot more help along the way! [laughs]

Can we expect Ash to hit the road in support of “Islands” in the months to come?

Yeah! We’ve got some UK festivals in August. I think we’re also doing a short US tour in September and, if that goes well, hopefully some more stuff early next year. We are also doing the UK and Europe later this year as well. Hopefully, we’ll be playing Japan and Australia as well! We’re trying to get out in the world!


What goes into planning your shows? You have an incredible back catalog, so it can’t be easy! As you move forward that catalog gets thicker and thicker!

Oh my god! It’s such a headache! [laughs] It comes down to what songs to leave out these days. There is always a bunch of new stuff we are excited to play but it is about finding a balance between that and what fans want to hear. It’s very hard to get a full spread of everything without playing three hours and going full Bruce Springsteen! [laughs] We normally like our shows to be about an hour-and-a-half. We definitely make some tricky sacrifices on what we play! The dream would be to play loads and loads of the new stuff but I know the fans want to hear the old stuff too!

This album is fresh but it sounds like you have your eye on the future.

Yeah, we’re actually quite far into recording a follow up album to “Islands” already. I’m working on that at the moment, so I’d love to get that out next year as well! I’d like to keep consistently releasing while the songs are flowing! It’s got a bit of a different style to it now but we will see how it shapes up!

You’ve done a solo record in the past. Is there another one of those releases in the cards?

I’m not really in a hurry to do one of those for awhile. The main reason I did that one was my father had passed away and I was writing a lot about that, so it felt like a very personal project. I did enjoy the whole learning process of working outside the band, which was quite interesting. At the moment, Ash is a great vehicle for everything I want to say at the minute. Perhaps, if I wanted to do something really different, I could do another solo record but, at the minute, our new album is quite weird! [laughs] So, no complaints there!

You have been in the music business for most of your life and have seen changes. As an artist, what do you enjoy most about the industry in its current form?

I think it’s great that you can have such a direct connection with your fans through social media. You can have a great worldwide reach in today’s world. Within seconds of creating something, you can have it out there! That’s great! I guess the flip-side of that is there is so much music out in the world. In the old days, there were certain filters in place. Now, maybe it’s a little harder to get noticed sometimes. There are definitely pros and cons. It’s cool that, these days, you don’t necessarily need a record label and can be self-sufficient. You can get by with the support of your fans whereas, in the old days, if you didn’t have a record deal it would kind of seem like the end of your career. We’ve done self-releasing stuff in the past but we are on a label for the new album, “Islands.” It’s nice having a team behind you as well! It’s so different! It’s such a different world but I think there is room for everything out there!

ASH still have a lot of fuel left in the tank!

What’s the best way for fans to support you?

There are the obvious things like sharing videos and coming to see us live. There are also things like putting our stuff in Spotify playlists and sharing tracks on the streaming platforms. I hear that is really good these days. Buy some vinyl! That would be awesome! [laughs] Any of the above would be great! It’s always changing, that’s the trouble! Nowadays, it’s always evolving!

What’s the biggest lesson we can take away from your journey as an artist?

I guess I can’t see myself having survived any of this without my bandmates. I think, had I been a solo artist, it would have been pretty hard. It’s great when you can rely on and trust in other people. It’s great when you have a few people committed to one thing and what you can achieve. That’s the great thing about being in a band and the reason why we became a three-piece when we started out. We knew we needed a small, tight unit that was fully committed. Also, try to be humble and work hard! [laughs]

Well said! Thanks for your time today, Tim. We couldn’t be more excited for this album and everything else you have in the works! We will spread the word!

Thank you so much, Jason! It was an absolute pleasure chatting with you! Chat soon! Cheers!

For all the latest news and tour dates for ASH, visit the band’s official website at www.ash-official.com. ‘Islands’ will be released on May 18th via Infectious Music/BMG on CD, LP and digitally – Click here to pre-order!

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