Ashen Reach prove they don't have 'The Fear' when it comes to being different.

Nick Ashton spent some time with Mersey metallers Ashen Reach to talk about their new EP 'The Fear', tours, and playing live.

The first thing ERB wanted to know, given the imminent release of the long-awaited EP The Fear, was when we’re going to see Ashen Reach live again. Paddy jumps straight in, “Yeah we’re putting together a headline tour which is probably going to be April / May time. Nothing is set in stone yet, but we are in the process of getting it done.” When asked about a support tour Joe adds, “We’d love to do a support tour for a bigger band because you reach a wider audience don’t you? So that’s definitely on the agenda but it’s a case of securing those. It’s a lot more competitive when it comes to securing support slots these days”. The obvious question about who they’d like to support in a perfect world had to be asked. Joe was straight in there, “Alive or dead it would have to be Van Halen but realistically it would be bands like Architects, Bring Me [The Horizon] or I Prevail.” Paddy enthusiastically follows up, “Fully agree and I’d add Bad Omens and Spiritbox to that list. They’re all bands that have been around for a while, but post Covid have just sky rocketed.”

“We would like, if the opportunity presents itself, to do some overseas stuff this year too” adds Joe. “You know visas and stuff is another thing but getting the opportunity to play Germany or somewhere like that where there is a strong market for this kind of music. I think given the chance we could make a big impact over there. Europe is somewhere we’ve always wanted to go to. Ireland too, we’d love to play Ireland.” Paddy continues “Yeah Europe is huge on metal. You’ve got Sweden Rocks, Wacken, Rock Am Ring, Hellfire. There’s so much of it out there and they lap it up.” We’ve obviously hit a great topic here as Joe once again takes over “Wacken is THE one for me. Wacken is basically like Bloodstock but huge and Bloodstock isn’t exactly small!”

Given that Ashen Reach are generally playing the more classic rock festivals, is the Bloodstock type of event more of what they are aspiring to? Paddy responds, “We’re a little bit in limbo. As you said, we are very well received, and we’ve got a lot of fans in the sort of classic rock / hard rock space that we’ve established ourselves in but we could arguably be a little heavy for that.” Choosing his words carefully he adds, “Well I wouldn’t say we’re too heavy for that sort of space, but it’s not the same music so may not always be the best fit but we’re lighter than a lot of really heavy bands so we’re sort of like a gap bridger I guess. You can definitely hear our classic rock influences in songs like Tear It Down and Fighting For My Life but I wouldn’t describe the songs as classic rock, probably more hard rock if you want to do the very modern thing of pigeon holing everything into its exact sub-sub-genre. Maybe those influences were shining through a little bit more than we’d like, I mean Joe’s a huge [Iron] Maiden fan but also bands like Van Halen and Dokken. I grew up on Whitesnake. There’s a plethora of bands that we grew up with and loved but it’s all kinda been done. How many times can you do A, D, G and a pentatonic solo. Even lyrically nothing’s really changing. We want to be something different from that, something more than that. There’s a lot of bands out there are doing a sonically similar thing to what we’re doing in terms of heaviness, somewhere between hard rock and metal but it’s trying to be unique and doing everything you can to try and not sound like other people. We have a gauge about how heavy we want to go but it’s always got to be melodic but heavier than hard rock. Let’s be honest, you’re never going to be sonically unique but the stuff that we’re trying to do has not been re-hashed for 40 years, modern metal is still a relatively new thing especially now with all the electronic influences. It was pioneered by the likes of Linkin Park and Korn and the nu-metal bands of the ‘90s but then the likes of I Prevail and Spiritbox have taken it to a whole other level and we want to be more like them than ‘90s metal or Whitesnake.”

At the time of the interview, three songs have been released from the EP, how do the band feel they’ve been received? Joe responds first, “Honestly beyond what we anticipated. We made a conscious effort to be heavier than the previous album because that’s where we wanted our sound to go which was maybe not what people expected of us and as much as the amazing reaction to Homecoming was, we never intended on repeating the formula. Our view is if you can’t better what you did last time don’t bother doing anything, and definitely don’t repeat it, that’s worse than doing nothing! As Paddy said we all listen to a lot of modern stuff, certainly more than the older stuff we used to listen to and there’s a lot of great music out there from new bands. Getting heavier is staying true to us and what we want to do. I think it’s important if you’re in a band to do that, do what you want to do and hopefully people will like it and if they don’t at least you can say that you gave it a shot and did what you wanted to do and it just didn’t land right. Fortunately, the songs have gone down better than even we anticipated. Lost has been out for 12 days now and at the moment is sitting at 34k on YouTube in views which is over 2,000 a day. We couldn’t have expected that. If you don’t like it then it’s not for you and I don’t mean that in an arrogant way, I’d rather you turned round to me and say that you hate it than you think it’s just ok, that’s worse.” Paddy continues, “The response has been amazing so far. I mean Lost is a good example of sort of I guess picking up where we left off almost with the heavier songs on Homecoming like Alive Again and Broken Column it’s got that sprinkle of heaviness in there but I think it’s more mature with the introduction of the orchestral arrangement that the awesome Jess Harvey did for us with very little briefing by the way. It was just like make this sound like Hans Zimmer has touched it and that was pretty much the brief! Yeah, it’s definitely more mature, you can tell that we’ve found our feet. Lost is probably less heavy but one of the songs that isn’t out yet is heavier than anything you’ve heard from us. We’ve told everyone not to expect ‘Homecoming 2.0’ but in a weird way it kinda mirrored it. On Homecoming you’ve got everything from Tear It Down to Alive Again and on this one you’ve got everything from Lost to the unreleased and unrelenting pain but still melodic which is paramount.” Joe adds, “I’m pretty confident that if people like the three they’ve heard so far that won’t have anything to gripe about with the last two songs. Everything still sounds cohesive and that was important to us. It was a big change in direction for us to go the route we’ve gone but it was the route we should’ve taken and the route I’m gad we’ve taken. Overall, everything has been much better received than we thought it would because we do sound like a different band on this one so it’s a big risk. Just how much change are people willing to allow before it’s too much for them, but apparently, it’s not different enough to negatively impact on the reaction which is great”.

Anyone who has listened to the EP will notice that there is a theme that appears to be running through it. Joe explains, “Ghosts was definitely the first song we wrote and it kinda blossomed from there. We thought ‘why don’t we do a whole EP around that kind of thing, around people’s fears’. For example Neophobia is about fear of change and the others it’s hard to talk about them because they’re not out there yet and we want to keep it that way for now. The song Lost that Joe [Stanley] did the brilliant video for, is about being lost at sea and having to come to terms with the fact that you’re not going to make it and making peace with the idea that you’re going to die. The lyrical themes go from accepting death because you’ve got no choice to ‘oh, we’re in a haunted house’! In terms of the incorporation of the new songs into their live sets we’re probably going to play the EP in its entirety if time permits and to balance it out, we’ll likely stick with the heavier songs from Homecoming. That seems to be the most cohesive way of doing it. Even the older heavier songs are nicely melodic enough and they have nice sing song bits so it’s not going to be 45 minutes of ripping your face off and shoving it up your arse! There’s light and shade still but it makes more sense to stick with the heavier songs given the direction the EP has gone”. Paddy agrees wholeheartedly, “Take songs like Tear It Down and Fighting For My Life which were our earliest written songs when we were still finding our feet. When you look back at them and I know there’ll be people that love them but they’re not really in the direction that we want to go so to bring those back would confuse people. The songs are still there so if people want to listen to them, they can, but they’re not really the style of songs we want to play now.

On Ashen Reach’s highlights so far, Joe enthuses, “Oh definitely Steelhouse and main stage Planet Rockstock. The worst part was when I took a leave of absence for personal reasons.” Paddy agrees, “Steelhouse and Planet Rockstock were unreal. KK’s was sick when we had the pyro going in the big room. And worst was when Joe wasn’t there. We played a few gigs without Joe.”

It’s clear the direction that Ashen Reach is taking so look out for a beefed up, heavier version of the band in future shows. Check them out on their upcoming tour the dates of which can be found on their website.




Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping