INTERVIEW: Rob Ashley
Hi Rob, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
A. Not bad. Enjoying the four days of spring here in CT.
Can you talk to us more about your song “Pleather”?
A. Whenever I get stuck writing, I go out and eavesdrop on conversations, hoping for an interesting nugget. I overheard someone at a restaurant talking about how her parents met when her mother put an ad in the New York Times or something looking for a husband. That’s the first two lines. The rest is left to my imagination to make it more strange.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
A. The story just seemed to be a gateway to something more interesting. I’m sure the woman telling the story is a nice lady with a healthy life, but my interpretation is more interesting.
Any plans to release a video for the track?
A. Hadn’t thought about it until you mentioned it. Maybe. Might be fun.
The single comes off your new album Premiere. Farewell. – why taking so long on release your solo debut record?
A. I was always in someone else’s band. Either I was singing for a band where someone else in the group wrote the music and I contributed lyrics or I was playing backup. There just wasn’t time. After the last project ended, I realized that I finally had time, I had a hat-full of songs that had accrued over time, and I knew some folks who could help with the recording. The rest is history.
How your previous work has influence this new abum or was this an entirely new chapter for you?
A. Both. I started exploring character-driven songs in other projects, but really tried to tap that vein in this. And I could make the stories as strange as necessary without someone telling me they didn’t get it.
What’s the story behind the title?
A. I decided when I started this solo deal that it could go for any length of time. If I want to go another 10 albums,great. If I want to quit tomorrow and join a Nickelback tribute band, that’s fine too. I’m enjoying it so far, so I think I’m in it for the long haul.
How was the recording and writing process?
A. Really fun. I hate the studio. I’m much more of a live musician. Recording strips a lot of the noise that covers mistakes. But I had friends who were great musicians and great at recording, they understood what I was looking to do, and were able to bring it to life. I think of recordings as photographs. That’s what that particular song sounded like on that day. Folks like Keller Glass, Daphne Martin and Eric Lichter did so much to help me get past my fear of the studio. I’m eternally grateful. Plus, Keller works for bourbon, which is nice.
What role does New England play in your music?
A. Native New Englanders seem to look at the world with a critical eye. It can be off-putting, but it also helps not take the first easy road to something.
What emotions did you get to explore on this record?
A. Ennui. No seriously, all the usual stuff covered by folks. Heartbreak, desperation, loss, dependence, etc. But I like seeing how different types of people deal with similar emotions. They’re case studies really.
Any plans to hit the road?
A. I’d like to. The problem is that if I go out solo, I’d need my family to come with me to work as my crew, and they’d be sick of me by the third show. And if I go out with a band, they’ll all quit because of my snoring by the second show. I’m probably more likely to just take short jaunts to places folks like what I’m doing. Give me your address and I’ll show up at your place!
What else is happening next in Rob Ashley’s world?
A. I’m the most boring musician in the world. I’m a homebody, watching baseball, going to see Avengers Infinity War with my son. In fact, the family is going to a Red Sox game and my son is going to shout “play ball” before the game in front of a sold-out Fenway Park. First gig and he’s already booking bigger gigs than his old man.
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