Can you talk to us more about your song “The Drugs That Didn’t Last Forever”?
No matter what else I write or sing, it’s always my favorite. There’s a lot of directions it can go musically when I play it live.
Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?
I was on a train between Amsterdam and Antwerp and there was a couple across the aisle from me that looked completely burned out, like Amsterdam had chewed them up and spit them out. Then I was in Paris on Valentine’s Day, and it was pouring rain and I had a nasty hangover. Over the course of the visit, the stories just combined naturally.
Any plans to release a video for the track?
I may just take my iPhone and shoot something. My son likes doing YouTube videos of mundane stuff, like his video games or when he buys new shoes or something, so maybe I’ll have him do it. He’ll work cheap.
The single comes off your new album Premiere. Farewell – what’s the story behind the title?
Originally, I was going under the impression that I would walk away from the solo thing at any time, but I’m probably sticking with it for the foreseeable future, so the title is a bit facetious.
How was the recording and writing process?
To be honest, I can barely remember it. The folks I worked with did such a great job, but I don’t remember specifics. Sometimes, I’m not a reliable narrator of the process.
What role does New England play in your writing?
It never used to, but while writing the next batch of songs New England, the places and people have come charging forward. There’s a whole side of New England that people who aren’t from here don’t know about. There’s so much character to explore.
How Uncle Tupelo and The Replacements has influence your music?
Farrar, Tweedy and Westerberg are such amazing songwriters. Uncle Tupelo brought the roots music my family listened to in touch with the punk and alternative music I loved. The Replacements were such a perfect band for the time. Everything in rock and roll was so clean and shiny, and here was the band that was falling all over themselves and doing everything wrong. I could relate to them more than I could some hair-metal band. When those guys wrote songs, I believed every word they said.
Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than in your own?
I always just hung around in the background and finished lyrics and melody separate from the rest of the band and then introduce it once they got everything settled. Working on my own takes a lot longer, because I’m concocting the music and the lyrics, so they’re born together like twins. I still tend to hold lyrics off as long as I can.
Where did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Lately, it’s just telling stories, exploring characters, shining a light in a dark place. Those are the most fun songs to write.
Any plans to hit the road?
The first part of this year was just promoting, and I got away from playing out, but I’m starting to ramp the live show back up again. I’ve been playing a lot of solo acoustic shows this summer and I’ll be playing with my band starting in the fall. If anyone out there would like me to visit their town/house/tumble-down shack, they can reach me at my Facebook page (facebook.com/RobertAshleyMusic) or they can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. They can also visit the website robashleymusic.com
What else is happening next in Rob Ashley’s world?
I got a hold of a Hammond B3 organ, so my latest project is trying to wrestle pleasing sounds out of it. I’m at the “making strange noises” part of the learning process. No place to go but up!