Ash Wilson Interview
Ash Wilson? Who? Quite! The man has seemingly come from nowhere, well Lincolnshire to be precise, and has made a huge impact on the UK blues scene.
His album Broken Machine is veritable collection of blues styles from the Hendrix inspired playing on Show Me How To Love You to the blues funk of Broken Machine and a Texas blues shuffle on The Hitcher which has a slight nod to The Doors too. He goes on to capture the blues moment perfectly on Words Of A Woman but to be honest every track on the album delivers the blues in style and it is essentially listening for any blues fan.
His recent performance at The Deaf Institute, opening for Dan Patlansky, was admired by many and certainly won him new fans. We had been trying to schedule an interview ever since the albums release but for various reasons it never happened. A series of shows happen, including one at the Band On The Wall, and we finally got to talk…
With such a talent where on earth did Ash Wilson suddenly spring from?
I've been playing in various different guises for about 15 years, it may look like I have come out of nowhere but I have been in the shadows for ages, I used to play second guitar for a lot of people too. I had been playing in a band with Sean Webster and my time there had run its course and I had had a bee in my bonnet about doing my own thing for some time so I called some friends and went into the studio.
How did you get into the blues?
My parents were music lovers so my brother and I were listening to not just blues, we were brought up on everything from Zeppelin to Genesis to Floyd to Sade so lots of different styles of music. We used to watch VHS tapes of guitarists and I'd see Clapton and Gilmour and think they were really cool but I kind of shot myself in the foot because as a child I had piano lessons and after two years I gave up so my parents weren't keen on buying me guitar because I had previously given up piano. By the time I was 14 they had finally bought me one for my birthday so having listened to Clapton and Gilmour I gravitated towards the blues, and of course started listening to what they had been listening to like Robert Johnson and Freddie King. When I was 14 Kenny Wayne Shepherd was coming through and through him I got into Stevie Ray and Jimmy Vaughan. Whilst I was at college other people were listening to Vai and Satriani I just preferred the blues and trying to get more out of less and develop my understanding of the blues.
You have mentioned some guitar players but who are your songwriting inspirations?
When I was 18 I started playing with Wayne Proctor (King King) and he introduced me to bands who were playing material that was more commercial, had different harmony techniques to the blues. So I moved away from the blues for a while whilst I was playing second guitar and then move back to it when I started listening to Queens of the Stone Age and Gary Clark Jr. and this is why my album has a bit of all of allsorts on it.
How was it working so closely with your brother (Phil Wilson) who plays drums, does technical wizardry and also took your photographs?
Phil spent a lot of time in America when he was younger working with a guy called Robin Davey who was a bass player in The Hoax, and he is very much into this cottage industry thing by doing the recordings in-house, doing the photos and videos themselves, the logic being you just invest the money in the equipment and learn the skills and then there's no outgoings in the future and Phil lived in that kind of environment for couple of years so when he came back he brought all that knowledge and skill with him. We had a project together called Infamous Vampires, which was just a vanity project really, it was us wanting to be in the Queens of the Stone Age. We did a couple of music videos and we recorded an album which really laid the groundwork for this project which originally I was going to do with Phil but then he got off the Lawrence Jones drumming work and it was a really big opportunity for him.
We spent every penny we had getting this album made so when it came to the photos we ended up using a camera I was given as a wedding present. Although Phil didn't engineer the album he did mix it at home.
What’s next for you?
We have these dates coming up and then we have a tour of Germany and also we are currently writing the second album and approaching it in the same way as we did with this album, writing songs we would want to listen to.
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Words: Anthony Firmin | Photos: Phil Wilson