I head the pleasure of speaking with Asia Woodward (vocals) and Aaron Wood (guitars) of ASHLAND recently. They just self-released their debut full-length Wildfire in March and it is a near-perfect slice of rock/pop that has been in steady rotation here at A&GS HQ. They’re both sweet kids (I’m 44. EVERYONE’S a kid to me!) and we had a lovely chat about music, life, and what went into making this record. Check it:
Amps: As soon as I heard “Lights Out” I was definitely a fan of the band.
Asia: Oh cool, that’s one of my favorite songs. So is “No Trouble.”
Amps: You read my mind. What about you, Aaron? Any favorites?
Aaron: “Lights Out” for sure. I also like “For You” and “Got Love.”
Amps: For the uninitiated out there, how did the band come together?
Asia: Craigslist. I was looking for a band, they were looking for a singer and we ended up having mutual friends through the music scene and it just worked out.
Amps: On the record is it just you two, or are there other musicians?
Aaron: I play all the guitars there, and our producer Matthew Amelung played bass on it. Derrick Huskey from the band FIVEFOLD played drums on the record.
Amps: Which brings up my next question, who’s gonna be playing with you live?
Aaron: We have two live guys that we’re trying to wrangle into the band full-time. Their names are Zakk Burke and Brendan Summers and they play drums and bass for us respectively. They’re great guys and really great musicians. They’ve helped us out a lot.
Amps: From inception to finish how long did you spend writing and recording Wildfire?
Asia: About a year. Some of the songs we started writing earlier, but the solid writing started around January of 2016.
Aaron: I can’t remember exactly when we started writing, but yeah, a year sounds about right.
Amps: How often are you writing? All the time or just when inspiration strikes?
Asia: I write EVERY single day.
Aaron: Yeah, we write a lot. We have a bunch of songs, which means we always end up with about 40 really bad ones (laughs).
Asia: That’s HIS opinion (laughs)!
Aaron: She sends me stuff that sounds like Hannah Montana sometimes, but I send her some really bad stuff, too. I’ve written some terrible songs.
Amps: What are you both listening to either in the car or at home?
Asia: I honestly listen to everything. It just depends on what I’m feeling that day. Sometimes I listen to country, sometimes top hits on the radio, sometimes BRING ME THE HORIZON, it just depends on mood.
Aaron: I’m kinda the same way. I like Katy Perry a lot, she’s probably my favorite. I like 90’s country quite a bit. I like very, very old country as well. And sometimes I go obnoxiously heavy like THY ART IS MURDER.
Amps: Away from music what do you like to do?
Asia: I have an online store called Hellcat. I sell vintage and edgy alternative clothes and shoes. I’m also an artist. I paint and draw in my spare time. My favorite artist is Mab Graves. She’s unbelievable, she’s my muse for everything!
Aaron: I’m kind of a redneck. I like to shoot things and I like to build motorcycles and work on old Fords. My gun of choice is my Colt 1911.
Asia: His house has an uncomfortable number of weapons. Believe me, you do NOT wanna mess with his family (laughs)!
Amps: What would you hope the listener takes away from Wildfire?
Aaron: I never have any idea what to say here. I do think this record is super-diverse and I hope it makes someone feel good when they listen to it.
Asia: I really hope this record really showcases what we can do. A lot of these songs were written during bad times, and the message is that you can get through them. We don’t stick to hard rock, we don’t stick to soft acoustic. We have a wide range in our music styles. Actually at some point when I’m older I’d like to make a country record.
Amps: Just don’t go the Miranda Lambert route and turn all bro-country. Yeeesh!
Asia: I know! I was soooo upset when she did that.
Amps: You and me both. What are your plans for taking this show on the road?
Aaron: We’re going on one run from Late April into May. And I do believe we’ll be on the east coast in June or July. We’re juggling between two tours there.
Amps: What do you want to say to all the ASHLAND fans out there in the world?
Asia: Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over! I never even imagined we’d be where we are right now, and I can’t wait to see where we’re all gonna go in the future. And we love y’all!
It’s always great to sit down with a young band that has a fire in their belly, but a real down-home, humble attitude. And that’s really what ASHLAND is: feel-good music that stays true to its roots. No pretenses, no bullshit, just a couple of nice people in Asia and Aaron who want to touch people through their songs. I am firmly on board the ASHLAND train, and I hope this interview inspires you to join us.