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The following interview took place on October 18th 1994 and was actually Ash’s first ever UK interview. It was also our first interview and made us realise that getting bands to fill out questionnaires was not the best interview technique since you have absolutely nothing to do while they do the writing bit.

* * *

Ash press photo

In case you’re unaware of Downpatrick’s finest band, Ash are a teenage trio playing thrashy indie guitar tunes with pop sensibilities and lyrics which are far more serious and thought-provoking than you might expect from their outward appearances. They make me (a mere 20) feel old and pathetically actionless. They’re also good for jumping around your bedroom to on Saturday afternoons.

My experiences of Ash have been very inactive – I received copies of Petrol and Uncle Pat via my kind friend Stephen Keown, also a Downpatrick resident and also best friend to Ash’s ex-manager (now chief letter opener) Bill McCabe. We found ourselves on the guestlist for the forthcoming Elastica/Ash/Shriek show in Glasgow and was convinced to phone up and get myself an interview.

October 18 duly arrived and I skived off Life Drawing (incurring great wrath upon my return) to bus to Glasgow. Our Glasgow-habiting friend Kim led the way to The Garage and we climbed the glittering stairs to reception where we were greeted by a, “You’re here for Elastic tickets, aren’t you?” in a ‘they’re all sold-out’ voice.
“No, we’re here to interview Ash”, I replied, a sentence which sounded very unconvincing. He looked suitable dubious, took my name and disappeared, only to return few seconds later to point the way backstage.

Whatever preposterous visions I had believed about dressing rooms were shattered upon entering a room full of coat-hangers, along with a guillotine (of the paper-cutting variety) and a selection of tables and chairs upon which we found Ash.. They were very friendly and filled in our ‘amusing’ questionnaires with gleeful enjoyment while we sat around, everything being out of our hands, watching the actions of Tim as he wrote in the answers.

Here then, is that interview in full. For reasons known only to himself, Mark tried to impersonate stand in drummer James (real drummer Rick having turned into a pumpkin, or something) but we saw through his boyish larks in seconds.

Ash by Nicolette Smith

Are you homesick?
TIM: Yes, a bit

Who was the first person to ask for your autograph?
T: My cousin I think
M: Hulk Hogan

First band you went to see?
T: Bon Jovi, 6th January 1990, King’s Hall Belfast
M: Us!

Do you feel seventeen when you play guitar?
T: Yeah I think so
M: Yes cause I am

Are you on a mission to make everyone feel old?
T: No. I want to make everyone feel young.
M: Yes

What was ‘A Message From Oscar Wilde and Patrick the Brewer’ all about then?
T: I have some friends in Holland called Oscar and Patrick and they sent me over a tape of them talking and we took a bit from it and put it on the single. There’s another message on the album.

Do you like Oscar Wilde?
T: Of course I like him, he’s my mate.
M: Yes

Who’s Jack?
T: ‘Jack Names The Planets’ is the title of a chapter in a book called The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub. I stole the title ‘cos I thought it sounded good.

Do you like S*M*A*S*H?
T: Yeah
M: I don’t – no.

Do you like Smash?
T: No, well it’s o.k.
M: Yes

Are you annoyed that your name rhymes with S*M*A*S*H?
T: No, it’s cool
M: No

What’s your favourite…
…Ash song
T: Hulk Hogan Bubble Bath – one of the B-sides on the Uncle Pat single – we recorded it with David Gedge of The Wedding Present.
M: Intense Thing

…album at the moment
T: Doggy Style by Snoop Doggy Dogg
M: Goo – Sonic Youth

T: Don’t know
M: Anything Star Wars

T: Dog or Cat or Mark
M: My cat

T: The co ugh medicine mum used to give me when I was wee. I can’t remember its name.
M: Cannabis

T: None
M: Morphine

…colour of Smarties
T: Nasty Green
M: No Preference

…mathematical formula


T: o.k.

…cartoon character
T: None
M: Rugrats and Cap. Caveman

…Elastica song
T: All of them
M: Stutter
Three reasons why Elastica are ace
T: Donna’s in them. Justin’s in them. They sound cool
M: Justine’s great in bed, Donna and Annie together are outrageous but Justin is fucking unbelievable.

Would you rather snog Justine or Donna?
T: Donna
M: Both at once!

What’s Justine’s home phone number?
T: Don’t know, Don’t care.
M: Only for me to know!

Do you believe in time travel?
T: Yes
M: Yes, that is who they are

Do you dream in colour?
T: Yes
M: No I dream by smell

Can you cook?
T: Sort of
M: No

What never fails to cheer you up?
T: Doing crazy fanzine interviews.
M: Northern Exposure

Do you have any irrational fears?
T: Fear of being controlled.
M: Fish

What television adverts really irk you?
T: I don’t watch TV much so I can’t really think of any which really do my head in.
M: All of them

Do you fall out of bed often?
T: I don’t think so – if I do it’s in my sleep and I get back in bed straight after.
M: No, I can’t.

What colour are your bin bags?
T: It varies between black and white.
M: Black, I can’t get gold.

Are you a coffee or a tea man?
T: Tea
M: Neither, just water.

What do you argue about with your mother?
T: Why she can’t do backing vocals in our band.
M: Everything possible.

How upset were you when New Kids On The Block split up?
T: I didn’t know they’d split up but it’s ruined my day now.
M: Devastated

Do you like any bizarre food combinations?
T: Yeah
M: No, I’m totally boring.

Are your school dinners tasty?
T: They’re o.k.
M: No

Where oh where has my little dog gone?
T: He’s on our tour van.
M: I’ve kidnapped, raped, eaten and buried it!

* * *

After the interview we got ourselves into a spot of trouble when Justine Frischmann of headline band Elastica mistook us for journalists from scottish magazine SunZoomSpark and insisted we interview her. The incident was written up amusingly, if a little inaccurately, by the real writers in the next issue:

Poor Justine Frischmann is a little upset. Not unbearably grief stricken you understand – just quietly maudlin. The reason?… Justine has just left the company of a couple of young female fanzine writers who have spent the afternoon probing the sexual preferences of Belfast whippersnappers and tour support, Ash. Not expecting to be granted an audience with “the coolest band in pop”, the girls hadn’t prepared any questions for her. But not wishing to waste this chance meeting, they casually inform Justine that, having cornered the Ash boys into specifying which member of Elastica they would most like to snog, she finished a poor second to Donna who received a resounding “thumbs up” all round….. Three-Nil to Ms Mathews. No contest, game over.

We remained on friendly terms with Ash and SunZoomSpark. Tim even recognised the following year at T in the Park before they went on to become super-famous and lost most of their sparky teenage charm. SunZoomSpark asked us to write some stuff for them and later went on to form the mentalist Dawn of the Replicants then Pluto Monkey and now hang around the diskant forums. The world’s smaller than you think.

Interview questions also by Nicolette Smith
Ash website