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Interview: Wishbone Ash

By Editor
August 10, 2008

wishbone1After 37 years in the music business Wishbone Ash are still one of the hottest live acts to grace any stage. Blistering live performances, packed venues and guitar harmonies, to die for are just some of the attributes awarded to one of the most influential bands of our time.  A new tour on the horizon and another chapter from the immense talent to emerge from Torquay.  From supporting The Who in their hay day to Bruce Springsteen opening shows for them in the USA, I had the honour of catching up with Andy Powell to find out what makes this musical atom bomb tick, Andy has been busy organising Ash Fest in Florida for 2008 which is a far cry from supporting The Who in Torquay Town Hall many many moons ago

In your long and illustrious career how do you find the music industry these days? Would Wishbone have succeeded back in your hayday if you were relying on downloads from the internet like itunes, tunetribe etc.

The music business has really changed in recent years. I believe we would have succeeded since we would have been in tune with these changes. Talent wins out but more importantly we would have been working the newer areas that young bands today are and don’t forget, we were a band of the people. Always were and still are.

Because of piracy and downloads it has become very easy to get any artists work and back catalogue. Do you think that bands will look to tour more heavily in the future as with downloads wouldn’t it be worth as a band working to get the £25 concert ticket or the 79p per track download?

Good question.  We are being squeezed at both ends because the huge rise in the costs of touring are making it more and more difficult at the lower end of the market which is where all the action and competition is. Plus, I have not seen any appreciable rise in income from downloads for our band working in this area. Touring and playing live is what a band is always about so I would hope that hotel costs and fuel prices don’t rise any higher but the feeling is that they will.

What do you think of acts like Coldplay, Prince, The Charlatans etc who have done just that, giving their music away in National papers and free downloads and hoping for the sell out tours.

It puts all the focus on tours but the situation will always be great for these acts since they can afford to play the market any way they like. In fact, they are the market. The newer acts on the other hand are then forced into these terrible so called 360 degree contracts where a live nation or whatever gets to own these people and every single thing they do; merchandise, downloads, touring – the whole nine yards.  This in my view is a step back for these upcoming acts. It’s like the 1950′s all over again – those terrible tin pan alley days.

At your forthcoming gig at Exeter you are playing with the highly acclaimed band The Hamsters – Is this the first time that you have played with them?

It is. I’ve heard all sorts of great reports and it should be a value for money show for the people, especially if you like guitar playing.

Do you plan on doing any more dates down in South Devon? A lot of people have asked over the years when you are going to play in Torquay which played such an important part in your career.

We will tour again in the spring of 2009 and there is a good chance we’ll play Torquay since it’ll be our 40th anniversary tour and as you say Torquay figures high in the Ash story, it being where the idea to move to London and try to make it first occurred to original members, Martin Turner and Steve Upton.  A lot of people believe that Wishbone Ash was formed in Devon but it actually was formed in London. The precursor to Wishbone Ash was from Devon and that was called Tanglewood which featured Martin Turner’s brother Glen on guitar and certainly was not a twin guitar band, which became the sound that Wishbone Ash is known for.

I see that you are running the Ashfest convention this year in Florida 4th -7th September. Would you ever consider doing a convention in the South Devon Area.

Why not? It’s beautiful down there in Devon and I’m sure we could find a great location. I’ll pass your suggestion on to the powers that be!

How about a message to all the younger Wishbone fans who are looking to catch you guys in concert. What would be a good album to get the essential feel of Wishbone – Recommend a Wishbone Ash starter pack?

”Live Dates’ or ‘Argus’  from the seventies but also, we’ve just done two compilations of the last ten years work; ‘Tough’ and ‘Tender’ which shows the rockier and then the dreamier side of the band’s sound. Our website is very deep and packed with info about the band’s recorded history too.

If you are in a band or if you just love music here is your chance to see one of the great true pioneers of great British Rock live at Exeter Phoenix Centre with one of the most hard working bands in the country The Hamsters.

To buy tickets for the 10th October at Exeter Phoenix Theatre, Exeter call 01392 667 080

Wishbone are also playing on the 11th October at the Hall for Cornwall Truro 01872 262 466

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