Ashes are a hardcore band from Leuven, Belgium, who have been around since 2012. You should already know that though, because they’re coming to South Africa beginning of next year. I was lucky enough to go to Ieperfest earlier this year and got to see them play. They are super good. I guess you’ll just have to wait and see though. Until then, here’s an interview with Stijn, vocalist of Ashes.
Why and how did Ashes start?
It was our bass player Bert that started the band. The general idea was just to make music that he loved. So he quickly found our old drummer Nico, who he knew from school. Bert met Vjee years back at a No Turning Back show. They stayed in touch so he joined on guitar. After the guys tried out with some vocalists, I met met Bert in Leuven and we started talking about music. A few days later we met up a first time and instantly hit it off. In the beginning of 2014 when we were writing No Compromise, we had to part ways with our old drummer, and Jens joined the band.
Where does Ashes draw influence/inspiration from?
Everybody has a say in the band so that means that the influences and inspiration come from a wide variety of things. We all listen to a lot of other types of music. But in general bands like Terror, No Turning Back, Guns Up, 50 Lions etc. have always been a big influence for us musically.
Can you take us through your typical song writing process?
When writing songs it’s mostly Vjee that writes some riffs and ideas at home. We then try out these ideas with drums and bass. We tend to talk and discuss every part of every song. This takes time, but in the end we make sure everybody is on the same page musically. Once we have the general outlines for the songs, I sit together with Vjee. I basically just write lyrics without the music in mind. Together with Vjee we then try to get those lyrics to fit into the music.
Ashes has been playing shows since 2012, and quickly gained momentum. Did you expect to be where you are now, in less than 2 years?
When we started out we didn’t really expect a lot. We basically just wanted to play shows and get our music out. From the moment we started playing shows, we unconsciously started to set goals. First show, first tour, first release; stuff like that. A lot of things we didn’t even dare dreaming in the beginning are things we’ve now achieved.
Ashes will be in South Africa soon. Do you guys have any expectations?
We’ve been playing a lot of shows across Europe the past 2 years so it would be cool just to change the scenery for once, haha.
What European bands should we check out?
Europe is home to a lot of really cool hard working bands. To sum them all up is quit the task, but my personal list would be: Hawser, Risk It, Gone To Waste, Redemption Denied, Light It Up and A Strength Within.
Tell us about your local scene?
I’ve been doing shows in our area for a while now. It has now grown onto a really fun scene, with a lot of people that are good friends with each other. Most of the shows in our scene turn out to be fun for everyone. Bands like playing in our scene as well as people from other parts of the country that come to the shows. Together with my brother and our guitar player we are running Damage Bookings. We know how important it is to have a scene, so we do our best to maintain it.
Best and worst things about being a hardcore band in Europe?
Because of the European Union we don’t have a hard time getting into other European countries. Most countries use the Euro as currency as well, so that makes touring a bit easier I guess. People that book shows take good care of the bands. Hospitality is definitely something we as a band always appreciate. We’ve also made a lot of friends in other bands and scenes across Europe. It feels a lot like one big community from time to time.
Worst thing about bring a European hardcore band is the fact that you’re a European hardcore band, as strange as that might sound. A lot of European hardcore bands are just as good or even better then most American or UK bands, but still they don’t get appreciated as much as they should. Seeing the European support band get 0 response from the crowd and afterwords everyone goes mental the moment the American headliner plays one sloppy note is something I just really can’t comprehend.
When I saw you guys at Ieperfest, one thing that set you apart was the fact that you actually said something meaningful on stage. What message/s do you guys stand for?
I believe that if you stand on a stage, you should take the opportunity to speak your mind! Saying something on stage apart from the usual is not always needed, it depends on the show. I always speak about things that I personally have been in contact with.
I noticed that Stijn was wearing the “No Place for Homophobia…” hood during your Ieperfest set. What is your guys’ opinion on the neo-Nazi scene in Europe? It seems like it’s growing? What can be done about it? Are you guys Antifa supporters?
To be honest, in Belgium we fortunately don’t come in contact with neo-Nazi’s or people that support things like this. I believe that it’s plain common sense that these ideals can’t be part of anything in life. But playing Germany, we do come in contact with a lot of Antifa supporters and have heard stories about what is going on in Germany regarding this matter. I absolutely support a direct approach when it comes to stopping neo-nazi’s and people that follow these beliefs. So we are infact all strong Antifa supporters.
What does the devil look like?
I’m not a religious person, so I personally don’t believe in the devil, but I guess he would be a mix of my high school math teacher and a random techno enthusiast.
Do you have any good saucy (Rob) stories to share?
Haha! We shared the van with that guy for a few days. Not much crazy went down those days but he apparently got “Amsterdamned” when he was in Amsterdam with Conqueror. Let’s just go ahead and say he started the tour being straight edge but didn’t end it straight edge.
What does your lyrical content generally centre around?
I mostly write about personal experience. Most of this is sort of negative, but I always try to have a positive say in it as well.
You guys have already released 4 EP’s. When can we expect a full length?
In between touring we’re already writing a lot of new songs. Full length is definitely the plan. When this album comes out depends on a lot of things, so it’s not easy to pin a date on it. Let’s just say we would like to have it out end of 2015, beginning 2016.
Is Ashes hoping to achieve anything specifically, or are you kind of just taking things as they come?
All 4 of us just really love what we’re doing right now. We’re really happy with everything we have achieved so far. We’re just gonna keep on making music and playing shows as much as we can. We all love touring a lot. So being able to tour more parts of the world is something we would love to achieve.
Anything else to add?
Fuck crowdkill and support your local bands/scene!
Categories: Interviews, Music