When we first heard HMS Ash they enraptured us with the detail and intricacies of their beautiful lo-fi sound.
We caught up with the folks from HMS Ash to talk inspiration, catharsis, and male trauma.
HMS Ash mould a sound that is beautifully intricate, crafting layered yet subtle grooves with spacey chorusey, guitar chords, and interlocking rhythms.
HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
HMS Ash: Hi there, really good thanks! Well we’re finished with our winery work and album launch in Adelaide, so about a month ago we moved to a farm in Victoria. Now, we’re busy with farm work and rehearsal during the days and playing gigs in and around Melbourne at night. It’s been absolutely awesome seeing live gigs at the Eastern in Ballarat.
HAPPY: We’re loving ‘Songs For Sinking’! How does it feel having the album out there in the world?
HMS Ash:It was such a relief to get it out there and get such a positive response. Very cool reception. But when we threw it out, we got so focused on writing new material and refining our performances that we kind of forgot that it’s actually out there for people to listen to. So it was completely surreal when we were at the Eastern, Tarot came on in between sets and it kind of hit us that people listen to our music. It was weird.
HAPPY: The thing that immediately struck us from the album was the lyrical content. Could you walk us through your process of conceptualising these themes, and turning them into songs?
HMS Ash:Thanks for that, we’re really happy with how the lyrics came out. Though, when we first wrote our songs, the instrumentals would always come first. We would try and portray a feeling or tone in our song, then Rory would write lyrics later based on this idea. Then we would workshop these lines into a theme, which, for this album, was all based around trauma and overcoming it. We really like albums where the lyrics just feel unique and create this wonderful atmosphere, like all of Neutral Milk Hotel’s stuff.
HAPPY: Do you find it difficult at all writing/releasing such personal songs? Or do you find some catharsis from it?
HMS ASH: Rory has been doing this for a while, so it doesn’t really faze him, like when it’s written outside of his mind he’s fine with just giving it to the audience. Thomas finds it incredibly difficult, actually. It’s so bad that when we listen to parts of the album around other people he has to ask them to skip certain parts, or leave the room. Though he thinks that discussions about male trauma in particular are too rare and it’s always worthwhile to talk about that. And Axel finds some songs upsetting to play, because of his emotions connected to Part of It and Mr Woolworths, there’s a lot of pressure to play flawlessly to justify the tune.
HAPPY: Could you walk us through how the band came together?
HMS ASH:Before HMS Ash we were all musicians, and met at high school. Rory and Thomas bonded straight away because of their music taste and they started playing together. We met Axel through the jazz programme, so we all had a basic background in jazz music. We started playing under the band name Bad Boy Teenager Club with multiple other members, though the core was always us three. At school, we were always disappointed with the lack of time to practice and play, so as soon as we finished school we started living together and playing.
HAPPY: There are a few different sounds being thrown around your music. Do you feel like specific members bring specific influences to the table?
HMS ASH: Haha, very much so. Axel (our drummer) is really into pop punk and metal. Rory is into bedroom pop and all of the post-DeMarco vibes. While Thomas is into indie-folk. We think this results in more energetic than normal indie-rock with punk-inspired drumming, and the experimental bass lines add a weird feel to it. We really hope this works. We reckon you can hear this best in Grooving in the Goo, which is why it’s our opener.
HAPPY: Are there any specific bands you’re really loving at the moment?
HMS ASH: The local Victorian country scene is actually really cool! We bought an amazing shoegaze-y vinyl from Earache, and our favourite live shows have been Shock Friendly, Scab Baby and Grove. Every night for dinner we sit down and listen to music from the record player and we take it in turns. Rory is normally playing IDLES or Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Axel is playing PVRIS and Thomas is obsessed with the new Cage the Elephant album Social Cues.
HAPPY: What’s next for HMS Ash? Any other exciting plans in the works?
HMS ASH: We’ve got heaps of gigs booked around Victoria and we’re really keen to debut some of the new songs we’ve written! Hopefully we’ll have a new album written by the time we make our way back to Adelaide in a couple of months. Also, slightly longer term, we’re playing at a festival next January called Newstead Live, we’re very excited for that.
HAPPY: Cheers for the chat