Ashes Fallen… Interview by Tzina Dovve ( DJ Lady Davinia).
Ashes Fallen…A new act emerges on the dark/ goth scene out of the depths of Sacramento California taking the goth world by storm…Ashes Fallen…Newcomers James, Michelle and Jason give an insight on what their band is all about…Ashes Fallen…By Tzina Dovve (Dj Lady Davinia ).
Tzina: Firstly welcome to Absolution… Ashes Fallen are a new band to emerge on the US dark/goth/alternative scene just in 2019. Exactly how did this act come to life and what inspired you to form such a band to begin with? Who are the members of Ashes Fallen?
- James: I’m James Perry, I sing and play guitar in Ashes Fallen. Well, previously, I was working as a solo act, but I really wanted to put a band together to have a fuller representation of the music I was working on. I found out that my old friend Jason Shaw, who had been in several bands with me in the late 90s and early 2000s, had moved closer to where Michelle and I lived, and I asked him if he’d be interested in playing together again, and to my surprise and delight, he was!
- Jason: I’m Jason Shaw, the other guitar player. I was surprised when James got in touch about it. I still played a lot at home but figured the days of playing in a band were over so it’s been great getting to work with him again after all these years.
- Michelle: I’m Michelle Perry. My husband James asked me if I would join the band on keyboard and percussion and backing vocals. I was always at James’ shows helping carry gear anyway so I might as well join in (laughs)! I also create the visuals and videos for the band.
Tzina: What is the story behind the band’s name? Is there some sort of symbolic meaning behind the title ‘Ashes Fallen’? What does it represent to you? Can you elaborate…
- Michelle: I was brainstorming words that described the themes of the music we were doing when the band started. A lot of it had to do with lost love and coming back from hard situations. Like the phoenix rising from the ashes and emerging stronger and more powerful. I initially came up with Fallen Ashes and James flipped it around to Ashes Fallen!
- James: It just had a certain ring to it.
Tzina: Your music is quintessentially dark yet at times quite uplifting with some catchy guitar riffs and choruses. Who is the main songwriter behind these dark creations? How is an Ashes Fallen song born? Where do you derive your inspiration from to write music and what are your main musical influences?
- James: I’m the main songwriter, but everyone in the band contributed to the new album. Sometimes I just have a melody or riff in my head and that develops into a song. Other times the lyrics and what I want to say comes first. Still other times I’m just playing my guitar or keyboard and something just develops out of nowhere. As for influences, my very first inspirations to play music were my mother and father. My mom made me want to play, and my dad was the first to get me interested in songwriting and music technology, and he always had classical music playing in our house whilst I was growing up and I know that’s affected my writing. I think we all love The Cure and The Sisters of Mercy and stuff like that. When Jason and I first started playing music together, we bonded over our shared appreciation for bands like Lycia and The Chameleons and Haujobb. Sure, our music can be both dark and uplifting. As much as we’re serious about our art, we’re also entertainers, and we want to bring people together to have an enjoyable experience listening to our music or coming to shows! As for inspiration? Well, I just write about things that are real to me. I’m also often inspired by film soundtracks.
- Jason: For me it’s mostly like James said, just playing guitar and something develops out of nowhere. It’s hard for me to place any specific influences, it’s more like everything I’ve listened to over decades: goth, metal, classical, shoegaze, industrial…
- Michelle: I wanted to be Alannah Currie of Thompson Twins when I was growing up! She was the coolest thing ever and she’s from New Zealand like me.
Tzina: Your second album ‘A Fleeting Melody Out Of A Fading Dream’ was just released in June this year.. An album that was mastered by the very active on the UK dark/goth scene and not only.. Gordon Young. How did this collaboration come about for the band? How content are you with the outcome of this album?
- James: I mastered our first album, but with this second one, we really wanted to take it a step further, and we felt like we had something good and special enough that we really wanted to do it right. I asked a few trusted friends who they worked with, and my friend Limeygit flat out told me that Gordon was the guy for what we wanted to do. I also knew he’d done great work on Caroline Blind’s latest full-length album, amongst others. Working with him was fantastic. He’s such a good guy, very knowledgeable, easy to work with, and most important of all, he got what we were about and what we were trying to do. I learned so much working with him and I’d recommend him to anyone in the world of gothic rock.
Tzina : What is the concept behind the album ‘A Fleeting Melody Out Of A Fading Dream’? Songs like ‘Stand Your Ground’, ‘We Belong Nowhere’ and ‘All Shall Fall’ just to name a few a very dominant on this album. What feedback has this album received by your fans and music press so far? What makes it different from your debut self-titled release in 2019?
- James: We’ve been so happy with the feedback on our new album… and so grateful about it! We worked very hard on it and I’m so thrilled people are recognizing that we’ve gotten a lot better. I think we’ve evolved and developed a lot from when we started in 2019. When we did our first album, we were a brand new band and hadn’t quite figured out what we were yet, and a lot of the songs were more rock- and metal-oriented. This time out, we took a step back and simplified the rhythm section in particular. I really wanted every part to be heard and to bring in a more consistent groove, keep people moving. We didn’t go into making this album with a concept in mind, but I’d say the main theme of the album is injustice. There are a lot of songs inspired by the current political situation, the pandemic, and just the ugly side of human nature.
Tzina: As I understand you have released a few singles from ‘A Fleeting Melody..’ with your latest ‘Vampira-The Ballad Of Maila’.. A song about the 50s iconic vamp queen that we all love accompanied with an intriguing black and white video. How important are videos to you as a band? Are there any more in the pipeline? What inspired you to write a song about this dark vamp lady in the first place? Can you elaborate…
- Michelle: I came up with the idea to write a song about Maila Nurmi, AKA Vampira because she is an iconic pop culture figure who had a tragic life and career and I felt it was important to tell her story. I admire her originality and her refusal to compromise her creation, even to her detriment! I feel that videos are important as a visual representation of what our songs are about that conveys the feeling of what we’re trying to say and helps tell the story. I’ve always loved film and thought about being a set designer so I love being able to contribute to the band’s art visually. We do have several more videos in the works.
Tzina : Ashes Fallen were quite an active live act during their early days on the Californian scene but unfortunately were disrupted by the pandemic that hit us all last year. Do you plan to return to the stage now that the world is finally re-opening? Are there any shows planned for the near future? Any particular cities that Ashes Fallen would like to visit?
- James: We’d certainly like to get out there again, but things are still pretty uncertain here in California. As of right now (August 2021) we are still hoping to perform at an annual event in our hometown of Sacramento called Vampire Ball, held on Halloween weekend. We’re also looking forward to being part of the Out From The Shadows Festival in Portland, Oregon next March/April. Aside from that? I just can’t wait to get out there and play our new music anywhere we can!
Tzina: During the pandemic your band has participated in a number of livestreams on social media.. Some very dark and extravagant full live sets at that… How do you view these online streams as a band and how does it feel being a part of this new virtual world?
- Jason: Livestreaming has been really interesting and it’s helped introduce us to a lot of new people that are further away. Performing can be a little different without the live audience but there are definite benefits like not being rushed setting up and getting to have much more elaborate stage design.
- James: When the shutdown first happened last year, we found out that a local music festival we were scheduled to perform with was going to try to be one of the first to go online, and we saw this as the opportunity that it was to keep creating and promoting our music. Fortunately we had enough gear and stage lighting, and as you might imagine, Michelle and I have lots of nice spooky décor that made for great stage props, and we managed to quickly figure out how to put on what we believe to be a very solid livestreaming show. It opened a lot of doors for us and we were consistently busy, and we made a lot of new fans, new friends, and new connections both by performing on livestreaming events, and by listening in and actively participating on other livestreamed shows and DJ sets. It’s made the world a lot smaller and that’s a good thing. Plus it’s so cool that people in other parts of the world can watch us perform live in real time, especially Michelle’s friends and family back home in New Zealand!
- Michelle: Livestreaming has given me the opportunity to create set designs that we wouldn’t normally be able to use when performing in live venues due to logistics. There’s no way we could set up and tear down a decked out stage and lighting when we only have 10 minutes between bands to set up and tear down! In September 2020, James and I purchased a 19th century former Episcopal church in a gold mining town in California that we use as our residence and online performance venue.
Tzina: The past year has been an extremely difficult one for all humanity with musicians, artists and the live indusrtry being hit very badly.. Do you think this industry will recover completely from this pandemic and restrictions etc etc.. How much did these lockdowns affect you as creative artists?
- James: We were very lucky in that we were able to figure out how to keep the band going, and we’re not reliant on touring for our income. I really feel for bands who just had to completely stop or for all the musicians, bartenders, support staff, road crews, and everyone who just totally lost their means of making an income through all this. And seeing how the pandemic is still going on and so many events are still being cancelled, I still worry for the long-term viability of nightlife and touring in general. It’s a real uncertain time. I will say, though, that many artists including us found this time very conducive to writing and recording, and between the pandemic, personal losses, and the political situation, we had a lot to say about it all.
Tzina: On a happier note there have been quite a number of bands emerging on the dark/goth/alternative scene around the globe during the past few years.. Both new and older bands re-uniting. Do you believe there is some sort of goth revival happening at the moment? Do you follow the scene? Are there any particular new artists you admire?
- James: Yes, it’s a very exciting time for music, and there are so many great bands old and new delivering quality work. There’s no question there’s a revival happening. There are so many great bands I follow from all over: Ariel Maniki and the Black Halos from Costa Rica, Blood Dance from Mexico, Pilgrims of Yearning, who are Chileans based in the USA, IAMTHESHADOW from Portugal, Black Rose Burning from New York City, The Kentucky Vampires, plus older artists like Caroline Blind are still putting out such good work. I have to give a shout out to some fantastic bands here in California as well: Creux Lies from Sacramento, Esses out of Oakland, and our good friends 13th Sky from Los Angeles. I have to say, though, I’m horribly disappointed that we didn’t get that new album from The Sisters of Mercy that Andrew Eldritch said he would would release if Donald Trump got elected president!
Tzina: What are your ambitions for Ashes Fallen? How would you like to see your band in the future?
- James: I’m just grateful to have this band at all, and to have Michelle and Jason as creative partners! We’d like to keep making music we can be proud of and keep getting it out there for like-minded individuals to enjoy. I hope we get the opportunity to tour more too, not just because I love to play and I’m so proud of my band and want people to see us, but because it’s so fun and anything can happen out on the road!
Tzina: Thank you for your time Ashes Fallen. Anything else you would like to share with your fans? What can they expect from you in the near future?
- James: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to us! I’ve started gathering a few music ideas for our next release, and Michelle and I have been discussing new song ideas.
- Michelle: We’ve got a couple of music videos we’re working on at the moment, and those should be coming out in the next few months. Cheers!
- Jason: We have a lot coming up, videos and new music ideas and hopefully a few live performances. The next few months should be pretty interesting. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us!