Wednesday, March 14, 2012

From Ashes Rise interview with: Guitarist/Vocalist, Brad Boatright. March. 2010.



Vista: Could you give us the current line-up and who does what? Also, a brief history of the band?

Brad: From Ashes Rise is, Dave Atchison on drums. Derek Willman on bass, and John Wilkerson and myself on vocal and guitar duties. We started in early 1997, in Nashville TN. We started as a five-piece and during the first year, the line-up was tweaked a bit. We recorded the "Fragments of a Fallen Sky" EP in 1997, then lost our original bass player. Our good friend Billy joined on bass after that and we recorded the "Life and Death" EP. Ryan Teetzen then took over on bass after Billy moved to Portland. With this line-up, we recorded the first two lp's, "Concrete and Steel" and "Silence". Ryan left the band a couple of years later and Billy rejoined. We then recorded a split LP with Victims, in 2002 and the "Nightmares" LP in 2003. In 2004 Derek joined on bass and is still in the band. Assuming you're photocopying this zine, I'd like to keep your price down, so I won't waste pages by listing all the touring we've done.

Vista: I know that you guys recently played a reunion show. How did that come about and where was it? Also, why did From Ashes Rise break up five years ago?

Brad: Honestly, the reunion show came about from all of us just missing playing together. Dave had been really active over the past few years, touring and recording with Smoke On Fire, and when he quit that band, he had plenty of time in town. We all got together for drinks one night and talked about it, then we booked a show, so we were obligated. It happened at Satyricon, in downtown Portland and was probably one of the more memorable shows we've played. I really couldn't give a solid reason as to why we broke up to tell you the truth. We were touring a lot and tensions were just high. Everyone felt cramped and pressured, and we just imploded. I never felt like it was final though.

Vista: After the band broke up in 2005, what other bands did you guys join?

Brad: Derek and John played in Coldbringer. John joined, Welcome Home Walker. Derek was pretty active playing bass in, Estranged and Hellshock. Dave, as mentioned earlier, was in Smoke Or Fire, and I was in Warcry, which I left in 2007. More recently, Derek and I started Lebanon with a couple of friends, and we are still playing.

Vista: I know that you guys were originally from Nashville, Tennessee but then relocated to Portland, Oregon. What year did that happen and why the move?

Brad: We all moved out in 2001, early 2002. It happened after Billy rejoined the band, and we just couldn't do the 3,000 mile commute. We had all spent our lives in the South at that point, so we were ready to try something new. Portland has been sort of a mecca for this kind of thing, so I guess we joined the pilgrimage of the early 2000's that brought so many people out here.  

Vista: I always wanted to ask, how did From Ashes Rise decide on Jade Tree Records? It seems like an odd fit for a band with your style. Is that a common misconception? What are your thoughts on them, as a label?

Brad: I think it seems like an odd pairing, but that label is so diverse. That could be said about any band on the label. I was a huge fan of the Damnation A.D. LP when it came out on Jade Tree, and they were jammed a lot when we were first starting out, so it wasn't that odd for us. I have nothing but respect for the guys that run that label though, and I have loved working with them. I'd like to consider any controversy from us signing to Jade Tree behind us these days. We're into this relationship with them and will continue working with them. As a label, they're great, and its been awesome getting this new Live LP out.

Vista: Tell us about the Live album you have coming out and some details about it?

Brad: It's a live set from Los Angeles in 2005. This was our final West Coast tour, and we had played so much together at this point we were at a spot where I feel the band was at its tightest and most intense point live. Adam Lindsey-Smith of Last Song Recording tracked it and did a great job...The sounds are great and the energy is there. He spent me a copy of it a few years ago, and I dug it out of a box to give a listen and realized we could probably do something with it. I contacted Jade Tree to let them know about the Portland show and we started to work out the details of the record. A few months later and Live Hell is now out on a limited vinyl run, and available digitally as well.

Vista: I always wondered, who did the artwork for the "Nightmares" album? From your perspective, where there any themes to that album?

Brad: Billy found the cover image and we all put it together. Our good friend Lydia Crumbley did the insert artwork. From a lyrical perspective, that record was done at a point where we detached a bit from being blatantly political and decided to present our observations in such a way that they would compliment the music. It was also written and recorded during the early part of the second war in Iraq, which really gave us fuel. The song, "Hell In The Darkness" is named after a line heard from a newscaster during the first few weeks of the war. We take on quite a few targets on that album, but John and I tried to keep our words open to interpretation. A good friend described the lyrics as being sort of an outsider's perspective on this world - on the horrors and injustice, and ultimately, the nightmares of planet earth. There's a lot of beauty in the world, but it never motivated me musically like the darkness that we see from day to day. Music is my escape. 

Vista: From Ashes Rise began in the mid 90's and all you guys have been in many other bands as well through the years. As far as the punk/hardcore scene goes, what are some main differences? Better, worse, or same shit different decade type of thing going on?

Brad: Well, it's definitely changed substantially with the rise of digital communication. In the 90's, when our van broke down we'd walk to a pay phone or hitch hike. Now we have cell phones. Booking a tour was land lines, pen and paper and stamps -  with a copy of "Book Your Own Fuckin' Life" to help with the in-between places. There were no MP3's or Ipods in the van. It was a shoebox full of mix-tapes. If someone wanted to talk shit on a band, they had to filter it by writing a letter, stuffing an envelope, stamping it and sending it to their zine of choice - same with record reviews. These days the message boards and blogs have eliminated the effort that discouraged so much of that, so gossip is facilitated with an ease that has never before been matched. The scene though, honestly hasn't changed as much as the mechanisms behind it. Musically it will always transform but kids will still go to shows, and will still need music. If anything, a lot of music has been made more accessible with the digital age. I'm not and will never be one of the "back in the day types" though, even if it sounds that way.

Vista: Looking back to when From Ashes Rise started, what were your goals as a band, if any? Also, what have been some of the bands biggest accomplishments, as well as biggest disappointments?

Brad: We just wanted to play the music that we were hearing in our heads, to transpose the cacophony that was rattling around in there. We wanted to tour and record, and we did that. We got to tour Europe a couple of times, see the States enough to know our way around most major cities, and record with some of the most talented engineers I've ever met. We had our share of disappointments, but they were typically situations out of our control...Vans breaking down, missed shows, etc.. It's been a good run though.

Vista: What bands influenced From Ashes Rise?

Brad: When we first started out, it was a lot of: Neurosis, Black Sabbath, Bolt Thrower, Discharge, Slayer, Metallica, Rudimentary Peni, Carcass, Amebix, Bastard, Extreme Noise Terror...Fuck, I could go on and on. I'm just listing shit that I remember jamming back them - all of which we still rock now.

Vista: What was your first introduction to the punk/hardcore scene? What year was that?

Brad: 1990...I picked up a copy of "Assault With Intent To Free", which was a zine my friend Newt did in North Mississippi. Newt moved to Minneapolis, and wrote for "Profane Existence". Those two zines turned me onto some great shit.

Vista: As a guitar players go, who turned you onto the idea of wanting to play? 

Brad: Guitar-wise, I started out buying guitar magazines and getting into guys like: James Hatfield and Kirk Hammett, and really geeking out on gear. It's really generic for me though...Metallica, Jimmy Page, Angus Young...I just really wanted to make the sounds those guys were making. 

Vista: As a young kid growing up, what type of music were you into? Also, what was the very first concert/show you ever went to?

Brad: I was always into classic rock and metal. I grew up in a place where shows were scarce, so I think the first punk show I ever went to was, MDC, Cop Out, and Man With Gun Lives Here, at the Antenna Club in Memphis. It was about an hour from where I lived.

Vista: I always like to ask this question, just because I love to hear what people's opinions are. What are your top 5 bands/albums of all-time? Punk, disco, rap, metal, hardcore...It doesn't matter, just your top 5 ever?

Brad: That's difficult! Off the top of my head, I'd say:
Black Sabbath/Sabotage.
Discharge/Hear Nothing, See Nothing Say Nothing.
Metallica/Ride The Lightning.
Neurosis/Souls At Zero.
AC/DC/Let There Be Rock.
Black Flag/Damaged.
I know...That's six. I'm definitely missing something.

Vista: What are some of your interests and hobbies, outside of the band stuff?

Brad: Motorcycles, definitely. John, Derek and I ride. Portland is a great place to be on two wheels. It's an easy town to leave and get into the countryside. There are some amazing sights to be seen here, and some awesome areas. I'm a huge collector of music gear - mainly guitars and amps. I got married in October of 2008 as well, so my wife Terri gives me a lot of happiness, as well as our cat and two dogs. We stay pretty active here during the summers especially - camping, kayaking, exploring Oregon.

Vista: Another question I always like to ask, what is one guilty pleasure musically that you enjoy listening to? A  band that might surprise people?

Brad: Meatloaf.

Vista: What were the last five bands you've put onto your Ipod, or, do you not own an Ipod due to the fact that they are soul-less pieces of crap? Thoughts? I ask this and always get varied answers on this topic. Some people think they are the best thing ever and some feel they are total crap! I waver back & forth on this issue!

Brad: Slayer/Show No Mercy.
          Celtic Frost/To Mega Therion.
          Quicksand/Slip.
          Fields Of The Nefilim/ Downrazor.
          New Model Army/The Ghost Of Cain.
While I do think Ipods lack a certain soul, I'll admit, I love carrying my record collection around with me! I miss putting the needle to vinyl, and actually prefer it. My ears are pretty sensitive to the difference between analog and digital, but for the sake of convenience, I deal with it. I waver on the issue as well.

Vista: What are some plans for the band? Any new material coming out? Also, will you guys be playing any shows and/or touring?

Brad: There won't be any touring, but we do have a couple of shows lined up. We are playing Maryland Death Fest, May 30th, and Punk Illegal in Sweden, on June 13th. After that we may try to write and hopefully record an EP.

Vista: Speaking of playing shows and touring. Are you guys able to be on the road for extended amounts of time and at least be able to pay bills or break-even?

Brad: I can't answer that since its been so long, but back when we were touring all the time, we could pay bills and break-even for the most part, or even come home with enough cash to float until finding a way to pay bills. It would help to either put your shit in storage or find someone to sublet your room to. Ultimately though it's pay to play, but it's a labor of love.

Vista: That's all the questions that I got for you. Thanks for your time! Is there anything else you'd like to say? What's the best way to get in touch with you and From Ashes Rise?

Brad: Thanks for the interview! It's good to be back. We can be contacted through Myspace. My personal email is....
bradboatright@gmail.com
We love correspondence!

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