2017 marks fifteenth years in the Australian music scene for Melbourne-born Bluesman, Ash Gruwnwald. Spending time writing and recording in the US, Ash returns to the live circuit to showcase his new single ‘Hammer’, in preparation for his new album to be released later in the year.
After selling out tours across America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, Ash has been on a much needed break in Bali for the past few months. I had the chance to chat with Ash about what he’s been up to on his semi-sabbatical and what we can expect from his fourth coming 10th studio album, here’s what he had to say…
“Hammer represents me in a full circle kind of way. I wanted to go back and write songs that sound like they’ve always been around. I had a friend say to me that he thought ‘Hammer’ was a cover. For me, that’s the highest compliment. To make songs that sound completely timeless, which is often what I am trying to achieve. For it to sound like an old blues song that’s always been around. I have spent some time in the US recording with a number of Blues legend’s, one in particular was Terry Evans. He sang on another recording of Hammer- it was mind blowing. It was different from my own stripped back version, I really hope to include Terry’s version on the new album. Terry is an amazing blues musician who has been a big influence on me. My favourite singers are ‘The Blind Boys of Alabama’, but I think Terry is even more soulful- if you can imagine it. ”
‘Hammer’ has been described as you dragging the Blues genre into the 21st century. Taking cues from R.L. Burnside and John Lee Hooker, what were you hoping to portray through the song?
“It’s about certain experiences I have dealt with or been a part of over the last few years. The second verse talks quite specifically about an experience I had whilst present at the Condamine River in Queensland. There was gas bubbling up through the water, I was hopeful that nobody would ‘spark a light’. So in a sense I’m talking about contemporary things, whilst trying to make it sound as old and authentic as possible. I love the soulfulness of the Blues; I feel that my natural singing voice naturally works with that genre. It’s where I feel most at home.”
What is in store for your Adelaide fans when you play at The Fringe Festival March 1st?
“It’s very important for me to make a connection with the audience. I will be bringing a three piece with me to the Adelaide show, but I’ve decided to change things around a bit and add a bit of ‘slow’ to the middle of the set. It’s completely different to playing with accompaniments on stage, the dynamics change even if it’s just one another person. I feel it needs to be just one person on the stage to have that super intimate connection. I did a lot of years as a one man band and there’s just no connection that compares. I just want to get that connection back and being stripped back instrumental wise is much more personal for me.”
Kicking off in Adelaide at the Garden Of Unearthly Delights on March 1st 2017 as part of Adelaide’s Fringe Festival, Ash Grunwald’s ‘Hammer’ launch tour will be playing a total of ten shows across Australia. Head over to Ashgrunwald.com for venue and ticket information.
“Hammer was a clear crowd favourite at the festivals I played at last year. One that people seemed to really latch on to in a live setting and I’m really excited to have a recorded version to open what I think is going to be a really fulfilling year for me musically.”
By Kathryn Yeend.