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Interview: Josh Charles of ASHRR on debut EP and synth-rock

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Out of the City of Angels comes a new alternative synth-rock music collective, ASHRR. But while ASHRR may be new to the music scene, its musicians are not. Steven Davis (vocals), Ethan Allen (instruments/programming/vocals) and Josh Charles (instruments/programming/vocals) have built an impressive and eclectic musical repertoire. Last Friday, the trio released their debut self-titled EP. With just six tracks, ASHRR creates a vibrant yet atmospheric musical landscape combining the best of synthpop and alternative rock. We talked to Josh Charles about the EP and synth rock.

1)    You released your debut EP last Friday. What’s the reaction been like so far?

It’s been great considering we just launched our EP last week… so many people who came to our show at the Moroccan Lounge were super kind and you could see them singing along to songs they hardly knew but learned right there in the moment.. we must be doing something right!

2)    Which song took the shortest amount of time from inception to completion? Which took the longest?

“Sometimes” was a riff I had in mind and I knew we wanted to have a certain kind of feel … Ethan and I came back from lunch and started jamming. The track came together very fast and then I started singing nonsense lyrics that turned out to not be so nonsense.. haha..  “Waiting for Silence” went through a lot of lyrical changes in the chorus and verses and the track took the majority of a year to figure out but I’m so glad we did!

3)    You guys come from a wide variety of musical backgrounds. What made you all want to create music together?

We want to make great music for the sake of making great music. that’s the impetus behind ASHRR.  We have our own timeline and don’t have to answer to anyone. We share a great friendship that has developed from working together. It’s really amazing!

4)    Did you have to work to find a sound you all connected with or did that happen naturally?

 Ethan and I share similar influences in that post-punk new wave synth rock period of the late 70’s and early 80’s.  Steven’s voice has a timeless quality to it that works with these kinds of textures and colors. We found our way as we started writing songs. It came together very naturally and fast.

5)    Your sound has drawn comparisons to artists like Depeche Mode, Echo & the Bunnymen and Nine Inch Nails. Were these influences you had in mind while working on the EP?

We have those influences for sure but we didn’t try to copy anyone. We love analog synths, drum machines, dissonant guitars and the energy of synth rock that stemmed from Punk but we weren’t listening to anything other than our own inner muses to create this music.  I’m happy to be in good company with those artists that we love.

6)    Dark synth-pop has eluded the mainstream in recent years. Why do you think that is?

Is that true?  I just saw Depeche Mode and NIN and they killed it. I think mainstream radio goes through phases of what’s popular and everything cycles around again. The craft required to make this kind of music is intense and time-consuming. We hold ourselves in the highest of company and strive for greatness. There are echoes of synth pop around but I think we’re more of an art alternative synth rock band. You have to see us live!

7)    Any plans for 2019 you can share with us?

Working on the live show and finishing up the debut album are the biggest things we have to do right now. Thanks so much

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