Friday, April 22, 2011

Hey Hey We're the Ashleys - May 7 - Belmont

I think a measured amount of recklessness is a necessity for wellness, - both mental and physical.

Sweeping, sublime works of beauty and grace certainly have their place, and we all gnosh, now and again, on the guilty pleasures of pristine, sun-soaked patchworks of pretty, poppy, pirouets. But, I feel imbalanced if I go very long without being properly shaken up. Times like those: I go to Detroit duo, the Ashleys - tightly wound rhythms and maelstrom guitars, churned out in rubbery, blues-inflected roars and fuzzed out vocals blurting and howling out monosyllabic taunts. Essentially: the essence of what many perceive as "garage rock..." Whether that's a lingering ghost or a hot-button topic in this town is for another day's debate...

Take a listen:


Tom shrugs. "(It)'s hastily put together, but...the songs are like us."

The Ashleys' singer/guitarist goes on about their debut EP: "It's a good representation of where we are and I think it shows our songwriting capabilities and promise of what's to come."

Their penchant for facetiousness is never far, though, as drummer Steve assures explosions of "pure awesomeness in your face" to describe their live presentation.
Also: ""

"Volume," Tom nods, folloiwng up, "pagaentry...sheer sex."

The Ashleys are the most punctual band I've ever encountered. Not just on-time, they were early. I felt tardy even though I, myself, was one-minute early for our interview--let the record show.

There they were, somewhat rail-framed, dirty-blonde tussled tops with shadows at their young jaw lines, chatting casually together, settled at the rickety cafe table and adding a few pinches' worth of calories to their self-proclaimed-pocket-lint-scrounging daily diets by toasting mugs of coffee and stirring in plenty of their signature sarcasm-spiked charm between sips.

Being cousins, Tom Bahorski and Steve Olshove share resemblances, both in physical appearance and conversational mannerisms. "It's in the eyes," Olshove quips, "and our mirthful smiles...our smirks..." But obviously, their kinship goes deeper than blood and the forthcoming Can't Take It EP is a fine representation of their musical bond. Fine, loud and fast. The EP - recorded at Jim Diamond's Ghetto Recorders - gets a proper unveiling, May 7th at the Belmont.

Between their intermitten spin-offs onto inside-joke jiving tangents, ripe with pop-culture references and warped by various screwball/surrealist reflections, they shared a bit about their band, The Ashleys, and their music...

"We started as a two-piece 'cuz we couldn't find anyone else to play with us," Bahorski said. The pair have been "jamming," working out songs together in basements for almost 10 years now.

They "rocked numerous projects" in said-basement, inviting a revolving cast of defacto third members to join veritable one-night-only recording sessions, documented with audacious band names like The Ledgemen or Working Class Stiff's, stringing together entire album's worth of 2-minute tracks of slamming, slopping, fits forged in the heat of the moment.

"Always us-two and some bass player..." Bahorski shrugged, "like Spinal Tap."

It was about two years ago when Olshove implored his cousin that they should finally get serious and start "a real band" one that plays "real" shows. "I said I was 'in,'" Bahorski recalls his response, "as long as you do all the work, find us a singer and a bassist."

But here we are, today, finding Bahorski as both the lead singer (if somewhat reluctantly) and the bass player (if somewhat indirectly or unnoticeably). If you go to an Ashley's show and close your eyes, you'll think it's a quartet. You also might then get smacked in the face by a venturing-Tom's guitar neck, so don't keep them closed for long... In any case, the four-armed-cousins haul three separate amps with them from stage to stage, facilitating Bahorski's subtly inventive patch work splitting his guitar's sound through multiple amps (thanks to his bemusing octave pedals, bolstered by a digi-tech whammy upgrade).

"That's what it is," Olshove said, "him with a digi-tech whammy, playing bass guitar and whatever else, simultaneously, and then me...going crazy."

"We don't do well with metronomes," Bahroski said, "(Steve)'s got some of the wackiest rhythm. That's the benefit of having just two people, if one of us screws up...then...yes, half the band has screwed up, but we can come back really fast."

"We always seem to recoup," Olshove said.

On their songwriting process-- Bahorski: "(Steve) comes up with a lot of ideas, I don't like them. Then I come up with a lot of ideas...and Steve doens't like them. Then, we end up doing the same songs again."

Olshove: "That's how we end up getting better material, being our own harshest critics. We call the other one out if it sounds like shit."

Bahorski: "Or the other person just starts ignoring the other's song... Usually the best stuff happens when we switch, when Steve writes on guitar and I'm on drums. See, I can tell him what I don't like because he won't get mad...He'll huff and puff. It don't matter. The next time he'll come up with an awesome song and then the next time we'll play that..." So goes the advantage of dealing with family. Family-band-members will often tend to be much more forgiving...

Asked, finally, to surmise their live presentation: "It's like a constant ending," Bahorski said, all too ready to conjure cinematic visuals. Like the Death Star blowing up on-repeat...for each song. "It's one big finale. Some people have the strong opening and then slow it down. This one is just the whole time..."

"It's like Vanishing Point," Olshove says. "It's one big car chase...but then at the end, it blows up finally."

Bahorski: "And then you wanna watch it again."

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