The Ash frontman reveals why he’s harder than you think he is.
Hello, Tim. Where are you right now? I’m on Lambay Island, a private island just off the coast of Dublin, standing on a hilltop, surrounded by a bunch of wild wallabies. We’re filming a video. I came here last year when I was travelling to a lot of islands while I was writing the new album. It’s good to come back. That’s why the album is called Islands, then. What other ones did you visit? I went to Naoshima and Teshima in Japan, islands where the population is really dwindling and some art foundations have moved in and built these incredible art galleries and it’s bringing people back. I’d heard great things so I really wanted to go there. I also went to Deià, a village in Majorca, Santorini in Greece and here, then to our studio in Manhattan. That’s quite a globe-trotting writing set-up. Did the video budget not stretch to shooting the video in Japan? That’s gonna be the next single! What prompted your exploration of islands? I had a bad break-up and I think I wanted the isolation that comes from travelling overseas to an island. It’s especially great when you go somewhere you can’t even spend any money, it’s really good for clearing your head. I wanted the escape. Where had the worst 4G coverage? Well, the Irish one, if you’re on the far side of the island, you’ve got nothing. I had to climb a big hill just to take this call. If you could buy your own private island anywhere in the world, where would it be? It would be somewhere where you’d get more guaranteed good weather than Ireland. Somewhere like Majorca would be perfect. I’ll take Majorca! Some of Ash’s most enduring songs were written while you were still in school. Are there any lyrics you wish you could’ve stopped your 17- year-old self from writing? Our song Angel Interceptor has a lyric that goes “I miss you”, but it sounds remarkably like “I’m a shoe”. That’s the one that I kind of wish I’d thought about a little bit harder. But we filtered out the really embarrassing stuff. I do remember our producer Owen Morris sending me back to rewrite lyrics at certain points, so there was a cool person there to veto stuff. You do lots of Muay Thai training. How hard are you on a scale of one to 10? I think cos I don’t look hard, I get a bonus point, so probably like a seven. I got into it about five years ago. I’ve travelled to Thailand to train in Bangkok twice since then. I’ve never had a competitive fight but when I’m in New York I train about four or five times a week. It’s addictive. Seven is officially hard. How long did it take you to get used to being punched in the face? It probably took about a year to be able to accept that your sparring partner isn’t actually trying to knock you out. There’s a really big endorphin rush after a session. It’s so satisfying if you ever sweep someone and throw them on the ground. What will you be doing 20 minutes from now? Hiking down a hill and waiting for our drummer to get the next ferry over cos his plane landed late and he missed the earlier boat and it’s dependent on tides when you can get here. He’s been sitting at the airport for about eight hours now. Is it usually him who’s late? It’s normally me. There’s a couple of gigs I’ve almost missed. You should enjoy this then, make sure you rub it in his face. Definitely! Thanks for your time, Tim. Good chatting, cheers, all the best!