Since bursting onto the blues and roots scene in 2002 Melbourne born Ash Grunwald has won numerous awards and a number of hearts with his charismatic and soulful performances. However it’s wrong to simply label Grunwald as a blues and roots artist- his mish mash of musical genres, musical instruments and powerful vocals put him in a class of his own. Jessica Mills spoke to Grunwald direct from America where he was wrapping up his tour with Xavier Rudd before heading home to begin a nation wide tour kicking off this month, which includes a show at Chelsea Heights Hotel on Friday 22 August.

PEARL: Your US tour has just earned you the LA Music Critic Award for Best International Act. How has it been playing across America?
GRUNWALD: It’s been absolutely fantastic, one of the best tours I’ve ever done apart from headlining my album tours in Australia, which is always amazing. Almost every single gig was packed and they were very receptive to my music.

PEARL: What was it like going on tour with your good mate Xavier Rudd?
GRUNWALD: There were antics, there were a lot of antics, what antics can I talk about?  (laughs)We had a lot of fun. We’d go off the beaten track a lot, hire a car and drive up into the mountains- Colorado was really fun, we had a few adventures there.

PEARL: You played in some pretty high profile venues in the US. What was it like performing on the same stage as music icons such as Jimmy Hendrix and Aretha Franklin?
GRUNWALD: Amazing, we played at a lot of places where legends had played before, you know it’s normal for you to set up and play your guitar where Hendrix set up and played his guitar.

PEARL: You’re about to embark on your tour around Australia, what can fans expect from your upcoming show at Chelsea Heights Hotel?
GRUNWALD: I think my music keeps evolving the whole time and I’ll definitely be playing a few new tracks at the shows.  I’ll be playing like I used to play about six or seven years ago, when it was all organic.  It’s all about smashing it out, one man band, sort of dance blues stuff.

PEARL: You collaborated with Scott & Andy from The Living End to create an album last year, how did that come about, and what was it like working with them?
GRUNWALD: I’m really good friends with Scott, we just get on like a house on fire. I was travelling to Melbourne for St Kilda Festival and I invited Scotty on the spare of the moment to come down. He said “why don’t we invite Andy to have a jam?” and I was like really, that’s two thirds of the Living End, would I be allowed? (laughs) and he said “no it’s cool” so we did it. The first time Andy had heard my music was when he was on stage playing with me and it was just amazing so we were like we have to keep doing this.

PEARL: There’s a few cover songs on that album, what’s the creative process like making a new version of another artist’s song?
GRUNWALD: It’s pretty relaxing actually; it’s way harder to write your own song. When I cover a song I really try to take it in a new direction. When we did Crazy that was perfect because we turned it into a rock song and I was doing my blues thing and that was far enough away. The last thing I’d ever want to do was something that sounded similar to the original. I do like to sing the melody similar though because with your music and your voice it’s already going to be different enough. When people mess with it too much and turn it into a complete different song I don’t really enjoy it, I like that you can sing along even if it’s different.

PEARL: You’ve made a lot of music over the past 10 years, where do you get your inspiration?
GRUNWALD: It varies a lot. I always like messing with the genres, I do blend a lot of different sounds. It’s hard to describe my music as just one thing. At the moment I’m in a weird phase of getting away from the technology that I’ve used for a long time, all the electronic sounds and just wanting to go back to playing something raw, rocky, bluesy, powerful and organic. On different albums you give yourself a little statement of what you feel like you want to do, how you think you want to sound, how you think you can do the best music you can do at this point in time, so that’s what I’m feeling like it is at the moment.

PEARL: So you’re currently working on a new album?
GRUNWALD: I’m writing furiously at the moment to come up with something pretty good. I feel a lot of pressure, because I think this next album has to be the best album I’ve ever done. It has to have songs that are really catchy, single worthy and mean something. I’ve been through a lot and I think our society is going in a really weird direction and I’d like to comment on that but not make it really obvious. I want these songs to really tick a hell of a lot of boxes. I might record this next album in US to help to take it to the next level.

For tickets to see Ash at Chelsea Heights on Friday August 22 head to ticketmaster.com.au and for more details visit www.chelseaheights.com.au

JESSICA MILLS

 

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