Ash done making albums, not done making records.

Irish band Ash have been hit makers (not so much in America, but definitely in their corner of the globe) for a long time. Since 1995, in fact, they've had 17 top 40 hits in the UK. So it's not insignificant that today the band announced that Twilight of the Innocents will be their last album.

From here on out, Ash is in the singles business. From ash-official.com:
London, June 12th 2007 – International rock band Ash, have announced bold new plans to cease releasing future albums in the traditional way.

On the eve of what will become their final album, ‘Twilight Of The Innocents’, the band have taken the decision to only release singles in the future.

Known for consistently writing hit singles since the early 90’s (17 top 40 hits, an Ivor Novello award and five Top 10 albums), the band feel it is time to make a stand in the future digital arena by only releasing singles. Periodically, the band will release compilation cd’s featuring the aforementioned singles.

Famously known for their pro-active stance on the internet (the band were the first to cultivate a huge loyal following using their online message board, were the first to use the internet via a fledgling nme.com, to get fans to vote for which tour towns they should play and had the first ever number one single in the download charts), the band feel it is now time to fully embrace the digital future of the music industry.

Owning their own recording studio means that the band will be able to write, record and release their music almost instantly, their fans will then benefit from not having to wait the usual ‘years’ between albums.

At a time when the music industry is in flux and with record sales at an all-time low, marketing music in the traditional sense is becoming increasingly less financially viable. The band hope that by harnessing the power of the internet and by being more creative in the way their singles are marketed, the record company can maximise sales, increase profits and enhance their already impressive 13 year career.

Tim Wheeler from the band:

"The way people listen to music has changed, with the advent of the download the emphasis has reverted to single tracks. It hasn't helped that most people have forgotten how to make a decent album. I'm constantly disappointed with records I buy.
I believe our new album is the pinnacle of everything we've done thus far, and I'm proud that this will be remembered as our last album. The future lies elsewhere and we can have a lot of fun by changing things up. It's like the Wild West at the moment, a time to take chances and try out new ideas.

When you're tied to the album format, you find yourself waiting six months between finishing a record and releasing it. By leaving this behind we can enter a new phase of spontaneity and creativity. We have our own studio in New York, we can record a track and release it the next day if we feel like it, give it to people while it's fresh. We're the first band to do this , but I very much doubt we'll be the last.

We've been one of the best singles bands of the last two decades and we're still younger than a lot of bands on the current scene. I’m excited to push this claim further by dedicating ourselves wholly to the art of the single for the digital age."
Some clarification is in order (still from ash-official.com):
But to avoid confusion, this does not signal the end of physical releases. Things are just gonna be different and we're gonna have a lot of fun with formats and you the fans will get more content a lot quicker... it also does not state anywhere that we're going independant.
I don't know if Ash was really the first to do all those things and they're certainly not the first band to be rethinking the way music is released. But this is a good move for them. Ash has never been a band prone to concept albums; their records have always been collections of songs that stand alone, some songs better than others.

As long as kids in high school are still experimenting with drugs and listening to Pink Floyd records, there will always be bands that aspire to make statements that require an album's length to make. But for bands like Ash that simply write catchy songs, releasing them without the fluff makes a whole lot of sense.


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