Interview: No Hot Ashes

No Hot Ashes are continuing their UK tour in Leeds’ Oporto; we caught up with them in the city with “shit one way systems” to talk about pointy shoe wearers, the new album, and Eamon’s dead cat.

How did the Extra Terrestrial concept come about?
“It wasn’t originally called Extra Terrestrial, was it? It was originally called ET Chi-Chi, referencing –  right you know Drake’s got Kiki? Do you love me, are ya – that one. I’ve got a cat called Chi-Chi, or I had a cat called Chi-Chi, so it was going to be called ET Chi-Chi. That was literally the concept. I was like how do I write a song about my dead cat. And then I didn’t really write a song about my dead cat; I wrote a song about my failing relationship instead.”  

“Our space theme originally came from Cool Cat didn’t it, like ‘hardship starship‘ …”

“I think generally we wanted to keep the theme of the album quite spacey. A lot of people think that with the space thing we’re into Star Wars and stuff but it wasn’t that, it’s more like a metaphor – like, getting out of the bubble, of Stockport, the daily grind. Stockport life, Northern life. It was more about that – getting out of this rut that we’re in. 

Which was the most difficult song to finish?
“CAR.”

“Yeah, CAR, definitely. It’s probably the song we hung onto the longest – usually if we can’t write a song we give up on it, but that song was so hooky that we decided we just had to write it.”

“We left it for a month or two, didn’t we, and then came back to it. We moved it to every position on the fretboard – every single note, we went through every key, and none of it worked.”

“Once we got it right it was just so fun to play; that’s why we kept it for so long because we just couldn’t let it go. Just kept crawling back, didn’t it.”

Do you ever feel like you’re struggling to top your old music or do you prefer your new material?
“We all prefer the new stuff. I think there’s elements of that old stuff that I really enjoy still, and I miss being as funky in a way; I miss that element on stage, but I also just think these songs are much better. I’ve never been proud of any of the old tunes, and I am actually proud of at least five songs on the album.”

How much do you care about your image as a band?
“We’ve never really tried to give too much of a shit, have we. I think that’s something that we saw a lot of bands get bogged down by, and there’s a lot of bands that we’ve come up with that have never really done anything; all they’ve cared about is leather jackets and pointy shoes, all of that sort of shit. And it’s like, factually that’s not going to get you anywhere, you should just be a good band first.”

“We know a lot of  pointy-shoe no-sock wearers –“

“If you come to our gig with pointy shoes and no socks you’re not allowed in. If you’d be very popular in one certain bar in Manchester you’re not allowed in – you’ll know. Not mentioning any names but you know. You look alright in there but you look like a twat anywhere else.”

“So yeah, we’ve never really given a shit. We’ve just cared about the music, like a band should.”

“I think we try enough. When someone was like ‘oh you need to look more like a band’, we were like, ‘alright we’ll try a bit’. We haven’t got a wardrobe budget somewhere, like – we were sharing noodles today, d’you know what I mean. We share everything, socks – it’s a revolving wardrobe in this band. All communal. I wash it all and bring it back to the band –“

“He does, he comes with a big basket, like right – there’s your socks, there’s your boxers. One week we’ll get the whites and the next week we’ll get the darks.”

“They’ll be all pink and we’ll be like, for fucks sake Lui, you’ve done it again. That’s why all our clothes are pink; it’s by accident, the album colour scheme.”

What’s your favourite festival of the summer been?
“The best festival we’ve ever done is Bingley. They treat you like you’re a bloody King”

“I asked Jake Bugg for a filter and he thought I wanted a photo. And we met The Cribs. It was mad seeing them, but you’re like, you’re just a bunch of lads. You just wanna be mates with them now, and hopefully they’ll take you on tour or something. “

“When I went in for a little hug I thought I was going to break him. Looked delicate, he’s a delicate soul.”

Skint Kids Disco has become a bit of a fan favourite –  do you write songs that you think the fans will enjoy or songs that you want to write?
“We stopped playing that song as soon as it came out. Because that was the first time I really felt we did write a song … not for the sake of it, but the whole concept was a marketing concept, as opposed to, ‘I need to write this song for emotional purposes’ or whatever.”

Do you now feel like you have some sort of responsibility with what you create or do you just want people to have fun?
“I don’t like the idea that there’s a responsibility on us to do something but for me, I’ve always liked to put a political stint on the odd song or a lyric because sometimes it is the only way to be a bit more metaphorical with it.”

“It’s nice to use your platform but I think at the same time sort of stay in your lane, do you know what I mean like, we’re a band.”

“I think there’s so much going on the internet at the minute it’s hard to know where you’re allowed to speak, and what I’m allowed to speak about. I would consider myself a feminist, I would consider myself all these things but where’s the opportunity to go ‘we’re all feminists!’ without sounding like we’re bunch of dicks trying to jump onto a hype. But also I think the lyrics get across that we’re not a bunch of dicks, and that we’re politically sound.”

“And people can see that when we chat to them after the shows, like we’re not like one of them bands that are all mysterious and disappear straight away – we’re just normal lads that play music together.”

No Hot Ashes are touring until the middle of October, with some UK and Irish dates left to go. Check out Hardship Starship if you enjoyed their early tracks, and their gigs if you enjoy a sound band and dance about.

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