Artist Interview: Ash Grunwald

Interview by Andrew Crockett

Where did the idea come for this film clip and how did you rope in all those other musicians to mime the words?

Well I was racking me brain and then I thought why don’t I get some of my mates (who are well known) to mime it…it will be an amazing juxtaposition and really cool for fans. That was one idea. The other one was to get my mate Joseph Ryan, who’s making a movie about fish surfboards called ‘Fish’, to share some footage and maybe use my clip as a promo for his movie. I’ve been loving the Fishes for the last 5 years or so, so that would be right down my alley! We ended up settling on combining the two. Having Dave Rastovich, Beau Young and Derek Hynd in your film clip is pretty sick from the surfing perspective. And having Xavier Rudd, Pete Murrey, Scott Owen (the Living End) and Kram (Spiderbait) is very cool from the music perspective. I was reflecting the other day. That wouldn’t have happened in any other place other than Byron Bay. We really do all hang out and surf together all the time. So it was pretty easy and fun to make.

Can you rattle off some names of musicians you have jammed with over the years or any recent collaborations that have been a stoke?

Supporting James Brown, Bo Didley, Jack Johnson and the Black Keys have been my highlights for support gigs. Actually of them, the only one who got me up to jam was the biggest crowd, Jack Johnson. He is a super nice guy as i’m sure you would have heard. James brown was on fire and I know he was winding down but he still had it. The only thing is we were told we had to call him Mr Brown if we were gonna talk to him at all and it kinda put me off trying to talk to him at all.

These days you try to base your music tours around being able to surf. When did you get into surfing and what are some of the places you have travelled to?

I grew up in Melbourne so I didn’t really start until I had my driving license. That was a shitty couple of years trying to learn to surf like that. Once I got going with my music career I was trying to book my gigs along the coast and use music to get me surfing all the places I’d heard about in mags. It really has been an amazing journey for me. I’ve gone from learning to stand up to surfing solid waves in West oz, Indo, Morocco, Portugal and other places. I lived near Bells Beach for 5 years and now I live in a different kind of wave haven between Byron Bay and the Gold Coast. Its been a crazy journey. Actually really frustrating at times, but totally addictive and rewarding in the end. I really feel like surfing is the perfect pastime. Its the only thing that I feel like doing twice a day, every day!

This is your sixth studio album and recently you have had some success with your music being used in Hollywood movies, ‘limitless’ for example, how did that come about?

That one was a spinout! Its great when a track gets picked up for a movie because you already recorded it for the album anyway. It’s just a bonus. That track’s got heaps more hits on youtube than any of my other ones. I was so stoked when I saw “Limitless” for the first time, it is a great movie!! I hope that little trend continues where my songs get picked up for those films!

What does this new album ‘Troubles Door’ represent for you and where can people listen to it and buy it?

Well it’s just a document of where I’m at right now both personally and musically. A lot of the songs on the album dealt with the downfalls of rampant capitalism. Thats not me having a go at people trying to make a buck or even big business, but it is apparent that theres no control from the top down. I think I said in one song that it was a shame that the horse has bolted, and that really sums it up for me. It’s like we’ve created a huge monster. If theres money to be made, thats the most important thing, and fuck anyone who stands in their way. To me that’s the root cause of so many problems in our society from Coal Seam Gas Mining to the medical system, global politics, the financial crisis…..take your pick. I don’t have any solution necessarily because it seems that an ethical government would/should be enough.

Musically, I’m still on my trip of combining bluesy vocals and guitar with new forms of beats and sounds. That keeps me out of trouble.

What sort of music have you been listening to a lot lately?

Heaps of dubstep! Particularly Skrillex but I don’t know if they’re calling him Dubstep anymore. I just love fatness in any genre and really dig massive bass lines and huge drums.

This interview with Mark Richards talking about MP is a really unique insight into the competitive animal that was MP. It was part of your road-dog diaries, a series of short films you made on a recent australian tour where you played 50 odd shows around the country. How did MR end up on your radar?

I guess MR’s on every surfers radar… We were traveling a lot on the Australian coast and interviewing a lot of different surfers, going surfing with them and having fun adventures! Beau Young is a great friend who was traveling around playing with us and he hooked us up with MR. I was stoked to be in that position. MR’s such a cool cat, totally humble. I felt lucky to be the guy asking him those questions. You must have done that double take a few times during making ‘switch-foot’. Its kinda like ‘don’t I have to actually rip to be standing before royalty asking about royalty?’… It seems the answer is no. Just ask the questions if you’re interested. I’ve got to say I’ve been very lucky to make the friends I have in surfing and meet all these amazing people.

Have have been to America a few times and several trips to Canada, any plans to visit California and tour your music?

I’ve been down south a couple of times and played a show in new york but thats about it really. I played in this international blues performer of the year contest which was pretty cool. I won a free trip by winning the oz contest. That was great for me. It was held on Beal Street in Memphis, but I took the opportunity to nick down to Clarksdale Mississippi where all of my hero’s came from. That was really cool from the blues perspective but for fun touring and surfing I’d LOVE to check out California. I just havn’t quite met that right guy to say ‘here I’ll book you a run of shows.’ It can be tough from the other side of the world. I do play in Canada in the snow season which is cool for boarding and partying though!

For more, check out Ash on iTunes or visit his website at http://www.ashgrunwald.com/

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