There is some genuine excitement about this awesome band Ashenmoon. After recently signing to Golden Robot Records this rock powerhouse have released their debut double A single Dustbowl and Mosquito. Headed by the return of bassist Garry Beers (INXS), one of the best vocalists in rock Toby Rand and the highly talented and regarded guitarist Jimmy Khoury, AshenMoon nail the formula that blends 70’s, new wave and modern rock n roll into one massive Arena worthy sound. Garry Beers speaks to Hi Fi Way about what’s on the horizon for Ashenmoon.
How are you coping with the crazy times? It just seems like as AshenMoon are starting to really gain some momentum, this has kind of slowed things down a little.
Everyone is adapting in their own way. I think we are just one of the lucky ones that we had an album ready to go, like artwork, everything, finished and ready to get out there. Now is probably a good time to get some music out there. It is tough, because we had a whole bunch of shows, including a big festival for twenty thousand people coming up that we had to cancel. Everyone’s going through it. Everyone’s doing it tough at the moment, so maybe having a bit of music out there can help a little bit. So, we’re adapting.
Is the band continuing to write more music and really make the most of the time while we’re waiting for things to get going again?
Yeah. The album’s done and it will be out during the course of the year, but we’ve also been using the time to do acoustic versions from home. We are doing acoustic versions of a couple of INXS songs as well. So, we’re keeping things busy, and we feel pretty comfortable with each other, as far as being safe, so we’ve actually set the band up in my garage and started doing webcasts.
Is this band the most excited you have been musically since INXS?
Totally, yeah. I’ve done other projects. I did Absent Friends during INXS and I tried another project after Michael passed, which didn’t really end up releasing anything. I’ve just never found the right people to write with, that I felt really comfortable with writing with. I met Toby three years ago and I met Jimmy, the guitar player, probably fourteen years ago, when I first moved here. We all just decided to start writing and took our time. No one was watching the clock. Just sat in my studio and wrote stuff, drank wine, and just had a really good time. Everyone really decided to put their heart and soul into it. We’re really happy with the project.
Is it really good to be in something that, right from the outset, there’s no pressure or expectation that you need to write a radio single or be a big chart success?
Toby is a lyricist and he really had some things to say, so I just gave him free rein to write the words, and I helped him out here and there. Everyone had total input on wherever the song was going. Everyone had equal input. There are no egos in the room. There was no pressure. There is no record company breathing down our neck telling us there’s a deadline, because basically we’re the record company. I engineered it and recorded it myself, and we all produced it. So, we just let it develop as organically as we could, and I think that is the best way music is written, is just to let it come alive.
Did you kind of have that feeling, particularly with the two singles that have just been released, that you are really on the cusp of something really special here?
Yeah, wait till you hear the whole record. The whole record’s like that. I am not being egotistical, but it’s definitely some of my best work. If another band released this record, I would be jumping all up and down about it just as much as I am that it’s mine. It is exactly what we wanted to get out there to people, and we’re very happy with the result. We built a really good team of players around us, plus mixing engineers, and it just became a really tight little unit of people that really delivered. So yeah, I am pretty excited about it. I have not been this excited for a very long time, musically. I cannot wait to get on the road and bring it to people, because the band live is as good as it is on record.
What were those initial jam sessions like when you first got together to see what happens? Were those some awesome times?
Yeah, they were. We got Jimmy and Toby involved with a project I had called Stadium. It was like a corporate, fun band. We would play private shows, parties, corporate events, and it was really good fun. When we started listening to each other’s original material and actually started writing, it was just really cathartic. It’s pretty hard to find soulmates and song writers. I’ve always been jealous, but happy, about Andrew and Michael, Andy Farriss and Michael Hutchence, finding each other. Obviously, their song writing took a long time to develop.
Ours is based on the experience that we have all had writing with other people, and the fact that we all found an outlet exactly the right time for all of us individually. I’ve been writing with good people and writing stuff by myself, but it’s a real wonderful difference when you get in a room with people and they start playing and you start playing, it’s kind of erotic, in a funny way, because most of those players really enter emotional states. When you are writing something and it’s yours, and working with someone who’s writing their part, it’s just a really exciting time.
Did it take a bit of adjusting doing something a bit different?
It’s a bit of an adjustment, because unlike INXS, which we had a manager and six members, everyone had their equal say as far as song writing, Andrew and Michael had more of a say. This band is the three of us. Toby, Jimmy and I, this is our project, and we’ve got other guys involved, on the record and live. It’s exciting because we’re managing ourselves. We signed with Golden Robot Records, so we’ve got a pretty good record company distributing the record. We did all the artwork ourselves. I did all the graphic design for the logos because I used to do graphic arts at school. It is exciting.
You must be staggered to see how much the industry has changed compared to the INXS days.
Yeah. CDs and vinyl, versus downloads. I am glad vinyl’s making a comeback. At least it is something you can physically hold and look at. Everything is changing now. The virus is going to change the world as we know it, not just musically, but in every department. I mean, my kids are home from school. We are doing the home-schooling thing and failing at that. It is like everyone has to adapt. So as I said, we set up the band in the garage and we’re going to start doing some webcasts or podcasts and just do our bit to keep things going while the world gets back on its feet.
Do you see many similarities between AshenMoon and INXS?
Toby’s a completely different singer than Michael, a different tone of voice, different attitude. He is more a Zeppelin/Jeff Buckley kind of voice, which is two of my favourite artists of all time. I did not try to make it sound like INXS to be honest. I went the other way. As I said, I grew up listening to Zeppelin and Deep Purple and all the great bands of the day. INXS was based more on Motown and Stones and the groove stuff that we grew up with. Myself personally, I have always been a bit of a headbanger, so AshenMoon’s a bit of a different thing to INXS. It is just more of a fun rock thing, and INXS was a bit more of a big six-piece machine.
Is there a release date in mind for the album or is it a little bit in the air?
We have a happy dilemma in the fact that we’ve got thirteen songs and they are. We are going to release it as two EPs at first. The first EP with five songs will come out this month and the sometime around August. The full album will come out in August on vinyl around Christmas.
Fingers crossed that we can see you guys here in Australia maybe next year.
We are going a bit stir crazy not being able to play because we were all playing all over LA. Also, we played a lot of benefit shows for the bushfire relief. We were really firing on all cylinders when everything got shut down, so we cannot wait to get there and play. Ashenmoon a real good live band. Jimmy is probably the best rock guitar player I have ever worked with and Toby is just an incredible singer and performer. I really cannot wait to get out there and play again.
Do you miss Australia at all?
I do, I lived there for forty-nine years. I miss parts of it, but of course I was spoiled growing up on Manly Beach during the 60s, 70s and 80s. It is hard to not look back and miss that a little bit. Overall, I miss Australia. I miss the footy. I am glad it’s started up again!
Interview By Rob Lyon