Introducing Romana Ashton & The Reeds

Combining a dash of French Yé-yé girl pop with a touch of dark country, Romana Ashton & The Reeds make their debut at the Wheatsheaf. The solo project of singer/ songwriter Romana Ashton (The Sunday Reeds), they will be playing some songs never heard before, and some never performed live. The band consists of Nick Randles on drums (Moraygun, Brett Littlefair band); Jamie Woolaway on keys (Systemaddicts, The Molting Vultures); Matt Reiner on bass (The Dunes, Lonely Stretch); and Drew Jones on guitar (The Sunday Reeds).

Joining them will be very special guests Mark Curtis and the Flannelettes, who recently garnered national attention for their latest single Kilometres on the ABC’s ‘Saturday Night Country with Beccy Cole.’ Songwriter/ singer Mark Curtis penned Kilometres as a spiritual reply letter to Woodie Gurthrie’s The Car Song, a naively fun ode to motor vehicle travel written and recorded in the 1940s and performed by everyone from Dylan, Springsteen, and Donovan to (most likely) your own parents and grandparents. Romana talks more about the upcoming show with Hi Fi Way.

How exciting has the build up been to your debut show as Romana Ashton & The Reeds?
It’s been great to see some songs that have never been performed publicly come alive with a full band. I am looking forward to seeing how it all works out.

Does it feel like you are starting 2023 off with a clean slate?
Kind of… I’ve had the idea for ages, so it seems new to other people but it’s not to me. But it’s good to finally get some of what’s in my head out into the world. I enjoy it when something I’ve thought about comes to fruition in some way. That’s what keeps me going.

With this being the start of new beginnings do you feel even more optimistic with the infinite possibilities that are ahead for you this year and beyond?
I wouldn’t say I’m blindly optimistic about anything. I set goals that I feel I can achieve, and with this project, it’s baby steps so I don’t burn out. It’s been a very difficult time over the last three years for many reasons, so I’m taking things at a reasonable pace until I find my feet again.

Has this fuelled the creativity and got you writing some new songs for an album/EP?
It’s definitely helped me think about things in a different way. My brain is always ticking over with new ideas, but I like to take my time. There is no solid plan for an EP in the very near future. I need more time to really work on things, first.

Has the name change been in the thought process for a while and was anything in particular the catalyst for this?
The Sunday Reeds as a three piece is still going, so this is a completely separate thing. Romana Ashton and The Reeds is my solo project and has been rattling around in my head for about ten years now. I figured I should probably try it out for a while and see what happens.

Sonically, has your sound changed much or do expect it to on the newer material you are working on?
The sound is completely different in that it’s not a rock ‘n’ roll act. I would love to incorporate other instrumentation down the track as well, that isn’t as guitar based.

Who features as part of The Reeds?
Members are Nick Randles on drums, who has played in various groups/solo acts including Brett Littlefair and Moraygun amongst others. There is Jamie Woolaway on keys who has been a constant in the Adelaide music scene for years and is a member of Systemaddicts.

I’ve also got Matt Reiner playing bass, a member The Dunes and has released a solo album under the moniker ‘Lonely Stretch.’ Drew Jones is on guitar and is from The Sunday Reeds. Drew is very adaptable and knows what I’m after sound-wise, so he’s good to have on board.

With this show is the focus on newer songs or a bit of everything?
The show has a lot of material that has not been released, and is vastly different to songs performed by The Sunday Reeds. We are doing a couple of Sunday Reeds’ songs though, albeit in a different vein. It’s a very different look and feel to what I do in The Sunday Reeds.

Are there plans to tour more broadly this year?
There aren’t any major touring plans yet. I really just wanted to test the waters with a show or two and take it from there. I’m still mulling over ideas about how I want things to be. I don’t want to jump into anything too quickly.

What’s next for Romana Ashton & The Reeds beyond this upcoming show?
We have another show at the Grace Emily on April 21 which will also feature Brett Littlefair. Apart from that we’re planning to record a version of The Stooges’ Gimme Danger for a Stooges’ tribute album in February for local label Tomorrow Records.

Interview By Rob Lyon

Catch Romana Ashton & The Reeds at The Wheatsheaf on Saturday 14 January. Tickets HERE

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