City Of Ashes – Interview

Monday 12th June 2017

Now here’s an alt-rock band with a story to tell.  During the European leg of their tour with American rock band Orgy earlier this year, and after only performing a handful of nights in the UK, France, Switzerland and Spain, City of Ashes found themselves faced with the devastating news that the remainder of the tour had been cancelled, leaving them and their gear stranded in Barcelona.  Lead Vocalist, Ori explains that:

Nobody would hire us a vehicle so we had to leave all of our equipment in Barcelona. We then flew to London and picked up our van and drove to Germany to get our equipment back, this took nearly another week. I don’t know how much lower it can get than sleeping in the back of your van in Cologne surrounded by your equipment, not knowing what’s going to happen or how you’re going to get home. We had no money left after losing it all on a tour that got so dramatically cut short.”

Despite everything City of Ashes have remained positive, and it’s always great chatting with a band who have such determination.  ‘Save Me’ is the next single to be taken from their latest album RISE, so keep your eyes peeled for the video because a lot went in to make it happen. These guys certainly deserve your time, so make sure you check out their social channels below.

For those who are just discovering you please could you tell me a bit more about yourselves?  Where did you all meet, have you been in bands previously, and what has driven you to form City of Ashes?

For sure! City of Ashes was a name Ori came up with when he was living in London after moving from Canada to pursue his creative aspirations. It was a difficult period and those three words in a note book were Ori’s description of where he was at the time and what his relationship with the city of London had been like. After moving south and being desperate to get something creative going again, Ori and a friend began playing acoustic shows through which paths crossed with Freddie and Dan before James finally joined. Dan had been in a whole bunch of bands before whilst for everyone else it is still their first and only one.

How did you find the process of putting your latest album ‘Rise’ together; did you face any challenges and how did you overcome them?

It was definitely tough! James and Ori funded the entire thing themselves working minimum wage bar and kitchen jobs. It took nearly 18 months of hard grind and careful living to get together the money necessary to record. It was a really interesting process though as we’d learned so much from the first record about practice of recording and how we could work within it. That kind of gave us the confidence to incorporate different ideas such as the choral vocals of ‘Battles of my Youth’ or crazy effect driven tracks like ‘Iliad’.

Are there any tracks in particular that you’ve been most excited about getting out there? 

Ori: ‘Battles of my Youth’ release was so huge for us. After everything that had gone into it for such a long time behind the scenes and trying to maintain the vision that we had set out to accomplish, hearing Alex Baker debut it for the first time on Kerrang! Radio was a special moment. I was sitting in the kitchen praying for him to say anything nice about it and when it finally came I honestly sat their and cried. It was an incredible relief and sense of catharsis. On top of that, we’re so excited to get our new video to ‘Save Me’ released as it’s the first video that has really involved so many people we know in it and our first date in Germany. It was so cool to involve those aspects.

What’s the response been to your music so far and have you received any radio airplay?

Overwhelmingly positive! We’re so grateful for the amount of people that have gotten and remained involved with us. Airplay has definitely been great too. Kerrang! has played us a couple of times along with Amazing Radio and several others. It’s kind of nice when a DJ decides they’ll back you for airplay and you hear from people through social media later who caught the broadcast.

How do you feel you’ve developed as a band since your previous album, and are there any noticeable differences from your last release? 

Oh God, yes! As mentioned earlier, some of the confidence we had from working on ‘All We Left Behind’ really helped. We understood the process so much more and so were able to tailor our approach in writing to some degree to what we wanted to achieve. In use of choral vocals was another huge thing that we’d wanted to bring in.

Ori: Personally, I also think ‘RISE’ is a much darker record. I guess that kind of poetically juxtaposes the title, I was certainly flirting with some pretty dark areas of my psyche at the time.

What’s your writing process as a band and how do you come together to create the final track?

Usually it’s started with a sound. More often than not it’ll be either a riff or just a couple of chords from James. Once Ori has an angle, he’ll write a story and we’ll work to adjust the music to it. In the future, we may well try something new however. Who knows what’s coming next!

Who are your musical inspirations and how do they influence you as a band?  Are there any particular artists you listened to growing up that have encouraged you to make music?

For each of us their are so many. We’d literally be listing all day if we were to go through them. Suffice to say that between us we have influences from every genre any of us can name and some we can’t. From the heavy to the light, fast to mellow, the new to the classics. All of that has left a pretty rich tapestry to draw from. These days we mostly get compared to 30 Seconds to Mars, Finch or a few others.

The video for your latest single ‘Save Me’ has quite a story to go with it – a cancelled tour, stranded equipment, sleeping in the back of vans, no money, and then pulling off an acoustic show for your fans.  Has the experience changed your outlook on touring at all?

It was among the hardest experiences I can remember. We had to gamble such lot on the tours success and it hurt everyone to be in such a shitty situation from it. I’d say if anything it’s made us hungrier though. We honestly cannot wait to get back out on the road next week. It’s already been too long!

What’s the next step for the band following your live dates in June?

We have a couple more festivals during the summer and are in the stages of planning things of later in the year. Not to let on just yet but there’s reason to be excited!

Finally, what other artists are you currently listening to at the moment and do you have any recommendations?

Actually it’d be cool to give a couple of shoutouts to awesome people we have played with recently here: Estelle Mey, Venture and Avagrace all deserve your attention. Go follow them!

Connect with City Of Ashes via their Website, Facebook and Twitter.