No More Plasying The Clown
Ash Stewart
Ash Stewart is South Australian born and bred and has been a fixture on the local music scene in and around Adelaide for many years. Now, and not before time in his opinion, his first single has been released amidst growing local public interest in this seasoned and charismatic rocker. Entitled 'Clown', Ash sees the single as heralding a new dawn in his musical life and is hopeful for an interesting 2015.

A proven musician who has been involved in four duos and an assortment of well-known Australian bands, he is now going it alone, one man and his guitar. His plan is to hit the road in March and he hopes to line up several gigs in clubs and hotels in and around Adelaide very soon. Interestingly, he feels he has a point to prove, both to himself and to critical voices from the past, “I’ve heard before that I shouldn’t do this, shouldn’t do that, can’t do this, and can’t do that ... but I listen to myself now. I know what I am capable of and I’m doing what I feel I should have done some time ago ...”

It all started for Ash aged ten when his parents presented him with a classical guitar for Christmas; he was thrown into lessons all under the watchful eye of his mother who also made him practice for a minimum of thirty minutes a day before he was allowed to do anything else! Early influences included Elvis Presley (obviously), The Beatles (again, obviously), Daddy Cool and Billy Thorpe and the Aztecs, but it was his discovery of South Australian band The Angels that really penetrated his musical sub-conscious, hearing for the first time “the sound I had been looking for”.

Single now with two grown-up children, Ash is an upholsterer and furniture maker by trade though he once had an eye on a potential sporting career in basketball before a car accident left him unable to walk for nine months. Having confronted serious illness five years ago he lives quietly these days, admitting there have been too many wild rock n roll times in the past, “I’ve seen it all, done too much and been an idiot,” he says ruefully.

Having experienced the breakup of another band at the close of 2013, Ash entered 2014 with new focus and a renewed vision of how he wanted to play and perform his music; he decided to go it alone as a solo performer and began work in the studio on his (still to be finalised) album. But it was the discovery of the poem 'Clown' that really drew him to attention; he was challenged to put it to music, he did, the rest is history.

How would you describe your style?

I would say contemporary pop rock, leaning to contemporary rock.

Do you miss not being part of a group?

I do miss being part of a group, mostly the full sound of the band. Playing solid rock with a band, well, nothing really beats that. I don’t miss the arguments though.

What are your plans for 2015?

Firstly to release 'Clown' and then release a double single to raise money for mental illness charities. After this I hope to release my album and then I would like to do some live shows across the State, hopefully.

How did 'Clown' come about?

'Clown' was actually a short poem written by Gregg Hammond whom I met at a poetry/music night. It was part of a little book of poems he had recently published. He challenged me to turn it into a song and a few days later when I looked at it more closely I felt it needed another verse and a chorus. Gregg wrote these as well and later as I was fooling around trying to find a rhythm for it I came across an old rhythm I had for a jazz song that I had written in the past. It fitted very well and 'Clown' was born.

You decided to release 'Clown' before the album that you have almost completed – why was that?

I had almost finished recording my album when 'Clown' came along. As I began working on it and sorting out the arrangement I just felt really good about it, had a great feeling about it. It starts with a simple acoustic sound and builds to a real rock and roll song. Playing it in my studio and imagining the full sound I decided to suspend the album to record 'Clown' first and hopefully get it out there. I really believe in the song, it has so many good points and I hope the listening public feels the same.

You’ve been around the South Australian music scene for a long time, you must have seen and experienced many things?

Yes that’s true. When I started playing in rock and roll bands there were pub brawls all the time and women used to throw their tops onstage and one even landed on the neck of my guitar! There were often problems with security and people regularly invaded the stage. There were a lot of drunk women who seemed to have rock and roll dreams and there was booze and drugs around of course. Some nights weren’t pretty but the pub scene has changed over the last twenty years and they are so much better to play in now.

Your album is titled 'I’M COMING HOME’ Does this have any personal meaning?

The album title is from a track on the CD. I lived in the southern suburbs all my life until four years ago when I moved 300km north. It was great for a change, but being away from home I would always notice the changes when I came back. My whole family history is down south and I just walked away from it. By continually going back and noticing the changes I realised how much I missed it and so I wrote a song about returning to my roots, the place where everything started for me: life, school, sport, music ... and I feel I am being called back there. As the song says “I love this place no matter what.”

When you perform your new song 'Clown' do you feel you are telling a story about somebody else or do you relate to the lyric more personally?

I think the song could be about anybody really. We can all analyse our pasts and see the things that have changed us, the things that have made us who we are. And to be able to look back and see where we came from really means we have found ourselves. For me personally, this song is all about life’s beginning till now.

What does the longer term future hold for Ash Stewart?

Who knows really? I’ve spent the last 12 months away from live performances to try and find myself as a writer and once my CDs are released which will take up a fair part of 2015, I would really like to get back out there doing as many shows as I physically can. The best feeling in the world is playing to a full house and I have missed this over the last year. It’s what I do best I think, and I see the longer term future out on the road playing live again. There’s nothing like it.

Ash Stewart
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