Editor’s Note: It was an absolutely fantastic time talking with guitarist Aaron Wood of Ashland for Madness To Creation. This band is definitely on the rise with their catchy pop sensibilities, yet subtle workmanship in their arrangements that make the song snap, crackle and pop. The band recently released their latest record entitled “Over The Moon” via Rise Records this past December to critical acclaim. They also had an incredible 2019 opening for Our Last Night and providing direct support for Motion City Soundtrack on a New Year’s Eve gig. Fans can find Ashland at the following locations:
Madness To Creation: Aaron, what’s going on today?
Aaron: Man, it’s going great, it’s freaking cold here, I don’t know where you’re at, hopefully it’s not as cold there!
Madness To Creation: I saw that you recently got off a run with Our Last Night and I See Stars, how did that run go?
Aaron: It was amazing, that was our first full U.S. run, so that was the most of the country that we have ever seen and also the longest we’ve been out so there were a lot of growing pains, and the craziest thing that we saw, do you want to go with the craziest cool thing or the craziest weird thing?
Madness To Creation: However you want to answer it Aaron.
Aaron: I’ll do both! The coolest thing was all of the different landscapes, there was so much variation throughout the entire country that we have never seen and that was just amazing to wake up and see all of these new places and experiences, but if we are going with the craziest thing that we saw, every time I get this question I forget every weird thing, it’s kind of gross though is that cool?
Madness To Creation: I can live with that! *laughs*
Aaron: It was crazy to see how many places all over the United States where people go in the bathrooms and just kind of shit all over the walls, that was disgusting, and we saw it everywhere and every night, that was the craziest thing!
Madness To Creation: It makes me wonder how people miss that bad! *laughs*
Aaron: There was one night in particular, we would always go to these Wal-Mart’s super late because it was the only place that was open and I just hear the vocalist Asia and our photographer just screaming, blood-curdling screaming, and I run out and they’re dying laughing in this little hallway and they make me go in there and someone had just gone all over the walls, up the wall, all over the toilet and I took a video of it, and oh my gosh, I don’t know how that happened, and afterwards we were like, “how did this happen”, and I don’t know, I still don’t know.
Madness To Creation: Will that be released on a documentary? *laughs*
Aaron: I don’t think, but we actually posted it on our YouTube channel, like a tour recap from our Instagram stories, and part of that video is on there but Asia did cut out the actual toilet visual video, cause I think we would’ve gotten our video flagged, but on our YouTube channel, there is a recap and you can see some of our scenarios, Asia and Jen just dying laughing.
Madness To Creation: You said you had some growing pains and opportunities on this run with Our Last Night? What are some learning opportunities that you and Asia picked up for the next run?
Aaron: The biggest mistake made, well we’ve toured before but never for five weeks straight, and on the previous tour even if it was just a couple weeks, we went out with myself, Asia and our drummer Zach, and like one other person, and we could manage we could do everything, we could drive and take care of all the day to day stuff and do it comfortably aside from all of the tour stress, so we were like, “yeah we can do it with four people”, and we learned that we absolutely cannot, we were so understaffed, and the drives were miserable, so next time, we’re going to bring another person to share the load. That was the biggest learning experience we had.
Madness To Creation: Here at Madness To Creation, we raved about Ashland’s latest album entitled “Over The Moon”. What we wrote is that your guitar work is subtle yet your arrangements add so much to the music. What are some guitar secrets that you want to share with our readers?
Aaron: First of all, we read that review and it was super, super nice, and we are really appreciative that you guys liked it that much, and that’s also a huge compliment to me like you said, that’s kind of like when it comes to guitar playing, I try to serve the song as much as possible, and I feel like I accomplished that pretty well with this album, like letting Asia stand out the most and me just trying to complement it with my parts instead of going in and really trying to write this really cool part and letting it take over the song and make it the focus. I try to pull back from that and see what I can add subtly, but you still notice it’s there but it’s not like completely taking over the song, that’s something that I really strive for with any guitar parts that I add because I know overall the song itself is the most important thing, I try to keep my parts dialed back a little bit to where it’s not overbearing or too much for the section.
Madness To Creation: When I listened to the album, I noticed that in the track “I Hate That”, where was your headspace at when you started to write the guitar arrangements for that song?
Aaron: This is a weirder record for me for those arrangements because in the past I had done almost all of the arranging and me and Asia would come in and help with the arrangement for a little bit, and would take over the vocals and melodies, but in this record, all of the songs were what she had been sitting on, so my headspace on this record was more on the spot, whereas normally with past records and EPs, it wasn’t like I was sitting on my computer while I was working on my guitar parts months in advance before I would go into the studio, but with this record, the guitar parts were done the day that they were tracked, it was definitely a lot of I don’t want to say improv, it was still calculated, Asia would have a melody idea, she would want me to try or whatever, we ran them through the wringer, it wasn’t completely improv but it was definitely more on the spot than usual. It was a cool thing and my head was just nervous the entire time.
Madness To Creation: What made you nervous about that part?
Aaron: It’s just I haven’t done a lot of improv, coming up with stuff right on the spot, so it was a little nerve-racking for me, but I was glad that it was the way that it happened now in hindsight now that it’s over, it was definitely a growing experience, and it was a little bit nerve-racking, but it was just stepping out of my comfort zone on why I was so nervous.
Madness To Creation: You all recently released the music video for “Over The Moon”. What was the most fun part about the music video and where can people request the single?
Aaron: The most fun part for me was just seeing the set and being on the set, it was the first video that we have done where there was a built set, that was a lot of fun, and also making the moon was a lot of fun. Asia and I made that the night before. It was one of those things at the time it wasn’t that fun because leading up to the video we had been prepping wardrobe and getting everything ready, and we knew that we had to make the moon, and we were like, “it’s just going to be tin foil and cardboard, it’s going to be so easy, and it’s going to take us five minutes”, and we just kept putting it off and putting it off, and then it got to the night before the video and we decided to make it and it was way harder than we thought it was going to be and we were up until like 3 AM making this moon and we only slept for three hours that night. But in hindsight, the moon turned out awesome and we were so glad that we actually did it because we got to the point where we were like, “you know what, we’re not just going to make the moon, no one is going to care”, and we stuck it out and then when we watched the video and we were so glad that we went with that moon because it added so much.
Madness To Creation: Do you guys have plans to release a follow-up video or what’s the plan?
Aaron: When the record came out, we put out the video for “OMG”, but we are hoping to put out another video or a single very soon and the goal is to do as many videos for the record as we can because we love making videos, and I know Asia has a bunch of ideas for videos that she sees when she sings and hears the songs, we definitely want to do as many as we can.
Madness To Creation: Anything in mind or is it under wraps?
Aaron: We don’t really have anything set in stone, so we’ve been kind of going over that, so there’s a bunch of them that we want to do, but we don’t really have anything set in stone right now.
Madness To Creation: Here at Madness To Creation, we believe in mental health awareness and normalizing mental health conversations with one another. What are some things that you do for your mental health and what advice do you have for our readers?
Aaron: I wish Asia was here to answer this, she’s really sick and she wishes she could’ve joined us in the interview. However, that is something as a band, especially Asia, is something that we take very seriously is mental health awareness, and most of the time during shows, she will say something about mental health, we just try to let people know that we are there with them, we use that as a platform for our shows, so we try to let them know that if they need to talk, they can talk to us about things and that it’s okay to reach out to other people for help when you are struggling with whatever thing that you are struggling with, it’s okay to reach out and get help because honestly, that’s the best thing that you can do is not to go through those things alone. Asia also says a lot of stuff about that as well on her socials, so if you ever want to go down the social media rabbit hole, she’s very open about mental health awareness and struggles. That’s a topic that’s really important to us because even if it’s small, we have a platform and I feel like that’s something that you should shed light on and talk about and start conversations about it because it is so important now and so many people are struggling and the biggest thing is to let people know and see that they’re not alone in that and that it’s okay to reach out, and that they’re not weird or an outcast or anything.
Madness To Creation: Do you ever have people come up to you guys and thank you for helping them get through?
Aaron: You know it happens to Asia all of the time, but I’m not really going to take that question, but I think that’s how Asia knows it’s an important thing to keep doing is to keep talking about that and people come up to her and say “thank you so much for saying that”, or “I’ve been dealing with this and it means a lot that you said something” and it happens to her a lot, and that’s one of the reasons why she keeps doing it because there are so many people out there that relate to that and do appreciate when someone says something about it.
Madness To Creation: What else would you like to add that we haven’t covered?
Aaron: Yeah, you can find us on any socials, any streaming platform, Apple Music or Spotify, all of our socials are @AshlandOfficial and this year we are going to try to dive more into the YouTube thing and do more video content there and day to day vlogs and just try a whole bunch of new stuff there so that should be something to watch and that is our YouTube channel and thank you so much for doing this and thank you so much for the extremely kind review and that was awesome!
Madness To Creation: Thank you for your time Aaron!
And there you have it! Follow Ashland on their socials to keep up on their latest news and happenings!