The only way a man can truly come into his own power, is to begin seeing who he truly is. Not seeing what he thinks he should be and certainly not seeing himself as he’d like to be seen by others; a good hard look within at what it is he stands for. This is the brutality and in the same breath, the blessing, of time; of experience and of the confrontation of a world that’s moving in contrast to core beliefs. This is Ash Grunwald NOW.
In 2013 during work on his last studio album, Guargantua, Ash tapped into the power of synchronistic sidekicks; how by having the right people by your side, the revealing of true self becomes accelerated. In the case of Scott and Andy from The Living End who took the rhythmic helm on that record, their sheer skills to unfalteringly gallop a song toward it’s climactic finish, allowed Ash to take lead like never before. The obstacles that had held him back from enjoying the force of a well-executed and well-placed solo evaporated and any doubts on using his powerful voice politically, vanished. Ash took his place at the coalface in the fight against CSG exploration. He climbed inside tiny planes with angry and emotional farmers, was shown first-hand the devastation of land and country. He met the distraught but not broken mother’s who were fighting for the health of children with slow nose bleeds and cancer like symptoms. He even had the resonance of gunshot to remind him that when it comes to money made in ways that remove a man from his soul, shit gets dangerous.
Since that time Ash’s voice, his disdain and his power have grown. He’s taken tools to his trademark dreads and without hesitation walked away from an aesthetic that had defined him for 20 years. There’s a fire in his eyes that says best don’t fuck with me as much as it says, oh you think you’re not going to dance? You’re going to dance my friend. Which brings us to NOW.
Continuing to evolve from where he left off with Guargantua, Ash brought in Ian Perez keyboardist for Wolfmother and Pete Wilkins, former drummer for Blue King Brown. The effortlessly gifted pair built the launch pad for Ash’s detonative sonic boom, enabling him to explore the lose-yourself-sounds of psychedelic blues using synth rather than stringed bass. Keeping it old-school, the gents jammed it out live, forming a wall of sound as abundant in clout as it is in groove. Standing behind the richness and warmth of the old Neve desk was famed American Record Producer Nick DiDia: who’s philosophy sits firmly in the power of performance and whose name is most commonly strung together in the same sentence as Springsteen’s. Having worked closely also beside Rage Against The Machine, Pearl Jam, Powderfinger and many other legends, what Nick brought to Ash, above all else, was an intense focus on the structure of a great song.
The result is an album with immense force. Strongly political, rumbling from the depths of internal rage. It is sonic thunder that wears all the suffering and the anger of the blues but does not forget for a beat that if you don’t get up sometimes and shake that shit off, if you don’t take a moment to look across the dancefloor and lose yourself in that boy meets girl moment, your heart’ll harden and you’ll lose sight of all the beauty you’re fighting for.
Without pretension, without doubt – this is the landmark album of his career to date. This is Ash Grunwald NOW.