A R T I C L E S
a n d I N T E R V I E W S
Disc and Music Echo, 7 August 1971
Wishbone Ash: Only Simple Folk at Heart
Did you know that Wishbone Ash, currently on their second American tour, used to be a FOLK group?
Well, almost.That’s the sort of thing they started off doing, two years ago, says guitarist Andy Powell. Now they are better known for their rock approach and, compared to folk music, heaviness. But they’ve retained the tastefulness. They’ve also built up quite a considerable following, merely as a result of hard work.
Their next album called Pilgrimage which is, in a sense, what they’ve been doing since they formed, is out in September.
"There are a couple of heavier rock-type things on the new one and some very melodic , quiet things as well, one even without drums. There are six tracks altogether, although there may be seven, I’m not sure. One track we did, a lot of people didn’t think was particularly in context with the rest of the album. It’s a folky sort of thing and I don’t know whether it will be on the LP or not.
"We used to be very folky. When we first formed the band most of the material was in that vein, not as aggressive as it is now. It’s just happened that the more arranged type of material has come out heavy and pushed the other sort of thing in the background. I suppose I was mainly responsible for the folky influence. Our manager thinks it’s “goddam sissy””. He’s American.”
Wishbone’s first album sold over 20,000 and even got into the chart for a while.
"The new album’s much more relaxed”, says Andy. “We were very uptight and tense when we recorded the first one just before Christmas. We didn’t start on the new one until a few weeks ago and we hope to start on the third in December. We don’t want to leave such a gap this time.”
Wishbone haven’t had the time to record because they’ve been gigging almost every night of the week this year. Although the group had been together for a year before they made the first album they still felt new to the business when they went into the studio. “We were all completely new to the whole thing when we started. We wanted to play anywhere and everywhere and not rush into doing an album. But I think the first album shows we were new to recording.”
Wishbone have done a lot of gigs, including quite a bit on the continent. They set out to “try our music on as many different types of audience as possible.” They’ve even played in small night clubs. And their policy of playing to many people is paying off.
"I think we’ve been honest and straight forward about things, and people appreciate us for that. There’s been no attempt to con anyone. We just play to have a good time and hope people enjoy it too. We’re still enthusiastic about what we’re doing, we still enjoy every gig and that’s important.”
That probably explains why their music, on record and on stage, sounds fresh and exciting. Right now they are getting some good exposure in the States, for their first tour earlier this year wasn’t too successful. They did alright on the East Coast, on that tour, particularly St.Louis and Florida, but over at the Filmore West things weren’t so hot. This time they’ve shows with Grand Funk Railroad, The Faces, Black Sabbath, Leon Russell and Ten Years After. They’re also on the same bill with The Guess Who, which sounds a bit unlikely, not to mention a spot on the Dick Cavitt show, which is watched by millions, and they are also topping the bill at Carnegie Hall.
None of the band has made it in music before. Martin Turner (bass) and Steve Upton (drums) were both previously in a heavy rock trio. They did a gig at the Country Club with Martin’s brother and soon afterwards the group disintegrated and Andy and his “twin lead guitarist” Ted Turner stepped in. Wishbone Ash is the first group that any of them have taken seriously. “We just had a vague determination to form a group and play our music to people,” Andy adds, “you never know what the future holds for you.”
Wishbone Ash can look forward to the future with some confidence.