A R T I C L E S
a n d I N T E R V I E W S
Sounds, 28 October 1972 by Ray Telford
Ash Finding Their Feet In America
American audiences, it seems have warmed to WishboneAsh’s steely brand of ultra-modern English rock and roll a whole lot quicker than their English counterparts did.
Wishbone are now mid-way through their third US tour, although it would have been their fourth if the last one earlier this year hadn’t been so abruptly interrupted with the theft of much of the band’s equipment from outside their St,Louis hotel room, but even so Wishbone Ash are making their mark in America.
Steve Upton, Wishbone’s slow-talking drummer, speaking from his Holiday Inn room in Kansas City last week, confirmed that things looked good for the band.Argus has sold around 100,000 copies since its release last summer and Steve says that the gigs too are looking progressively healthier: “There’s more magic about the gigs,” he remarked. “It’s probably down to the fact that we have a pretty big following now, although it’s a bit more of an underground-ish thing than in England.”
Steve said the most important gig of the tour so far had been their appearance with Boz Scaggs and Quicksilver Messenger Service at the Academy of Music in New York, a much sought after gig nowadays following the Band’s memorable appearance there last New Year’s Eve: “We did about forty minutes, which wasn’t a very long set for us,” said Steve. “but it was an excellent gig. Everybody played really well and the bill was nicely balanced too. That makes quite a difference, you know.”
The New York audiences, Steve has noticed, are particularly analytical, which is something I suspect a band like Wishbone Ash welcomes. In the past they’ve come under fore for being a bit too technical in their playing and writing and, though Steve refutes the idea that Argus had a much more laid back feel to it than their previous albums because they were getting hot under the collar about the criticisms, this may go some way to explaining why America is catching on to the band pretty quickly.
However, ever since their first Stateside tour around eighteen months ago, the real Wishbone Ash American stomping ground is in Texas, where they outlaw any other British band of their stature.
“The average gig in Texas”, Steve told me, “draws around two to three thousand people. I don’t know why it should be Texas, particularly because there’s still a lot of rednecks around. I suppose, though, they’re just as much into music as anybody else.
This time around Wishbone have also played several Canadian dates which they found, on average, to be more satisfactory than American gigs. Steve: “One of the Canadian gigs was a bit strange. The promoter decided to cancel the gig because he though we wouldn’t pull enough people to fill the concert hall but he didn’t stop the advertising for some reason and all these kids turned up to see us.”
On returning from the present tour, Wishbone begin their umpteenth British tour at the Mile End Stadium on November 17 and they’re due to begin recording a fourth album some time in the New Year after they’ve cleared a busy looking date sheet. Steve is reticent to talk about the new album simply because he says he cannot foresee what it’ll contain although they have been working on likely material.
However, meanwhile, it’s interesting to watch Wishbone break through in the States. As in this country they’ve been careful to leave no stone unturned in the process of getting to the top. It’s something they’ve pursued with the same flat-out determination with which they deliver their music: “We’ve got a lot going for us here,” Steve asserted. “It’s getting more like England with each gig.”