Eight years ago, Ash’s Tim Wheeler announced the band’s fifth studio album, Twilight Of The Innocents, would be their last.
“I believe our new album is the pinnacle of everything we’ve done thus far, and I’m proud this will be remembered as our last album,” he said, stating the Northern Ireland trio would concentrate solely on singles from then on.
But now, that has all changed.
“Yeah I kind of regret saying that,” admits the 38-year-old, after the band released sixth album, Kablammo!, earlier this year.
“We honestly thought the days of people buying albums were gone, that everyone was obsessed with single tracks, but because of things like Spotify, which still lays everything out in albums, and more and more people buying vinyl, I’m pleased to see the album didn’t die.”
It might have been disappointing when the band said they were no longer going to make albums, but given Wheeler’s almost supernatural ability to write pop songs, there were few bands better suited to concentrating on singles.
The tracklisting for their 2002 greatest hits, Intergalactic Sonic 7”s, is proof of that; Burn Baby Burn, Envy, Shining Light, Girl From Mars, Oh Yeah, Goldfinger and Sometimes among them, songs most bands would kill to have in their catalogue.
Wheeler makes creating them seem effortless.
In the break between this one and Twilight, Ash – Wheeler and bandmates Mark Hamilton and Rick McMurray – were possibly busier than ever, setting themselves the mammoth task of recording 26 songs as part of an alphabet-themed run of singles.
There have also been numerous tours, while Wheeler has worked on a handful of soundtracks, plus a solo album, Lost Domain.
After so long between albums, he says the next thing on the horizon for Ash is another one, plus he wants to work on more soundtracks and another solo album.
In May, it will be 20 years since the band released their debut, 1977, so called as it was the year their collective favourite film, Star Wars, was released, and also the year in which two of the band’s three members were born.
“It’s crazy that album is 20 years old,” says Wheeler. “And we’ve been playing in the band since we were 15, more than half our lives.
“It’s gone very quickly, but the songs still sound good live. So many people that come to see us grew up with that record, and I think because we were a teenage band, we had a lot of teenage fans. It was an important record for a lot of people.”
He might be approaching 40 now, but Wheeler, who has lived in New York for the past nine years, doesn’t think he will ever tire of playing in the band.
“There’s something about when we start playing that makes me feel 15 years old again. I don’t think we’ll get bored of it. It hasn’t happened after 23 years.”
Ash play The Leadmill, Sheffield city centre, tonight, Thursday, December 10. For tickets, priced £17, visit leadmill.co.uk