Ashes Fallen Fill The Darkenin Heart Questionnaire

Darkenin Heart

What do you consider to be the darkest piece of music you’ve ever heard?
Oh, that’s a hard one, and I really had to think about this! “God Damn The Sun” by The Swans is a real gut punch, I get teary-eyed just thinking about it. “Through Silver in Blood” by Neurosis is an incredibly dark and intense album. Jesu’s self-titled first album is so dark, but it helped me get through some real dark times.

How would you characterize your own music?
We call Ashes Fallen modern gothic rock for the end times. We say modern because even though we love the classics like The Sisters and Bauhaus and draw a lot of inspiration from them, we’re not a retro act, we’re a current act with something to say about the state of the world. There’s more than a little post-punk in what we do too. Jason Shaw (guitar) and I were both metalheads growing up and we’ve played in alternative metal, industrial, and goth bands long before Ashes Fallen, and all of those influences creep into our sound. Michelle Perry (keyboard and vocals, also my wife) loved the heavier side of grunge and she always pushes me to throw in some heavier riffs and leads into our songs! We’re a two guitar band and we definitely bring the rock to gothic rock.

What are your musical aspirations?
I just love making music and I can’t imagine I’ll ever want to stop. It’s as natural to me as breathing. I love it all: songwriting, recording, and performing. We’re intensely proud of how far we’ve come and of course we want to keep finding a greater audience, but first and foremost, we make music we’re proud of and that we’d want to hear, and we put on the type of live show we’d want to see. I also love playing live because it’s a reason to travel and meet interesting, creative and unusual like-minded people, and there’s just nothing like the crazy adventures and weird things that can happen in the circus of live music - it keeps life interesting! Someday we’ll get too old for touring and playing shows, but I imagine we’ll still be making art in some form as long as we still draw breath. I just want to produce the music I hear in my head as best I can, keep getting better as a musician, put on the best performances I can, have fun, and entertain people while making them feel, think, AND dance.

What are your main musical inspirations?
My first musical inspirations were my mother and father. My dad always had classical music playing on the stereo in the living room, and when he was a boy, he aspired to be a classical composer. My mother was very involved in church music and played the classical guitar. As a little kid I told her I wanted to learn the guitar. “Not until you’re older”, she said, but when I got a little older and discovered MTV, I took her up on that and got my first electric guitar. Not long after that, my dad got me my first Tascam 4 track recorded, and he had a MIDI sequencing software setup on his computer, so that got me started on becoming a songwriter and producer. So I owe it all to my mom (rest in peace) and dad. As far as what Ashes Fallen does, I’d say our big three are Killing Joke, The Cure, and Gary Numan. Michelle and I are so inspired by Gary Numan’s late career renaissance and how current and vital and meaningful his recent work is, and what an incredible live show he puts on. We’re all into different things but all three of us share a huge love for The Cure. What an incredible body of work they’ve produced.

What are your main goals in life?
To be a good person. To be the best husband I can be to my wife, and friend I can be to my friends. To help others. To lead a fulfilling life. To keep learning and growing and getting better at everything I do. To be the person my mother and father raised me to be and live up to my values. To keep making art that’s genuine and that I’m proud of.

What motivates you to create?
Being creative is absolutely in my blood. Sometimes I just wake up in the morning with a melody or chord progression or words in my head, and I just have to make them into something. I love the creative process. I definitely use songwriting as a way to work out my own emotions and experiences. We also have a lot to say about the human condition and the state of the world, and believe me, in the dark, chaotic times we’re in, there’s no shortage of things to sing about. And I just find creating to be fun and fulfilling. It feeds my soul.

Are you more of an early bird or a night owl?
I was very much a night owl when I was younger, but somehow I’ve become a morning person. It’s probably on account of work starting early, plus I’ve learned that I need to start my day with exercise to function at my best. I know that’s not very “goth” of me to say, hah! That being said, I love the night and nightlife too. A lot of times, I’ll nap after work so I can keep going late. Michelle is a complete night owl, but somehow we manage to make it work!

Besides music, what other art forms would you like to explore?
Ashes Fallen lets us explore many types of art. These days, a DIY band like us has to do it all. It’s all about the music first and foremost, but there’s also flyers, album covers, photography, music videos, and so much more! Michelle is the true renaissance woman of the band. Her first career was as a professional seamstress and she has made a lot of stage wear for the band. She also drew our logo, does nearly all of our album and single cover art and photography, she directed our two music videos, she’s made props and backdrops for some special performances we’ve done, and generally she’s our visual art director. She’s also been an artistic baker as Miss T’s Gothic Baker, and would love to author and publish a book or two! I think Jason and I mostly just like being musicians, although I design most of our show flyers too and make reel-style videos to help promote the band and tell our story. Jason enjoys learning classical pieces on the guitar.

Which is the very first record that had a big impact on you?
That’s easy. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. Such a great album. I was completely obsessed with it as a nine year old!

What is the best decade for music?
There’s no such thing. I love so much music from the mid 20th century until now. Right now is a really interesting but weird time for music and popular culture in general. I don’t find much mainstream music that interests me, but there’s so much exciting stuff happening below the surface. Since people have so many options for entertainment now beyond music and so many of the greatest albums, concerts, films, books, and everything are at everyone’s fingertips with the Internet now, I’m so grateful that there still is a place for new dark independent music and that there’s a community of people who want new music.

What do your future plans include?
We’re so excited to be releasing our third album “Walk Through Fire” on September 1st. We believe it’s our finest work and we can’t wait for people to hear it. We’re playing at New York City’s A Murder Of Crows Festival the day of our album release, and that’ll be our first time playing the U.S. east coast. We’re so excited and grateful we get to be part of that event! We’ve got other shows happening to promote the album over the rest of 2023 in Utah, Nevada, and at home in California. After that, I think we’ll turn our attention to making music videos and working on new songs for our next release. Michelle already has five music videos for us fully formed in her head that there just hasn’t been time to create!
Walk Through Fire releases September 1, 2023

Ashes Fallen
Photography by Michelle Perry
All questions answered by James Perry

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