Exclusive Interview With Ashton Irwin On New Album


Ashton Irwin bursts into our scheduled Zoom meeting like a ray of light. You can tell he’s every bit as happy-go-lucky as he seems, simply introducing himself in a lighthearted manner, “Hi, I’m Ashton!”

Of course I already know who he is…I’m interviewing him today for his single, “Straight To Your Heart”, and subsequently his new double album, Blood On The Drums, out July 17. Not only that, but he’s the drummer for the ultra-successful band, 5 Seconds of Summer, who has hits like “Youngblood” and “She Looks So Perfect”. I had seen 5SOS when they opened for One Direction at Hershey Park (yes, I was that lucky) and couldn’t help but share this with him.

Immediately, he remembers the scent of burnt cocoa wafting through the air that floats throughout Hershey Park thanks to the factory. He tells me I sent him back and laughs as he says, “Really crazy scent associations so thanks for that. Good times,” But, we aren’t here to reminisce…not really. We’re here to talk about his solo work, the new single, and much more. So we dive in.

“Straight To Your Heart” is heavy on the synth, reminiscent of the 80’s where dance pop and electronic music became heavily popular. Funnily enough, when I ask Ashton of the inspiration behind the song…he confirms this. He’s been listening to a lot of “moody 80s, new wave dance classics” from artists like Echo and the Bunnymen, INXS, and, of course, The Smiths.

But particularly, Ashton shouts out an Australian band, The Church, and their song “Under The Milky Way” that inspired the birth of his own, “Straight To Your Heart.” “Under The Milky Way” was the first song he learned how to play on the guitar, and when working with John Feldman, it helped lay the groundwork for the entirety of the album.

While many artists go for an overall “vibe” or sound throughout their albums, “Straight To Your Heart” isn’t indicative of the rest of Blood On The Drums. In fact, Ashton reveals to me that he doesn’t like to keep the same sound throughout. He tells me,

“I try not to make too many songs that sound like each other. Cause as a listener, I would get bored of that. So what I try to do these days is diversity and musical diversity is power, you know, like you need to look over your whole sphere of influence and get really creative with where you’re pulling from and try not to do the same thing over and over,”

That’s exactly what Blood of the Drums is. A symphony of different sounds, with Ashton singing, contributing to guitar, and drums. He’s brimming with talent, and this album is his most cohesive body of work to date. It’s like he’s taken all of the prowess over his already illustrious career and bundled it into an almost sonically perfect album.

Ashton Irwin interviewAshton IrwinRyan Fleming

Plus, working with longtime producer and collaborators like John Feldman and Matthew Pauling helped tremendously. But Ashton’s dedication to switching things up and pulling from different creative areas paid off. Blood On The Drums consists of two installments: The Thorns, out now, and The Roses, out July 17, that reflect two different stages of life we all go through.

From starting his career at around 18, Ashton shares that he stays inspired by pushing his limits. Whether it’s in the recording studio, or trying out new instruments, he’s not scared to dip his toes into new waters. But he’s also constantly traveling- he refers to his life as almost nomadic…bouncing from one place to another for touring, for living, for travel.

“I love to walk into the studio and feel like it’s a new day. It’s a different day. And I’m not anchored or attached to yesterday…or whatever I made yesterday is already done, you know? So I keep inspired that way by creating diverse albums.”

Conceptually, the two parts of the album are polar opposites. The Thorns is almost self-explanatory, a bit edgier and drum heavy. The Roses takes on a more folk sound, softer and more delicate than its counterpart. Again, something done totally on purpose thanks to Irwin.

“You know, there’s a lyric on my album in a song called “Wild Things” and it says ‘I know your thorns protect your roses’ and I guess the thorns are the things and the concepts that protect me from failing, or they protect me from being too hard on myself, or they protect me…They help me have resilience in this world, and they help me as a creator and an artist.”

I nod in agreement as he says this. The thorns in question are his defense mechanisms. To this, he wholeheartedly agrees with me. “Exactly.” He emphasizes. “The beautiful parts of ourselves need protecting. Not left unguarded.”

And it’s within these two parts that the album becomes whole. You need one to have the other, just like you have good days and bad. The topic of his seniority in the music industry resurfaces, how each time he creates music it gets harder to create something new, something that feels different. “Blood On The Drums is really a testimony to continuing to create.” He muses.

The albums cover a span of genres- effortlessly moving from pure rock and roll to dreamy art-pop tracks that get you dancing. Spanning heartbreak, love, loss, happiness, and more, Irwin pours his soul into both sides of Blood on the Drums. You can listen to The Thorns here:

The time goes by quickly, and soon enough I’m warning Ashton that we don’t have much time left. I finish up with his three essential songs from the album, a tougher question than I thought:

“Oh my gosh, okay, just, there’s so many but I’ll just give it to you like this: I think “Rebel at Heart”, “The Canyon”, “Breakup.””

Originally Posted Here

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