Catch Ash Grunwald playing at the Rolling Stone Live Lodge pop-up venue on Thursday, October 8. Tickets available now.
The evolution of Ash Grunwald over the past decade has been one of the great quiet success stories of Australian music. While his career was initially bred through the blues scene, Grunwald has never let himself be pigeon-holed, embracing influences from hip-hop, rockabilly and the rich history of psychedelia to forge his own sound.
"I remember thinking after I had done one album," says Grunwald, "how incredible it would be to have 10. All the creativity and change that goes into that journey. I'd look at someone like Tom Waits and just think, 'Wow. That's where I want to be.'"
With the release of his latest set, the aptly-titled NOW, Grunwald surpasses his ambitions – this is his 11th release in a little over 12 years and marks just how far he has come as an artist, digging deep into the psychedelic blues sound of the late Sixties.
Related: On Tour with Ash Grunwald
With a band consisting of Ian Perez (Wolfmother) on keys and – particularly – keyboard-bass, and Pete Wilkins (Blue King Brown) on drums, the album was cut mostly live in the studio with esteemed American producer Nick DiDia (Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Powderfinger).
"For me it was all about the bass, having that done on the keys," says Grunwald. "I wanted to do something really different. It was really performance based, all about the musicianship and getting that tight. Like, in the days of Clapton and Hendrix, the most famous rock stars were really sick players. And that really fell away, which is a shame. It almost became cheesy to rip on your instrument, but we wanted to bring a bit of that back."
With Grunwald's musical evolution there also came a growing maturity, and while his early work shied away from expressing the strong views he's always held, his last few albums have seen him embrace wider social issues.
"I'm less self-conscious now," he says. "Less worried about stepping over certain lines, or even if someone is going to arc up and not like it. Through my interest and fight with coal seam gas, and seeing people who have been affected by that first hand – kids who are sick – you think, 'How can we let this go on?' That spurs you into weaving this sort of stuff into your songs."
From issue #768 (November, 2015), available now.