Thursday, June 30, 2011


Our new album

From Ash:

In late spring 2010, I was working on a farm in Cedar Grove, NC. A nice full day of consistent physical activity in the open air and sunshine is very fertile ground for creativity activity. I wrote a lot of the material for "Reboot" on the farm. "Layers" came to me while peeling onions in the afternoon shade of the pole-shed. "The Honest Way" worked itself out while harvesting carrots and basil. Many other songs had already developed slowly over the course of 2 years during which I got married, delivered pizza and ran projectors.

Sometime in June 2010 I took a very strange train ride to Charleston, SC where I recorded all of the drums for the record with the incomparable Nick Jenkins ( at Dan McCurry's house/studio. Dan was ready to record the drums for his next album (, so we had a wonderfully full week of work. Dan and I cobbled our recording gear together with a few borrowed pieces from our friends at Hello Telescope ( and knocked out some 20+ drum tracks in 7 days along with most of the piano on the record. The drums were done live, no clicks, no comps. I have tried to allow some human imperfection to peek through on this record- not easy these days.

The production on Reboot is entirely home-spun. No big studios, no producers. The electronic heart and soul of "True Enough" was done by my friend Jonathann Rice of Good Shot Janson ( during a week-long session at his house in Nashville, TN. We collaborated on each other's material, and with Jonathann's contributions to "True Enough" I believe I got the best end of the deal. The strings for the album were mostly recorded in one very long day in August with my friend Aaron Fried and my wife Giovanna in a closet in our house. Dan Mccurry helped with some piano work in his living room. Everything else I did myself, mostly in a sweltering attic, until I had all of my favorite things thrown in- upright bass, accordion, mandolin, melodica and lots of guitars. I worked through the heat-death of late summer as Giovanna and I began work on Black Snake Homestead (

By the time September arrived, I was totally burned out on the album. I had gotten into the mixing stage with virtually no break from the inception of the songs, and everything had turned into mush. As autumn crept in I abandoned the project as hopeless and became preoccupied with planting trees, digging swales, playing chess and sheet mulching. A very long, cold winter followed. The day before Christmas Eve, we discovered that we were going to have a child. I knew that I had to finish this record before he was born or I would utterly abandon it forever. I listened back to the sessions after having had such a long break and realized that there were plenty of useful things in there after all. I unmixed the sessions and started fresh- reboot! Now, with a little bit of re-tracking, a few added spices and the proper time put into mixing and mastering, it is all done.

The thematic content of this album falls more or less into one of two categories, one being religio-philosophical critique of our strange society in this truly bizarre period in history, the other being love-letters to my wife. My marriage is more and more the basis of my worldview and the only source of my sanity. Giovanna deserves the most credit of all for inspiring the songs, contributing violin, singing harmony and producing my vocals, which we did together in our room. She coached me through each song the same way she had been coached through years of classical violin training. It made a healthy difference, aside from being a really fun way to spend a few evenings with my best friend.

I hope you enjoy "Reboot" as much as I enjoyed making it. It is an album that was nearly scrapped altogether; it is as lucky to be here as you or I or anything else.

Ashley Hopkins

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