By Jodi Brak
CALGARY – Somewhere between folk, rock and pop lies The Ashley Hundred. A mingling of rock guitar and psychedelic keyboard rhythms, laced with the subtle twang of banjo and driven home by powerful front-and-centre drums, their music is inherently danceable and surprisingly philosophical. The combination fits a festival stage as well as it does a rainy drive through a windswept mountain pass.
The Ashley Hundred is about to release their first full-length self-titled album, the product of 18 months of hard work. It was recorded throughout fall and winter 2016 at OCL Studios in Calgary, and is the first album the group has recorded, mixed and mastered entirely in a professional setting.
“We were all kind of trying to be on our A game. Don’t get me wrong… it’s a great experience, but we went there to work,” says vocalist and guitar / keyboard player Andrew Franks.
“I feel like that’s kind of what the experience was like, we had this time in this state of the art studio and we made the most of it while still having a good time.”
What came out at the end of the day is a mix of sounds and emotions that in their own way capture the journey The Ashley Hundred has been a part of over the past few years.
Guitarist Carson Stewart says, “I think this record is basically a snapshot of that progression.”
Their open-ended writing process really shows through in the variety of tracks on the album. Genre is not ignored so much as it is assimilated. It’s hard to place their music into a box when lap-steel guitar mixes with dance beats in the same moment.
“Really everyone on this record has a little piece of it they can call their own, which is really cool to be able to say,” says Brett Cassidy, who plays banjo and lap-steel guitar.
“Some of it is very introspective, a couple of songs are just more playful. That’s who we are as people… Emotion is a huge spectrum and I think we try and capture as much of the human experience as we can.”
Franks adds, “There is no one specific way that we write songs. Somebody will come with pretty much an entire song written and everybody just adds their flavor onto it.”
This album was, in many ways, made possible by The Ashley Hundred’s participation in the Prophets of Music Emerging Artist Scholarship Program. Over the past year they have worked closely with mentors in the Canadian music scene to grow as songwriters, and to better understand what it takes to pursue music as a career.
As Stewart says, “Man, they just blew our expectations out of the water for the amount of help that they gave us. We couldn’t have done half of what we did this last year without their help.”
Key to their efforts was the recording time provided by OCL Studios, where they worked with Josh Gwilliam, the wizard behind the OCL soundboard.
“I think one of the biggest things for us is we were working with both Josh Gwilliam and Chris Sandvoss on really crafting our songs and our dynamics,” says Jordan Moe.
“We were looking at our songs completely differently after this process. We’re already writing new stuff after this and we have these things in our head right from the beginning which is a really cool thing.”
The Ashley Hundred record release party is September 1 at Dickens with Fox Who Slept the Day Away and The Archaics (Calgary).Dickens, Fox Who Slept the Day Away, The Archaics, the Ashley Hundred