“Since I grew up playing piano, I always wanted to integrate the emotion of the piano-based singer/songwriters like Elton John and Billy Joel with the edginess of bands like the Pixies and Husker Du” explains lead vocalist/keyboardist Jonathan Jones.
“And yet, ironically, we do not sound anything like our influences. They merely served as emotional guides to help us integrate keyboards into our music without sacrificing the sonic impact of the guitars.”
Formed in November 2003, the San Diego-based Waking Ashland began to take shape after Jonathan Jones met co-founding members Ryan Lallier and Thomas Lee at college and began recording their promising debut EP, “I Am For You.” The EP not only received critical acclaim, but went on to sell over 10,000 copies, without retail distribution apart from shows and the band’s website.
In 2004, the addition of Andrew Grosse on bass completed the line-up. The group’s first real tour--a spring headlining run—was followed almost immediately with a July-August stint on the Vans Warped Tour and non-stop touring thereafter.
“The only touring break we have taken was to record our first album.” Says Jones, “The constant touring stems from our philosophy that real bands are created on the road, not in the studio.”
Nonetheless, the group did take December 2004 off to record their full-length debut Composure, released May 10th on Tooth & Nail Records. Composure is a potent dose of emotionally-driven guitar rock fused with piano-based rhythms. Recorded at Water Music Studios with producer Lou Giordano (Ataris, Taking Back Sunday), the album showcases each of the genuine components that have made Waking Ashland so appealing from the start.
“We chose Lou not only because of his recent successes, but because of his earlier work with bands like Sunny Day Real Estate and Sugar,” Jones explains. “From the start Lou liked our natural sound and his only goal was to enhance it and capture it.”
Giordano’s touch is evident, as the album’s diverse dynamics range from the atmospheric opening of crisp piano and vocals on “Shades Of Grey” to the infectious chorus of “I Am For You” and the deeply adorned orchestral arrangement of “Sing Me To Sleep.”
Jones concludes, “For us, it is all about songwriting and presentation. How can we write songs to the best of our ability and present them in the most engaging way possible. It is not an easy task. We are a young band. We’re just getting started.”