mastered for vinyl by Patrick W. Engel at Temple of Disharmony
One of the biggest “re-discoveries” of obscure eighties US Metal/Hard Rock are Ashbury from Tuscon in Arizona. The band, led by brothers Randy and Rob Davis, did originally record two very hard to find albums: »Endless Skies« in 1983 and the (belated) follow-up »Something Funny Going On« (issued in 2010).
Although mostly written right after the release of »Endless Skies« in 1983, it took decades for the follow-up »Something Funny Going On« to finally see the light of day. When it finally happened, the actual release of »Something Funny Going On« seemed to come quite out of the blue. Randy Davis explains: “I had been trying to talk Rob into playing music with me again since 2001. I was doing a lot of recording and started recording some original material. Rob started helping me record the material, and soon we had almost an hour of music. We decided to make 100 CD-Rs for friends/fans and family. It was never actually intended to be a commercial release, but word got out and we had several requests and eventually we released it on CD with a reissue in 2010.”
There were rumors that Randy actually played all (!) instruments on »Something Funny Going On«. He does indeed confirm: “I did play everything on »Something Funny Going On« except for a few acoustic guitar parts and keyboard parts that Rob played. We both did vocals of course. My first instrument was drums, then piano/keyboard, then bass guitar and finally I moved to lead guitar, so playing everything was not a big deal. Besides, at the time, we were doing this just for fun, not intending a commercial release for this CD.”
Randy Davis once mentioned that the title track “Something Funny Going On” is “about corporate fascism in the music industry”. He also cited
Hunter Thompson. Those are harsh words... ”Yes, Hunter's words about the music industry were quite harsh!,” he stresses. “Unfortunately, from our experience it was very true. While some record labels did want to sign us, they would not release »Endless Skies« on the market. They wanted us to be a very 'commercial' act, so they could make more money on us. They made it quite clear that they wanted to own us, our music, and they wanted us to have no say in anything - including the music, our appearance (image) and they would also supervise the song writing processes too. We said 'no thanks'. We do this for the music and our legacy - not the money.”
Some people have noted that whereas »Endless Skies« was fantasy-based, »Something Funny Going On« was relating to reality much
more directly. Would that be a fair judgement to be made? ”For the most part the answer would be 'yes'”, states Rob Davis. “»Something Funny Going On« is definitely more reality-based lyrically, although 'Take Your Love Away', 'Madman', 'Hard Fight' and the title track 'Endless Skies' are lyrically based on life experience. Two songs from »Something Funny Going On« are based on Randy's desire to play music again: 'Always Something More' and 'No Gettin' Over You'. 'Evacuation Time' is about natural disaster, and 'The Cold Light Of Day' is our only political statement song, although it is rather ambiguous and intended that way.”
The band was also quoted as saying “when dealers from around the globe and
several labels began contacting us in the late 1990s, we began to realize what was happening.” So did Randy and Rob have the impression that some dealers were after their original copies of the vinyl ... just to sell
those on for inflated prices?
“We weren't aware of the price being asked”, they say, “but we were aware that the album had a market, not only for vinyl, but also on CD. The price for the original vinyl continued to be high, and still is, if you can find one. That is one reason we are happy to see quality reissue LPs being made available to fans who still want the album on quality vinyl at a reasonable price.”
Were Rob and Randy surprised that it was the metal community after all that embraced Ashbury? Or would they have rather thought, especially back in
the eighties, that the typical Ashbury sound would be directed more towards a broader rock audience? Rob was quite surprised, but Randy not so much: “When we recorded the album, Rob felt it was more of a Rock-oriented- maybe something of a 'concept' album … with something of a theme to it. Stone Age was the one who prompted us to write and include 'Vengeance' on the album. He directly requested a more Metal song to finish the compliment of songs available, and it has become our signature song with the Metal community. We are fortunate to have both Metal fans and some Rock fans also. Once at a show in Tucson, some Metal fans came in from out of state and mixed into the club with the Rock fans, and were quite bewildered that the Rock fans would just sit at a table to watch the show as opposed to crowding the stage, singing along and sending tons of Metal energy to the band. Metal fans are the absolute greatest music fans of all. We are so happy and proud to be included in the Metal community, and have had the great pleasure to perform shows with dozens of great bands over the last few years.”
Were they surprised that there was at least some kind of awareness over here in Europe for the band? ”Yes, in the 90's we were surprised to find out about it, because we had not done anything to promote the band,” is the answer to this question. “However, in the last few years, we have been to Europe several times, played festivals and met many friends and fans of the band and that is the best part of all, meeting the people who keep the torch burning, those that make the shows and festivals possible - the fans. We look forward to being back in Europe again next year and to the longtime and new friends of Ashbury. Thank you and we hope to see you soon!”