After the successful re-release of the first two Ashbury albums, High Roller Records is proud to announce the band’s brand new studio record »Eye Of The Stygian Witches«.
Ashbury from Tuscon in Arizona are one of the biggest “re-discoveries” of obscure eighties hard rock from America. 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 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.
Ashbury appeared at the prestigious “Keep It True” festival in 2015 gaining a fanatical following in Germany as a result.
The band’s new album is called »Eye Of The Stygian Witches«. Rob Davis (lead guitar, vocals) explains: “The album has been a very long time coming actually. Randy and I started work on this back in 2009, recording demo versions of the new songs ‘End Of All Time’ and others. This is an album we have wanted to get to the fans for quite some time. It seemed fitting to release it on CD in Europe at the same time we are there to headline the ‘Harder Than Steel Festival’ in September 2018.
If you will, then »Eye Of The Stygian Witches« is another “typical” Ashbury album in the sense that musically it is again a mixture of harder rock songs (“End Of All Time”), some quiet acoustic numbers (“Summer Fades Away”), instrumentals (“Celtic Cross”) and some hard rock/proto-metal compositions (for example the monumental “Eye Of The Stygian Witches” plus “Faceless Waters”). The band thinks so too: “That is the perfect description of the album! An argument could be made that the ‘typical’ Ashbury album is exactly what Randy and Rob will deliver, if they stay true to the music and their own songwriting.”
In this respect »Eye Of The Stygian Witches« is the logical follow-up to »Endless Skies« and »Something Funny Going On«. The band seems to share this view: “We think so. We also want to give the fans what they want and expect from us. »Endless Skies« can't be recreated, but we wanted to be in that same songwriting vein, and the fans will feel that. Ashbury has always been the blend of acoustic and electric guitars, harmony vocals and provocative/fantasy lyrics.”
»Eye Of The Stygian Witches« was recorded with the help of the same pattern established way back with »Endless Skies«: “Randy has always played all instruments and put together all arrangements for the albums. With »Endless Skies« he played everything but the drums (Johnny Ray) and Rob added the acoustic guitar and vocals. That established the pattern that was followed with »Something Funny Going On«, as Randy played most everything on that album. Ashbury is essentially a duo, and always have been, including when we recorded »Endless Skies«. Although we have a good live band, Randy once again played most everything on the album, and we are all happy with that finished sound.”
Ashbury in the past has been known to include the one or other lyric of a more political or socially conscious nature. What about “Searchin'” on the new record? Could this be read as an “anti-capitalist” song? Rob Davis explains: “Not necessarily anti-capitalistic, but more of an observation that we all look for something to fulfill this life, but financial success doesn't necessarily guarantee that any level of happiness or contentment of the soul will occur also. ‘Faceless Waters’ is the most socially reflective song, generalizing the negative conditions of the human experience; plainly stating that the TRUTH is something the average person simply cannot deal with or accept - and no entity is telling truth, just the appearance of truth, all aimed at controlling our thoughts, emotions and actions … ‘if there's one thing I can tell you, it's you just don't wanna know’.”
The guitar work on the entire record is quite outstanding (once more). It's right up there along with the greats like David Knopfler and Rory Gallagher. So is »Eye Of The Stygian Witches« a guitar-driven record after all? “Absolutely!,” finds Rob Davis. “All of our songwriting is inclusive of the lead guitar being one of the main showcase items on the albums. Lead guitar, harmony vocals and blending acoustic and electric sound … that is our trademark.”
After appearing at “Keep It True” for the first time in 2015, it seemed as if Europe has become Ashbury’s second home and the primary market for their music. “Yes, our home away from home,” confirms Rob Davis. “Many wonderful fans and great professionals throughout the European music scene. We enjoy everything about performing in Europe, from Sweden to Greece, and we try to accomodate as many offers from all countries as we possibly can. We have had to decline many offers of touring, which is difficult when so many superb professionals are offering their talents to insure the travel and shows would go smoothly. Our band members have families, jobs and own businesses. We (Randy & Rob) have no desire to spend long periods of time on the road, either in the U.S. or Europe, so the occasional show or festival is our forté now, and we enjoy meeting the fans most of all.”
There was no question at all that High Roller would be the label to release »Eye Of The Stygian Witches«, or was there? “We had many offers from several good labels,” states Rob Davis. “Something we are truly fortunate to have, but we do have a long term relationship with High Roller Records in Europe and were happy with the terms they offered for the new record. For us, the question was more if High Roller Records would want to put out the new release! LOL! The album will be available on CD, vinyl and also at all digital retail sites such as Amazon, itunes, Google, etc. Thanks to all who give it a listen!”