A few words with… No Hot Ashes

By Matthew Prudham

Palatinate Music talks with Luigi Di Vuono, lead guitarist of rising indie-disco band No Hot Ashes, about the challenges of building up support as an unsigned act, the importance of engaging with music for schoolchildren, and their career-changing 2017.

Your music has a really funky, jazzy feel to it that makes it sound extremely fresh – what would you say influences your music to make it sound this way?

Generally, we all listen to a lot of different music. I know it sounds dead cliché because a lot of bands say that, but I don’t think a lot of them really mean it. They might listen to a lot of different styles, but I think we draw a lot of influence from a lot of different genres and it is quite directly incorporated in the music. I myself listen to a lot of funk music, and we try to merge that – the rest of the lads listen to a lot of electronic music, hip-hop, jazz, funk, soul music. We just try to pick at certain genres and what makes them so special, and pull this all together. It sounds dead difficult, but it is just the truth really. I think it definitely shows in our music

‘Cool Cat’ especially shows the influence well of funk and jazz.

‘Cool Cat’ was the first track, really, with which we had the chance to get brass involved, and it just worked out really well. We recorded the track not knowing [we were going to] have brass in it, it was originally just a bog-standard four-piece band track. Yet, looking back now, I can never imagine what it would’ve been [like] without the brass in it, as it’s so innately jazzy.

We’ve had the lead single from your upcoming EP, ‘Eight till Late’, which was released on December 2nd last year, and that’s been gaining great reception. What else can we expect from the other tracks on ‘Skint Kids Disco EP’?

It’s a proper cocktail of an EP. I think the term EP has got lost, now it’s just a collection of songs, just not an album. Our EP, though, is a proper cocktail, as all three songs are ridiculously different, none of them would fit together – they were written at different times. The first track we actually recorded was around January/February last year, and the other two were recorded at the end of last year. It’s quite a long process, but yes, all three tracks are different. ‘Eight till Late’ was more radio-orientated, a proper catchy track. We wanted to get that out first, and originally, we thought we needed to write a more fun track that you can really sing to. It’s really worked as it’s gone down very well. ‘Skint Kids’, the one that’s next to be released on 26th January, goes back to our roots, and is a lot more funk and synth-y vibes and it has a definite 80s feel to it. And then the third track will come out when the full EP is released, and, without saying anything about it, it is a completely different mix-up. We’re really excited just to get it out there, because we’ve never really had much to offer in terms of tracks – we’d usually release one, maybe two songs a year. We released ‘Goose’ back in 2014, and that’s a long time ago really.

You have had the support of music influencers including John Kennedy on Radio X’s ‘Xposure’ and This Feeling. What’s it been like having their backing whilst you are progressing as a band?

It’s great. It’s been really hard to gain label backing, so the likes of the people you mentioned, and there’s a list the length of my arm of the promoters we’ve worked with, they really stuck their necks out and they’ve paid us for gigs – which is great in itself. A lot of people don’t pay for gigs, and they’re going out of their way to give you gigs and paying costs such as accommodation, food and drink. This Feeling have been great. Last year we did a lot of festivals for them, and without them we wouldn’t have played at festivals basically, because at the moment we still don’t have booking agents. This Feeling came along and said, “we can get you on the line-up at Isle of Wight, Tramlines, big festivals like that.” It’s valuable for, especially the radio side of things- we got played on Radio X on the 11th January – we didn’t even know it was happening. You can’t put a price on actual volunteered support towards the band, because generally the promoters aren’t doing it for money, because there’s not that much money in it. They do it just because they love music. That’s the best thing about it really.

What would be your top tip to Theresa May at a time when she is under much pressure?

I don’t think I could even say it (laughs)! Obviously I’d be civil, and I’d take the opportunity to have a really good conversation. I can guarantee that she’d do fuck all about what I’ve said. Putting more funding into arts and creativeness in education. Through primary school and high school, music was there, and it was where I started music, but you could always tell that music and art and drama were in the background at school. No one brought them into the forefront to be honest. A lot of people make careers in music and the arts, so for some people it is just as important as Maths and English as they try and make a career in it. The thing about music is that it brings so many different people together. The Department for Education need to realise this, that people create relationships and even get married based on their musical experience. The big thing for me is a work-life balance, and music merges those two things. It’s crucial in young people’s lives. I’d say that, amongst other things I… won’t mention.

After the release of the Skint Kids Disco EP and your upcoming tour dates in March, what else do you have planned for this year?

We’ll definitely be recording. At the moment, we’re planning to get in to record as soon as we can after the release. We try and overlap, to record and release, and then there’s this month-long process of social media campaigning, and you don’t do much else. The next two months we’re concentrating on gigging and writing. The recording for the EP is all done now so we can’t do much else than promote it at this stage. There are a lot more gigs to be announced, and hopefully festival season is busy for us. Generally, we’ll definitely be writing, recording, and fingers crossed we can do another release by the end of the year. Nothing’s been decided yet. Big shout out to our producer Gavin, we do everything with him.

No Hot Ashes released their new single, ‘Skint Kids Disco’, on Friday 26th January. You can listen to it here.

Photograph: Sam Crowston  (Twitter: @Sam_Crowston_ )

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