Rocking it from
The Lucky Country
ASHES of AUTUMN Delivers
"Personally, there are varying feelings of accomplishment. Being nominated as Best New Act for WAM 2020 was pretty cool. We are a new band, and it was just nice to have such early recognition. I love that feeling of spending a long time on writing, recording and mixing down, and then the moment arrives when it’s done, and you have this product that you have literally cried over and agonized over." - Melanie Flynn
All the way from Australia, lives the Rock band, Ashes of Autumn. Their huge fan bass is understandable, given the lyrics and haunting vocals of Melanie Flynn, and the wall of sound from Mat Kenworthy, Bryn Haythornthwaite, Jez Thomson & John “Ferret” Geraghty. They have played many festivals alongside national and international acts including Gyroscope, Teenage Bottlerocket, End of Fashion and Xiii.
From the opening riff of their single, “Supernova,” to the dramatic melody of “Minor Issues”, audiences are captivated by live shows and their songwriting. They have heart and you feel it when you talk with them.
I caught up with Melanie and Mat for a fun interview:
By Kreig Marks, October 2021
KM: Hi Melanie. Welcome to Tru Rock Revival Magazine. Give me a little background about you? Have you always wanted to be a singer? As a kid, what were your career aspirations?
Melanie: Thanks so much for having me / us. As young as I remember I wanted to be a singer. My dad was playing in bands when I was born, so music was always around me when I was growing up. I didn’t have to use the old clichéd hair brush in the mirror trick because Dad had his P.A and mics set up around the house. I think there was a fleeting moment of wanting to be a journalist, but that was a very fleeting moment. I won a music scholarship in my first year of high school, much to my mums horror. She wanted me to be successful with my studies first, you know, have something to fall back on. So I didn’t go down that track of the music scholarship, and 3 years later I left school to join a band and tour South Africa, again much to my mums horror. Hahaha.
KM: Ha. You have very strong vocals and a very good range. Are you classically trained?
Melanie : I wish! No, no. When I was about 18, I had no idea how to sing correctly, technique, etc , so I would just jump up on stage, belt it out, and then spend hours rehearsing until eventually, I lost my voice. I kept trying to push through, and ultimately caused some serious damage to my vocal cords. So I wasn’t allowed to speak for 3 months, or sing for 6 months and had to see a speech pathologist to “learn” how to speak properly." I wasn’t aware that that was a thing! That taught me to be aware of how my body works holistically, and to not focus on just the throat. Singing is a whole body work out for sure, and using its inner core strength helps with delivery, power and control. Well, for me anyway.
KM: Interesting! When did you first realize you had a real talent for singing?
Melanie: Do you know what? I don’t think it was ever a realization. I still doubt myself daily! I think it was more about the inherent drive and passion for singing and music. I remember saying to a musician friend of mine a few years back, that I wished I had half as much talent as I do passion hahaha. And his reply was “talent only goes so far, without the drive to use it, it’s useless. “ That really resonated with me.
KM: Growing up in Australia, who were you listening to as a kid? Who do you feel are some of your greatest musical influences?
Melanie: So Dad was a singer/ guitarist, and mum was still stuck in the 70's when I was growing up. There was a lot of 70s and 80s Rock. Led Zeppelin, Uriah Heap, Rainbow, Janis Joplin, Toto. My favorite singer as kid, and someone I admire still to this day, is John Farnham. Not sure if you know who he is, but even Tom Jones rated him as the best voice in the world. He just has this amazing, powerful, rich and natural voice, with an amazing range. He has always been my vocal idol for sure, but I have so many; Chris Cornell (RIP💔), Skin from Skunk Anansie, Lj from Sevendust, the list is very long and diverse. In High School, I was pretty much trying to sing everything from Punk Rock, to Metal, Grunge, Blues, Pop, you name it. I was trying to find my sound as a singer, I guess. I had some pretty heavy phases haha The awkward Emo/ Goth phase stuck around for while. I'm a bit less Emo these days, 100 percent Rock, and probably still as awkward though.
KM: Ha. Tell me a bit about the band. How did Ashes of Autumn form? Who are the players?
Mat: The band actually formed from the ashes of a few bands. Through a mutual friend, Mel, I was put into contact with Mat and our former drummer who had played in a previous band together. At the first jam we clicked musically, so we went about recruiting another guitar and bass player. Like almost every band in history, the early line moved around a little as we settled into our sound. Funnily enough, we brought in Jeremy, our current bass player, during a COVID lock down via Zoom.
KM: Cool! The band has been together a few years now. You’ve released several singles. Are there plans for a full album in the works?
Mat: You are right, we are now entering our third year. Being a relatively new and emerging band, we made a conscious decision to focus on regular single releases for the music world to nibble on. At present, there are no plans to release an album as such, but regular studio time and releases are in the works.
KM: Was there a backup plan for you, career-wise, if things with Ashes of Autumn didn’t pan out?
Melanie: The back up plan. Well, like my mum always said, I need one, and yeah, there are areas of life that I’m passionate about. For me, it’s that connection with others. I used to teach music (piano and vocals) to kids and I loved that so much. It was just a joyous thing to do. I’ve moved away from teaching, but still crave the human connection and living in the society in which we do. I feel there’s a huge gap in mental health services for our youth, so I'm as involved as I can be in that sector at the moment.
KM: Important. Do you remember details from your first show with the band? What was it like for you?
Melanie: Oh God, yes. For me it kind of moved in slow motion, a bit of an Outer Body Experience. I was riddled with anxiety. I thought I was going to be sick the whole time I was on-stage. The fear of playing songs that we had poured ourselves into, well, that created a vulnerability that I wasn’t prepared for. Everyone in the band was like “ It's fine, have fun, we got this,” meanwhile, I was literally shaking and trying not to puke. Hahaha, good times! But honestly, I feel like that in every live performance.
KM: How challenging was 2020 for you and the band, not being able to perform live? What did you all do to stay busy and keep Ashes of Autumn fresh in your fan’s minds?
MAT: We are based in Perth, which is pretty much the only city on the west coast of Australia, so we are isolated by ocean and desert from the rest of Australia and the world. We have been extremely fortunate that COVID only locked us down for a few brief periods, but we are also marooned to some extent, as there has been no travel allowed in and out of the state for the past 18 months. We try to keep up the social media engagement, and have focused our attention on building our local live following.
KM: What are all of you doing now to make up for the time lost during 2020?
MAT: We have been able to perform small local shows, which we continue to do, and we have also been busy writing, making our first video clip, and planning for the future when the world opens up again.
KM: In the brief time the band has been together, what’s been your greatest thrill so far?
Melanie: Hmm this is a tough question. Personally, there are a few, for different reasons, and varying feelings of accomplishment. Being nominated as Best New Act for WAM 2020 was pretty cool. We are a new band, and it was just nice to have such early recognition. I love that feeling of spending a long time on writing, recording and mixing down, and then the moment arrives when it’s done, and you have this product that you have literally cried over and agonized over, and had never-ending conversations with band mates over. Then, it’s finished and it’s like “ OK, take a breath,” and pause and think, “Hey, we actually created that. And it's pretty cool!” Also, every show is thrilling. Just to be able to write and play with this group of musicians, it’s a real blessing. They’re an awesome group of humans.
KM: Thank you so much for your time, we can't wait to hear more from your band.
MAT & MELANIE: Thank you, too, Kreig!
Kreig Marks, Publisher / Founder TRR
Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
Rock music has always been his passion, and promoting musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.