October 20, 2009 / 4:33 PM / 10 years ago

A-Z rock tour takes band Ash off the beaten track

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - A rock band’s A-Z tour of Britain has turned into an alphabet soup of gigs, with the group insisting on “getting off the beaten track” to promote their new series of digital downloads.

Guitarist Charlotte Hatherley of rock band "Ash" performs at The Joint inside the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, September 7, 2002. "Ash" is opening for "Coldplay" in support of the album "Free All Angels." REUTERS/Ethan Miller

Over the next five weeks the Northern Irish band Ash will criss-cross Britain in a completely illogical fashion slavishly following the alphabet in an eclectic mix of small cities, tiny towns and even villages.

Major venues didn’t get a look in when the band, who are more used to playing to 100,000 plus seat stadiums around the world, were mapping out their current tour.

“It’s fun for us, its different and people appreciate it when you go to places that don’t normally get bands,” guitarist and singer Tim Wheeler told Reuters.

Ash opened in the town of Aldershot in southern England and on Tuesday they play Bradford, Wednesday it will be Carlisle and so on and so on, until they do their final gig in the tiny Cornish village of Zennor, near the most southwesterly point of England.

Tickets for Zennor have already sold out, but it didn’t take long as the village hall only holds 70 people.

“There is definitely a much bigger connection when you’ve just got 70 people standing right in your face, it’s just a really different experience,” he said.

Ash have played around the world, including in Japan and the United States, and they have recording studios in New York. But this year they said they wanted to avoid the typical big city venues.

That’s why the A-Z tour will see them total 5,000 miles as they journey back and forth across Britain.

“Our agent was compiling a list and there were some names on there that were actually big cities, so we struck them off the list and told him to get a bit more inventive,” said Wheeler.

The only snag in their alphabetic itinerary - there’s nowhere in Britain beginning with the letter X.

Ash came up with a solution and chose the Devon town of Exmouth instead.

“I think in this day and age with text speak people don’t really care about vowels that much, so I think we can get away with it,” Wheeler said.

The A-Z tour is to promote the band’s new concept of releasing two songs a month as digital downloads to replace the traditional album.

“We came up with the concept of doing 26 singles in a year and then we figured how nicely that would tie in with the alphabet and we could call it the A-Z series,” said Wheeler.

Editing by Paul Casciato

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