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Written by Lauren Napier


Nowadays it’s hard to find original music on tours such as Warped Tour where many of the artists can merge together in appearance and sound. Waking Ashland manages to stand out and present themselves as something original and striking. They walk into the press room quietly while their tour manager remarks, “They’re not usually like this. Be your hyper usual selves, guys.” Despite the friendly instruction they seem subdued and wait for the questions to begin. I’m sure the repetitive questions can start to wear on the guys, but they listen intently and give genuine answers.

Waking Ashland, a San Diego-based band, is certainly not your typical independent rock sound. Fronted by a keyboardist they set themselves apart from the other bands signed to Tooth and Nail Records. They cite some of their modern-day influences as Coldplay, Travis, U2, Weezer while their older influences include the Beatles and Tom Petty. Jonathan Jones, lead vocals and keyboards, jokes around, “Vizion’s my influence.” Vizion, who is responsible for press on Warped Tour, smirks and stifles a laugh. Ryan says, sounding a bit fatigued, “Definitely Tom Petty…and any bands that sound like him.”

“The band formed while we were attending CalState Northridge and Thomas (drums), Ryan (guitar), and myself were music majors and we met through that,” explains Jonathan. They took it from there and began recording their debut EP, “I Am For You” which sold amazing numbers of copies with distribution only available at the merchandise table and on the band’s website. Andy was sought after later and joined the band in 2004 to complete the line-up and provide Waking Ashland with a bass player.

The name of the band is not obvious in meaning. “It’s like two separate meanings put together,” Jonathan clarifies. “Ashland is simply a city in Oregon that I just happened to like the way it sounds. And then the Waking is using music to wake people up and make them aware.”

For a band that managed to be signed less than 18 months after forming in college their past seems to be full of musical achievements. Ryan cites their greatest achievement as being able to play shows and going on tour. Andrew agrees and adds that just “writing this last record we did was a big achievement for us.” Commercially, Jonathan says working with Lou Giordano, who has also been producer to bands such as Taking Back Sunday, the Ataris, and A Static Lullaby, was an amazing experience. Shooting the music video was a big step for the band as well. “I would have never thought, starting this band from day one, that we would have a music video.” Jonathan reflects.

Their manager, Jose, is always present on tour and tops the list with the band as something they always take with them on tour. At this point in the interview the members are waking up and starting to joke. “iPods are always with us on tour, sleeping bags,” Thomas contributes. Jonathan always is accompanied by a journal on tour that he tries to write in everyday, but his entries are somewhat sporadic. “I used to write in it everyday at the beginning of the tour, but now I write in it in spurts.” Jonathan laments.

Books entertain the members on tour. Jonathan is currently reading The DaVinci Code and Angels and Demons. Anything by C.S. Lewis is on Jonathan’s list. “I was reading this book called So You Wanna Be A Rock & Roll Star? That was pretty neat…” Ryan throws in. While researching later I find that this book is based upon the rise of the band Semisonic and told through the eyes of the drummer.

Regrets are non-existent as this band makes its way through the world of music and wakes up its listeners. The band is sure to make a larger name for itself than it already has – and even perhaps touring with Jonathan’s dream tour partner – Coldplay. But for now they will conquer one town at a time – waking up the crowd that has gathered to listen to their emotional lyrics and distinctive keyboard.

 

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