Smiley Asks: Matthew Rodriguez from Southern Ashes

If you follow me on social media or have had a conversation with me about Texas Country, there is a 95% chance I mentioned Southern Ashes somewhere in our conversation. They are one of the first bands I came across when I moved down to the Valley, little did I know that they had only been together for a few months. Southern Ashes began as a band on February 14, 2015, since then a lot has changed, there have been bigger venues, growing attendance at their shows, among other things. Thankfully I had the opportunity meet up with Matthew Rodriguez frontman for the band, and reminisce on the past 2 and half years, discuss upcoming plans, and special dates for the band. Give it a read, and mark your calendars for the new music from Southern Ashes!

To begin, give me a quick recap of how the band came together.

MR: Honestly, after almost giving up on music having come back from an American Idol audition in Louisiana (short story of what my career was before the band). This dude reached out to me, and asked if I could play a gig, ended up being Rick (Band Manager), and Rick knew JC (Drummer), and a guy name Chendo (Guitar Player) and Orly (bass player). All of the sudden things started happening, we started practicing more and more. Then our original guitar and bass player left for work reasons. Red ended up helping us out randomly one day at London’s, and we liked his vibe. Then Chris came along, he is Red’s cousin and we all clicked. Ruby came before everybody, after us being without musicians; we needed someone who could help keep the music going since I was still growing as a musician. We were trying to find good people, not just great players, but good people that play great.

How has the dynamic of the band been considering everyone comes from different musical backgrounds?

MR: JC plays Metal, Chris likes the 90’s - 311 and all that good stuff, and we play a lot of 90’s during practice so I think we are inspired by that. Ruby is more of the traditional person she keeps us well rounded. It all just kind of meshes together somehow. We all listen to very similar a thing, that’s what we grew up on. We didn’t all necessarily grow up listening to country, we kind of rebelled against it, and then you just end up falling back in love with, so here we are now.

Y'all have been together now for 2 and half years now, it is crazy to think that you all have been able to keep the momentum going without having an album that says “THIS IS US”. Has it been difficult for you all to create a “fanbase”?

MR: Well, I don’t call them fans. I call them friends because at the end of the day that is what they are. It hasn’t been hard because we like to hang out with those that came to our shows. We start not knowing you, and then take the time getting to know you, and then I see their faces often. Many times I see them more than my Family. It has been easy here in the Valley to build those relationships, now when we go out of town it is difficult, we don’t always have something to leave behind, besides the memories of our performance and us acknowledging them. Simply hoping that they will remember you.

Southern Ashes Facebook
As a band, what has been the biggest lesson you all have learned in the past couple of years?

MR: I think the biggest lesson would be, don’t underestimate your crowd. I am a big pusher in playing random songs nobody knows. I know I may get some slack for saying this but we started playing Sturgill Simpson before anybody else in the Valley was playing Sturgill Simpson, we also play “Purple Rain” which nobody does, and that is our biggest thing. “Your weakness is being unique until it becomes your biggest strength”

Alright now, to what everyone has been waiting for. Yall have an album coming out, how is it coming along, is it finished?

MR: It's done! We’ve delayed it so much because it is our first album. We want to make sure we get everything done right, and then my marketing side kicks in and I become picky about certain things. But, there are no more delays, we have a date just waiting for approval which according to Itunes we should hear a response in 3 to 4 days confirming it. I am personally ready for it to be released, these songs that I wrote were a part of my past, and I am ready to move on.

This album will definitely be an introduction of Southern Ashes, what are you hoping new and loyal listeners will get from the album?

MR: I am hoping people will listen with an open mind, we didn’t shoot for a traditional or alternative sound, we focused on emotions. What we felt worked, is essentially what we did. If the song felt like it needed “that”, then we added “that” to it. I’m hoping people are open to it, the lyrics and the sound. I hope we were able to get the stories across. Many of the songs were based on the lives of people around me, what I interpreted their story to be. That is why the album is called “Back of My Mind” these are stories that have always stayed there since my youth.

What is one thing that you and the band wanted to make sure the album had?

MR: I just hope we were able to get the essence of some of these stories across. Some of the songs, I’ve had in my mind for a very long time; we wanted to make sure we were able to bring the stories to life in every aspect of it. The band knows who the songs were inspired by and we worked to get the emotions, everything together so the point could get across. That’s what we want.

What song are you the most excited for everyone to hear?

MR: I am excited for all of our songs, but I think the one that I am the most excited for is “Your Kiss”. It is a song almost a part two to one of the songs we are releasing first, and I am just excited about it. During the recording of the song, we added the use quinoa as a shaker, and that was fun and compliment the song. We have received positive feedback from our friends that heard it on youtube, and we’ve even seen them singing along at shows. I am excited about it because it is updated and people have told me they can relate to how they feel about someone else. The song is actually about someone missing somebody and seeing them around town, feeling like you are in a dream even their kiss feels real.

Lastly, describe the album in 5 words.

MR: Dark. Emotional. Transitional, because in the end, it does get lighter….what is that word, when you look back to the past and you….Nostalgic (laughs), for me since it takes me back to high school and college. Depressing. It is a depressing album, there’s a lot of heartbreaking in the songs.

There you have it, folks, the new and first Southern Ashes EP will be up for Pre-Orders this Friday, October 20, 2017 (link will be posted once available) and will be released October 27th, 2017. The band will be having their release party at Rinky Dinky's. Meanwhile, I will leave you with this exclusive listen at "Drive" the soon to be single by Southern Ashes and a personal favorite of mine "My Girl".

Follow Southern Ashes on social media:
Instagram: @Southern_Ashes
Facebook: www.facebook.com/southernashesmusic
Twitter: @Southern_ashes

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