New Music Alert: Ashes In The Sky

Dave Lombardo on guitar. [via Joanna Viscuso, Viscuso Media]

If you’re looking for a fresh hard rock band, Ashes In The Sky, hailing from Long Island, New York, is where you should turn your ear.

Formed in 2010, the band’s sound features guitar riffs, vocals, and an intense passion that feels unmatched in the scene today. The band boasts both heavy and light music, and this seems like just the start for them.

We sat down with the Ashes bandmates to talk about their album, their shows, and what’s next for them.

THE KNOCKTURNAL: Tell me a little about how you all came to be involved with the band.

ANTHONY ROBERT JAVINO (LEAD GUITAR): I actually started this band along with my brothers, Patrick Javino and James Javino, and our past vocalist Andrew Nicolae, who is now playing in GutterLife, way back in 2010 after I was kicked out of my last band that I was playing in for about a year or so. Over the years though, from like, 2010-2013, we did go through plenty of lineup changes. I’ve known Dave (Lombardo) since about 2007. Things started going south for us. Christmas of 2014, Nicolae left the band for the opportunity that awaited him in Gutterlife. We were all pretty much hurting in our own ways at that time, but even losing a vocalist me and Dave didn’t stop the wheels for anything. We kept writing and literally spent a week or two together at my dad’s house just writing and writing and writing. Fueling how we were feeling and our passion to keep this band going, this was the start of what became our debut album “Relentless.” It wasn’t too long after that we were already making the moves to get a new vocalist. Andrew Kohn came in and nailed is audition, and we knew that this is the guy for us. Gearing up to finally bring this record into the studio and record it, literally on the day we were in to start pre production of the Relentless, James Javino our longtime bassist and my younger brother would confess he lost the drive to keep pursuing the band and ultimately left. It definitely left a sour taste in my mouth, especially going into the studio right after hearing this but in this band the last thing we do is give up. We unanimously chose Anthony Villani, as he was the only bass player to nail every song we gave him to learn without any effort at all. Patrick Javino would also leave Ashes, as he too lost eh passion to push on with music. Jonathan Gunther of course was the clear pick by everyone to man the drumkit after hearing his audition. Now, with new things on the horizon for us and what we believe to be our “Golden Lineup,” we’re absolutely ready for what were about to embark upon for the future, and we’re holding nothing back. I’ve been involved in this band since day one, and I won’t stop pursing this dream with these incredible group of talented musicians I call my best friends, until the day I drop.

Anthony Robert Javino on guitar. [via Joanna Viscuso, Viscuso Media]

ANDREW KOHN (LEAD VOCALS): I’ve been in the local music scene for quite some time and I had been a fan of Ashes In The Sky for years. They have always known how to work the room and put on an amazing show. I had been involved in several other bands and played alongside them on many occasions. One day, Dave (Lombardo) and I were hanging out and the possibility of them looking for a new vocalist came up in conversation. Assuming it was a hypothetical and that it wouldn’t be any time soon if it wasn’t a hypothetical, I said I would be interested! We hit it off right away and collaborated well. They offered me the spot, and the rest is history.

ANTHONY VILLANI (BASS, VOCALS): I’ve been playing guitar for the last 14 years. About 6-7 years ago, I was introduced to Dave (Lombardo) through a mutual friend from work. For a few years, we would jam, trying to write interesting music that fused our personal tastes. Eventually, he joined Ashes In The Sky, and I would go to a good amount of their shows while working with projects of my own. In the summer of 2015, Tony reached out to me asking if I wanted to audition on bass, due to his brother and founding bassist, Jimmy, having just left the band. This was right in the middle of going into the studio to record Relentless.

DAVE LOMBARDO (GUITAR, VOCALS):  About 5, going on 6 years ago, I had commented on a picture posted on Facebook by Tony (Javino), of all of his, and our old vocalists guitars lined up across his twin brothers drum set, saying either, “Yo! When we jammin?” Or “Bro, we need to jam, asap”. Which then our former vocalist commented on the post asking what I played, followed by if I wanted to try out, because they had been auditioning people to fill his spot on the axe, so he could focus more on singing, and looking to get back into another band, I decided I’d give it a shot. Plus, I knew the Javinos for about 5 years prior to this. Hell, I remember watching Tony LEARN how to play the guitar! And I knew about the band. So they sent me the EP they were working on, and that’s what really sealed the deal, especially when I heard the songs Visions, Rain, and Fallen Heroes. Upon listening it, I heard a lot of incredible, and emotional places for screaming. So I recorded some examples, and sent them to the guys, which I kind of used as my ploy to gain entry. My goal was to destroy my competition. What could I bring to the table? That they couldn’t. So, I learned all the songs on acoustic in a day except for 1 song, “Fallacy,” auditioned I think the very next day, and got the spot.

JONATHAN GUNTHER (DRUMS): I joined the band earlier this year, after being a fan of the band from the early days. Going to their shows always pumped me up.

Anthony Villani on bass. [via Joanna Viscuso of Viscuso Media]

THE KNOCKTURNAL: Where do you guys look for inspiration?

KOHN: Truthfully, a lot of my lyrics are inspired by life experience and my endless pondering of “what if’s.” Randomly, I start thinking about decisions I’ve made in my life, and what could have happened if I had made other decisions or had not experienced that choice at all. Sometimes, I also try to write as though I am someone else, trying to elaborate on what I believe their perception of the world is like, what their story is. Sometimes, there’s a deep personal connection and I write through the eyes of my friends, family, etc. Other times, I write about my take on the great life questions like “what is my purpose?” or “what is the meaning of life?” I’ve come to realize that a lot of my lyrical content is dark and morose, but that’s just the way of the world. I’m a pessimist and a realist, I see things for what they are, expect the worst, and allow myself to be pleasantly surprised if the worst doesn’t happen, but I also don’t set myself up to be disappointed. It’s a weird way of looking at things that find fascinating and enjoy sharing through my lyrics.

VILLANI: I myself, honestly, look everywhere for inspiration. I’m really interested in art of all forms, and find that “beautiful” things, be it sounds, images, hell, even ideas can be captivating.  I’ll sometimes be reading a novel,  or article, and just have that “eureka” moment about some lyrics, or maybe I’ll be watching a movie or anime, and have a melody start to form in my head. Musically, I try to look at what my favorite musicians have done as a starting  point,  either in style or tone selection. Artists like Metallica, Trivium, Van Halen, Breaking Benjamin, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton, even Andrea Bocelli, Eminem, Dr. Dre, and Hopsin just stand out to me the second their songs start. It’s impactful, and driving. That feeling just makes me want to both give up and write more at the same time. Having fun while playing is extremely important to me, so you’ll often hear me go off and do something a little different in the background if I find it sonically pleasing.

LOMBARDO: Usually a vast majority of my lyrics are my demons battling each other. Trying to see the light through my own darkness. Which is a hard thing to get through sometimes, and can definitely be an emotional rollercoaster, and stressful; abusive if you will. But exceptionally rehabilitating. t’s a release, that just relieves the mind of my darkest times, and makes it so I don’t have to think about them anymore. More importantly, if it will show someone that they’re not alone, that we’re in this together, and we’re here to get each other through the dark, and help each other through life’s daily struggles, maybe get them to see the world through someone else’s eyes before they “judge the book by its cover,” then that’s the ultimate goal. To lend a helping hand. To give back to the one thing that has helped me through so much. Music. 

Andrew Kohn. [via Joanna Viscuso, Viscuso Media]

THE KNOCKTURNAL: It’s been about a year since the Relentless release. How has its reception been? More than what you expected? Less?

JAVINO: Definitely everyone who has listened to the record and picked up had absolutely loved it, and all the songs front to back. Even at its release show, when people were singing the words to our music, was absolutely such an incredible feeling as a musician whose worked on this music. Absolutely more then what I expected upon its release, and even playing shows a year later, those who dig us are still enjoying the record to this day. And its such an awesome feeling to know what you helped make and create is still being appreciated even today.

LOMBARDO: The reception was awesome, for what it was worth. Definitely a lot better than I think we all expected, considering we didn’t get the opportunity to tour, to support the record. I’m sure the response would have definitely been better if we would’ve got it out there a little bit further, but unfortunately, life gets in the way, and our work schedules just wouldn’t allow us the time to hit the road. But as a whole, I don’t think I could be any more proud of our first full length.
The obstacles were able to overcome as a band, and challenges. I mean, to this day, people are still hitting me up asking for physical copies, or telling me at shows that they still have Relentless in their CD players in their cars, at home, on their playlists. I just had some dude on YouTube tell me he listens to the record at least 3 times a week. Like, that’s incredible, I wouldn’t have ever imagined that, and we just write what we love. The things in songs that we would love to hear, and it’s incredible to know that people like it.

GUNTHER: I was a fan of the band when Relentless came out. I was in California at the time, doing training for my job in the Marine Corps. The reception that I saw them get at home was amazing. People seemed to be attracted to it immediately. I showed it to every person in my barracks building. Blasted it constantly in my room. A lot of people I worked with loved the sound and direction of the record.

Jonathan Gunther on drums. [via Joanna Viscuso, Viscuso Media]

THE KNOCKTURNAL: What’s next for the band?

GUNTHER: Good question.

JAVINO: A clean slate.

VILLANI: Evolution. Maturation. There’s some changes coming along with the new music once it’s done as well, and I think change is a positive theme we have going on.  Staying stagnant never really helps. 

LOMBARDO: We’re gonna do everything in our power to make sure this record is heard, and we’re going to try as hard as humanly possible to hit the road, and make sure this record is supported with the tour it deserves.

GUNTHER: We look forward to the shows that are on the horizon. We love playing as well as going to shows, just to connect with the people in the scene. Everyone is always warm and welcoming, even if they have no idea who you are.

JAVINO: We’ve been under wraps for quite some time, but for any of those allusions that we’re down and out: we’re most definitely not. Coming this next year, everyone will be seeing a different band entirely, and we can’t wait to show everyone what we’ve been working on for so long and share it with the world.

KOHN: Yeah, a lot of change. We have been working really hard with this current lineup to find our true sound and, while staying true to our roots, growing into our own entity and doing something that is completely our own. I don’t want to give too much away, but I will say that Relentless was a great foundation. This new album is us taking a leap and spreading our wings. If you enjoyed Relentless, buckle up before you start this next chapter with us! 

Ashes In The Sky will perform at Dingbatz in Clifton, New Jersey, on Dec. 9 at 7 pm. The band will also perform on Dec. 30 at Blackthorn 51 in Elmhurst, New York. More information and updates can be found on the band’s Facebook page. 

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