Charlotte sips a cup of hot water and lemon to soothe her tired tonsils as she talks to Ross Halewood
“When I joined Ash,” she reflects, “it never crossed my mind that they were this big, successful band. I just went in with this teenage arrogance.”
Plucked from obscurity at the age of 18 to augment the already-successful pop-punk trio, Charlotte’s adventures with Ash got off to a false start with the poorly received ‘Nu Clear Sounds’ platter. After a major rethink, Ash stormed back to the top of the charts with the return-to-form ‘Free All Angels’ before being invited by Robbie Williams as special guests at his gigantic Knebworth gigs. Having decided to fly solo in early 2006, it seems Charlotte has once again taken the spontaneous, ‘que sera sera’ approach to making vital career decisions.
“I sometimes get myself into trouble by not thinking things through,” she admits, “but I have this belief that it will all work out fine. When I was setting up my label, I had no idea what to do. On top of that, I wondered how I was going to go out on tour and pay six people’s wages so I am amazed at having got this far.”
Recorded in 2004 whilst still a member of Ash, Charlotte’s debut album, ‘Grey Will Fade’, was strictly a side-project, born largely out of frustration.
“I had a bunch of songs that I wanted to record with Ash,” she says, “but it was obvious they weren’t going to end up on any of their albums. Stylistically, the songs were too different. I was feeling restless at that point so I decided to record my own album and get it out of my system.”
The positive reaction that greeted ‘Grey Will Fade’ gave Charlotte the confidence to hand in her notice with Ash. Many artists who go it alone tend to paint a perfect picture of their current status, though Charlotte is refreshingly candid on her newfound responsibilities as a solo artist.
“With Ash, I was signed to the band, not the label, so I never got involved in the business side of things. Running my own label, I have learned so much about the industry in the last year. I’m not as romantic and naïve as I used to be, which is a shame.”
For her second album, ‘The Deep Blue’ (released this week on her Little Sister label) Charlotte has hooked up with with PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis, Eric Drew Fellman (Frank Black, Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band) and XTC’s Andy Partridge. Where Ash paid lip service to classic punk and Nirvana, Charlotte’s own influences veer on the eccentric.
She says, “I wanted to write something as good as the records I am influenced by like ‘The Soft Bulletin’ by the Flaming Lips. I’m massively into Kate Bush and David Bowie, too. I’ve not achieved their standards, of course, but it’s something to aspire to. There are parts of ‘The Deep Blue’ that could be improved but overall, it is a good record and I am really proud of it.”