Music Underground Lockdown Interview with Ascendo

Updated: Jun 16, 2020






Formed in early 2019, Ascendo are a 4 piece Indie Rock band residing out of Wakefield, UK. Their music is described as “Modern indie rock meets classic 90s indie” giving a nostalgic sound and have been likened to the likes of Oasis and Arctic Monkeys.

The band was formed by brothers Charlie Williams (Songwriter and Frontman) and Joe Doody (Lead Guitar) who then introduced their project to Ethan Swales (Drummer), whilst Matt Freeman (Bassist) was later acquired in early 2020.

Gaining national and international success with their debut EP ‘Something Sweeter’ - the band have since gone on to release singles ‘Bonafide’ and ‘Angelina’ experimenting with alternative and upbeat sound

Charlie Williams (Vocals, rhythm guitar)

Ethan Swales (Drums, percussion)

Joe Doody (Lead guitar)

Matt Freeman (Bass guitar, backing vocals)

How have you found being a musician during lockdown?

C- Challenging at times, not being able to perform in a live settling has been somewhat unfamiliar, but it’s something that I’ve learnt to adapt to. I’ve also started listening to a lot of new bands and new material which is good, I think most bands / artists have been making the most of lockdown and staying as active as possible, it’s always good to hear new music.

E- During lockdown, I have found that, as a drummer, I have a fair bit I need to work on. Whether it’s my technique or that I just need to improve my skill level. So, I am currently taking this opportunity to create new and better drum beats so that I will be prepared for when we can get back to practising. However, finding the motivation is the challenge.

J- Being a musician in lockdown has been a useful period to practice my instruments and try to stretch my abilities to new levels. I found that being separated from the rest of the band has helped me think of new riffs, licks, chord progressions etc. I don’t really think it’s been much different really, just more time to practice.

M- Difficult as I miss playing at gigs to fans. I miss live music. However, it has proven a great time to release and write new music being home for longer periods than I normal would have. It has been really nice to see our band being able to spend more time in reaching out to our fans and gain some more in the process.

What have you been doing musically during the lock down, how has it affected you?

C- Live streams have been the way forward and I think we’ve been able to reach a variety of different people from doing them who are now fans of the band. I would say all in all it’s definitely also made me more creative with my writing. I have so much material written to introduce to the band when we can finally get back in to the studio together, so I would say I’ve tried to stay as productive as possible.

E- I have been exploring the music genres and looking into other bands to help influence more playstyles and beats I could try. For myself, I have been practising the drums and trying to better myself. Other than that, I am self-teaching myself bass guitar just for a side hobby and so that I can understand the other band members’ roles and terminology a lot better.

J- Using the time to practice and create new music from giving other genres and bands a listen. I have been promoting the band through social media, its not affected me too much because I only had 3 week off work however in the time I did have off I found it to be the perfect time to create our music.

M- I have been working on writing some new songs. I have been working on my development in my skills being a musician/bass player. I have been trying to play more technical musical again on both bass and guitar. In my spare time, I have been giving guitar tuition to students through skype to help them develop as musicians and occupy their time through lockdown.

What first got you into music and when was it?

C- Weirdly enough, the first CD I was ever bought was ‘The Eminem Show’ and had it on my Walkman at about 7 years old, the good old days. I remember not having a clue what the lyrics were or what I was rapping along to, but something about it just swept me off my feet, I loved it. It wasn’t until around 13/14 that I actually properly started getting into Indie music and playing the guitar, even then it took me until about 19/20 to actually start writing songs.

E- It was when I was growing up as a kid. My Dad showed me a lot of music from the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters, Happy Mondays, Paul Weller, Oasis, The Jam, etc. From my experiences with that side of the genre, I gained my passion and wanted to learn music as a hobby. I tried sports but could never get into it, but when I tried music, it sort of clicked for me. In primary school I was given the opportunity to play the trumpet. I may not have been good but it inspired me to look into other instruments which suited my genre of music. When we were told that drumming was available in high school, I signed up right away. I took lessons for 5 years and me and the lead guitarist (Joe) sometimes practiced together in the practise rooms at school. This gave me an insight as to what it would be like to perform with a band.

J- I started learning classical guitar when I was 7, and later I ventured into electric guitar and from there on my brother Charlie Williams influenced me on music, I was around 13 at the time and from then my music taste got wider and wider.

M- I have always enjoyed listening to music. It has been a big part of my life. In music classes at school I was always singing or playing an instrument. What really made me want to pick up the guitar was when I was watching the royal family with my Dad, the ending credits song was ‘Half the World Away’ by Oasis. I immediately fell in love with this song and made it my goal to play it on guitar starting my love of Oasis and learning most of their discography.

Who inspired you to make music, who are you influenced by?

C- Starting to get in to indie at about 14, Stereophonics were always my go-to band. I’ve seen them live more than any other band too, I absolutely love them. I’d then say Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Verve in my earlier teen years. However about the time we formed the band, it was the likes of Kasabian, Gerry Cinnamon, Jamie T and Miles Kane that really made me want to get up on a stage and have an audience reacting like they do to their live sets, just full of absolute passion and euphoria, that’s the dream.

E- I could say that it was a load of artists out there which influenced me. But overall it was my Dad. Without his drive, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to explore music and get into a band. He always used to say, “Get in a band! Don’t let your talent go to waste!” but I didn’t have the confidence to start in a random band with people I didn’t know. When Joe asked me to join his and Charlie’s band however, I jumped at the opportunity and my Dad pushed me along.

J- My inspiration to make music is definitely the Beatles as I think that their music lives on through most indie rock musicians/bands. My other influences are the stone roses, OASIS, The smiths, dire straits, Fleetwood mac and Jimi Hendrix.

M- I have a wide array of influences spanning through many genres or music. I don’t think I could tailor this down to name just a few. Oasis was the start. This has moved on to include the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Guns ‘n’ Roses, Metallica, Iron Maiden, Bullet for My Valentine to name a small few. I loved the different styles of guitar playing such as duelling guitars, guitar harmonies. I also then loved the softer side. The way Johnny Cash would use an acoustic guitar to create such an array of sounds. The catchy song writing and lyrics of Bruce Springsteen or even the wide versatility and emotion to the music of Billy Joel. I honestly could go on for ages in this subject.

How would you describe the music that you typically create?

C- Yes it’s definitely changed over the years. I’d probably describe it as indie rock but also with an element of something different in there too, I’m not quite sure what that is yet, but I wouldn’t say if fits the criteria of the standard indie / indie rock. If you listen to Kasabian, they have their own unique sound with a blend of a variety of things in there, I love that about them and want us to be something similar to that style.

E- Our music is usually centred around 90’s rock with little sprites of the modern era from artists like Arctic Monkeys and a hint of Jamie T and Kasabian. When we all sat down one night to discuss our genre, we struggled cos we had so much variety in our music, which we all brought in our own way. We have had people relate us to Oasis and Arctic Monkeys, to Nirvana; so to describe our music, I would say that we would appeal to more of a ‘Mass Audience’. Since we’ve not been together for long, our music styles haven’t changed that much. I would say that we have tweaked areas here and there though.

J- The music I create is described as melodic, diatonic and sometimes contrapuntal, however I do experiment and try to be original with my parts of our songs.

ASCENDO has only been together for just over a year but even in that short period of time we have noticed that we have developed as musicians.

M- I’m happy experimenting and writing in most genres of music. I mostly like, and I’m a fan of metal music due to the drop tuned guitars and the fast paced guitar solos. I also like the slow melodic sound of metal. The music I personally create has been stripped back. I’ve gone from playing very heavy music with screaming vocals and guitar harmonies to focus on writing rhythmic base lines to compliment Charlie’s great songs and Ascendo’s sound. It’s very enjoyable creating this style of music as it has proven a challenge for me but one I have really enjoyed doing.

What is your creative process like?

C- It usually started with myself (Charlie), sat in my bedroom having a Jam and then suddenly a spark of inspiration comes from somewhere and before I know it, I’m half way through writing a song. I then introduce it to my brother (Joe) who’s lead guitarist, he usually puts a mean riff to it and it kind of takes off from there, then its introduced to the rest of the band.

E- When we first started off, our songs usually came from jamming sessions and we would develop those into songs (Bonafide and Pixie Dust are examples of our songs which were made from these sessions). However, since Matt joined, we’ve taken a slightly different approach of the brothers working on songs and then introducing them to me and Matt and then us work on our own individual parts. The jamming session technique though has not been abandoned and we did use it recently before lockdown; which threw a spanner in the works

J- Our process has always been very similar as in my brother will create a chord progression and write the lyrics and then I will add the lead guitar and other guitar factors of the song. The bass and drums will often correspond with the rhythm of the song.

M- I used to use a free program called Tux guitar. It was an amazing programme at the time as I could write parts for every instrument and it created the sheet music for me as I went along. However on playback, it made the songs sound like an 8-bit track like something from an old retro console. Now I am focussed more on feel so the guys come up with an idea for songs and send them through things such as voice memo’s and videos and I’ll listen to them on repeat creating a wide array of parts I could add theirs and combine and chop and change until I have the part I feel works the best for the band, then communicate this idea to the band to get their feedback and make altercations due to their requests or their personal ideas and personal preferences.

Who would you like to collaborate with?

C- That’s so difficult to answer. I really couldn’t decide between either: Serge from Kasabian, Jamie T or Miles Kane – I think they’re all creative genius’ and really portray the kind of sound that I want us take on.

E- I’m not sure on this to be honest. From the drumming side, I wouldn’t be bothered who we collaborated with as anyone would be great! For a band perspective however, potentially someone who appeals to our age range would be really good, like Kasabian, Jamie T or even Gerry Cinnamon.

J- There is multiple artists I would like to collaborate with and that would be The Snuts, The Reytons, The Sherlocks, etc. I have chosen these artists because they are new faces in the music industry and have new ideas thus having potential to change the music industry.

M- As a band I feel we would love to collaborate with Arctic Monkeys or Kasabian or even Noel Gallagher. This is because these are the bands who have inspired us the most and I reckon we could make a really good tune together. Personally for me, there’s too many to name but if I had to narrow this down I guess Danny Worsnop, Boston Manor, Chvrches and Elton John. These are people I really look up to in music.

If you could support one band/artist who would it be?

C- Kasabian – Has to be. Mine and Joe’s favourite band, the atmosphere at their gigs is electric. Gerry Cinnamon would be a close second.

E- I would love to support one of our influencers like Arctic Monkeys, Liam and Noel Gallagher, Kasabian, but also some other young band that we aspire to like The Snuts or The Sherlocks.

J- I would really like to support The Lathums as they are quite different and seem experimental.

M- There are too many I would love to support to narrow this down. The dream for me would be to always support the biggest influence in life so I guess it would be Oasis if this was ever a possibility.

What is the one message you would give your audience and what message would you give the MU readers?

C- I’m so excited for them to hear what’s been written in lockdown and pre-lockdown that we’ve just not had a chance to get in the studio and record yet. Ascendo are on the ascendance.

E- If you are looking into joining a band. Absolutely go for it. It will definitely be nervous starting off, but stick it through, and nights when you are performing can often become some of the best nights of your life. If you are looking into picking up an instrument, then yes definitely! There’s so much more to music that people don’t see; and when you can see the mechanics of how music comes together, there is a lot more to appreciate.

J- I personally as the lead guitarist of ASCENDO would say that if you have a dream in music or anything at all then go for it, turn your passion into success and never stop doing what you are passionate about. This applies for both our audience and whoever is reading this right now.

M- Always fight for your dream. There’s always going to be one thing in life you love more than anything else. There’s always going to a way to make it happen. Don’t let people get in your way or put you down. Your harshest critic is always going to be yourself but remember to tell yourself you can do this and you will! Remember: Keep the dream alive!

What is the most useless talent you have?

C- I’m a level one free diver – I gained my qualification out in Thailand, but I’ve literally not been able to free dive since, what a waste of a talent.

E- When I was a kid, I gained a black belt in Taekwondo. However, I hate getting into and seeing fights. Even if it’s just verbal arguments! I’m a bit of a pacifist.

J- I cant think of anything if I have to be honest. Nothing at all.

M- When I worked as a barista, I could do the Latte art i.e leaves and hearts in coffee.

What would you be doing right now if it wasn’t for music?

C- I’m actually training to be a solicitor, it’s what I’m also doing at the moment. Suppose it’s not a bad back drop if this music thing never takes off, right?

E- I’m studying to be an Architectural Technologist so would probably have my head in a book or something.

J- Well I wouldn’t be involved in this interview ahaha, I would either be cooking, watching gangster epics or physical exercise.

M- I would continue my job as a TA as I love inspiring and helping young people or I would work more on my skills as a chef as I love cooking and enjoy food.

Where have you performed?

C- I think they kind of all come in to one answer. We played the Fosters Fan Zone outside Elland Road, the home of our beloved Leeds United. We had around 600/700 people in attendance, only problem was we couldn’t really hear ourselves as much as we wanted to, we were also in the very early days of the band so to play in front of a large crowd, I’d have liked to have a bit more experience under our belt. That being said, it was a day I’ll never forget, I hope we get to do it again in the future, I just think we’ll have a little bit more experience under our belt and people will have had a chance to listen to our own material first.

E- We have mainly performed in local pubs which have been great nights. My favourite venues have been The Hope & Anchor and the Liquid Spirit in Pontefract. Both venues have left us buzzed and exhausted yet have us back so we can relive it all again and again. Because they are local, all our friends and family can come down and watch too. Another great venue was in the Fosters fan zone at Elland Road. We are all Leeds Utd fans so to perform at the stadium was unbelievable. We performed to a large number of football fans which made us all nervous, but was great to see people liking us

J- We have performed in numerous pubs/bars around the Pontefract/Wakefield area but my favourite gig was at Fosters Fan Zone at Elland Road simply as we as a band support Leeds United. I don’t really have a least favourite gig, sure there were a few gigs in the beginning that were not as great as the current gigs but this was expected.

M- Café Totum as it was Ascendo’s first proper venue. It was a great experience and an alround good night. I haven’t had a bad gig

How do you feel the internet has impacted the music industry and you specifically?

C- Both good and bad. It’s probably much easier to get heard nowadays, but so much harder to break through as well. I’d much rather us be present in the early 90’s – Looking back to the Oasis gig live at Knebworth, as they call it ‘the last proper gig’ before the internet and mobile phones era. Take me back to that.

E- I think it has helped us a lot! Without it, we wouldn't have gotten to where we are today. Being able to promote what we do and gain connections with people from all around the world is amazing. To watch us grow in popularity (even if it is in a small amount) is an achievement in itself. Similarly, it’s great to see upcoming bands as well as artists I would’ve never heard of before which become some of my favourite artists, such as Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes and I Don’t Know How But They Found Me.

J- The internet has had a massive impact on music as it is so easy to access thousands of songs and it is available to access on pretty much everything. I personally find internet music great for convenience however I do prefer listening on my record player as it’s a different experience.

M- Due to various social media platforms and those you can view music on, it has created opportunities for artists and bands to get their name out there showing off their artistic style, whether this is through the music, the imagery, or even artistic videos to compliment the music it has built a platform in where fans are able to see who you really are and where you can really connect with the fans.

I have been able to find new genres of music and artists who have helped inspire me whether they are widely known or small.

What is your favourite song to perform?

C- It’s actually a song called ‘Daydreamer’ that we’re yet to release. We played it live at Battle of the Bands in Sheffield and although we didn’t win the competition, it did get voted best song which was quite pleasing. Full credit to Joe for that one, the riff intertwines with my lyrics so well, can’t wait for audiences to hear it.

E- For the acoustic set when we perform it is Sheila by Jamie T. Usually Charlie will play on his own for some songs of the acoustic set, but on this one, I perform with the tambourine. The energy is incredible and always gets a cheer. I love playing Angelina as it challenges me with its fast beat and within the covers that we do, Chelsea Dagger by the Fratellis is always gets a good reception. I do a little drum solo just before the song starts and when I start the song off, the venue just lights up which is always great to see.

J- My favourite song to perform is probably Angelina as it is the most challenging for the lead guitar and sounds very rocky.

M- My favourite original song to perform and play is Pixie Dust as it has some cool rifts and licks in it. It’s one of them songs I can get lost in and I get great enjoyment out of playing it. I enjoy seeing when people sing along to it as it’s a really catchy tune.

My favourite cover to play would be Ritz to Rubble by the Arctic Monkeys as I really enjoy the way the song really switches up. It has a really strong baseline. It keeps my on my toes because of this.

What is the most trouble you have gotten into?

C- When I was a student, I got fired from my job for attending a Stereophonics gig – like there was ever a choice…

E- My drumstick has often slipped and flown out of my hands and has hit one of the band members. I use this gripping wax for my sticks but as the night goes on I don’t have enough time to re-wax my sticks causing this to occur. Charlie being the frontman and directly in front of me gets most of the hits and Matt the bassist has had to evade quite a few of the odd rouge stick. Which leaves Joe as my next target.

J- I’ve not really been in much trouble at all, somethings will have to stay in my head for this question.

M- That would be telling

If you could only listen to one album from now on what would it be?

C- Arctic Monkeys – Whatever people say I am, that’s what I’m not.

E- Either Whatever People Say I Am I’m Not or Favourite Worst Nightmare both by Arctic Monkeys. The first album has some of the best songs they do as well as bringing back memories of me as a kid. But Favourite Worst Nightmare has a lot more variety whilst having some great songs like Brianstorm and 505.

J- Definitely Maybe (Oasis) has to take the spot but it’s followed closely by Crying Out Loud by KASABIAN.

M- Dream Theater – Metropolis, Pt.2: Scenes from a Memory as I really enjoy the story and adventure it takes you on.

What is the best advice you have been given?

C- Gerry Cinnamon once said it in his set when I saw him a TRSMT in Glasgow last summer – don’t feel the need to fit in to the music industry, (excuse the phrase, but) don’t bend over for anyone. Do your own thing.

E- “Play with the band”. The times where I’ve gone to do drum fills and solos have often come out poorly when I first started in the band. However, when I heard this quote, it solidified my role as a drummer and I have gained much better experiences because of it.

J- To never give up and keep your eye on the target.