A phoenix from the ashes: Grunwald rediscovers his mojo
Ash Grunwald is nearing the end of the busiest year of his professional career after an overdue hiatus from the road.
The homegrown blues musician, who is on his first “major” tour in some time, was convinced many of the songs he recorded for his latest album Mojo wouldn’t grace the airwaves.
Why? To cut a long story short, the producer who flew him to Los Angeles to compile the album “went off the radar”. But the gods of fate work in mysterious ways, with Ash securing his project long after accepting he may never hear it again.
“It was lost for quite a while. I ended up moving to Bali and getting into surfing more and just gigging,” he said.
“It was my first break from pushing hard career wise… the first time I’ve had a decent old space; I needed it. Fate gives you what you need at the time. It was a really good recharge for me and gave me the chance to hang with the family and write new material.”
Mojo, a testament to Ash losing his way and finding his way back, saw the artist work with a number of powerhouse acts including The Teskey Brothers, Kasey Chambers and The Cat Empire.
The most meaningful yet bittersweet tune on the 12-song output, “Whipping Boy”, was recorded with the late Terry Evans – one of Ash’s “favourite artists in the world”.
“I thought I’d never get to hear his amazing vocals on my track. It’s quite exciting when you involve other people who are really amazing musicians.
“It’s (blues) the most soulful music. When it’s played live, you feel it on a deep level. It’s generally about feeling.”
While Ash is best known for his impassioned songwriting, he has recently become a first-time author. Surf by Day, Jam by Night – a non-fiction book where Ash details his conversations with 15 of the world’s top surfer-musicians – was a “new adventure” for a man who is accustomed to sitting as the interviewee rather than the interviewer.
“There’s a lot more work in it than writing an album, but I’m so happy to have done it. It was pretty cool to fly out to LA and interview Kelly Slater and Steph Gilmore.
“A lot of my friends up around that Byron region are pro surfers as well, so half of the book or more were friends. It also became a bit of a personal development book in a kind of way.
“I was distilling things from those people that I was looking for in life. It’s a real great honour to pass that onto people. The feedback so far has been so awesome and humbling.”
The former Jan Juc local will journey to Geelong for the Word for Word National Non-Fiction Festival next weekend (November 15-17). He will also play at Queenscliff Music Festival the following weekend (November 22-24) as part of his Mojo tour.