In 2015, after a spell as the touring bass player for seminal chamber-pop band Cardinal, Corin Ashley set about recording the follow-up to his critically acclaimed 2013 album New Lion Terraces. Things were going along just swimmingly at Q Division studios in Boston, with an inspiring collaboration with Tanya Donelly (Throwing Muses, Breeders, Belly) called "Wind Up Boy," and quick progress on a half dozen additional tunes. Corin took occasional breaks from work on the album, flying to Cardiff, Wales to play bass and sing on Martin Carr's (ex- Boo Radleys) album The Breaks, and perfoming a few shows opening for a diverse set of artists (Fitz & The Tantrums, Frank Turner, Robyn Hitchcock and, on one storied summer evening, Foreigner and Styx). He ended 2015 by opening a sold-out hometown show for one of his lifelong musical heroes, Dave Davies of The Kinks, who had bounced back to recording and touring after a 2004 stroke.
In January of 2016, Corin himself suffered a stroke of the right parietal lobe that left him in the hospital for an extended stay, unable to move the fingers on his left hand and with a paralyzed vocal cord. A professional, working musician, Corin suddenly found himself contemplating a very dark future. As luck would have it, the neurologist on call at Beth Israel Hospital the night Corin was admitted was Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, a conservatory-trained organist who had made a 20 year study of the ways in which musicians recover from brain injuries. With Dr. Schalug's guidance, Corin embarked on what would amount to more than nine months of physical therapy, speech therapy, and vocal therapy, as he eventually re-learned to play guitar and sing, finally taking the stage again at the end of 2016. His new album Broken Biscuits stands as a flag, firmly planted to guide future explorers who someday may find themselves navigating this difficult terrain.
While Corin recovered, the collaborators that had worked on New Lion Terraces pulled together to make progress on Broken Biscuits. Graphic design team Aaron Belyea and Liz Linder designed a beautiful album cover early on as motivation to complete the album. Grammy award-winning mix engineer Ducky Carlisle assembled templates of the new songs Corin was writing about his experience, just waiting for the time when Corin would be physically able to sing again. As his health improved, Corin flew to Memphis to record with Big Star drummer Jody Stephens at Ardent Studios and the album finally wrapped up with award-winning mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen sprinkling his magical sonic fairy dust all over the mixes.
Corin Ashley is a lifelong musician who formerly led Boston mod-pop heroes The Pills in the 2000s, as they toured extensively around the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Over a 10-year span, The Pills released three full-length albums, toured and performed with The B-52s, The Libertines, Supergrass, Sloan, Edwin McCain, The Wrens, Juliana Hatfield, The Smithereens, Nada Surf, Jimmy Cliff, and pretty much every one-hit early 2000s alternative radio band with a number in their name. His 2013 album New Lion Terraces was recorded at Q Division and Abbey Road Studios in London and featured contributions from Kay Hanley (Letters To Cleo), Ken Stringfellow (The Posies), drummer Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention/XTC), Edward Ball (TV Personalities) and Martin Carr. Corin is, always, accompanied on his new album by his ever faithful drummer Matt Burwell who will bitch and complain if he gets left out of the press release.
Photo (Credit: Liz Linder)