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Ashford’s Brotherhood Extends Far Beyond Band’s Shared Bloodline

(EDITOR’S NOTE — The Emo scene in Buffalo is nothing if not bustling with artists. With every shade present on the scale, from indie to hardcore. But if a representative were to be selected, Ashford — which is now working on a new forthcoming album — would be among the first to spring to mind. Heartfelt, adroit, and singularly industrious, the band has been on the grind for several years, honing its craft and bringing it to the masses. Ashford is comprised of brothers Trevor Balbierz, guitar/vocals and Tom Balbierz bass/vocals; Nathan Kohler, guitar/vocals and Alex Gennaro, drums. Recently, Tom and Trevor were generous enough to speak with 1120 Press’s Anthony Wachowiak. We thank them for their time and for shedding light on the inner workings of the band’s music machine. Here’s what they had to say. — Photos by Trevor Balbierz - front - and Karalyn Hope - below.)           


1120 Press: Thank you for sitting down with us today. To start, could you please tell us how Ashford came to be?


TREVOR BALBIERZ: Ashford started up in late-2019/early-2020. Forming from mine, Nathan and Alex’s old band from high school, we realized we were really growing as people and as musicians and wanted to take our music in a more matured direction. Recently, Tom had departed from his previous band. It really felt like a no brainer to have not only a great bassist and musician, but my older brother on our roster.


1120: When you came down to writing and recording, was there a preconceived notion of the music that you wanted to make, or did it spring naturally from the chemistry between you?


TREVOR: At the start, we just carried over songs from our old band that we felt made sense to keep playing. A lot of our writing back then was one person essentially writing the whole song then bringing it to the other guys. So, (at least to me) it felt like kind of a mish-mosh of a bunch of different sounding stuff. “I’ll Be Fine” was the first song we collectively got together and built off an idea/skeleton that Alex had come up with. It felt way more natural to form something with everyone’s influence and bouncing different ideas for parts off each other in real time, rather than writing to fit into something that’s already fully written.



1120: How have you found your niche or place within the musical landscape of the city and scene, both apart and in concert with your peers and fellow bands?


TOM BALBIERZ: Buffalo has a lot to offer being our hometown. We have played in many bars and venues and the rewarding part of it all is getting to go out and mingle with the local people who attend the shows. Meeting new and upcoming bands has always been a great interest and an itch for homegrown music. Supporting your local band and music scene has always been a priority for all of us as a band. 


1120: Curious of your influences, in listening to Ashford, there are definitely palpable notes of alternative, punk, and emo, but we’d love to dig into that a bit deeper; and even for the individual members, what’s the artistic inspirations of the band?


TREVOR: I can’t speak for everyone in the band but as of lately, a lot of my influence stems from Four Year Strong, The Story So Far, Transit, Microwave. Lately some artists in heavy rotation for me are nothing, nowhere., No Pressure, Caracara, Box Car Racer, and $uicideboy$.



TOM: Growing up, I listened to a lot of Pop-punk like blink-182, Green Day, New Found Glory, etc. But as of recently, some of my favorite bands are more indie/pop based, such as Bad Suns, The 1975, and Young the Giant. My largest influence overall has always been The Foo Fighters and will always have the largest impact on my writing style.


1120: To branch off from that, we understand that you have all played in other, quite noteworthy, acts previously. What, if at all, did these previous bands and experiences contribute to the DNA of the band now? This could be in the additive or subtractive sense; how did it shape your current outlook and style?


TOM: I think that we all have distinct tastes that help shape the band's sound. One specific sound that all of us can agree on is that of a gritty nature, capturing raw emotion is a big part of music for us, despite having many different influences between the four of us.


1120: So, to our knowledge, Ashford is pretty much an entirely “in house” operation; what with Tom handling graphic design (having done both yours and others' album art, fliers, etc.) and Trevor being the man behind boards (coming from previously working with RJ Demarco at what was Skyway Studios). When creating your works, does this lend itself to a sort of all-encompassing vision of songs and records? Is the grand plan in play at the start, or does it build as it goes along?


TREVOR: It definitely helps us to take some more liberties in doing what we want to make everything sound and look the way we want to deliver something we truly have connections to. Going off the ‘grand plan’ thing, at least on this current record we’re wrapping up right now, it originally started off as going to be a few songs together on an EP. But we all kept writing more and more, leading us to want to put more songs on this record. Which then lead up to the current state of a full LP. Myself taking on the production really allowed us to achieve this, whereas if we were to go work with somebody else we would’ve just had those first few sessions to work on a few songs and put out what we did then. I’m really excited for what we’ve done and can’t wait for others to hear it.



1120: Beyond that, we're intrigued by the family dynamic in play, having brothers in the band. Do you find that this factors in to your guys’ synchronicity, or do you feel it would be a similar interaction if that wasn't the case?


TREVOR: I’ve said this in the past to everyone in the band and I’ll say it again: Tom may be the only one who shares the same blood as me, but I see us all as brothers until the day we die. And I’m forever grateful to share this life with each of my bandmates forming a bond that I’ll always hold close to my heart.


 

TOM: Every band I have ever been in has had a brother duo, from my first band WiT, then Rescue Dawn/Fernway and now Ashford. This band is far different from the other two because it is now my blood relation to someone in the band and, that being said, I enjoy it even more. Trevor and I have always grown up playing music together but never in the same band, so our chemistry has always been there. As for Nathan and Alex, they might as well be my brothers. And being the oldest in the band, it feels like I have three younger brothers. -


1120: What are some, if any, qualities of the city and scene that you appreciate, would like to expound upon?

 

TREVOR: There are tons of sick bands and really great people that all share a similar mentality of being a community together in the Buffalo music scene. Always going out to support each other at shows, grabbing a shirt, streaming, and sharing new releases. Everyone supports each other, it’s awesome. Go Bills!

 

1120: Are there any standout or watershed moments in your time as Ashford that have particularly resonated with you, or have stuck with you in your journeys as a band and as people?


TREVOR: The release show we had for our first record, ‘Patterns’ in February of 2020. We had it at a fairly small venue, and we might have accidentally oversold presale. The venue had hit cap, but there were still so many people who had already paid that were initially getting turned away. But the person running the door eventually started just letting people in. It got so packed — looking back it probably wasn’t the safest show in the world with double the capacity of the room. But it was amazing. Everyone was having a great time. I often look back on that night on all the fond memories and friendly faces in that room.

 

I also have to talk about the ’37 Maple’ in Fredonia, aka the North Pole Strip Club. A college house that was literally falling apart at the foundation, where three different “generations” (I guess, lol) of friends were running shows in the basement with one of the most amazing and supportive scenes surrounding it. We played there so many times, I’ve actually lost count. The one time that sticks out in my head is the final show to ever be held in that house. Our friends had nobody to pass the torch to after they graduated and moved out. It was one of the sickest bills too. Our friends in Summerbruise from Indiana, Speed Dial, and we had a battle set against The Weather Might Say Otherwise. Due to certain circumstances, the show had to be held upstairs in the living room with limited capacity, but it was so great. I have a freeze frame of that night burned into my brain of Dan Doyle crowd surfing on top of everybody in the living room. It was an outrageous, unruly, but very cathartic, emotional and fun night shared with so many great people. NPSC forever!


1120: Finally, what does the future hold for Ashford? Do you have any upcoming music, shows, or the like that you would like our readers to know about?


TREVOR: Full LP coming soon with new merch and a big rager show. Still ironing out the details but you will want to be there so keep an eye on all our social media — @ashfordbflo everywhere. 


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