MBE sat down with vocalist/guitarist Ashley Buchholz formerly known as Ash Boo-Schultz, who, along with Jason “Human Kebab” Parsons, formed Ubiquitous Synergy Seeker (USS) in 2006.
Since then they have formed their own label, Smashing World Records (SWR), in 2008 along with their 6 song debut EP, Welding the C:/. Their music gained the attention of 102.1 The Edge, who had them headlining their station’s concert, The Next Big Thing, and a show stealing spot at Edgefest of that year.
Their first full-length album, Questamation, debuted at #36 on the Nielsen SoundScan in 2009, followed by their second EP, USS Approved in 2011.
Thousands to a hundred thousands units of both albums have been distributed across North America, the UK, Asia and Australia respectively made possible by SWR’s world publishing agreement with Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
The duo is set to release their second full-length album later this year, Advanced Basics, with their first single, This Is the Best already creating waves.
Your latest single, This is the Best, it seems self-explanatory, tell me a little about it
It’s not self-explanatory at all. The song could be heard from two different people and, depending on their situation in life, they will have two distinct reactions. The first one is the person who has a good control of their life, has discipline, and just likes to go out and party and blow off some steam and have some fun. They get up, they go to work on Monday morning and they go to bowling and play with their kids.
Now, 10% of the population, which represents addicts and alcoholics, will hear that song and the very last verse there’s “stop me ‘cause I can’t say no,” and that person will hear the song and will know exactly what they’re doing and will have a complete kind of response.
So it’s very funny to be able to elicit two different responses from the exact same song and that was the intention. Not everyone has to be a sober person, but there are certain people who are running away from life instead of towards it.
Where did that idea and the inspiration come from?
Well, the way that I write songs if you can imagine a puzzle. The first part I wrote 14 years ago and then I wrote another one of them years ago. It’s an interesting process because basically I just have to use my intuition and when we go to work on things my intuition just helps me – all these thousands of little of pieces of the puzzle come to me over the years and they put themselves together into the order they’re supposed to go in.
So, the part of the song “on your way out, turn the lights out,” I wrote in 1999. Some people, there are different kinds of being psychic, I have something called melodic recognition which means that I kind of psychically and intuitively would write something melodically and then, say a year, ten years, five months down the road I’ll find myself in a situation where what I sang ten years ago helps guide myself into the current moment.
So what I’m saying is, when I wrote that part 14 years ago, I didn’t understand why I wrote it, it didn’t make any sense, nothing in my life had anything to do with that. But then all of a sudden [in the present] when my intuition brought me back to it, I wrote it into the song, and what was going on in my life happened in [the lyric from before]. So that’s kind of awesome…it’s fun!
What are some recent examples of this?
I wrote something in 2004 when I was like out of control and having panic episodes and I wrote, “all is clear now, love is here now,” and I was writing about being able to hear a pin drop in my head. I was so at peace with my past, there was no thought, no intrusive screaming little kid that’s scared from a past traumatic thing that just won’t shut up in my brain. And I didn’t feel that inside I was a maniac. And just two days ago, it was the most important day of my life. I went from being a boy to being a man officially. On that day I heard a pin drop in my head for the first time in my entire life, there was nothing there – I could sense it – the feeling on my body, the sound and sight of things. So it was one of those days that was like, wow…there we go.
So does Jason contribute at all into the writing of the lyrics?
Well, the words and the melodies are my department. Jason is a master of the computer world, programming and all that. When we were in a band together before USS for a couple of years, we wound up breaking up, because we had to just go and do our own thing, I guess to hone our individual craft, ultimately in the big picture.
It’s been incredible, this yin and yang. Like the intention of the band is, I had to be like Nirvana playing at a campfire and I some songs are very sincere, but then there’s all these elements you can hear at like a rave.
So basically, your music is a mishmash of genres
Oh yeah, absolutely, it’s kind of like an old jukebox, which used to play one record at a time. I’ll have thirty songs that are my favorite songs and I just try to imagine my favourite part of all of them being in one song and it’s pretty fun. But we’re pretty unlimited with what we’re able to do. Of the seven singles we’ve put to radio so far, none of them sound any similar to each other.
For the rest of your upcoming album, can you tell me a little bit more about it?
Yeah, so our upcoming album is called Advanced Basics, and advanced basics are essentially the salvation of humanity. What we were talking earlier about living in the moment, the only thing we ever need to know about anything is about how to live and everything else just will naturally happen from there. But the most funniest thing, the most ironic thing, it is the most simplest things ever yet why don’t you just do it all time. It’s just this notion of the simplest things being the most hardest and requiring the most expertise lends itself to titling our album, Advanced Basics.
The album is essentially the process of human beings, might be autobiographical, probably biographical, but I don’t want to give everything away. It’s going from the kind of person I just mentioned to a person who feels the wind on their face and the sunshine, breathing deeply.
So basically, it’s to contribute to the critical mass of helping humanity and helping individuals sub consciousness move closer to a place of joy and bliss and tranquillity.
And that’s everything from having a crush on a girl or forgiving your alcohol dad. All the little details in life that allow your intuition to come through and if you’re not doing anything you shut down. You just become totally sterile and lag, you just have to say…just start asking life to show what your calling is. You don’t even have to say God or pray, just ask life. That’s all I’ve ever done and I can’t believe the miracles that are going on in my life.
I used to be the most negative, most pessimistic, absolutely just wretchedly depressed person possible and now and I want to help out other people. I decided that I’m tired of being lost at sea, and one day I said, you know what – try to be a lighthouse instead of lost at sea and then I just started imagining myself as a lighthouse and everyday I grew farther and farther away from being a victim and just hating everybody for success, the jealously, insecurity, having low self everything, and now I feel so fortunate to be in a position where I’m not trying to be anybody but who I am naturally without any medication or anything like that.
All I want to do is just see joy in people’s eyes and help them feel that. I know what’s it like as much as anybody to not feel that and to wish that somehow. I now feel it’s my duty to help anyone who feels that.
Now, back in 2009, Jason said in an interview he was watching a Howlin’ Wolf DVD and was contemplating putting a little bit more soul and blues into the music. Was he serious about that? Have you guys talked about it since?
When I was born, my skin was so dark, and my dad came in and the doctor said, who is this guy? This child’s father should be black. I only bring that up because I’ve always had this strong affinity for Jamaican music. When I was 15 I really started picking up the whole reggae thing and ska and it was just always about that kind of music. I don’t know about past lives, but it does feel like I lived on the equator because of my strong affinity for that kind of music.
Being in a duo is it hard to make a democratic decision?
Well, you know what, people do well in life when they understand what they’re greatest strengths are and then work with other people who compensate for the things they’re not too enthusiastic about, things not included in their skill set.
I prefer to spend time by myself, so that definitely lends itself to the fact that I write the lyrics and, you know, I just walk in the woods. Now Jay loves people. He talks fucking…all he does is talk to people. He’s more of the business side of it, the networking side of our band, making billions of friends on Facebook – he tweets like a world champion.
So basically the foundation to the success of your band is trust in each other’s strengths.
Yeah, and the coolest thing is that when we started our own corporation for our record label and publishing company and everything we decided to be co-presidents.
So shared responsibility!
Yeah! He does the things he does best and I do the things I do best…it’s great.
Tomorrow [Saturday] you will be in Toronto
Yeah, holy crap, the biggest show we’ll ever play in Toronto. It’s our favourite thing because we’re playing for kids, parents, grandparents, teenagers, couples, it’s just not the 19 plus show where it’s there’s one kind of people.
It’s the most beautiful thing when you recognize that people that are our age in their thirties who have kids that are 5,6,7,8 they love our band as much as their parents do, which is incredible; their parents were influenced by the same things we were influenced by in the 90′s, so they love what we do and the kids don’t have a clue – they don’t know who Nirvana is and all the drum and bass DJ’s who influenced me. And now they’re hearing this brand new music and it completely speaks to the energy of rave that exists on earth now.
I think it’s awesome, but I just know we`re connecting with these kids and what I`m putting into this music, lyrically especially, attention wise I meditate with the song when recording and I put extensions of awakening and higher calling into the song. We`re really feeding these children on an incredible, energetic level.
And this is the first time you’ve performed at a venue for families?
Actually we’ve been doing it more and more. The last one was in Barrie, and then before that we were in Burlington at the Sound of Music and that was…I can`t even tell you…I signed autographs of pictures for 5 hours in a row and the line up was so massive, I couldn’t stay any more, I had to leave. Being there, like I said, with teenagers, little kids and their parents and just seeing a sparkle in their eyes and seeing everything I discussed with you about evolution of self-consciousness – tapping into that.
It’s legitimately talking about the fact that earth is changing and there’s nothing wrong with money and big capitalists and stuff like that but we’ve been living in thought and ego and that’s changing now. The same way there’s so many yoga and meditation everywhere, and smoothies and juice bars and organic food everywhere. Things are adjusting and we are so thankful to be contributing to that kind of purity and still go to McDonald’s every once in a while.