Corin Ashley was in the middle of recording his powerful new rock and roll album Broken Biscuits in January of 2016 when his plans were derailed by a stroke. He was at the gym, feeling a bit numb, with a grey band obstructing his vision. That began what would be a nightmare scenario for anyone, much less a musician in the middle of a project. With the help of medical specialists and a voice coach, Ashley had to learn how to sing and play all over again. What used to be instinctual became purposeful. His fingers didn’t recognize the fretboard of his guitar, and his vocal cords were paralyzed.
Ashley is back now, almost fully recovered, with just a few lingering effects. He’s back onstage, and back out promoting Broken Biscuits. The album was half finished when he had his stroke, and that influenced the songwriting, though Ashley would prefer not to be too on-the-nose about which songs in particular were written about the experience later. It’s a dynamic album, full of pop hooks with a big rock sound reminiscent of Queen and Mott the Hoople, but he also includes lighter touches like “Powder Your Face with Sunshine,” which was a hit for Dean Martin in 1948. You can find the album on iTunes or on Ashley’s Web page.
He was very open about his stroke and recovery in this conversation, and I thank him for coming out to the new podcast kitchen to talk. There was a technical glitch at the end of the interview, and the last part of the initial conversation was lost, including a big chunk about his recovery. The podcast is split into two section, including the original conversation and a follow-up by phone to expand on his medical experiences and how that influenced the music. We compared experiences — his with stroke recovery and mine with recovering from my first MS attack to come back to playing guitar and drums.
Unfortunately, in between the two interviews, we lost Tom Petty, so we took a few minutes to talk about the huge hole he leaves in rock and roll. In the first section, we go through his musical history, starting with his early band The Pills, and how they navigated the grunge era, letting his singer-songwriter and Beatles influences loose as a solo performer, and recording at Abbey Road.
Afterwards, stick around for a track from Fern Brady’s new album, Male Comedienne, in which she discusses her femininity and Twitter comments.
You can listen to and download the podcast from the player below, or subscribe/review on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play. Enjoy!