Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – James Branton Of Ashes To Omens

Artwork for ‘Speaking My Mind.’ Courtesy of Earshot Media.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

Formed in mid-2017 and influenced by the likes of Breaking Benjamin, Nothing More, Audioslave and Iron Maiden, Athens, Georgia-based hard rock quintet Ashes To Omens made a statement in 2021 with the premiere of their latest single “Speaking My Mind.”

This past October, they put out their new album, ‘Black Boxes,’ which was produced by Billy Grey (Fozzy) and mixed and mastered by Justin Davis (Lullwater), while engineer Matt Washburn assisted with the tracking at Led Belly Studios (Mastodon).

Over time, the band has had the opportunity to share stages with acts such as Tom Keifer (Cinderella), REHAB, Hallowpoint (Missouri) and Demon In Me (Cali).

The Music Bugle had the chance to talk with member James Branton about “Speaking My Mind” and more.

Music Bugle – How would you describe Athens, Georgia to someone who has never been there before?

James Branton – Athens is a great town. It’s a mecca for music of all different kinds of genres, everything from country to hip hop to death metal to active and alternative. It has some of the best food around and the people are always open to new ideas.

Music Bugle – What excites you the most about your style of music?

James Branton – I think that it allows people who traditionally wouldn’t listen to rock to be able to relate to it and also, that it allows for a lot of creativity with room to grow in various directions.

Music Bugle – How was the band name decided?

James Branton – It really came down to us all having been in previous bands that ended in a negative way. We all felt like we were part of these ashes of other bands coming together to create a new vision.

Music Bugle – What was your goal for your latest single “Speaking My Mind”?

James Branton – Well, a couple of the guys really wanted to write a ballad/slower song. Fortunately, we all had some problems going on at the time that allowed us to contribute to writing together in a way that had us all emotionally invested at just the right time. We just wanted people to be able to have a voice and be able to hear a song that touched them on a personal level.

Music Bugle – Does social media help or hurt musicians?

James Branton – It can definitely be a double-edged sword. I’ll be the first to tell you that I am my own worst enemy on social media, but at the same time, it also makes us all human. Social media has found a way to bring out the very best and very worst in people from a place where they would say things that they normally would never say to anyone face-to-face. It’s made people bolder. For us as musicians, it’s provided us with a platform to reach people across the world, though. We have tons of fans in Sweden and the Netherlands, as well as being in rotation in New Zealand and Australia. I one-hundred percent chalk that up to being able to reach out on social media.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise?

James Branton – Right now, I’ve been listening to Lullwater, Enox and Rusted Soul. All three are stellar bands from Georgia.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

James Branton – Covid didn’t really affect us other than stopping the shows. We continued to write and network and as things began to wind down, it also opened several doors for us.

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need a break?

James Branton – Always the garage.

Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do?

James Branton – I don’t know who said it, but the quote is, “If you quit now, you’ll end up right where you first began and when you first began, you were desperate to be right where you are.”

Music Bugle – What has been your proudest accomplishment?

James Branton – So far, I think there’s been several as a band, but the most recent accomplishment was winning a “Battle Of The Bands.” We had so many things working against us and there were so many incredible bands sharing the stage with us that day. We don’t play competitions often, but we just went out there and had fun and we ended up winning.

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