"CAN WE GIVE AN accurate explanation for our split?" asks Brad Boatright, the larynx-shredding voice of From Ashes Rise. "Probably not, if you want a complex answer. The simple reason is that we were all tired, burned out, pressured... whatever you want to call it. We had some pretty intense band fights break out, we were touring a lot, and the creative process felt highly impeded."
The split of From Ashes Rise came not as a crippling blow to the foundation of the DIY punk scene from which the band hung their hoodies, but with a resigned sigh of acceptance. Like so many acts that came before them, From Ashes Rise dissolved long before they were ready; taking with them an infinite level of potential into the post-breakup abyss. When measured in the distorted lifelines of punk culture, their eight-year run—starting in Nashville and finishing in Portland—was impressive, but it was only in their later years did From Ashes Rise seem like more than just the expected sum of an upbringing spent absorbing issues of HeartattaCk while devouring punk and metal recordings.
With the 2003 release of Nightmares—released courtesy of an odd pairing between the band and emo stalwart label Jade Tree—the band hit a growth spurt that could no longer be contained under the low ceiling of punk rock. They were quickly becoming an act that masterfully blurred genre lines, forcefully mating punk and metal via an onslaught of dooming metal riffs, d-beat breakdowns, and vocals screamed with such violent urgency that they could trigger internal bleeding. From Ashes Rise were on the cusp of great things, about to expand their sound into uncharted territories. They could have been Refused. They could have been Fucked Up. They could have been Converge. But instead they were just gone.
"It was always in the back of my head, though, that we weren't done," Boatright admits. In the five years since a show in Indianapolis drove a stake into the heart of the band for good, the legacy of a dormant From Ashes Rise expanded in ways the band never experienced through all those countless nights blasting through basement walls and performing in random VFW halls. Baby bands quickly aped their bellowing guitar riffs, along with Boatright's feral vocal shriek, and From Ashes Rise no longer felt like a band orphaned by punk politics and metal uniformity, and instead became a genre in and of themselves.
"When you put the needle down on a From Ashes Rise record you're hearing an amalgamation of our individual influences," Boatright explains. "Beyond channeling anger, aggression and social observations, this band has always been an attempt at musical progress—at bridging a creative gap." As for growing more influential after their initial demise, Boatright is flattered by the attention: "I've always thought that there was an interesting phenomenon with bands or musicians either retaining popularity or having it increase after a cessation of performing or recording."
This newfound attention, and the breathing room afforded by a five-year split, are all the more reason to be thrilled about the upcoming From Ashes Rise reunion. With a sparse selection of upcoming tour dates—Portland, Montreal, Sweden—the band will slowly ease into touring. "We aren't ready to jump in the van just yet," says Boatright. "You put four guys in a cramped van for an extended period of time and tempers can flare, and egos can clash."
There will be new and old music from From Ashes Rise. Jade Tree is gearing up to release a live recording later this year, and the band's creative floodgates will once again open wide as their reunion progresses. "We had a few songs in the works at the start of the hiatus that we may dig up," says Boatright. "We've mentioned a four-song EP. We'll see how things pan out."