Ash: Vocalist and guitarist Tim Wheeler, drummer Rick McMurray and bassist Mark Hamilton

Northern Ireland’s masters of the three- minute pop thrill, Ash, are returning to their natural habitat, the live stage, in the coming weeks and will be coming to Dublin to grace the stage at the Bulmers Live At Leopardstown on July 25.

Gazette Music caught up with drummer and founder member Rick McMurray, just after returning from the band’s studio in New York where he, guitarist and vocalist Tim Wheeler and bassist Mark Hamilton, convened to start work on new material, their first since the epic series of 26 singles in 2011, the A to Z Series.

“It was our first writing session in a while, and it was really exciting.

“It was weird, all of us were nervous to get started. We were expecting to get the ball rolling gently and get back into it – we ended up coming away with eight songs, and we were really pleased with that.”

Rick explained the band are set to get into the rehearsal studio ahead of their upcoming summer dates, which will include a series of festival slots, playing support to Smashing Pumpkins and headlining a series of dates in their own right, and we asked if the band would be live demo-ing new material as they travel round Britain and Ireland.

“We are going to try to do a mixture [of live and studio writing], but we usually write in our studio in New York, which is what we have done since the studio was built in 2005.

“But on the next bit of the tour, as we are hyped up about getting a good start on the new material, we are going to do some extra work on the road as well.”

The band’s live reputation more than precedes them, and they have built up their loyal following on the back of energetic and powerful performances, and Rick explains how Ash keep their edge in the live environment.

“Doing the festival circuit is all well and good, but festivals are only on the weekend – what are we going to do the rest of the week? Instead of going home for a couple of days and then back out again, we’d rather just keep playing, especially the more low-key shows. It keeps us match fit.”

Rick explained there is a particular vibe to the kind of show they will be playing in Dublin.

“Playing a show like Leopardstown is a lot like playing a festival, particularly the smaller vibe ones like Kendal Calling, where it’s a much different experience to the likes of Oxygen or T In The Park.”

As for what the fans can expect when Ash hit the stage at Leopardstown, Rick said that there will be something for everyone who has loved the band over the years.

“We’ll be playing a kind of greatest hits kind of set, if we are doing a headline show, chances are that two thirds of that will pick itself, and the rest, we’ll chop and change things around. We’ve not given the setlist too much thought, we’ll just work on it when we get into rehearsal next week, and see where it goes…”