Ode to Dad – Conversations with Ashley Gelaude

In your own words; write a brief description of your band:

I’m currently working with three groups and these descriptions are super brief…
The Leg Up Program: An 18 piece Hip-Hop/multi-genre machine.
Everybody Left: Beach Rock
Coffee Eyes: ‘Soft’ Pop Punk

Name: Ashley Gelaude
Age: 24 (25 in June)
Hometown: Victoria, BC Canada
Nickname(s): Smash/Ash – I wish I had more nicknames, honestly.
Current band: See above answer 🙂
Favourite place for takeout: Bin 4. Always.

Story / Images : John Carlow    Finding Charlotte Photography


Tom Tom: When/ how did your interest in drumming begin?

Ashley: I took music as an elective in middle school because I didn’t want to take Home Economics. I started out playing trumpet but my teacher noticed I was restless and suggested I try percussion. Additionally, my older sister had developed an interest in drumming so naturally I wanted to be as cool as her. She taught me everything I knew initially on a dirt cheap CB kit. She moved her focus to other amazing things, and I continued to drum/play any instrument I could get my hands on.

Have you ever taken lessons?

I spent a total of 4 hours taking lessons when I was about 13. It was very expensive and my family couldn’t afford it no matter how much they wanted to.

What was the first song you learned to play on drums?

Good Times Bad Times – Led Zeppelin (I couldn’t play it all that well back then, but damn it was fun).

Tell us about the first show you played in front of an audience as a drummer

It was very likely a jazz band/R&B band/concert band show. First real show was as a local Jazz club though (how rock n roll of me, right?).
The really exciting shows started coming later in life.

Describe your gear:

Right now I’m still working with the same rig I had when I was a pup. Pearl Forum. I run one rack tom, one floor, kick and a snare. Cymbals: Crash x2, Ride, and Hats. I like a simple kit, and I like my cymbals level with my toms. Low and flat ! My hardware is a modest mash-up of pieces I’ve collected over the years. I plan to upgrade everything this year, fingers crossed team!
Side note: It’s never what you play, and always how you play it.

Can you write music?

I can – I prefer to work by ear/improv but it’s handy to have it in the back pocket just in case.

Do you play other instruments?

Guitar is a hot second, which opened the door to many other instruments. I’d love to learn it all.

What is in your own musical collection?

You’ll find a lot of punk/pop-punk, hip-hop, jazz, R&B, Motown, alt-rock and soul. That being said, I love it all and I mean that.

Do you have musical idols?

Lots. Anderson Paak., Allen Stone, A Tribe Called Quest, Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Matt Mingus, Chris Carrabba, badbadnotgood, CHON, Max Bemis, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Daren, Tingsek, Domo Genesis, Evan Chapman and hundreds more.

Who are the bands that inspire your band’s sound?

All the bands I work with draw their influence from so many sources. There is too much talent in the world to not be infinitely influenced.

What have you taken away from playing live?

-Energy is everything – I draw all my passion/life from the crowd.
-Less is more, always.
-Respect/appreciate all musicians/stage-crew/sound-crew you work with. They are all talented and awesome.
-Every opportunity is a great opportunity no matter the venue/size/crowd/hour.
-Have fun and go hard.
-Try your best not to whack your knuckles on rims. Blood is a pain to clean off coated skins.
-Take care of your moon-gel and baby your hardware/felts.
-I also learned very quickly to not care at all about how I look because 2 songs in it’ is all going to change.
-Good crowd involvement can make a show.

What does pre show preparation involve?

Making sure all the pieces on my kit are sitting in a really natural spot, and socializing with lots of people. One beer only before I play and one during the show.



Are you exhausted after a show?

Always; and If I’m not I wasn’t working hard enough.

What’s the most unusual/funny thing to ever happen to you at a gig?

I honestly don’t have too many unusual/funny stories (at least none that I should share with an international magazine). Tons of amazing ones though. Sharing the stage with Toots and the Maytals was for sure a highlight. Also, playing Tootsies in Nashville was a riot.

What are the best/ most practical clothes for drumming?

As little as possible. Sports bra, tights and a pair of low profile Converse.

Do you have an aggressive style in your drumming? (do you hit hard ? )

I hit hard and controlled. I like to keep it tight and punchy. I love a kick that you can feel in your chest.

What appeals to you about a magazine like Tom Tom?

Everything. It’s raw, refreshing and has great energy. Thank you for giving us chicks an opportunity to be heard on a larger scale.

What are your goals as a musician?

– To continue loving what I do and learn as much as I can.
– I’d love to keep playing to energetic crowds, and connecting with amazing people.
– I want to work with as many musicians as possible.
– Focus on my studio career a bit more.
– Practice my rudiments WAY more.
– Somehow charm my favourite drum companies into working with me. What isn’t charming about pale arms, awkwardly placed tattoos and some of the weirdest drum faces you’ve ever encountered?
– Spend more time fine-tuning my desires to work as a producer.
– Focus my free time on learning more about the instruments I love and push my abilities.

What’s in the future for you musically?

Anything and everything. I’d love to travel more and meet tons of new faces in the music community. Hopefully run into a few of my idols and continue working hard at making all my supporters proud. Also, I’d love the chance to record in more studios and meet plenty of producers.

What has been the biggest change in your life since lifting up the sticks?

Spending time with myself. Music is the easiest way to connect with my heart/mind. I know that’s cheesy but it’s very true. Beyond that, relationships. I’ve had the opportunity to develop so many rad relationships and plan to continue to do so.

What should people know about Ashley?

– I have the most supportive family/friends/cats/girlfriend in the world and I’m lucky as all hell.
– Video games, coffee and tattoos are everything.
– I want to adopt every dog I meet.
– 90’s music is the only drug I’ll ever need.
– Learning to laugh at myself was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I know from our conversations that you recently lost your father and that he was a great supporter of your journey as a musician. What do you want people to know about him?

If I had it my way the whole world would know everything about my Dad. He deserves that much. I’m going to try and say what I mean here but the chances of this answer coming up scrambled are huge.

I’ve never been closer with anyone than I was/am with my father. Personality wise we were the same person. Of course he was my father but in addition to being the worlds best Dad he was my best friend my whole life through. He’s always supported my dream/passions/ideas. With my father, anything that made his kids smile made him smile. In his mind, I was a rock star the day I decided to pick up a stick. I remember my first radio interview with a local radio station my step-mom took a video of him ears glued to the speaker just crying and listening (for those who don’t know him, he’s a big ol’ sensitive teddy bear). He was one of the first people I came out to when I struggling to accept myself and supported me without waiver through that whole process as well.

What I want people to know about my dad is (in short)…

He was everything to me. Family, love and support were everything to him. Without his guidance and love I wouldn’t have even come close to this far. In times when I was ready to give up on myself my father’s undying optimism, goofy attitude and unconditional love carried me to heights I never thought possible for myself. I know more than anything he’s with me every step of the way… I’m not sure how, but I just know he is. I channel my love for him into everything I do and I will work harder than I ever have to continue making him proud. I want the world to know how infinitely positive my father was. I want the world to know that everyday I’m inspired by his memory. It’s only just been over a month since he passed, but I’m going to work really hard at channeling my grief into something positive and productive. He would want that.

Do you have advice for young women starting out in music?

Work hard and take yourself seriously (but not too seriously). Focus more on the feel and less on the technicalities. Respect yourself and the respect of others will follow. Do what makes you feel good and don’t give a f**k about what others think. Practice really doesn’t make perfect, but nothing makes perfect (practice will however get you very close). Connect with musicians who make you feel jazzed and empowered. Cherish people who support your passions.

On stage emotional tribute to her recently departed Dad. Ashley on stage with the Leg Up Program

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