When Ash came back with "Shining Light" there was almost a sense of relief. It was like welcoming an old friend back to the fold after the disappointing "Nu-Clear Sounds". With the follow up single "Burn Baby Burn" heavily rotated on MTV and The Box, an album "Free All Angels" set for release at the end of April we couldn't think of a better person to speak to than the elusive Charlotte. In a rare interview we talk about the acoustic shows, modelling for Calvin Klein and the new found optimism in the Ash camp.

Q: Would you agree that you had to make an album like "Free All Angels" after "Nu-Clear Sounds"?
A: Yeah, but I think after "Nu-Clear Sounds" we could have done anything really. It kind of wiped the slate clean and I think everybody's expectations were dashed a little after. We did have a lot of pressure during "Nu-Clear Sounds" and to be honest we just didn't want the pressure with this one.

It  was sort of contrived because we had 30 songs and a lot of them were quite slow like "Somedays" on the album, but we thought we'd go for the 13 most upbeat ones.

Q: How do you feel about Nu-Clear sounds now?
A: I think its great. At the time it got better reviews than "1977" and it was really critically acclaimed but commercially it didn't go well - we just didn't have the singles. Its a really good album but there were songs or moments that were missing from it.

The new album is similar to "1997" but its moved on so much from then. On that album you couldn't have had "Candy" and "Cherrybomb" on there - it just wouldn't have happened.

Q: When "Shining Light" came out did you just look at the competition and think no problem?
A: That's the first song we recorded and we all knew it was going to be a single as soon as we did it. It was great when it went into Number 8 when we hadn't released anything for 2 years.

There still is some good British Music, its just that you have to look a little harder to find it nowadays. I don't mind such bands like Coldplay but there doesn't seem to be any alternative uplifting rock music. And I don't really like what the Americans are doing anyway. Its a bit of weird one. But there are good bands like My Vitriol and Snow Patrol out there.

Q: You play the programmes like CD:UK and kids TV. What do you think of the pop acts around?
A: We all love pop music and that whole Westlife thing got blown slightly out of proportion - but its true that they are shit!!! With every single genre there is bad and good and Westlife just happen to be really really awful. Pop rules!!! Britney and Destiny's Child - fucking brilliant!!!! You can still be innovative with pop music.

Q: You're known as an electric guitar band. How did the Acoustic shows go last month?
A: We've always done acoustic stuff for Radio Sessions. We actually did an acoustic tour round the radio stations of Europe and we've always done Peel Sessions, Evening Sessions etc. It does work really well but I think we prefer it as 4 piece - we miss Mark and Rick too much when we do the acoustic shows. Were a lot more relaxed about it and we've just got back to why we started the band in the first place.

Q: When you did the low-key dates last year you played a few of your own songs. Are they going to be released as Ash or as a solo project?
A: They were part of the whole 30 songs and because they were quite downbeat they were saved with a batch of Tim's songs. They'll probably be recorded as Ash songs. I think the problem with "Nu-Clear Sounds" is that we didn't have that many songs, the album was done but then we had some pretty dodgy B-Sides - this time we've got like 20 songs ready to go.

Q: One of the little extracurricular activities was the modelling. How did it go with the Calvin Klein experience?
A: We went to New York, got a free trip and then just had loads and loads of people running round fussing us. It was pretty weird doing fashion stuff because being a model you're just like modelling someone else's creations. When you're a musician its your own art so its very different.

I can empathize with what Kate Moss said about being bored of being a model. If you're a creative person I can see how it would be frustrating. It was just a one off but then again it depends what offers there are.

Q: And finally can you tell us anything about the whole Internet Tour tie up Mark was hinting at last time?
A: I don't even know, he's keeping that under his hat!!! The smaller shows were really good but on this tour we'll be able to a lot more visually.

The single "Burn Baby Burn" is out 2nd April
The album "Free All Angels" is out 26th April