Room Thirteen catch up with Charlotte Hatherley on the eve of the release of her new EP 'Behave'.

R13: We'll start off with Ash, which was obviously the beginning of your musical career, was the decision to leave the band earlier this year a difficult one?
Charlotte: Yeah, it was quite strange actually cuz I think it was not something I really planned on doing. We met up after having quite a lot of time off and touring American for forever and we hooked up again and I'd started work on the album and wanted to do the album and we just realised that maybe we needed to do something radical and just do it - all right then, fine I will!

R13: Did you find it difficult to be taken seriously as a solo artist while you were still in the band?
C: Yeah, I mean I found it difficult to take it seriously, I was constantly saying, "Yeah it's just a side project" and with this album, there's no way that I'd have been able to make it if I was still in the band. It's taken a year, it's been quite full on and I wouldn't have been able to do the songs any justice. 'Grey Will Fade' took me 2 weeks to record, and this took fucking months; it's just allowed me to really focus on the music.

R13: What was the highlight of your career with Ash then?
C: Umm I don't know, God, ten years man, it's a long time! I guess the most amazing thing about the whole time with Ash was the touring that we did because I think it was quite unusual to do that much touring and it was a big, big part of the work ethic. The thing with Ash was that they were Northern Irish guys who wanted to have fun. There was no seriousness, there were no egos, there was nobody being anal, it was just really good fun and touring was like everything that it should have been. That's something that I'll really miss and it's not just the band; it's the crew, we had the same crew for many, many years and it's like a big gang and I miss that kind of gang mentality and especially as the only girl you kind of get a bit of "big brother" syndrome and I miss that.

R13: How are you new band then, have you found them equally supportive?
C: Yeah, well I've got a wicked band assembled, I've got two girls in it which is good because that's one thing which I've realised - I don't have to do things I don't want to anymore, I'm never going to tour without having another girl so it's cool. They're very nice guys and I can't wait, this summer I thought summer's going on forever and I realised it was because I hadn't done any festivals; it was the first time since, like 1997 that I haven't done any festivals, so I'm missing it now.

R13: Onto your new album, have you written all the songs yourself?
C: Yep, all bar one which I co-wrote with Andy Partridge from XTC and it's the most un-XTC song that you can imagine, there are more songs on the album that sound like Andy Partridge but the one we wrote was really quite dark and slow.

R13: When you spoke to us after recording the last album, you said you had bigger ambitions for the next album, do you think 'Deep Blue' meets them?
C: Yeah, I think this album is massively different; it sounds like an album that's taken a year to record and that's a good thing. I'm dead, dead proud of it but of course but there's always more that could be done; you're never really 100% happy with anything that you do and I think, "Well the next one's really going to be ambitious".

R13: Will you measure the album's success in terms of how happy you are personally with it then, or in terms of how it will go down with the fans?
C: One thing I can say about this album is that it is the best I've ever done and I think with 'Grey Will Fade' we only really had 2 weeks to do it and it could have been better. When you get a review or someone say, "That's rubbish", which you're always going to get, when you secretly agree with them it makes it quite painful, whereas with this album I'm quite confident and it's really important to be able to do that.

R13: You recorded the album in Italy, did that help to create a more relaxed atmosphere for the record?
C: Totally, I was feeling a bit under pressure, thinking that this was a really important album and Italy and the Italians in general just work to their own clock, they don't rush for anyone so it was really laidback, by the sea with beautiful sunshine. We were living in the studio and there was wine and it was amazing, it was so beautiful, you don't get that sort of treatment in London!

R13: You must have done a lot of travelling while you were on tour, what are your favourite places?
C: Places like Japan and Australia are brilliant. Going to Japan in awesome because it's so completely different and mad and good fun. And then there's places like Germany; I fucking love touring Germany, you make really good friends when you've been there so many times and there are certain places in Europe that I really look forward to playing cuz we've been there and have good memories. That's the good thing about being in a band such a long time, you build up a relationship with people at labels and venues and stuff, so I can't wait to start touring next year.

R13: Are the fans of your solo material different from the Ash fans?
C: Umm, yeah, it's weird actually with Ash because you could see that each album had a different set of fans and they get older with you and with 'Meltdown' it attracted quite a rock crowd and with my stuff you get a lot of... old men laughs, quite a lot of Mojo readers. It's definitely an older crowd.

R13: Your EP 'Behave' was out this week, as an EP it can't run for Christmas number one, but what would you be backing for that coveted slot?
C: 'Behave' has sold 200 copies I'll have you know! Um, Leona, lovely Leona. What else is out this Christmas?
R13: Take That and Cliff Richard!
C: Oh Take That for number one!

R13: How did you choose the songs to go on the EP, are they the strongest from the album?
C: We had loads of excess songs, so it was quite weird trying to guess what songs were going to be singles and trying to choose b-sides for them. Basically I'd record 2 songs with Luke Smith from Clor, who wrote one of my favourite albums ever and he did a remix of 'Behave', which is awesome. Then one of the other songs is quite heavy and comes from the work with him. The other track is a track on the album but it's a longer version and it's quite cinematic and soundtracky; it's like an instrumental - the album has really got some different styles going on.

R13: I noticed that one of the songs on the album is called 'Dawn Treader', is that a Narnia reference?
C: Yeah, actually that's the song I did with Andy Partridge; it sounds like it should be a death metal song or something but it's not! I love all those books and it's about the ship and it's quite a depressing little number actually. I didn't realise that in the book The Dawn Treader is a good ship, as in my song it's a bad ship - a twist there! I'm trying to get on the soundtrack of the next film you see!

R13: You set up your own label Little Sister, how has that benefited you?
C: It's been amazing actually, it's one of the best things I've ever done. I'm in a funny position actually where I'm able to do that and I've basically paid for this album myself and recorded it and when you go to label meetings and you get people saying maybe you could remix this and re-record this and I want to say basically, this is it, which is what I've now done. Maybe that's a bit nave of me but I was given a distribution offer, so I said I'd set up my own label, which is what every musician would like to do if they could. It's about having control and it's brilliant.

R13: You come across as a pretty down to earth person, what's the most diva-esque moment you've had then?
C: Umm, I don't know really. I did a photo shoot for Arena magazine in February. I think that realisation that you're on your own and you realise that "I don't have to do that" and you're able to just say, "No I'm not going to do that" and I've never been able to do that before, it's an epiphany.

R13: In the video for 'I Want You To Know' you're in a boxing ring, was that concept yours?
C: I've just been looking at the first edit of it and it looks very funny! Joe Cornish of Adam and Joe fame directed it and he's not done a video before so we kind of hinted about how the lyrics of the song are quite comic book-ish and he did something with a manga idea. All of my videos have had some kind of animation and I really wanted to do a performance thing as well so we mixed it all together. The idea was that I'd become this tiny Japanese character getting beaten up by all these massive monsters and there's going to be lots of manga animation on top.

R13: Is there anyone who you'd like a round in the ring with?
C: this my moment to be like Lily Allen and slag someone off? I don't know really, someone in the Long Blondes said that he didn't like girl guitarists; I think it was Dorian, so I'd quite like to duff him up!

R13: So what are you do you want for Christmas then?
C: I want some Alexander McQueen boots, which I don't think I'm going to get. Other than that there's nothing that I really need, I asked my sister for some socks for Topshop!