Asking Alexandria Talk "Run Free", New Album, Monster Energy Outbreak Tour, and More
Fri, 07 Dec 2012 09:10:15
"I think it's fucking heavy," Asking Alexandria guitarist Ben Bruce declares of "Run Free", the band's latest single.
That's quite an a propos description.
Everything about Asking Alexandria is "fucking heavy" though. Last year, they dropped one of the best heavy metal records of the decade, Reckless & Relentless, and they terrorized the countryside alongside Avenged Sevenfold and Hollywood Undead and, in 2012, on the Rockstar Mayhem Festival with Slipknot and Slayer. Hands went in the air and panties dropped at the sounds of the UK outfit's undeniable bravado.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Asking Alexandria axeman Ben Bruce talks "Run Free", the band's next album, the Monster Energy Outbreak tour, and more.
What's the story behind "Run Free"?
I always write songs with the drum beat first, and I had the open drumbeat in my head because it's so driving. I wanted to go straight into it. I based the guitar around that drumbeat oddly enough rather than the drumbeat around the guitar riff. I'm the primary songwriter in Asking Alexandria, and I start with the drumbeats first. I find it easier. If you have a specific drumbeat, you can play any number of riffs over it that will fit. In that way, I have options in which direction I want to take the song and what kind of riff I want to play as a lead, lick, or chords. It keeps my mind open to different things throughout the writing process. There's a lot more groove on this record rather than being heavily based around rhythm guitar. There are a lot more riffs. Those are fun to play live, and it makes a difference from our last two records.
You guys have always been a rock band at heart.
Exactly! That's one of the main goals we wanted to show off on this record.
What was the vision for the new album as a whole?
By far, I think it's the best album we've ever written. There's more to this record. There are heavy parts and softer parts. There's a really rock-y ballad too. The whole record flows from heavy to more mellow. It tells a cool story.
Did you get try anything new here?
We've been playing together a lot longer now so we're used to each other's playing styles. We had a much more solid direction of where we wanted to take this record. Everyone knows we're huge '80s rock fans, hence the Skid Row covers. We've got a few more covers coming out. We delved a little bit more into that aspect, which we didn't get to do on our last two records because we were still trying to establish ourselves and find our sound. It was fun to experiment with that more. On the last two records, there were heavy string sections, which were all done on the computer. On this record, we got a well-known composer Stevie Blacke to write a real score. We had real string instruments and real choir. I'm really excited we got to explore that on this record.
Is this album a bit brighter than Reckless & Relentless?
It definitely is a little bit brighter. We still explored the dark side. For a long time, we struggled with alcohol, drugs, and being on the road at such a young age. We still explore those things on this record, but we're in a much better place as a group of guys. There are some more positive and uplifting songs like "Run Free". We feel like we have a voice now and a responsibility. There are a lot of kids who go through shit at school and people who go through bullshit in their personal lives who we feel we can relate to. We're trying to use our voice to send a more positive message on "Run Free", especially.
Do a lot of kids come up to you and tell you how the music's resonating?
Every day! It's one of the best parts of being in a band. If you can reach your audience and have them come up and tell you that you saved their lives, you helped them stop self-harming, or you helped them get through really tough times like a breakup or bullying in school, that really means a lot to us. We get told that on a daily basis which is really amazing.
There were bands that did the same thing for you growing up.
Exactly! It's nice to be part of that for someone else. Everyone relates to music. When I was growing up, certain bands helped me through tough times. It's nice to be on the other side of the table actually helping people who are going through a shit time.
Who's on your playlist right now?
My playlist is quite varied, but more often than not, I'm listening to Gary Moore, Joe Bonamassa, and Eric Clapton. I grew up on bluesy stuff. There's one track we haven't yet titled, but it's got a bluesy rock style. That's really cool. You can feel my blues influence come through.
You guys are actually bringing the girls back to metal too…
You've got the dudes there going nuts and chanting. For a while, metal was very male-oriented. It's nice to have that varied foundation and bring girls back to shows.
Monster Energy seems like the perfect partner for you.
Monster is so willing to bring rock 'n' roll back! There a great partner for us. We love working with them.
What's your favorite Asking Alexandria song?
See our review of "Run Free" here!