Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria Talks New Album, Upcoming Festivals, Playlist, and More
Thu, 28 Feb 2013 09:10:10
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"The longer you've been touring, the more things will happen that influence your life and dramatically change everything for you," says Asking Alexandria guitarist Ben Bruce. "That's what an album is. You can't regurgitate and force feelings that you had when you were 17-years-old and 24-years-old."
You certainly can't. Asking Alexandria have evolved immensely since they burst on to the scene with Stand Up and Scream, and they've risen through the ranks to rightfully become one of the most important, inimitable, and infectious bands in heavy music. Their forthcoming third album will undoubtedly cement their status as true leaders, and it's looming on the horizon for release later this year.
At the same time, they remain a massive live draw, and every show is even more crushing than the last. They'll be destroying stages at Welcome to Rockville, Carolina Rebellion, and Rock on the Range very soon.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Asking Alexandria guitarist Ben Bruce talks playing festivals, what's in store for album three, what he's listening to, and so much more.
What are the biggest differences between the European and American festivals?
To be honest, other than the obvious language barriers in the European festivals, there's not a huge difference, really. A festival show is just so different than a club show or an arena show. It's a completely different atmosphere. It really depends on the festival. Take a festival like Rock on the Range. There's a whole different group of people there. It's the same thing with doing our own headline tour. There's going to be a certain type of person at the show albeit there's a bit of variance, but it's going to be all our fans. Whereas when you play a big festival show, whether it be in Europe or America, the cool thing is that there's a whole different audience you can appeal to. That's the big difference between those two types of shows. In terms of Europe and America, there's not a whole lot of difference other than that the European festivals tend to be slightly bigger than the American ones. That's only because a lot of them are more established. Download is just insane. There are like 100,000 people that go to Download.
You obviously bring you’re A-game every night, but on a stacked festival bill is there more pressure?
It's not necessarily intimidating, but we're playing with some bands that we all really look up to. Some of these bands are the reasons we're doing what we do. Like you said, we always bring our A-game and try our best in everything we do, but there's that little extra push. It's almost like we want the bands we grew up listening to and idolize to respect us and say, "The new bands coming up aren't bad!" We want to almost impress them and seek their approval.
Who are you looking forward to playing with?
It's going to be cool playing Guns N' Roses again. We were main support for them a while back so that will be fun. I'm really looking forward to Alice in Chains. I'd love to watch them. Twisted Sister will be awesome because we're friends with Dee Snider. He's given us a lot of encouragement, but we've never actually played with him yet. That's going to be great.
Did you dig playing the Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival?
I loved it. We did Warped Tour the year before, and it was amazing. It was a great tour. The turnouts were huge, but that was primarily our fan base. It was almost guaranteed to be a good time for us. Whereas when we got the offer for Mayhem, we were like, "Fuck yeah! Of course, we're going to do it. It's Slipknot, Slayer, and Anthrax". There was a little bit of doubt in our heads. It's a much older fan base so we didn't know how it would go over and if anybody would bother watching us because it's an older fan base. It was an unbelievable experience and we gained so many fans from doing that summer tour. We're very glad we did it.
At the end of the day, you're a metal band. You're 21st century metal. It's a logical next step from Slipknot…
Definitely! When we started, we were teenagers. Our debut album Stand Up and Scream has done so well. I'm so proud of it. At the same time, it was pigeonholed to a certain group of listeners. A lot of the older fan base didn't get it. It was a bit immature for them. That's understandable. We were kids, and we were a bit immature. It was our first record. We weren't accomplished songwriters, and we hadn't been together very long. The next progression, Reckless & Relentless, did a whole lot better in terms of getting those older fans to come over and check us out. I think this new record we're about to release is going to blow the lid off everything. I'm really excited to see what people think of it and gain even more fans.
Is "Run Free" a solid prelude of what's to come on the album?
It is a good introduction to the record. The beauty about this record is there something on it for everyone. There's no way in hell this record can be pigeonholed to being a scene record, a rock record, a metal record, or a radio record. It's a really good heavy record. It's easily accessible. There are songs like "Run Free" that are driving and heavy at times, but then it's got the soft melodies, catchy chorus, and epic ending. That song is a really good balance. It shows a lot of what this record encompasses and what we're trying to do with our music. If we kept releasing Stand Up and Scream or Reckless & Relentless, not only would we get bored, but our fucking fans would get bored. The band would end up stagnating and falling apart. We don't release albums to make money. We release albums because we love what we do.
Over the past couple of years, you've defined what Asking Alexandria is. Now, you can show it in the recorded setting.
This record is a huge step forward. We've spent a lot of time working on who we are as musicians and what we want to accomplish. It captures everything we are and we have to offer. We're mixing now. Finally, there's not long to wait until we can release it. Danny has one song left to record, and he's doing that tomorrow. Basically, we're done. We're figuring out a release date. I think we've come up with the album title.
Are you still experimenting with electronics?
Definitely! When you listen to Stand Up and Scream, it was all over the place. We'd be playing a chorus or breakdown and go right into a synth break. To me, it didn't really flow. It was a cool thing that bands weren't doing then. Since that record came out, a lot of bands have been doing that. Reckless & Relentless explored how we can use electronics in a different way and encompass them into the song as one rather than jumping between. On this record, we've expanded on that. The electronics are definitely there. They're not necessarily subtle, but they blend into the song even far better than they did on Reckless & Relentless. On this record, I've been working on them with Logan Mader. He's great, and I've thoroughly enjoyed working with him. I was on the phone with him yesterday, and he said, "This is the best record he's heard come from us. Once again, we're at the forefront of the game". That meant a lot. I look up to that guy and Machine Head. Coming from him, that's amazing. Hopefully, this record blows people's minds.
What have you been listening to?
I've been listening to a lot of Mumford & Sons, Imagine Dragons, and AWOLNATION. I've also been listening to a lot of Slipknot again. Touring with them in the summer got me really back into them. Bruno Mars's new record is fucking brilliant. I'm really digging the new Bullet for My Valentine record, Temper Temper. It's a different approach from what they've gone for before, but I'm really liking it. A lot of people are bitching and moaning. I don't get it. They've progressed with every record. They've honed in on what they want to do, and it's a sweet move.
What's your favorite Asking Alexandria song and why?
See the band in our game-changers feature!