INTERVIEW: Asking Alexandria (20/12/2017)

Metalcore titans Asking Alexandria haven’t been short of excitement over the last few years with the departure of singer Danny Worsnop, the arrival and departure of replacement of Denis Stoff, and then the drama that followed not long after which saw Stoff leave and Worsnop return into the frame. Asking Alexandria are back to where they were three years ago, and all traces of ‘The Black’ have been removed. The York band are back with their self-titled record that aims to catch up on lost time.

We grabbed a word with Asking Alexandria guitarist and founder Ben Bruce about the brand new album, how the writing process changes as the band evolves, and what it’s like to have Danny Worsnop back in the band.

DP!: Hi, Ben. How’s it going?
Ben: Excellent, the album has just come out, I’m super pumped and ready for the road!

DP!: How has the reception to the new album been since its release?
B: Amazing! I think it’s the same reaction from every release except bigger! Every time we put out and album, it’s the same metal heads saying that it’s not metal enough, but we’ve had so much positive feedback from fans, and even the industry. I’ve never had this much feedback from the industry ever from an album, so everyone is really stoked and in really high spirits.

DP!: Did the writing style change at all for the writing process of this album?
B: Basically, we all listen to other music, from metal to hip-hop to blues, country, you know? We all listen to so many types of music, I think we wanted to expand upon that on this record. We went in there just with no limits. We didn’t go in with a plan or the record is going to sound like this record; we just wanted to write something we loved, and something we could explore our different influences, and that’s exactly what we did, and it made for probably the most enjoyable writing process we’ve had as a band. At least since ‘Stand Up And Scream’ when we were 17 and everything was new to us.

DP!: In my opinion, it’s definitely a new style that you’ve gone for. Does it feel like that for you? If so, what influenced the writing?
B: I mean, it feels pretty normal for us really, if you go back and listen to our discography we always try and change somewhat with every release we put up. If we were going to release ‘Stand Up And Scream’ again, what would be the point in that? Just put ‘Stand Up And Scream’ on. We’ve always had that mentality, and if you compare ‘Stand Up And Scream’ to ‘From Death To Destiny’, or this album and ‘Reckless And Relentless’, you know that every single album sounds different from each other. They have their own characteristics and stuff, and that’s just something that we’ve always done. So, in terms of feeling new, yes, but it always does and, again, from outside influences not just music again. That’s what we’ve always done from the beginning. We’ve always been honest about what we’re writing about, you know? We’re not going to be 29 years old writing about a break-up in high school because you think people are going to buy that single. We’ve just never been that band. We’ve always written about what is near and dear to us in our personal lives, and that’s no different to this record. A lot of this record addresses Danny’s departure and coming back, and also addresses everything from ‘Stand Up And Scream’ until now.

DP!: One notable change of this album compared to your previous, is the track ‘Empire’. Could you tell me a little bit more about that track?
Ben: Well, like I said, we all listen to different types of music, and when I wrote ‘Empire’ it kind of sounded to me like, I had this idea in my head that w’d get a hip-hop producer or mixer to mix this song and give it to a hip-hop producer and see what they’d do with it. This was before any vocals were on it or anything. I just thought it would be cool to see what differences it could bring to the record and it sort of just progressed from there, so why don’t we just go all out and find a hip-hop artist that we can collaborate with. Because we all love music, it wasn’t hard to sit down and say “Okay, this is cool”, and so we did. Our label said that you’re going to need a big name to pull this off, and we thought “Well, actually, let’s do the opposite” and get an artist people may not have heard of before; someone we think is incredibly talented and deserves a shot in the spotlight. That’s why we chose Bingx. You know, we worked with him and we fell in love with the message he sent with the lyrics, the delivery, and everything.

DP!: Do you have a favourite track on the album at all?
B: Uh, [laughs] I get asked that a lot and it changes every time I listen to it, and that’s the beautiful thing about this album. Every time I listen to a track I’m like “This is my favourite”. Then another one comes on and I’m like, “No, this is my favourite”, so I think each song on this record stands its own ground and has something unique to offer, so it’s quite hard for me to pick a favourite.

DP!: Would that be the same as what you’re excited to play live? Is there a certain one or two?
B: Oh, if I could play the whole album live start-to-finish I would, but you have to be mindful of the fans. If you went to a Metallica show and they didn’t play ‘Enter Sandman’, you’d be pretty pissed off. So, on a much smaller level, we sit there and think, we have to play this from this record and this one from that album, just so people leave having had the best possible time and you know the set time is up, so the more records you write the harder it is to come up with a set.

DP!: I see that you’re out on the road soon after Christmas with Black Veil Brides, coming to the UK, and a big old show at London’s Brixton Academy. Can you give us any behind-the-scenes gossip about what we can expect in terms or the show, or even set list?
B: I mean, it’s going to be – and this goes for all of the UK dates – it’s going to be the longest set that we’ve ever played, which is awesome, and our production too is a whole different level. We’ve never even attempted this, and bands don’t usually go for this level of production until they do arenas, so I’m stoked. We’ve spent a lot of time, money, and effort on this production, and I think for people that are coming to see the show, it’s going to be unlike any other Asking Alexandria show that you’ve seen before.

DP!: I know this must’ve been bought up in almost every interview that you’ve done recently, but if we could, I just wanted to ask you personally something about the departure of Denis Stoff. I’ve read recently his reasoning for leaving and blanking the band; is this true? Or are there still things to be addressed?
B: I won’t delve too far into it, but there’s so much that happened that I don’t want bring up any drama, or hinder him, or hurt his career, because there are no hard feelings if I’m honest, but there was stuff that happened with his departure that are just so out of order it is unreal, and, you know, were there problems back home with his family? Yes. I mean, Russia and Ukraine have been going through turmoil for a very long time now, and there’s a lot of this happening over there, sure. But, that way he’s making it out is not how it happened, and I don’t want to say what has happened because it doesn’t paint a good picture. I don’t want to hinder his career. I wish him nothing but the best. At the end of the day, I know what’s happened. He knows what he did, and that’s it. I could very well tell everyone what happened, but I’m not like that. I’m not a spiteful person. I don’t want to cause unneeded drama. We’re all happy with where we are now, and I hope he finds his happiness.

DP!: Obviously, I can’t go on in this interview and not talk about Danny. How is it having him back in the AA team?
Ben: Oh, it’s amazing. Obviously when he departed the turmoil was unbearable. It was horrible, to be honest. I was angry and pissed off at him, he was angry and pissed off at me, and it didn’t end on good terms at all. We were both hurt in the process. We’ve both grown up and moved on, and honestly it feels like 2007/2008 when we’d just met when we were in Nottingham. Everyone is doing this for the same reason now. it’s just five friends that love making music together, and that’s why we’re doing it. Before it turned into a chore; we were always on drink and drugs, there were arguments. It was a sad, sorry state of affairs, but we’re all happy now and all getting along, and we’re all super happy and proud of this album.

DP!: Is there any news on UK festivals for the summer that you could tell me about?
Ben: I mean, obviously we’re playing Download, which is huge. I don’t think we’ve played Download since 2013, if memory serves me correctly, so it’s been a long time. Download is a special type of festival. There’s nothing quite like it anywhere in the world, and, as for further touring in the UK everything is very much up in the air. We’re trying to hone in on our schedule and trying to figure out more touring opportunities.

DP!: Really good to speak to you, Ben. I’ll catch you in London.
Ben: Definitely, mate. I look forward to it. See ya!

The band’s new full-length studio album, ‘Asking Alexandria’, is out now through Sumerian Records.

You can purchase it online now from iTunes (here), Amazon (here), and Google Play (here).

You can keep up to date with the band online by following them on Facebook (here), Twitter (here), and Instagram (here).

Interview by Callum Griffin (@CalGriffinn)