Sometimes, even despite a somewhat established career and name, a band will want to reinvent themselves in many ways, and one of these is with a name adjustment. Originally known as Burning Down Alaska, the German metalcore unit made a change to just Alazka, and it certainly seems to have paid off.
Not only did the band secure a signing with SharpTone Records, but they also released their debut album ‘Phoenix’, and more recently bagged a spot on a four-band touring bill alongside contemporaries The Plot In You, Polaris, and We Came As Romans.
Whilst at the London stop of the run, we caught up with vocalist Tobi Rische backstage to discuss all things ‘Phoenix’, the shows, and the band’s new direction.
DP!: How’s tour been going so far?
T: It’s incredible. We have so many dates on this tour that are sold out, and tonight is sold out as well in London, and Stuttgart in Germany that we’ve got coming up is also sold out. Unfortunately, We Came As Romans are dropping off the tour tonight to go back and play some shows in the US. But we’ll finish the tour with The Plot In You and Polaris, and we’ve got four more dates coming up.
DP!: You’ve toured with some pretty big names, but if you could tour with anyone, who would it be?
T: Everybody in our band has their own favourite band and role models, but actually for me, it’s Kendrick Lamar. I love him. I saw him live like two months ago, and it was the best show ever. Our clean vocalist Kassim actually has a big R&B influence, and I listen to a lot of rap music and pop and rock, as well as 80s and synthwave.
DP!: What was the writing process for ‘Phoenix’ like?
T: Writing the album was a bit stressful, because it was our debut album. We only had an EP out before then under our old name Burning Down Alaska. We recorded the EP at a friend’s house, but ‘Phoenix’ was recorded in the UK in a proper studio. It was really cool. We were in the UK for one month only writing and recording. It was really fun, but really hard, but that’s what being in the studio is. It was a great experience.
DP!: Alazka sort of rose from the ashes of Burning Down Alaska. What did you want to do differently with this band?
T: It’s kind of hard to say. We’re six random dudes just doing music, so we don’t have a particular thing in mind where we want to go. It’s still kind of the same music we did on ‘Values And Virtues’, our very first EP, but we have Kassim now who brings in a lot of his own influences. We’re just writing the music we love.
DP!: Were there any songs from the album you were really looking forward to playing live?
T: I love playing ‘Ghosts’, because it’s the first song on the album, and it has an intro, ‘Echoes’, that we also play live. It has like this really calm intro where Kassim sings, but as soon as the song hits it goes pretty hard. It goes from zero to a hundred. That’s what I love. I guess that’s my favourite part of the whole set.
DP!: You recently released a track called ‘Phoenix II’ that has quite a different sound, where did that come from?
T: The addition of Kassim in the band opened so many doors to do acoustic songs. We wanted to do that from the beginning. I can sing as well, but not as good as Kassim. That was a problem because when I would sing live, it wouldn’t really work with my screams. Doing acoustic versions with Kassim is really cool. We’ve always wanted to do some calm songs.
DP!: So, what’s next for you guys?
T: We’ll be doing lots of festivals in Europe. We’re going to be playing a big one in Austria called NovaRock, and we’ll also do some smaller ones in Germany. We might have another tour this year as well, but as soon as we get home we’ll want to write new music, so that’s the plan.
The band’s debut full-length album, ‘Phoenix’, is out now through SharpTone Records.
Interview by Lottie Cook (@pixelottie)