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Interview with Ben Bruce from Asking Alexandria: A New Take On An Old Classic

Interview with Ben Bruce from Asking Alexandria: A New Take On An Old Classic

—by , March 9, 2011

When a band’s influences and musical tastes run in the vein of the ‘80s metal scene, it’s not surprising to see them follow in the traditional rock and roll lifestyle.  This also goes for metalcore group Asking Alexandria, who will have stories and probably some confessions to reveal on their upcoming release, Reckless And Relentless, from the past couple of years on the road.

Guitarists Ben Bruce and Cameron Liddell, bassist Sam Bettley, drummer James Cassells and vocalist Danny Worsnop have all experienced the fast track to success since their first album in 2008, Stand Up and Scream. The British band conquered the Americas with a never-ending touring schedule, and only just toured their home country for the first time last year. Alongside their homecoming, they release their EP, Life Gone Wild, to appease fans until the next full-length release and showed them a different side to Asking Alexandria.

Having just arrived to his home in the States the day before, Bruce spoke on the upcoming album and his motley crew of inspirations.

In December you did a headlining run in England.  Was this the first one there?

Yes, funny enough, being from England, we’ve never toured there before. It was our first tour that we’ve ever done there and it was a headlining tour. It was really awesome.

What was the feeling afterwards?

It was amazing. The fans were awesome, the tour was sold out and we couldn’t have asked for anything better. The only negative thing I can comment on was that some of the bands from the U.K. and some of the press were kind of pissed off. They were [saying] that we don’t deserve this and we haven’t done anything to warrant headlining a tour. I can kind of understand why they are saying it, but at the same time I think it’s pretty much bullshit because we have worked really hard to get where we are. It’s not like we woke up one day all of a sudden and we’re playing sold out shows and headlining tours. It took a lot of time, money and effort to come across to America on our own and try to make it for ourselves.

Was it a plan to build up the band in America first or that’s just how the cards fell?

It kind of just happened. We wanted to come to America to record demos, which is what we did. But when we were here, we realized how big this country really is.  America is massive and we thought it would be really cool to tour here and see what happens. We didn’t intend on staying in America for as long as we did, it just so happened that we became more and more increasingly popular and started booking more and more tours in America.

What’s the meaning behind the title of the upcoming release?

Basically, it just goes with what the album’s about. The album’s basically telling our whole story, what we’ve experienced over the last year and a half, coming up from nothing to where we are now. It took its toll on us as a band for a little while and we got caught up in the lifestyle and it started to affect our personal lives, our band life and our live performance and our families and everything negatively. The album is based around that. Literally, we were acting recklessly and that’s where the album’s title comes from a lot of the mistakes we’ve made.

How have you grown and matured since the first tour as people and in your sound?

As people, we’ve learned a lot of stuff the hard way. We made a lot of mistakes. It’s easy to get sucked into things when you’re away from home all the time and being on tour. We started being offered things that we would have never been offered before, so there was a lot of negative stuff going on that we’ve learned from and it’s made us matured as people.

As for the music, I feel just maturing as people it’s helped to mature our sound as well. The first album was all about breakdowns. Whereas the new album, there’s a lot more musicianship going being displayed on the album. It’s nice for me, because I write a lot of the music, and it was nice to sort of to show people that I can actually play my guitar.

Were there any bands or musicians that you were looking towards when writing for the new album?

Not really because we didn’t want to write an album that sounds like anyone else’s album. We’re all influenced by different music styles and different people. I’m really into blues and James studied jazz and Danny’s really into rock, so when you throw it all together it makes a nice mixture. 

Growing up, were there any particular musicians that inspired you to take up music?

My dad was really into music when I was a kid, but I wasn’t really interested into what my parent’s were listening to. So I went out and found my own stuff and I wound up listening to bands like Blink 182. I guess I wanted to be Tom DeLonge when I was like 12 years old.  I went out and bought a guitar and taught myself how to play Blink 182 songs and it went on from there. When I grew up, I got really into the music my dad tried to show me as a kid, so I’m really into the Beatles, Eric Clapton, B.B. King and artists like that.

What are your favorite Blink 182 and Beatles songs?

“Eleanor Rigby” is my favorite Beatles song and Blink 182—I don’t know. I still love that band and there’s not one album that I skip songs, and I can listen to them all day long. I like “Stockholm Syndrome,” because it’s one of their heavier tracks.

“Breathless” was just released and how does it set the mood for the upcoming album?

“Breathless” is on the new album, but the version that we released on the EP is a different version from the one on the album. It does fit in with the rest of the album, but it’s not the same style. I find that song has a lot of breakdowns and there’s a lot more orchestra stuff, there’s a lot more singing, there’s less synth breaks, but probably more synth than the first album, if that makes sense. We were more influenced by bands like Prodigy, and it’s got a darker feel than the last album.

You used the same producer, Joey Sturgis, for this as the last album.

When we recorded our first ever demos with him, he helped us find our feet and steer us in the right direction that we wanted to have. For me, I really like taking my ideas to Joey and he analyses everything from angles that most people wouldn’t even think to analyze from. He’s a really interesting guy to work with and he has better ears than anyone I’ve ever met. He can hear things that no one else can hear.  It’s a perfect writing team and there’s no need to change a recipe that works.

Was there something new that he was able to bring out of you this time?

Not particularly, because this is the third time we’ve recorded with him now, so we’ve just grown to know each other. He knows my style of writing, he knows the direction we’re going for, so he had a much clearer vision of what he wanted to do with the album, as well. So that process was really smooth.

For the EP, you choose to cover Skid Row songs. Why did you choose that band?

We just love ‘80s rock and it’s such a shame that it sort of died a death. So we thought why don’t we start to introduce our younger fans to this kind of music and at the same time, maybe introduce older fans of that music to our band. It was great for us because we love that music. And it was like us paying our respects, because without bands like Mötley Crüe, Guns N’ Roses, Skid Row and bands like that, this kind of music wouldn’t be where it is now. We actually spoke to Sebastian Bach of Skid Row and he really loved the covers and I think we may be doing a surprise performance with him at some point this year.

Would it be far-fetched to think about doing an ‘80s rock cover album?

It’s actually something we did discuss. We would certainly love to do some covers of Aerosmith, Def Leopard, Mötley Crüe, Cinderella and there’s a whole bunch of bands we wanted to cover. We can’t say for sure if we’re going to do it because we haven’t made up our minds. Some of our fans didn’t get it, they were like, ‘Oh they changed their style’ and we haven’t really changed our style, it was something we wanted to do. We do albums for us, but we do them with our fans in mind as well.

Asking Alexandria will be playing the Starland Ballroom on March 11. More info at myspace.com/askingalexandria.

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    reader responses
  1. I think it's cool that he likes B.B. King. I didn't think he'd be into that kind of blues.

    William on 2/10/2013 at 06:14 PM 

  2. ben bruce likes blink? that's actually really fucking cool. go him.

    Ansley on 5/25/2012 at 11:36 PM 


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