Interview by Holly Aker.
In a time where mixing hardcore and synth is as common as seeing a hipster drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon, Asking Alexandria has managed to break away from the monotony and create a sound that offers fans something new and exciting. Coupled with a must-see live show that leaves no one standing still, Asking Alexandria has the chops to become one of the biggest bands in the hardcore world.
On April 5, the band is released their highly anticipated second full-length album, entitled, Reckless and Relentless. The album was produced by Joey Sturgis, who produced Asking Alexandria’s first full-length album and has worked with bands like Attack Attack, Of Mice & Men and The Devil Wears Prada.
Currently on the Reckless and Relentless U.S. Tour, Asking Alexandria stopped by South by Southwest (SXSW) to play The Artery Foundation day party and The Pantheon Agency Showcase. Before they left town, we sat down with guitarist Ben Bruce to get the lowdown on the new album, an update on the band’s remixed album, Stepped Up and Scratched, and to find out exactly what the band’s newest music video will contain.
Let’s start with the remix album. Stepped Up and Scratched was originally scheduled to be released in December, then it was pushed back to January, and now the release date has been pushed back again. Why has the date changed so much?
Bruce: I have no idea. Now I don’t even know if it is coming out in March. It might be moved again. I have no idea. I honestly don’t know. We came up with the idea of doing it ages ago, and we never did it. Then everyone started releasing remix albums of their previous albums, so we were like, “Fuck that,” and we’ll wait a little while. Then we were going to release it but, we just finished recording our new album, Reckless and Relentless, so we just decided to concentrate more on that than a re-release of Stand Up and Scream, so we felt it would be a little bit of a kick in the face to the fans and stuff that’ve been waiting so long for new stuff. So I don’t know when it’s coming out. It probably will eventually, I’d assume.
I hope so.
Bruce: It will. I’m sure it will. Sumerian paid a lot of money for it, so I guarantee you they’ll release it.
Why did you guys want to do a remixed album like Stepped Up and Scratched?
Bruce: Because obviously we’ve got synth and stuff in our music anyway because we’re all big fans of trance and electro. Not so much dupstep really…that seems to be a trend that’s going on right now. But a lot of club music and stuff like that we used to listen to a lot when we were a bit younger, so it just seemed like a natural, cool kind of thing to do. Not really anything else to it really. We just enjoy listening to that music.
Did you guys choose the individual DJs to remix the songs for Stepped Up and Scratched?
Bruce: We did, but Sumerian would present us with someone and suggest different DJs, and we’d listen to their stuff or we already knew who they were. We narrowed it down to the ones we thought best, and say, “Final Episode” was remixed. It would be remixed by three or four different DJs, and then we’d pick the one that we liked best to go on the actual album. So there’s like a million different versions of them all.
Will those ever be released?
Bruce: I’m pretty sure some of them have already been leaked. And yeah, some of them are released on our EP, and I know some of them are going to be released as bonus content on our new album. Then obviously they’ll be different versions on Stepped Up and Scratched when it finally comes out.
Normally bands don’t go back to producers, but Joey Sturgis produced your debut full-length Stand Up and Scream and now he’s produced Reckless and Relentless. Why did you guys decide to back to him?
Bruce: Just because we’re so comfortable with him really. We made really good friends with him, so it was kinda like, it’s not a holiday, but it’s kinda like a vacation because we get to have such a good time making the album with him. And that’s the whole reason we make albums in the first place, is to have fun, have a good time, so if we can continue that in the studio too, why not? And he does a great job, and he knows what we’re going for, and we all work really well together, so it just was natural and felt good. There’s no reason to venture off to someone else when we know somewhere we can go and get a really good result and have a good time at the same time.
What was your writing process like for Reckless and Relentless?
Bruce: I started writing the album as soon as we finished recording the first album because I wrote like 98 percent of the music. I literally just, whenever I feel like writing, I get my laptop out and sit down and write for as many hours as I want to. It’s not really a schedule or set thing, it’s just whenever I feel like writing. Like, I’ve already started writing for the new album even though Reckless isn’t out yet. I’m always writing, and then once I’ve got a song near enough finished I’ll take it to the guys, and we’ll sit down together, and we’ll pick it apart, see what we like, what we don’t like. It took maybe a year to finish writing, maybe a year and a half to finish writing Reckless and Relentless. It took a long time. It was worth it. I like how it’s come out. It’s better than the last piece of shit we released.
So do write the lyrics, too?
Bruce: I write some of the lyrics. Danny does most of them though. Danny does like 90 percent of the lyrics. On Stand Up and Scream, it was like 50, 50, but on Reckless and Relentless, he’s done a lot more of the lyrics than I did.
How is Reckless and Relentless going to differ from Stand Up and Scream?
Bruce: It’s better.
Bruce: I don’t know. It’s just more mature, and it’s more thought out and planned out because Stand Up and Scream seems to jump around a lot. Like, we’d be playing a breakdown one minute, and then the next minute we’d be playing a chorus, and then the next we’d be playing a trance sort of dance beat kind of thing and then back into a breakdown, whereas the new album we kind of meshed it all together and made it flow nicely and stuff. It’s just a lot more mature, and the writing in the album’s a lot more mature. You can tell we’ve taken a lot longer on it than the last album, which was kind of just frantic because it was our first album. We didn’t really know what the hell we were doing and what we wanted to go for, and in this album we know what we wanted to go for, and you can tell the difference.
Will we hear any collaborations with other musicians on Reckless and Relentless?
Bruce: No. Nope, it’s all us. Other than Joey helping out with production, it’s all us. We were going to get some guest vocals like we did in the last one, but we decided against it because we just wanted it to be all about us. We didn’t want people to check out the album just because so and so was in it. We wanted it to be all about us and what we wanted to portray it as.
When can fans expect to see a new music video from Reckless and Relentless?
Bruce: Umm, I swear we’re playing L.A. or some shit on this tour. Well maybe not. Well we’ve got a day off in L.A. on this tour anyway, and we’re shooting a new music video while we’re there, so I’m assuming it’s going to come out within the next month or so. So not too long.
Can you tell me which song yet?
Bruce: It’s changed like three times, so I don’t know if it’s going to change again, but as it stands we’re doing a song called “To The Stage,” and it’s going to have Danny dying and overdosing and having sex with a girl while she’s dying, so it’s awesome.
On your Life Gone Wild EP you did two Skid Row covers. Why did you decide to cover Skid Row?
Bruce: Well, me and Danny in particular, but all of us really are like big ’80s, rocking ’80s metal fans and stuff, and we kind of got the feeling like, a lot of it’s in our new album too in Reckless and Relentless, that the music industry’s kind of going to shit kinda thing. Everyone’s downloading album’s not and less and less people are going to shows and stuff, and it’s a real shame, and kids seem to have forgotten about Guns N’ Roses and Ozzy Osbourne and Led Zepplin and AC/DC and all that stuff. It was kind of just bumming us out I guess because we wouldn’t be where we are without those bands. So we kind of just wanted to re-introduce some of our younger fan base to that kind of music again and have something a bit familiar for our older fan base too because I kind of feel like it might come back, hopefully. You know, Rockband and Guitar Hero and all that shit, they’re doing like Aerosmith and Metallica, so I figure maybe it’ll come back. I don’t know, we’ll see.
Do you guys prefer to play big festivals like SXSW or smaller venues? Why?
Bruce: I like both. I like mixing it up because then it doesn’t get tedious or monotonous. It’s different. Like, something like this is a completely different atmosphere than doing headline show in club or larger venue or something because it’s more rushed and chaotic. There’s like a million bands playing. It’s just a completely different energy and different vibe. It’s good to mix the two up I think. It gets boring otherwise.
What do you guys have planned for after “The Reckless and Relentless” Tour?
Bruce: Our Reckless and Relentless U.S. Tour finishes, and then two days after this finishes we have Golden God Awards in L.A., and we’re playing with Avenged Sevenfold and Slash and stuff like that, so that’ll be cool. Then the day after that, our Reckless and Relentless UK/Europe Tour starts. Busy.
Is that the rest of 2011 or do you have some stuff kept secret?
Bruce: We’ve still got some stuff kept secret. Everyone already knows we’re playing Warped Tour, so I might as well just reiterate that. We’re doing that. We’re on the main stage, which is cool. Then we’re doing a bunch of festivals all around the world, and then I think we’re coming back to America at the very end of the year and doing another headlining tour. But we’ll see.