Monday 16 January 2012

Interview - Asking Alexandria [Ben Bruce] // Blessthefall [Elliott Gruenberg]

Asking Alexandria

While most people spend their Sunday evening's chilling out before the week ahead, we spent ours hanging out with Asking Alexandria & Blessthefall - two metal bands taking on Leeds Met.

Asking Alexandria are the York boys who've done good in the States. Their latest album hit the number 9 spot in the US Billboard charts and they're gracing the pages of Kerrang this week! This sold out hometown show sees them finally conquering their native UK. We sit down for a chat with guitarist Ben Bruce pre-show.

Hey Ben. You said in your recent Kerrang interview that you’ve “stepped up [y]our live show to an incredible degree.” In what way and how has this gone down so far?
BEN BRUCE- This stage is too small! Well, we’re not drunk on stage anymore so we’re actually playing the right songs at the right time in the right key. We are just taking it more seriously now. Before, we just got too drunk and it would be a cluster-fuck so we’re actually trying now. Also, when we’re in the States we have a lot of CO2 cannons; we were supposed to have pyrotechnics on this tour but we had to cancel them…next time!

Ben Bruce
You’ve laid off the alcohol on tour now. Do you think your success in the UK now is a combination of that, alongside you guys being tighter and more focussed?
BB- I guess. I hope so, because I think people were starting to get a bit disappointed with our live show just because we were so fucked up and we weren’t really playing very well. So, I would assume so yeah. Danny doesn’t drink at all on tour anymore, but we do still drink just not before we play.

You’ve toured with Chelsea Grin before and With One Last Breath are obviously from York, and Joe your old bassist is now playing with them – is it nice to be touring with, I guess, friends?
BB- Well that’s why we brought them. Since we’re headlining we get to choose who we bring. Blessthefall too, they’re really good friends of ours; we toured with them in Australia, Japan and stuff so it’s nice touring with friends rather than being stuck with a bunch of dickheads you don’t like

Do you like coming home every so often to York?
BB- I do like going back to York, because even though I’m from London I did live in York for a long time with the guys, so yeah. We haven’t played Fibbers in a while; don’t think we’ll be able to anymore unless we do a secret little show.

What do you miss most from England when you’re in America- and vice versa?
BB- Food! The food in American sucks; it’s just hot dogs and burgers! It’s just not as good as here; you can’t get battered sausages in America. And er… I guess I miss the weather in America when I’m here.

You’ve said you’re releasing a prequel and sequel video of “To The Stage”. Do you think music videos are important and should be used to tell a story?
BB- Yeah, which is why we haven’t been performing in the newer ones. In our old videos it was just us playing our instruments and it was a bit boring. Our album “Reckless & Relentless” actually tells the story of the band and all the shit that we went through with drugs and stuff, so it was important for us to follow through with the videos as well and give a more visual side of it.

"Reckless & Relentless "the latest album
From a lot of your interviews I’ve seen, you tend not to take yourselves too seriously – do some people not know how to take that? Especially because I know some Americans just don’t get British humour!
BB- No they don’t! Me and Danny were in this interview and he had a cast on because he broke his leg. The interviewer asked what happened and we both said that me and him were having sex and it got a bit rough and he broke his leg. So, me and Danny are gay in America now apparently! Lots of people think we’re actually gay! It all just adds to the hype I guess. Makes it harder to get laid though.

We are just in to 2012- So, what were your new year’s resolutions and what do Asking Alexandria have planned for this year?
BB- [Laughs] Don’t have one! As a band we have a lot of tours lined up and obviously we’re going back in the studio in April, so we really want to try and write an album that goes gold because it’s such a feat now! I mean, the last album went to number 9 on the US Billboards which is insane; there was like Adele and Britney Spears on there and then us! So we are going to aim for a gold record- that would be my resolution, but then if I don’t do it I’ve failed…And then what happens if I go for a gold and get platinum…I’ve failed again!
Thanks Ben! 

Hailing from warmer climates- Arizona, Blessthefall are the main tour support for this evening's show. We hung out with guitarist Elliott Gruenberg before they took to the stage. 

Hey Elliot! How’s the tour been going so far? I saw that in Glasgow the venue turned your power off and kicked you off stage!?
ELLIOTT GRUENBERG- Yeah, it’s been awesome; it’s been these huge packed rooms. In Scotland we were partying a little too hard; we did this wall of death and this guy comes up and he’s like “you’re done”. So I’m like “oh, okay, one last song”. So we go to do our last song and the kids are going nuts and it kicks at the last part and then…silence. Next thing we hear Jared’s bass goes and I look around and my amp’s turned off. Next, Eric’s guitar goes and we just kind of stopped and were like “guess we’re done!”

Elliot & Beau
What can we expect from tonight’s show-any more walls of death?
EG- [Laughs] Yeah, probably! We’ll probably climb speakers. It depends, we feed off the crowd but we always have to move. When I joined the band I wasn’t used to moving as much and had to learn how to keep that stamina up. Beau [the lead singer] likes to say “we don’t stop moving, so you don’t stop moving.”

Do you see a difference in UK audience compared to back home in the US?
EG- Yeah, the UK go a lot crazier! I really enjoy it. The kids in the States are awesome but I always enjoy coming over here because the kids are so stoked. In the US it’s so saturated; it’s a concert every two days with a new band. In the UK, not that they don’t have concerts, but American bands come over and it actually becomes something. We love it. You know that it means a lot to the kids here so it means a lot to us.  

So, I hear you guys love Nandos – but the question is, how hot do you have your chicken?
EG- We do love Nandos, that’s where we went today! There’s a Starbucks and then Nandos next to it and we were all like “woah, that’s paradise!” And I have it extra hot with extra hot sauce on! I put the extra hot sauce on my sandwich earlier too. Eric and I are the ones that like that, we’re masochistic, but Beau can’t have any of that! 

Your latest album “Awakening” has a bigger more anthemic sound that’s more complex and multi-layered – was this a conscious move?
EG- It was everything from “Witness” [the second album]- take that and just go crazy on it for “Awakening”. It’s pretty much “Witness” on acid. The riffs are a lot more technical. I’ve always been a metal guy so was like “I’m going to write some sweet riffs”. We’re happy how it turned out and are writing now for the next record- we might even have something out this year. This album was made to be technical and to kind of show off a little.
"Awakening" the latest album

Do you enjoy playing it live?
EG- Well, you know what, some days I do prefer playing the older stuff because it’s a bit, not easier, but fun to get in to. Sometimes I don’t like playing the more technical stuff live because you get bogged down with it and trying not to mess it up.

How would you say the genre’s changed since you guys first started out?
EG- It’s changed a lot comparative to what the kids are in to. I remember a lot of the bands I would look up to used to be super technical, and that used to be the thing. Now, metal has gone so weird, I don’t even know what the kids like. I’m used to “Lamb of God” and “Killswitch”, and if “As I Lay Dying” comes on I get stoked. The genre’s definitely crossed a lot of gaps that I never thought it would and it’s evolved into this monster. Nowadays the genre is more open, its not this closed little scene.  

And what advice would you give anyone starting out?
EG- Do everything as professional as you can. If you’re really going to go for it, then do everything as seriously as if it was your career. You don’t half ass it- don’t settle for less. That’s how other people are going to interpret your band. It’s how you market yourself and take some time to really be able to play live and put on a show.

If you weren’t in Blessthefall what would you be doing?
EG- Well, I was studying French for a while, although I’m not very good at it. I’d probably in college or the Navy. I was going to have to decide whether to stay in school or join the Navy and then this other band picked me up and I never had to decide! I had my head shaved and everything ready to go to the Navy and then joined a band. Let’s just say it wouldn’t be as much fun!

What do Blessthefall have planned for this year? I know you’re on the Warped Tour, right?
EG- Yeah and after this we have up until the Warped Tour pretty much booked up. We might have some new goodies- writing for you guys and touring relentlessly and making a name for ourselves and coming out as strong as possible.

Who have you been listening to recently and who would you recommend we check out?
EG- I don’t really listen to too much metal, but recently I was listening to “Convictions” from my home town. They’ve just started and aren’t even signed and I’m stoked on them. They’re like “As Cities Burn” but old metal.