It’s always a special moment when a band works together in the same way they did more than 10 years ago. That’s what happened with metal band Asking Alexandria with their new album. For the first time in over a decade, the original five members of the band wrote and recorded an album in a house/studio in Franklin, TN together. And the results are phenomenal.
Since 2008, Asking Alexandria has established a world of rock music that is completely their own. Now, over a BILLION streams later, and with a new label behind them – the U.K-based rock group are readying their next chapter. Ben Bruce [guitar, backing vocals], Danny Worsnop [lead vocals], James Cassells [drums], Cameron Liddell [guitar], and Sam Bettley [bass] have arrived at a place of clarity and refreshed sense of artistic purpose.
Armed with a new sense of dedication to themselves and to their fans, they went back to their roots and pulled inspiration from some of their earliest influences, creating a solid metal album that keeps pushing their newfound sound to new limits.
With no gimmicks or cheap tricks to fall back on and a renewed appetite for writing together, they fell in love again, with music and with each other as band mates.
Ben Bruce sat in on a Zoom call to chat about the new album, the band’s renewed energy and just being a cohesive band once again.
There’s a new album on the way Tell me about See What’s On The Inside.
There’s a new album coming. No one told me. No, I’m kidding. See What’s On The Inside, it’s a special album for us for more reasons than just one but we really utilized this time to reconnect as a group and rebound just as friends and musicians. I think the result See What’s On The Inside, it’s apparent how much fun we had and how much passion will be put into this record as soon as you turn it on. It sounds unlike anything else you’ve ever done before.
I find it interesting that this is the first time that you guys have been in the same studio to make the album in more than a decade. Why did you guys decide to change the way you record?
Basically, we wanted to recapture that feeling we had when we started the band. We were so excited when we were kids to be in a band together. We weren’t signed, there was nothing, it was just five friends, making music, listening to our favorite bands and making music like our favorite bands and somewhere along the way once you start getting bigger, and your signed and more people start directing you in a certain way, you kind of get lost a little bit and things become blurry and you’re kind of like a puppet almost. You’re moving around and just doing things that you’re told to do.
This time off, allowed us to reminisce on why we started this band and how much fun we had when we were kids. We just wanted to get that back. Over the years, you don’t have time really to sit down all together in the studio and create a record like you used to, because it’s okay to record, go on tour, give me another record and go on tour because we live in such a fast paced world now.
With this one, we were like no, we want to reconnect and we went away into the middle of nowhere just the five of us and we got in a room together for the first time in 10 years to write and create and recapture that sort of energy, and that passion that we had when we were kids starting this band for the first time.
As you mentioned the vibe and relationship going into that studio to make that record, there had to be a lot of emotion, and if you can, can you talk about how that emotion transferred into the new album?
I think it was just the energy, we were so excited. Obviously, emotions were running high, creating together again, but just the fact that we were all there, I could pick up my guitar and play guitar riff. And instead of just laying it down, and then going, that’s the song with everyone being there. There was just energy bouncing around. And so I’d be playing a riff and Cameron would go over and grab his guitar and play with me. But Oh, that’s cool. Why don’t you try this. So the emotions go through the room with just a lot of excitement. It was so much fun, there was so much joy, bouncing around that room.
Genuinely you can hear it, and you can feel it in the in the recordings that we captured. We didn’t rely on computers, it was just the five of us, very raw recordings, the tones are recreated both on the drums, on the vocals and the guitars. So much so that even at the end, if you listen to a song called “Fame”, where we just all start rinsing at the end of the song, and when it stops, the song ends, you can hear James laughing, his laugh is captured through his drum mic, and we left it there because it just shows just how much fun we were having playing together again.
Were there any issues or concerns getting together because of COVID-19 to record the album?
Not particularly just because we’d all been staying safe and quarantining anyway. All of us started getting vaccinated and that was another reason why we decided to go into the middle of nowhere. We very much kept it a closed session, it was just the five band members, our producer and engineer. There was just a select few people that were allowed in the studio, and we stuck to our group, stuck to our bubble. We were cautious with it, but we stuck together and we went through it together.
Why did you guys choose a house in Franklin, TN?
Simply because it was in an area that none of us were familiar with. We threw around a bunch of ideas, and we didn’t want to go anywhere where anyone had any ties, like, Oh, I could just pop home or I’ve got a friend down the street or I know this great restaurant over here. So we wanted no distractions, there was nothing, so Franklin, Tennessee, provided us with that solitude and that just expansive nothingness. But we were also close enough about 45-50 minutes away from Nashville. So when we did need to go into town to get anything music related, like guitar heads, or guitars or drum skins or anything, it was close enough for us to get to, so that we could make the record the best it possibly can be, but not so close that it was going to be a distraction, and we’d be like, Oh, well, let’s go out for dinner every night.
When I heard it was made in a house together, it made me think of The Stones – Exile On Main Street. If I was to consider the self-titled album as your version of Metallica’s BLACK album because of the change in musical style, the new one would be your Exile On Main Street because of its companionship and unity. Do those albums feel a bit like that to you?
Definitely, I think that’s a really awesome comparison and observation to have made as well. It definitely feels very much like that, and camaraderie is a great, great word for part of the experience of creating this newest album. Yeah, that’s awesome. I love that.
With recording a new album together, is there a newfound love of the music, like there was in the beginning?
Oh, 100% and that was the point in this. That’s why it was so important that we all sit down and play these pieces, and they’re not constructed, and there’s not a computer making anything like all the sounds are us and the energy is us.
It was so important to us and we fell so deeply in love with the band again and with each other again, that we made the decision that we’re not going to go back to doing it any other way. This is how it has to be done, from here on out. So whenever we do a new record, we push pause on everything else. And we’re going to go away together as a five piece and create music like this, because that’s why we started this in the first place was simply for the love. We all had a common love for rock music and metal music and music in general and creating music together, and it’s nice to have been able to rediscover that that passion, and we’re definitely going to hold on to it with both hands.
This album is also a sharp contrast to the early metalcore sound, as was the last two. There will always be fans that are passionate about the screams – how did that all change and how do you deal with the fans that ask about it?
I think those old records are still there for people to listen to and enjoy. I’m still super proud. We’re all still super proud of those records we created. But they were created at a time in our lives that were not in now. And every single one of our records is there for listeners and for us, for a specific reason and time in our lives that we’re going through and just to keep doing the same thing over and over again, would almost be redundant. Also, not to mention, Danny really, really damaged his voice screaming, and a lot of people are like, well, such and such has been screaming for 30 years and so well that’s excellent for such and such. That’s not the situation we’re in and you can go back in time and watch.
We released a DVD years ago called Brixton and beyond the thing was called it was live in London at Brixton Academy. I actually watched parts of it the other day, and I was shocked. I was listening to Danny’s voice and he sounds like he’s in so much pain, even when he’s talking to the crowd and it made me sad. I was like, he was really pushing himself back then to continue doing this. We’re never gonna do that to him again. It’s not fair. He has an incredible singing voice. I’m really proud of how much effort and work he’s put into his singing, and so we want to showcase that.
I find it interesting that your promotional material says that you guys went back to your love of music with bands like Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Queen, AC/DC and such. If that’s the case, where did the initial desire to play metalcore come from?
I think it’s just a product of the times we grew up in you know, I mean, obviously, I grew up going to watch Deep Purple or Elton John and Aerosmith and all these classic rock bands. I grew up loving and listened to them and they were all introduced to me from my stepdad. And I loved them but I also discovered my own music as a kid too. And I would listen to bands like Slipknot or Killswitch Engage and early Avenged Sevenfold and stuff like that. So, that was a part of my journey as a young aspiring guitarist and musician.
There were a lot of bands that I listened to back then, like Killswitch Engage that influenced me when I was starting this band. So that’s where it came from originally. I think each one of our records is sounded very different to the previous one. And you can hear different inspirations and influences among all of them. Yeah, I think it’s just a product of the time.
Of all the tracks on the new album, why was “See What’s on The Inside” selected as the title track?
I think a lot of bands struggle with this, but we always struggle, trying to name our albums. It’s so hard to just find an encompassing word or sentence that describes what the album is. And this is the first time in our career that it wasn’t an issue.
Immediately we knew what this album meant to us from what it was and “See What’s on The Inside”, yes, it’s the title track but really the title of the record is something even more separate than just for the song in it. When we hand in this record to someone, we wanted the music to speak for itself. In its simplest form, we’re allowing that to happen by calling it “See What’s on The Inside”, and that’s the idea behind the album artwork to peeling back that initial layer and seeing the band name. It’s like this is all of us. This is quite literally the five of us, and our instruments, recorded and captured here on this album.
Tell me about the new single, “Alone Again”.
I love “Alone Again”, and we didn’t know what was going to be the first single obviously, when we went into the writing process, but that was one of the first songs I think it might have been the first song in the studio, we sat down and worked on. And I remember when we were right in it, and that riff came out that first initial big riff. I was like, Man, this is gonna be the first song we released. This is so cool. It’s got such a good energy. And it shows a little bit of everything that the record has to offer.
There was a lot of Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and Pantera influence in that song on my behalf. It was just so much fun. It was the first time where I sat down with my guitar and everyone’s like, just let it rip, dude. Just let it real do a solo. We’re not particularly known for doing solos. But, I grew up listening to Dimebag and a lot of blues guitarist like Gary Moore. I love playing lead guitar, and so I was like, whatever I’m gonna let it rip and have fun and I had so much fun doing on that song It was hard to stop me from doing it on all of them. There’s so many guitar solos and stuff thrown throughout this record and it all stemmed from just how much fun I had playing on “Alone Again”.
Only two albums ago, the topic of being alone crept in another title as well in “Alone in a room”. Why is that a returning topic?
It’s just something that not just us as a band or people but I think everyone goes through and it’s funny, we live in such a world where everyone is connected by social media, and that’s Facebook, and everyone is here at your fingertips. But I feel like, social anxieties and depression and stuff are more prevalent than ever before in history.
It just goes to show that even though there’s everyone there, it’s still very common and very easy to feel completely alone. You know, there’s a screen in front of you. It’s not real. These people aren’t real. It’s just something that it crops up in even our lives our daily lives, especially, I’m a father for instance. I go out on the road and I’m desperately lonely when I’m out on the road missing my wife and kids and I think it’s just a recurring thing that people have to deal with throughout life. So, it’s bound to come up in topics when you’re writing songs, especially if you’re writing from the heart.
It’s hard to describe, but the album feels and sounds very focused and cohesive – like you’re on a mission of sorts. Is there a newfound mission for you guys?
Yeah, and it simply was just to really fall in love with and feel like we can create a record that made us feel like we felt when we were kids. That first time you put on Metallica’s self titled record or the first time you hear TNT by AC/DC. The first time you get those feelings, you hear these songs and these records, and you’re like, wow. And you’re stoked. That’s what we wanted to create and that was our mission. It was like, I want to make a record, we want to make a record that we get excited about when we hear it and it makes us feel certain ways.
“Find Myself” makes you feel really sad. And then, “Alone Again”, makes me feel energized and kind of angry at times, and it was just super important for us to capture those emotions and not just play music that sounds away. It needs to make you feel away.
For tour dates, music and more go to AskingAlexandria.com.