Asking Alexandria’s Ben Bruce Talks ‘British Invasion’ Tour, ‘The Black’ Album + More
Asking Alexandria are hitting the road, joining Bullet for My Valentine and While She Sleeps for the "British Invasion" tour. We had a chance to chat with Asking Alexandria founder/guitarist Ben Bruce (in white shirt in above photo) about the trek and also dug into talk about the band's new album The Black. Check out the chat below.
You guys are going out on the road as part of the "British Invasion" tour with Bullet for My Valentine and While She Sleeps. Can you talk about your history about the bands you're going on the road with?
Yeah, actually, we're really, really excited about this tour because we've been friends with both of those band for years now. So it’s pretty much going to be like summer camps with your best friends. You know what I mean? You're going to get to go out there, we'll already know each other, like I said. So it’s not going to be awkward. It’s just going to be a month of drinking with your buddies and you're going to play some awesome shows.
You have a new singer since the last time I spoke to you. The album is coming soon, but how great was it to sit back and work Denis [Stoff] in a little bit on the road first?
It was awesome, you know, because we've been so burned out touring with Danny [Worsnop] for so long. It was just tough on us on having a frontman that just didn't care. So, you know, bringing Denis out on the road for the first time this year, it gave us all a new lease on life. It made us all fall back in love with this band again and fall back in love with writing music and playing music together. So, you know, when we go into the studio to record the album we were already super stoked on it. We were like having the best time of our lives essentially and it was just all around just good vibes, good energy, good time and we just felt like we were kids again, you know. It was just a lot of fun.
The situation with Danny, it kind of left you with a tough decision to be made. You've moved on with Denis. What made him the right guy for the band?
You know, there are a number of things, you know. He looks the part. He sounds the part. He's a phenomenal vocalist but on top of that he was a fan of the band for many, many years. Growing up as a kid he listened to Asking Alexandria. You know, we knew he had the healthy respect from the band and he was just familiar with what we did and we're about and our songs and stuff so that was definitely a big draw. And, you know, he's just, having spoke to him many times, it was just really, really clear about him being the right choice. Just the fact that, you know, so many people have been like, “So you've got some big shoes to step in.” But he’s like, he doesn't look at it as him coming in and stepping into someone else's shoes. He's here to do what he loves to do and bring to the table what he has to offer and not trying to replicate or do something that Danny used to do. He's his own guy and he's got the passion and the love for this band. He brings all of that to the table and you know, it’s just an amazing thing. It’s just everyday we're hanging out, writing music, playing shows and it's just becomes more and more clear every day we definitely made the right decision.
You mentioned he has the passion and love for the band. I think that's something that really came through from Denis' first ever statement made as a member of the band. You could see he was excited to interact with the fans and be a part of this whole thing. Can you talk about how the fans embraced him?
Well, I mean it’s funny because when he joined the band we went, "Ok, we know he's awesome. We love the dude. He's a killer vocalist, but let's just see." It’s probably going to go 50/50. We thought there were would be definitely 50 percent diehard Danny fans, "Like this sucks" and 50 percent fans that would give him a chance. And it turns out we were completely wrong, you know, I mean, just about every single person that we've made a fan over the years has been so supportive and they’ve welcomed him into the family with open arms. It's just been a crazy thing because I've watched friends' bands go through this, you know, whether it’s From First to Last when they lost Sonny or Blessthefall when they lost Craig and you know, we've seen this happen. And I've seen bands go onstage and have people chanting for the old singers. So I was like, there's a possibility that this could happen and we wanted to make him aware that this could happen. He was like, "I know. But it doesn't matter because I'm going to go out there. I'm going to be the best f--king frontman that you guys have ever had and this is going to be incredible. And, you know, people are going to see how much I care about this band and your fans will respect you guys for what you have done all these years." It just has gone exactly like that. Everyone's stoked and everyone's been more than welcoming.
Speaking of everybody being stoked, there was an overwhelmingly positive reaction to "I Won't Give In." It was a Cage Match Hall of Fame entry here at Loudwire. Can you talk about the reaction to the song as well as a little bit of where the song came from?
It's pretty insane to think that the first single you release with a new singer, like you said, it's already in the Cage Match Hall of Fame, that's insane. That just goes to show, we were up against a slew of different bands of different sizes and popularity. We went through and made it to the finals, it's just mind blowing. It goes to show just how supportive our fans are. I think it's because a lot of people can relate to that song. For the band a lot of it's not giving up or giving in in the face of what could be considered the end. It's striving to carry on and do what you love to do, everyone can relate to that. There's always been a point in someone's life where they've been faced with a difficult decision where they could either pack it in and give up or they can stare it in the face, no - f--k you. This isn't going to defeat me, this isn't going to bring me down. You try and triumph. I think that's why so many people can relate to the song and why it's done so well, just because it is relatable on so many different levels to so many different people.
Also "Undivided" is another track that's gotten some attention for you guys as well. If you want to talk a little bit about that song ...
It's funny because that song is quite an aggressive one. Obviously there's a lot that's about Danny. People were like, "Shouldn't you just get over it?" I'm like, "Yeah but that is part of the grieving process." I'm a musician and I write about things that actually affect me and mean something to me and things that happen to me in real life. I don't just write songs for the sake of writing songs. So, for me, that song was a part of the grieving process and being able to move on to the next level and the next stage in my life. I think it was definitely a necessary song, not just for me but for the band and you know, now that we've got a lot of that off our chest it's onwards and upwards for us.
With Denis coming in it's your chance to get a clean slate to do whatever it is you want to do with the band. Can you talk about the direction of the music for what we're going to hear on the new album?
From the beginning we started the band and we always wrote, recorded and played the music that we loved. It was never about pleasing people, it was always about what do we love? What do we want to talk about and play? How do we want to feel? How does this make us feel? Towards the end there, it was getting quite difficult with Danny because he wanted to go in a direction that none of us wanted to go in. He was talking about bringing country music elements into an Asking Alexandria record and we're like, "We love country. I listen to country, it's great music but it's just not what Asking Alexandria are. It's not what we play, it's not what we love going out on stage and playing, you know?" So now with Denis in the band, he loves Asking Alexandria as much as the rest of us do. We get to now write music that we all love. We were writing this record and there was never any times where it was like, "Ah, that's s--t, but I guess I have to scream over it." It was more like, "This is awesome and I cannot wait to lay down vocals over this track." I think when people listen to this record, they're going to hear how excited we were when we were writing. They're going to feel that energy that I think we almost lost along the way there. It sounds like the band we always were supposed to sound like. It's the record that we were always supposed to write but never had the chance to write.
Very cool artwork for The Black. If you want to talk about who did it and the ideas or concept of what we're seeing?
When we were coming up with concepts for the artwork, we were looking back to when we were young and loving metal. Something that was very important to us back then was that the artwork was timeless. That it wasn't just a gimmick for that specific time period that would work and catch peoples' eyes for that time. It was something that we thought was a really timeless piece of art that people would be proud to hang on their walls, that people wanted to get tattooed. You're going to look at that album cover 20 years after it comes out and it's still a cool concept for the artwork. I feel like From Death to Destiny, it didn't really hit me like that, unfortunately. I think the rest of the band felt the same way. So for this, it was very important for us just to get that classic look back. Something that's going to stand the test of time and look just as good today as it will in 20 years. To me, I think we've pulled it off. It's a timeless piece of art, it looks great hanging on the all. It looks great a record. It looks great on a CD, computer screen. It's just really nice artwork. What it represents is, like we talked about with "I Won't Give In," staring death in the face and not being afraid of it. Not turning your back and running from it. But, looking at it dead in the eye and saying, "You're not going to take anything from me, I'm not going to let you win."
Once the album is out there, is there a song that you're really looking forward to seeing what kind of response it gets from the audience?
I mean, there's a bunch of them on the record and I really can't wait to play them live if not all of them and for various different reasons depending on what it is that we want looking from the crowd. There's a song called "Let It Sleep" that I think is the heaviest song we've ever written and I'm personally very excited to play that just because I can't wait to see the energy the crowd gets and gives us back when listening to that song live. Whether it's jumping up and down, moshing or circle pitting, I think it's a real high energy song and really excited to be playing that live and then there are songs like "Here I Am" and "Send Me Home" that I think are some of biggest anthems and sing along songs that we've ever written. So, again, for similar reasons I can't wait to play that live because I cannot wait to see the fans response. I can already hear them in my head singing along to every word. That's probably my favorite part about being in a touring band is when we play "I Won't Give In" every night, everyone sings every word at the top of their lungs. It's just the most overwhelming feeling. There are definitely some anthems on the record that are similar to that that I think are going to get just as big, if not a bigger reaction than "I Won't Give In" has so far.
I saw the Spotify playlist you've made as a band. It's the harder edge stuff that I would expect, but if we took a deeper look at your iPod, give me something musically that might be outside of the genre that might be a favorite of yours?
Right now I'm listening to One Direction's new album a lot. I'll tell you why. It's because a few years ago when One Direction were getting massive and all you heard about was One Direction I kind of just wrote them off as just a teeny bopper band playing s--t music to cater to people that aren't real music fans. I kind of wrote them off and didn't give them the time of day, and the new album came out and I think I saw one of the music videos somewhere whether it was on TV or something and I remember feeling compelled to listen to the record. I was like, "This is actually a really good song." Coming from the songwriter, I was listening to the song and analyzing the song and I was like, the structure of this song is perfect -- the way it's been presented is awesome. The instruments are awesome, the vocals are awesome. Why was I hating on this band so much for so many years if all of their stuff is this good? I went and bought the new record. It's a real interesting record to listen to because it's not your sort of average everyday pop record. To me, a lot of things on the radio right now are all starting to sound the same -- Justin Bieber, The Weeknd, I can't tell the difference between all of them. The song will come on, and I'll know the song but I don't know who the hell it is, whereas with them, they have a very distinctive sound. I think that's important and I definitely respect them a lot as a group of musicians more so than I used to for sure.
Asking Alexandria is front and center at this point for you, but you've got the label and I think there was even talk of a solo album at some point. If you could, how about an update with things that are going on with your label and is a solo album on the horizon?
Yeah, I mean the label is going real well. It's not a huge record label by any means. It was more something that I wanted to do just to be able to give back to musicians because I remember being younger and this was my dream, still is. I'm very fortunate that I get to live it, but there's a lot of musicians out there that I feel don't really get the chance. So really, I just wanted to provide a platform for musicians of any genre of music to be able to have the chance to release their stuff and see what happens. I'm still having a lot of fun with that. As far as my solo album, I put that on the back burner for a while so I could concentrate on getting Asking Alexandria back up and and running as it is my main priority. It's always a blessing in disguise because now that I had time to sit and listen back on the solo album I did record, there are definitely things I've learned since writing that that I think are going to be an asset and help to improve the record overall. I think once things slow down a tiny bit or I have a couple of weeks or a month off, I'm going to revisit the solo album and re record certain parts, get it back up and running.
Is there maybe another song that we could be looking for that maybe coincides with the tour starting? What's on the horizon at this point for Asking Alexandria?
Right before the tour we plan on releasing a brand new music video so it's going to be a brand new songs / music video coming out very shortly. After that, we'll be releasing another video and we're going to shoot two more videos the week after the tours finished too. A lot of music videos for us to release and for people to look forward to. The pre order of the album is going to be coming up in about a week's time or so. Exciting man, I can't wait to get it out there.
I'll ask if you can give up names for the videos, but if you have to hold on to it, I completely understand ...
Actually, the concept for this record that we want to do, which is what we've been talking about with our label and management is we actually want to shoot a music video for every song on the record and then maybe re-release the record as music videos so the whole thing is a visual journey and visual experience as well.
Oh wow, that's awesome! You already have ideas and concepts? Would it all tie together, or is it individual ideas for each video?
I think it'll be some that are tied together. But rather than trying to force that concept so that the whole record flows as one giant movie, we feel that each song has a different meaning in its own flavor and we feel that we need to make sure that each video represents that song accurately rather than trying to look at an overall bigger picture and maybe squeeze a song into something that doesn't really make sense visually, you know?
Our thanks to Asking Alexandria's Ben Bruce for the interview. The Black album is due March 25 and pre-orders are currently being taken in digital and physical formats. And be sure to look for Asking Alexandria, joining Bullet for My Valentine and While She Sleeps on the "British Invasion" tour. Dates can be found here.