Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria on being too blasphemous for the gospel choir his band hired
Suicide Silence was supposed to take part in the Monster Energy Outbreak Tour alongside Asking Alexandria and others. But just before the tour was set to begin, Suicide Silence frontman Mitch Lucker passed away, leaving the remaining bands with a difficult and unenviable prospect of having to decide how to move forward. Ben Bruce, founder and lead guitarist of Asking Alexandria felt it was necessary to carry on, relying on the spirit of the music and energy of fans to celebrate the life of his friend. We recently spoke with Bruce about the decision to forge ahead, the status of his band's new record and being too blasphemous for the gospel choir that guested on that album.
Westword: Back in the day, you were a part of another band in Dubai named Asking Alexandria for a short time before moving back to the U.K. to start another. You've made it a point that these two are completely separate. Why was it so important for you to keep the name, and what's the story behind it?
Ben Bruce: Like you said, they were two completely different bands. The first one, I had I was really young. It was a long time ago. I started a new band and the reason I kept the name -- well, one was because it's such a fucking pain in the ass trying to think of a band name. [laughs] It's just so much effort.
And two, the reason I named it Asking Alexandria in the first place was because I wanted a name that people could relate to and get attached to. The whole thought process behind Alexandria in the band name [is that] people, in my opinion, are attached to other people more than anything else in the world. That's just what we attach ourselves to. So I kind of wanted to name the band a person for the attachment.
There are places online that give a January 13th release date for the highly anticipated new album. Is there any truth to this?
I think we're looking at a bit further out. It's our third album, so it's a really, really big deal for us. We've pretty much finished the record, but there's certain parts we're not entirely happy with. So rather than just rush out and release something just to get it out by a deadline, we'd rather take the time and make the best possible record we can at this time. It is very important. The third album is a big deal, so we've been taking our time with it, just so we're happy with it and it is the best record that the fans can hear, as well.
Have you given the new album a name, or is it still untitled?
We haven't decided a name yet. We're waiting until it's all finished to put together a name. We're gonna see how it flows and how it tells a story before we pick it.
You've recently released the track "Run Free" online, and the sound is softer and more melodic than some of your earlier work. Is this what we can expect from the new album?
Yeah, there's a lot of tunes like that; there's some that are softer and some that are heavier. I think we've found a nice balance on this record, you know, the whole thing is not blasting and heavy. There's a ballad on there, like a rock ballad, and a few that are a bit more commercially friendly, radio friendly. Then the rest of it is pretty balls-to-the-wall.
In a recent interview, you guys mentioned that you feel you have a responsibility to kids and that you're using more of a positive voice in this album?
Exactly. "Run Free" to me is a very positive song. It's heavy, but it has a more positive message to share than a lot of our previous tunes, which is a nice breath of fresh air for us. I do feel like we have a responsibility because we have got voices that are heard. It's important to keep things positive and let people know that as shit as things get, there's always people that get through it and come out the other side, and you know, life gets better with age. It's just got a positive vibe to it. We do have a younger audience, as well, so we do hope that they listen to us.
You've also stepped away from pre-programmed music and have gotten more organic for the new record?
Well we used to heavily rely on programming to get the orchestral effects and the choirs and stuff. It sounded great at the time and we were really happy with it, but it is robotic because it is a computer. So, we wanted this record to have a much more organic feel. To me, it makes it that much heavier!
We had Stevie Blacke do all the orchestration. He did, like, Alice In Chains and Pink -- he's a very well respected composer, and the guy is a genius, so it sounds unbelievable. We [also] had a gospel choir come in and track some vocals for the choir parts. They actually only did two songs because they thought we were too blasphemous and they quit. So we're trying to find another choir to do some more tracks that doesn't think of [us] as Satan's minions.
If someone has never seen Asking Alexandria live, what can they expect?
I think we're a very, very energetic band. It's always fun to go to shows and actually watch a band perform and not just stand there. We like to get the crowd involved as much as we possibly can. I think this is the biggest and best we've ever sounded in our careers. We just spent the last four days in our warehouse making sure everything is tight. We really honed in on everything and spent a lot of time making sure this is the biggest sounding tour to date. I think people are in for a treat with this tour.
The music community recently lost a valuable component in its family with the passing of Mitch Lucker. They were supposed to be on the tour with you. How has this impacted it?
Mitch was a good friend of ours, so the news was absolutely devastating, and to be honest, I didn't know if I wanted to do this tour. But, I was looking back to texts, and Mitch was really excited about touring with us and having a good time. It seemed like good sense to continue the tour rather than cancel it and go out and celebrate his life and carry on spreading heavy music and keeping his name alive as best we possibly can.
Is there a replacement band, or will it go forward with just the four?
We've added another band that we're friends with that sound nothing like Suicide Silence, because we didn't want to try and replace them. They're irreplaceable. You can't replace Suicide Silence; they're such a great band. We've decided to bring some friends along that we know have the same passion and drive that Mitch had. We know they're gonna go out there and keep his name alive and just tour in memory of him and have a good time, as best we possibly can.
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