By Callum Doig
After a handful of Australian visits and their fourth full-length LP, The Black, now released, Asking Alexandria are headed our way for their first ever headline tour, alongside their first tour with their brand new frontman Denis Stoff, taking the place of Danny Worsnop. Founder and guitarist Ben Bruce had a chat with me about Asking Alexandria’s first Aussie headline tour, the new record and its concept and recording sessions that went down for the first time with Stoff in the spotlight as the new vocalist.
“It felt really, really natural” he said “I was a little bit concerned at the beginning, because it was our first record without Danny, and the first with Denis, so we didn’t know how we were gonna click. But, it was great! We didn’t have any issues, because it felt as though Denis was in the band since the beginning. It was almost immediately, where we both clicked and it was like ‘Holy shit, this really works’ and the whole writing and recording process of this album is one of the most enjoyable experiences in the band, so far.”
The band would find Denis Stoff, a Ukrainian vocalist that previously sung for Make Me Famous on YouTube, where he posted many covers of him performing numerous Asking Alexandria songs. “We heard about him years ago on YouTube. He used to do covers of us, and people would send us links to all of his stuff. He did so many incredible covers, and we used to joke around like ‘Oh, Danny, watch out! He may take your place one day!’ and it fast forwards four years later, and it turns out that he’s taken that place.”
Asking Alexandria were once known for experimenting with electronic music on their debut, Stand Up and Scream, and featured very little of it on their later discography. However, with the work that commenced on, The Black, it seems the band felt the need to return and take a nostalgic trip with those components and hopefully, come up with something fresh on their end.
“We were feeling fresh, invigorated and youthful, if that makes any sense. We kind of went back to our roots without rewriting the same records that we did over the years. We put in a lot of people and effort into this record, and it feels like we’ve revisited our roots from, Stand Up and Scream, and just made it a little more interesting.”
Though some may not see it, Asking Alexandria may be what other’s consider a metalcore band, but their primary influences of the seventies and eighties hard rock have been the very foundation of the quintet. How, you ask?
“I grew up listening to bands like Zeppelin, Guns N Roses, Mötley Crüe and stuff like that. We love the classic rock and older music, and we have a lot of love and respect for it. It definitely shows in our albums and I think it makes us stand out a lot more than a lot of other metalcore bands. If you listen to the new songs like, Just A Slave, to Rock N Roll off The Black, it has that old rock n roll vibe, but it’s presented in a much more modern way.”
With their title, The Black, set in place for the new record, there was a reason why the name sparked as the lead name for Asking Alexandria’s latest work. On Ben’s end, it basically circled around the dark time he was personally, going through for the last three years.
“We started referring to this record as, The Black, because it’s quite literally, the darkest time we’ve been through in our careers. I’ve been through so much shit in past three years. You know, Danny left the band, my best friend died, my wife left me and I was almost diagnosed with cancer. It just seemed like one thing after another, it didn’t seem like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. And a lot of that shit that I’ve been through that I had to drag myself out of was what a major part of the record became.”
Asking Alexandria released a handful of songs on social media before, The Black, dropped on the shelves, as well as performing some of them live. As it turns out, they found the audience to be enjoying them as if they’ve been songs that have been there since Asking Alexandria began.
“It’s been pretty crazy, to be honest. Normally, when you start playing new songs live, it takes everyone a little while to get the swing of things. Not just the fans, but the bands as well. There’s always been a big difference to playing new songs and old songs live, but somehow, people have really grown on them as if they’ve known the new songs for years, despite them being out for a few weeks.”
Though they’ve had a few visits to Australia, Asking Alexandria have had more appearances at the now, defunct festival – Soundwave, as well as touring with our very own Amity Affliction. This being their first headliner in Australia, Ben and the boys are more than keen to finally be able to get this tour underway.
“We’ve been waiting for f*cking years, man. We came for the first time in 2011 for Soundwave, and like every other band, we fell in love with touring Australia. It’s always been a goal for us to come back and headline ever since. I mean, we did do a tour with The Amity Affliction, and then we got offered to play Soundwave again, but now that a headline tour is finally happening, we’re more than excited than we have been to do any other tour.”
Continuing the conversation about the touring, I asked Ben if he and the rest of the band were aware of the cancellation of Soundwave. As it turns out, they were going to be offered a spot on the lineup, but decided to stick with the headline tour, which they felt, was the better decision.
“Yeah, and that sucks, because, we had nothing but amazing memories there! We actually got offered to play the last Soundwave that was supposed to happen this year. But, when we got offered, we turned it down and were like ‘You know what? We’re actually gonna come back and do a headliner’. Then a while after Soundwave got announced, it later got cancelled, and it seemed like we made the right decision. Not only that, we also get to do the show that we want to do. We get to play a lot longer than just a forty minute set, we get to play the songs we want to play and we can spend more time engaging with the audience, which is great on our angle. There’s nothing better than doing your own headline tour, in my opinion.”
Asking Alexandria + Bullet For My Valentine + While She Sleeps: Tour Dates 2016
7 April – 170 Russell, Melbourne (U/18)
8 April – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
9 April – The Met, Brisbane (AA)
10 April – HQ Complex, Adelaide (AA)
13 April – Astor Theatre, Perth (AA)
15 April – UNSW Roundhouse, Sydney (AA)