As they prepare for their first UK shows in nearly five years, we look to the past, present and future of Asking Alexandria with guitarist Ben Bruce.
Asking Alexandria are about to head back to the UK for their first shows there in nearly five years.
Playing as main support for Shinedown on their ‘Planet Zero’ arena run, it is a chance to make up for lost time as well as show what they have learned in their time away. And you better believe that they are pumped up about it.
To find out more about how they have been preparing, and what the near future looks like, we had a catch up with guitarist Ben Bruce…
These shows will be your first in the UK since 2018, when you co-headlined with Black Veil Brides. How does it feel to get back over here again finally?
“There have been a few times where we have had to cancel in the UK before, and people have said things like, ‘They’ve forgotten about us!’ and we are sat here wanting to come back and play more than anything. COVID has made me feel homesick for the UK, and on a personal level, we have sold all of our properties and are in the process of moving back to England. It’s time to go home and spend some time with the family. I didn’t want to be selfish because my wife’s family is all here in the States, and I know how it feels to move away in such a way, but her mum is up for moving over as well. We’re all really excited about it.
“But in terms of this tour, we are taking it so seriously. All our conversations within the band are about how we can make it up to the UK. We’re so upset that people think we would ever forget about them and where we came from. That’s never been the way. That co-headliner was so long ago as well, so we get it. But because of that, we are doing everything we can. We’re throwing in a bunch of oldies in there that we have played for ages. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
That tour with Black Veil Brides was, in many ways, the start of a new chapter for the band following the release of ‘Asking Alexandria’. You’re two albums further down the line now and different people to who you were then. How does it feel to look at then and compare it to now?
“It’s difficult because, with Asking Alexandria, there are so many sections to our career and history. We have changed so much over the years, and even from Danny’s return with the red album to where we are now with ‘See What’s On The Inside’, we are in completely different places. Life happens, man. People inside and outside of the industry often look at bands within their album cycles. But for us as humans, these cycles are one part, but the rest of our lives carry on. We have kids and wives and problems like everyone else. We have good days and bad days, just like anyone does. We’re just carrying on our journey through life at the same speed as the rest of the world.
“But back when Danny rejoined, we were trying to show that we could still do this and see ourselves if we could still do this together. If it was going to work, if we were going to gel and mesh. We didn’t know if it would be hell on earth or the best thing ever. It turns out it was a little it of both. There was a lot of learning to be done on both sides. So going into that tour, we were excited and ready but apprehensive. Now here we are. It’s very different. Every time we go on tour now, there’s so much more than just going out and kicking ass. We have to be really good and warrant and earn people’s respect and want and desire to keep seeing us and what we do. It’s not just for us anymore. It’s for our kids and families too. We take it so much more seriously now than we ever did because if someone chooses to come to your show now, that means a lot.”
The span of those people is so much wider than it used to be as well. From people who have been there with you since the start to those who heard you on the radio for the first time last year, there are a lot of different pairs of ears…
“And with that in mind, we have so much more to pick and choose from. When we had one album, that was it. That was our set. All taken care of. But now there is much more that we want to celebrate. The thing you have to remember is that we are all in this together. People who have been there from the beginning are the reason you’re on that stage. But they aren’t the sole reason because there are people who have just discovered us, and they are as much of a reason as anyone else. It’s a whole accumulative thing. Then there is the love and passion that we have put in over the years as well to make it all possible. There are so many different factors being balanced at once, but we are in a spot where we can do that. Before, we were trying so hard to prove that we can move into other territory, but we have shown people that now. We have explored every avenue that we want to, and it’s insane to listen to how it all varies. So now we can celebrate that instead of just showing what we are made of.”
Is that a sentiment that also resonates as you consider what the next step forward looks like?
“Everything that we have been concentrating on when we are looking to our next release is that it’s going to be all-encompassing. All of our sounds altogether. We’re trying to take the best parts of our entire career and mesh them into something bigger. Why were ‘Stand Up And Scream’ and ‘Reckless & Relentless’ so cool? Because they were so high energy and in your face. Why was ‘From Death To Destiny’ so cool? Because we were blending our influence from Slipknot with our influence from Guns N Roses. We love all kinds of music, so now we are trying to show that in the best way we can. I’m really excited about it all. It’s a new step where rather than people going, “I like this Asking Alexandria’ and ‘I don’t like this Asking Alexandria’, everybody will hear every aspect of the band altogether as one. It’s been quite a mission to blend it all, and it not sound disjointed, but I think we have done it.”
You never know when you will hit it, but when you have that balance, it must feel absolutely incredible. Not just in terms of your music but also your relationship as a band…
“There are opposite ends of the spectrum with that which other people gravitate towards. For some, it is all about the fans; for others, it is all about them as an artist. Both arguments are there and valid, and it’s nice to find ourselves in the middle. Writing music that makes you happy is important because that’s why we do this. Writing a song is a great feeling, but there is nothing like standing on stage, playing that song and having people sing it back to you. It brings tears to your eyes. It fills you with such gratitude. I can write for myself all day long, but if I don’t write for our fans, I can’t get that feeling.”
Connection is much more fleeting than people think, and you can almost get too accustomed to it and forget how special it is…
“That happens in life so often as well. It moves at 1000mph, and things can change right in front of you if you don’t pay attention. You need to concentrate and nurture those things whilst they are there. That’s why this tour is so important. We’re on a mission now to nurture those things that we may have taken for granted before.”
To be in such a positive position with Asking Alexandria and for all of these different elements meeting in the middle at a place where you are playing on arena-sized stages, it’s funny how life works like that as well. To always find its way even when it looks like it is heading somewhere opposite…
“We have built something special to be able to show people that we are here and we aren’t slowing down anytime soon. Shinedown are really good friends of ours, and we know that they are sweating because they know that we are bringing it in a big way. These fans deserve it, and we want to show them how much we mean that. This is a big moment for us, and we hope for our fans as well.”
Asking Alexandria will support Shinedown alongside Zero 9:36 across the UK.
Here are the dates:
26 – CARDIFF Motorpoint Arena
27 – MANCHESTER Apollo
29 – NOTTINGHAM Motorpoint Arena
30 – GLASGOW Academy
01 – LONDON OVO Arena Wembley