OD – Where did the name Asking Alexandria come from?
James – Well, we were trying to come up with a funny answer for this type of question and thought of something like we all knew a girl called Alexandria that we kept asked to shag us but in all honesty, Ben came up with that name a long time before we got together as a band and he just thought that it sounded cool, and that’s it (laughs)!
OD – You have put a considerable amount of time in working the industry in America, can you talk a little about this and how the band felt about taking on such a big challenge in light of the many bands that have tried and failed?
James – I think the main reason why we have managed to succeed in cracking America is because we actually started in the US. We went over there from the get go and planned that from the start. We played our first show over there and put in a hell of a lot of hard work. We made our name there and I think that’s why we have done so well everywhere else. We have played, like ten tours before we had even broke in the UK or Europe. Most bands do things the other way around and in our case we just wanted to do it different. We have toured that country just as much as any up and coming American band.
We have seen so many awesome bands that have started off in the UK and worked their asses off and ultimately got fucking nowhere! Finally, they might get a break in the UK and they will be doing good, but there is not really that many places you can play, especially if your looking to do big show’s, your kind of fucking yourself, to be honest unless you can crack it over in mainland Europe. We did things differently and just figured that instead of playing a handful of shows in the UK or Australia, we could play hundreds of cities to play.
OD – I guess the thought process is logical, because when you start making a noise in America the other territories begin to stand up and take notice.
James – Exactly! Especially when you are a modern Metal band, there is a lot of very influential bands that are based in America that have already cut open a really healthy scene which makes it much easier to tour and develop the fan base. Everyone loves their music over there. It just made sense for us, let’s just go to where we wanted to be, if you know what I mean.
OD – Do you have any stand out memories from your time in America, be it good or bad?
James – I mean, obviously we have had some very interesting times, especially in the early days of Asking Alexandria. We were just scraping by and living in parking lots for a time. There were some pretty low times over there and when we look back, it’s kind of like, damn! how did you do that? We were just teenagers and were very hungry for it, you know? It wasn’t particularly so bad but we have had some really great tours over here and they are some great memories. We toured with Avenged Sevenfold and just got off doing the main stage Mayhem tour this summer just gone across America which is monumental to a band like us. We are still young guys that are making our way in this industry and getting to play with the likes of Avenged Sevenfold and Korn. A lot of great memories of me, was when we were doing our first headlining tour, we were headlining off the back of “Reckless and Loveless” that was when we really looked back and we were like, shit, we are really doing this now. There has been a lot of great memories made in America.
OD – Charlie Sheen had offered you a spot on his “My Violent Torpedo of Truth” tour, why did you turn this down and how did this come about?
James – I don’t actually know to be honest (laughs). At the time things were fucking mental for us. We had the reputation for being “destructive young men” (laughs) and we were notorious at that time and the record “Reckless” was a real life reflection of our lives and just about anything could have happened. I was told about it but don’t really know if there was any truth in it to be honest.
OD – The new album “From Death To Destiny”, can you talk a little about the title and how the name came to be?
James – Well, the album itself is a lot more uplifting and positive in relation to the previous albums. It’s kind of our way of moving forward and getting out of that “fucking mess” that we were a few years back, I’m not saying that we don’t like to have a good time, because we do, but we are a lot smarter that we were and that’s what the cover of the album reflects.
OD – With regards to the album cover, can you explain the concept of the visual?
James – It’s kind of like, the vending machine is all the bad things that have distracted us in the past and if you see the figure on the cover he is chucking his change on the ground and heading out the door to his destiny into the crowd and that is how we all feel collectively if you know what I mean.
OD – Did you collectively have creative freedom to design the cover of was there some outside influence?
James – When we were designing the cover of the album, there was massive discussions about the overall concept and every part of it was painstakingly discussed. Everything from the title, how it’s going to look visually, the colour pallets and with meetings between management and the label there was loads of in depth discussions about it. Ultimately, the final decision comes down to the five of us in the band and deciding amongst ourselves. We wanted it to stand out and be shocking and for people to look twice and be like “is that a naked chick in a vending machine?” but then get the positive message and not just have a response like “oh look, there’s some tits in a vending machine”.
OD – Wen you recorded the new album was the process similar to “Stand Up and Scream” or did you approach this record from a totally different mindset?
James – Recording this album was not as ideal as I would have liked it to be, because it jut took so long to do and it was recorded all over the place. When you hear strings on the album, that is actually a full orchestra that we used and just adding that element itself and putting it int there is very difficult. Ben and I recoded most of the music in Indiana with Joe Sturgis and the strings were recorded in California I think and the all the other parts were recorded in so many different studio’s, that I can’t really remember. It’s not the way I wanted to really do it, but the end result is something that I’m really happy with. It was a little bit different to how we recorded previous albums.
We want to take more time in pre-production on the next album working through the songs and let the music breath and sit with us for a while.
OD – You have recorded a couple of covers in the bands past including NIN (Closer) and Akon are there any more that you would consider doing in the future?
James – We also did a few Skid Row covers and really to be honest, we really wanted to do the covers because we really enjoy it. I really don’t feel like it’s that big a deal. It’s not our real sound and people should just calm down. We are just having fun. It’s like people freaking out about me listening to different types of music and they are saying “what the fuck are you listening to that for, it’s not Metal”. I really don’t give a fuck what people think! I like all kinds of music, if it’s a good song, then that’s a good song. You know, say Beyonce has a great song, it’s just a great song and it doesn’t mean that I listen to everything that she has done. It’s just fucking music and variation is good, everybody should calm the fuck down (laughs).
OD – Regarding the up coming tour, will there be an even mix of songs from the back catalogue or will you be concentrating on the most recent material?
James – We will be playing a lot of material off “From Death To Destiny” but we will be also be throwing in all the songs that people want to hear from “Stand Up & Scream” and “From Death to Destiny”. We are planning a set list that will have twists and turns and to be really honest I’m really happy with the overall set-list for the tour. We have an in-your-face intro that leads into more slower stuff and then it picks up again. It’s gonna be awesome.
When we were doing the Mayhem tour in America, we thought long and hard about the construction of our set because we only had like 35 minutes and during that tour we did some headline side shows and that got us thinking about putting together a killer set list. We got to test out some new stuff off of “From Death To Destiny” and ultimately it really helped us put, what we I believe to be one of the best set lists we have ever done as a band. There are plenty of surprises and I’m just really stoked to get out there and perform it live.
OD – The live show is coming to Dublin’s Olympia on October 29th and this marks your debut headlining a venue of this size in Ireland. Will you have a large production for the stage show and will there be any surprises in the set list?
James – We have a pretty sick production with some killer lights and staging. It’s gonna look amazing. The biggest production we have done was at Brixton Academy on the last tour where we had pyro and loads of over the top lights. It was incredible. That show is actually coming out on DVD soon. It’s taken a long time to get the whole thing together the way we want it to look. We are supposed to release that before Christmas so keep your eyes open for that.
For the Dublin show, we have a bunch of stuff that we are planing to bring so you can expect a “grander” show all in all.
OD – Have you been writing for the new album and if so, do you have an update on some new song titles?
James – We are still in the writing process right now. We have a handful of songs that we are still in two minds about and will most likely change around and we have some that are musically done but with no lyrics at the moment. It’s early days, but the good thing is that we have a shit load of material at the moment. I’m really happy with how it’s all sounding. Right now we are just going through all of the ideas that we have and putting it all together if you know what I mean. I feel that it’s going to be more along the lines of “From Death To Destiny”. More of a mature sound but with that crazy element. We have all been talking together and Danny really wants to really to throw a bit more craziness back in the mix, like along the lines of “Reckless”, not as insane but we do want to bring back some of that crazy feel back into the new stuff.
OD – What music have you been listening to lately or can you recommend any new music that we should be checking out?
James – Well, I really listen to loads of stuff when I’m off tour. I like loads of Electro stuff for instance and when I’m at the gym, it has to be really fucking heavy stuff like Despised Icon.
A band that you guys should check out and a band that most will not have heard of are called “The Family Ruin“. We are taking them out when we go back and tour Canada, they are a fellow York band and are signed to Ben’s label and they are going to blow up because they are a fucking sweet live band and a great bunch of guys.
OD – What’s the most outrageous lie you have heard about yourselves?
James – Well, where do I begin? (laughs) Well the most outrageous bullshit we heard about ourselves was that back when we were starting out and on headlining tour called “Thrash n’ Burn” and we were touring with a band called “Chelsea Grin” who are a really sound bunch of guys and this was one of their first tours. Anyway, there was a serious rumor going around that Asking Alexandria and Chelsea Grin all raped a girl in the back of their van. Seriously, this was a real thing that was being said about us! I think that is the most hideous, offensive and fucked up thing that we had ever heard. People who say things like that are just fucking sick in the head, you know what I mean? So fucked up.
OD – Have you ever met Lemmy, (Motorhead) and if so, do you have any stories from your encounter with him?
James – I actually have met Lemmy, and you might have heard one like this before but just seeing Lemmy down at the Rainbow Bar on Sunset Strip, sitting there with his glass full of Jack Daniels and all of a sudden takes out a bag of speed and empties the speed into the JD! That’s probably the first and last person that I will ever see doing that. All I could think was, that must taste fucking disgusting! What a legend!
Asking Alexandria are scheduled to play Dublin’s Olympia on October 29th. Tickets for this show can be purchased from Ticketmaster. For more information, check out MCD for all the latest on stage times, support and tickets status. Check out the video message from the guys below for the Dublin show!
For your chance to WIN TICKETS to the show, simply click on the graphic below and tag your friends and invite them to like our Facebook page! Winner announced on Monday 27th at 12pm! Good luck!
Words – Oran O’Beirne