#AALP5 is almost here.
Asking Alexandria are set to release their new self-titled album this Friday (December 15) via Sumerian Records. To celebrate we asked guitarist Ben Bruce to talk us through each track.
Strap yourselves in.
1. ALONE IN A ROOM
Says Ben Bruce: "The very first words you hear on an album are very important. The very first words you hear on this song and subsequently the record from Danny are, ‘I’ve been away a little while’. It’s so nice to hear that acknowledgment. We’re not just moving on like nothing ever happened. We acknowledge it a lot across this record. It’s nice to start our new story with Danny explaining ‘I’ve been away a little while but I’m back now.’ It was almost like an apology.
Before we recorded it he said ‘I’ve got something, put me in the booth’. He started singing this song and just made me feel good. It let me know that he acknowledged that what happened was shit. There are lyrics in there like, ‘Sometimes I’ll fall down, sometimes I’ll lose hope, but those days will be few if I keep my feet on the ground’ and ‘I might be lonely but I’m not alone here’. Everything that we went through, all of the trails and trepidations and shit that we waded through, he realises that we’ve always been here for him. Danny feels more at home than he has in a long time and it’s nice to know that.
It’s nice for us to have our friend back and it’s nice for him to know that despite everything there were people out there who didn’t turn their back on him. We did welcome him back with open arms."
2. INTO THE FIRE
"This song is like a punch to the gut. That’s why we decided to release it as the first single and the comeback. It’s got a huge guitar riff and the melodies are catchy, but lyrically again it’s again Danny addressing everything. We felt it was a good way to reintroduce him to the band. It’s not like he’s going, ‘I’m the shit, nothing’s happened’. He’s saying, ‘I’ve come to terms with the fact I’ll never change’. He knows that he’s messed up in the past and knows that he may mess up again but we can still work together. He’s not just a loose cannon anymore."
3. HOPELESSLY HOPEFUL
"Essentially we’ve done everything that we possibly can. We’ve explored and we’ve had highs and we’ve had lows. With Danny’s return and looking back over everything, we’ve learnt a lot of valuable lessons. We are grateful for everything that we have accomplished but there’s still so much more that we want to achieve and accomplish. It’s like we’ve thrown all of our eggs into this basket. It’s a tough industry, it’s a tough time for rock music in general, but we’re still like those giddy kids at Christmas. We still have that dream and we can still see the light at the end of the tunnel. So ‘Hopelessly Hopeful’ is even though the odds are still stacked against us, we are still as passionate and hungry as when we started. It’s us saying that we hope we’ve made the right choice because it’s the only choice we’ve ever made that we feel this strongly about. It’s about hoping that it’s not in vain and all for nothing."
4. WHERE DID IT GO?
"‘Where Did It Go?’ is very tongue-in-cheek. There’s a lot of dick swinging but it’s still tongue-in-cheek. When Danny laughs at the end it’s a genuine laugh where we said, ‘We should definitely keep that’. There’s a reason we put it after ‘Hopelessly Hopeful’ because it’s explaining why we still so hopeful and why we’re still doing what we’re doing. One of my favourite verses on the entire album is the second one where Danny goes through our albums in order. I think it’s awesome. It’s acknowledging everything that we’ve done from the very beginning of this band till now. It’s saying that everything before this is great but now this is the best thing that we’ve ever done.
When ‘Stand Up And Scream’ came out – I’m in no way saying we invented the genre, there were obviously bands doing similar stuff to us – it became such a staple and we heard bands coming out left, right and centre that sounded just like ‘Stand Up And Scream’. Then when ‘Reckless & Relentless’ came around we were like, ‘We’re done with the neon t-shirts and swoopy fringes, we’re going to bring this back to classic old school rock and roll’. We thought that was the tits at the time and we started wearing Guns N’ Roses t-shirts and leather jackets. We delved so deep in to it that that’s where shit started to spiral when drugs and alcohol completely took over. We did it though and we’re proud of that. Then suddenly every other band was doing that too. There was like a resurgence of '80s hair metal in our scene.
So we changed again, and we’re going to keep pushing the boundaries. We’ve always wanted to grow and change and evolve and that’s when we did ‘From Death To Destiny’. At the time when it came out people weren’t necessarily prepared for it and it garnered us a much older fan base. It took us to that whole other level. I think when we play those songs now people have finally caught up. It’s awesome to acknowledge all of it in ‘Where Did It Go’ and add little bits of each album to this record.
With this album I think we have done something that doesn’t sound like anyone else again."
5. RISE UP
"Lyrically this just represents us still being here against all the odds. We’ve been here 10 years now. A lot of bands are a flash in the pan and it’s hard to maintain a career, especially as a rock band. Music is forever evolving and rock fans in general used to be a little less inclined to be supportive of bands changing their sound. In pop and rap they are constantly evolving, while here people are like, ‘you sold out’. It’s a difficult industry to sit at the forefront of. So ‘Rise Up’ is a celebration of us still being here no matter what we’ve been through.
I feel that because of people being nervous to evolve there hasn’t been much of an evolution in rock music in a while and it’s kind of sad. I listen to rock radio and go, ‘Who the fuck is that’? It all sounds the same. We were listening to a lot of modern pop and hip-hop and thinking that these people are at the forefront of their genres. We want to be at the forefront of rock. So we’ve taken elements from them and introduced them into the rock world. It’s okay to like more than one genre. You’ve got to try these things and I’m glad we did. If you really miss ‘Stand Up And Scream’ you can still go and listen to it."
6. WHEN THE LIGHTS COME ON
"When we write our albums we’ve always said, ‘If it can’t be done live or won’t translate well live, then we aren’t fucking doing it’. It could be the coolest thing in the world but if we can’t do it live then it won’t be on the album. We recently did our first full tour back with Danny and the energy that you could feel just before we walked on stage was insane. I don’t think fans realise it but when you’re back there behind the curtain, as excited as they are, we are just as, if not more excited. We just wanted to capture that energy and that feeling on this album and that’s what this song is all about for us. It’s just trying to encapsulate it in to a three-minute song how we feel.
You go on Twitter and there is a constant war between people who don’t even know each other. As soon as those doors open at a venue and the show starts in a room full of thousands of strangers though, all that shit gets washed away. Everyone is your best friend. I wish I could have that feeling all day everyday and that’s why we wrote a song about it. Now I can listen to it all day everyday."
7. UNDER DENVER
"This song stems from the fact that at under Denver airport in Colorado there’s a whole city built by the government. They’ve got gas lines. They’ve got water. There’s everything under the airport. It’s a known thing, but it’s them preparing for the end of days. When you get to the airport there’s this big, horrible force of death. There’s also a thing inside that says ‘Children Of The World, Dream In Peace’ and there’s this picture of all of these children surrounded by soldiers wearing gasmasks and guns. The whole airport is like a big clue that the New World Order is just around the corner and that shit is about to go down. It appears the city is built for the super rich and important people.
It got us thinking how everything on the news is so negative and so shit. Everyone is so angry and sad and frustrated. While the song is about the specific stuff that we’ve seen in Denver, it’s just us addressing everything on a global level. At the same time we wanted to flip it on its arse and create a song musically that has almost a positive energy. There are still lots of good things out there. It was something very different for us when you look back to when we were singing about girls giving us blowjobs."
"Vultures is one of my favourite tracks on the album and there’s a cool story behind it. I actually wrote it back in 2014 right after ‘From Death To Destiny’ came out and I showed it to Danny and he wrote the lyrics. It was at a time when there was so much turmoil in the band. It was right before everything exploded. As I’ve said, it spirals from the drugs and the alcohol and the industry constantly telling us to stay relevant and not have time off because there’s a band right behind you. We would say, ‘We need time off, we have been touring 340 days a year for the last two years’. We’ve been polled as one of the hardest working musicians after Justin Bieber but the difference is he is flying around in a private jet and we’re rolling round in a bus. So shit hit the fan as everyone knows and that saw the departure of Danny.
That’s what ‘Vultures’ is about. It’s about everyone in suits behind the scenes pulling the strings. It addresses the inner struggle that we faced. It’s a sad song. It’s very raw and it’s very honest and it’s very open. I think it’s one of the most beautiful songs on the record. It’s this record’s ‘Moving On’.
It was the last thing that Danny and me wrote together before his departure and it was the first thing that we recorded when he joined Asking again. Danny came back and said, ‘Every day that I’ve been away from Asking Alexandria I thought about this song. I haven’t been able to get it out of my head. This can’t be the end because we haven’t put this song out.’ When he came back he sang that song from start to finish in one take and that’s the take we used on the record."
"What’s the most powerful thing in the world? Religion. Like it or not, but it is. People go to war for it. People kill for it. People around the world are blowing each other up because of their different opinions, and no-one knows if it’s actually real. It’s how it impacts the other parts of your life too. ‘Eve’ is very much the story of Adam and Eve but it’s being told from the mouth and through the eyes of the serpent.
Essentially again it’s us acknowledging a lot of people in the music industry. We know what they’ve been doing. When we were 17, you enticed us. You showed us everything that we had dreamed of since we were kids. We signed that contract and we were thrown in at the deep end. It was Hell. It was like we had been tricked into doing something and it’s rubbed off our entire career.
It’s acknowledging everything that led to the breaking point. It’s us airing out our closet. It’s like alcohol. We drank before but not like we did on tour. Then when we got the taste of being able to do whatever we want, you try drugs for the very first time. 'Oh I didn’t die, what’s everyone’s problem?' You always succumb to it and it’s hard to stop."
10. I AM ONE
"‘I Am One’ is essentially about Danny being God. Not in terms of the world but in terms of ruler of his world. It’s one of the lessons that we learnt in his departure. We sat down and talked about what went wrong and it was people pulling our strings and telling us what to do. So this time when he came back, we decided that we are never going to let people dictate to us how to live our lives. We are in charge of our own careers and what we say goes. That’s what this whole song is about. We may be one of your small bands who are bringing in money amongst all of your other bands but this is our life. We are going to do what we want with it. It’s about taking back control. There’s a lot of self-realisation on this album."
"We all listen to everything from rock and metal to rap and hip-hop. When I wrote this song I suggested how cool it would be if we got a hip-hop producer to mix this one. The song had a very hip-hop feel to it so we wanted to collaborate to see what they could make a rock song sound like. That then stemmed to, ‘Why don’t we collaborate with a rapper and see what that leads to?’ We hit up some of our friends like Yelawolf and Machine Gun Kelly and they were both interested in working with us but schedules and stuff meant there was never the right time. The label said, ‘You guys are crazy, if you’re going to do this you need a big name’ and we said, ‘No we don’t’. Not out of spite but to prove a point we said, ‘We are going to find an unknown artist who we feel is incredibly talented and deserves a platform and would work well with the band.’
So Danny told me to check this kid Bingx out and he was amazing. It blows my mind that he’s not on stage touring the world and playing to thousands of people every night. So we approached him and he said he would love to do it. He sent over that first verse and we sent it to the label and they were like, ‘This kid is good’. It doesn’t matter what his name is, his talent shines through on this song. The whole song is a very positive song. It’s basically saying to work hard for what you want in life and not to give up on your dreams."
12. ROOM 138
"This song is really interesting. It might not have the biggest hooks or be the most mature, but this song is really special. Room 138 was the room that Danny overdosed in many years ago. I think it was while we were recording ‘From Death To Destiny’ actually. You can hear the pain in his delivery. It’s like he’s reliving what he went through.
I also love this song for something that I don’t know if people will pick up on. Musically it’s very much old school Asking Alexandria. It takes us back to the very beginning. This feels like the start of Asking Alexandria again so we took way back to the beginning and brought that sound back in. The chorus in this song is the same vocal melody as ‘If Can’t Ride Two Horses At Once...’ from ‘Stand Up And Scream’. The lyrics too, we took, ‘I never expected to be here alone’ and in this song it’s, ‘I never expected to be here again’. It’s addressing the return of Danny again. He didn’t die that night when he very much could have. The band didn’t die when he left when it very well could have. We’re back. We’re here again. None of us expected it but we are. The end of the album pays homage to where we started and we thought it was the perfect way to tie it all up. Now we’re ready to go again. Full steam ahead."