"A song should be open-heart surgery, it should be scary to write it."
Asking Alexandria's Ben Bruce and Danny Worsnop opened up about EVERYTHING on the Rock Sound Podcast. Check out an excerpt from the interview below!
THIS ALBUM MARKS DANNY’S RETURN TO THE BAND AND THE RESTORING OF THE ORIGINAL LINE-UP. HOW WAS WORKING TOGETHER AGAIN?
Says Ben Bruce (guitar): “On my end, it was super easy. I feel like a lot of the time you get told, ‘Okay, this is when you’re going in the studio, you have this amount of time, make an album’ and quite often things get rushed, things are forced. So this time we had no time constraints, no limits, no one telling us what we had to write or what we didn’t have to write and it was super natural. Nothing felt forced, if at any time something wasn’t working, we didn’t sit around for hours trying to make it work. It was just like, ‘Well, this doesn’t work, let’s move on and try something else’. For me, personally speaking, it was super natural, super easy and it felt much like when we recorded ‘Stand Up And Scream’ because back then, again, we had no time constraints, we had no guidelines, we just did what we felt like doing and it was exactly like that with this record.”
Says Danny Worsnop (vocals): “Yeah I think it would’ve jinxed it if we’d gone straight into it instead of touring, it might have been a learning curve, but this happened seven months after us getting back together, so there was a lot of time of us getting used to each other again and playing together so that took away any learning curve with writing together again and then Ben had already had a couple of ideas of songs before I’d even shown up back in the picture but once I did we used a couple things and then he just wrote a lot of new stuff all very quickly, I mean I was travelling around doing stuff at the time and he was sending me stuff and I wanted to approach it in a new way than I had before or that I used to and approach it as a songwriter rather than as the singer of a band who’d recording an album. I wanted to approach it like I was if I was writing a song to pitch out to other people because I feel like that’s when I do my best work to I gave stuff a brief listen to make sure it was something I could vibe with and then when we got into the studio, a lot of the times that would be when I heard the full song for the first time and we’d sit and we’d play it and when I had an idea we’d just <<run>>, it took about 20 minutes to get that first line and then after that 30 minutes later the song’s done.”
‘FROM DEATH TO DESTINY’ – YOUR LAST ALBUM TOGETHER – WAS A FAMOUSLY FRAGMENTED RECORDING PROCESS. HOW WAS IT THIS TIME AROUND?
Danny: “Something like that! That’s one way to describe it!”
Ben: “’Famously fragmented’ – that might have been a better name for the bloody album! Well the funny thing is, [this time] Danny never went missing, there were never any physical or verbal altercations…”
Danny: “…not one drug dealer showed up!”
Ben: “Yeah it was weird! Well… that wasn’t through lack of trying!”
Danny: “It was a very different experience. ‘From Death To Destiny’ – however much I love that album and what came out of it, we were caught in a stile but we had no idea, it was only after everything fell apart that we were like, ‘Shit, we really should’ve done something about that then’ but at that point, it was the point of no return and we just kept pushing through and from there it was just no coming back, from that point on I feel like there was an inevitable fallout from everything that had been happening.”
Ben: “We were kind of like cattle, we were just fed and fed and fed what we needed to be fed in order to get the end product by multiple people on the outside, we weren’t people doing this because we loved it – you know obviously we did – but we were pushed to breaking point and forced to continue and I often say this in interviews [when people ask] what would you have done differently? The answer is simple; I would’ve taken a year or two off, we wouldn’t have pushed and pushed to the point where we snapped and it wasn’t us necessarily pushing each other, it was everyone on the outside pushing in and eventually, like Danny said, it was inevitable, there was only one outcome that was going to come from that, and it happened and the world watched it.”
Danny: “We were put in a position where we being told, ‘Time off is death’. If we took a break, if we took a month off where we would’ve been touring, our career’s done. We were told these things and we were young and thought these people knew what they were talking about so we believed them and it was just people who didn’t see five young guys who came in this for all the right reasons and are struggling, they saw dollar signs and they saw the potential of them not getting paid for a month. So they just worked us into the ground and we believed everything they told us and as Ben said, a break was what we needed but no one was going to let that happen.”
Ben: “And fast forward four years later – 20 to 100 pounds of extra weight later – and now we actually know what we’re doing! Or we like to think we know what we’re doing…”
Danny: “I was going to say - those are the famous last words of men who just make massive mistakes!”
Ben: “Yeah – shit!”
Danny: “They’re the famous last words of two guys who just dropped their least successful album of all time but don’t know it yet!”
Listen to the Rock Sound Podcast right here!
WAS THERE AN ELEMENT OF THERAPY IN WRITING THESE SONGS AS WELL, GIVEN ALL THAT TURMOIL?
Danny: “Yeah, songwriting has become my therapy for the last few years, I did it with my whole last record. This for me, especially coming off the back of making that record, it was just a continuation of this new headspace I found and I came in with an opportunity to just air out all of my dirty laundry – everything’s that’s gone on between us – and that’s where the album picks up. ‘Alone In A Room’ is me making my last record or just after that and me looking back on it to where we couldn’t be in this place together now, we couldn’t be making this album until I had sat down and faced myself and then ‘Into The Fire’ is the me doing the Asking thing again and realising that I’ve got these flaws in myself, I have these demons and I can either be depressed about them and turn to drugs and turn to alcohol and turn to doing all these fucked up things I used to do, or I could use them in a positive way and make them work for me and lean into the crazy. That’s what we did with this record and then ‘Hopelessly Hopeful’’s next and that’s just about hoping we were right!”
THE ALBUM IS BRUTALLY HONEST LYRICALLY TOO, WAS THAT DAUNTING?
Danny: “Well I’ve never been one to shy my words! But at the same time yes it was an uncomfortable song to write, every single song on the album was uncomfortable to write and uncomfortable to say, but that’s how I write. I’ve kind of reached a point where if I’m not uncomfortable when I’m writing something, it’s not good enough. I should be uncomfortable; I should be pushing myself into a place where I feel like I shouldn’t be saying this or I don’t want people to know this about me or I don’t want to know this about me. If I’m not in that place then it’s not the right song. A song should be open-heart surgery, it should be scary to write it, it should be you divulging things about yourself that you don’t want to talk about or you don’t want to face and that’s what makes the best songs. It was a difficult song to write. ‘Where Did It Go’ is obviously much more jovial, like it’s very tongue-in-cheek but there was a lot of truth to it. There was a lot of dick-swinging, but there was a lot of truth to it too!”
DID YOU WANT TO MAKE A STATEMENT AS A REBORN BAND WITH THOSE TRACKS OPENING THE ALBUM? THEY BREAK A LOT OF NEW GROUND FOR THE BAND MUSICALLY…
Ben: “It wasn’t a forced statement, it wasn’t something we went into the album going, ‘We have to do this’. I think it’s just, like Danny was saying, this time around it was necessary for all of us to not only grow as individuals and as people but as musicians and songwriters too and I think that break allowed us to bring new elements to the table that I think we probably would have shied away from before.”
‘EMPIRE’ IS THE PRIME EXAMPLE OF A NEW STYLE OF MUSIC FOR ASKING ALEXANDRIA. HOW DID BING COME TO BE ON THE SONG?
Danny: “It started because Ben had written this song and he sent it to me and I’d started writing a chorus when we were in Denmark, so we started doing this song and it was so completely different, and Ben had been formulating this idea where he was like, ‘Dude, how about when go in to mix this, we get a hip-hop guy to mix it? Those mixes are always so good’. We were looking into that and then it was like, ‘Why don’t we ask MGK to rap on this song?’ and everyone was kind of like, ‘Well, I don’t know’ and Ben’s like, ‘No, we’re already doing weird stuff – fuck it!’ so I spoke to ‘Kells and he was like, ‘Yeah!’, he was super stoked – didn’t hear from again for six months, that guy is impossible to keep in touch with! And then I saw him again and he was like ‘Yeah dude send me the song’ and I was like, ‘I already sent it you like four times!’ and it was like, ‘Okay, send it to me again’. Again – impossible to chase down, we’re getting close to the wire so I ask Yelawolf to do it and he’s like, ‘Yeah totally!’ He’s just as hard, if not harder than MGK to keep in touch with! So we’re in the studio and I’m on the phone trying to get in touch with these guys going, ‘Hey! Record this fucking song!’ and then we’d been listening to Bing and it was like, ‘Okay, if we can’t get one of these big names, we can’t go for the middle of the road, we’ve got to find like a new act, a breaking act’.”
Ben: “That we felt was worthy of pushing.”
Danny: “Yeah, because it’s not going to be someone who brings a load of stuff from there end. We should reverse the tables and give someone an opportunity instead of it being someone who’s not really going to bring anything to the table and not really going to gain anything from it. There should always be that shared camaraderie within the industry and he’s stupid talented.”
Ben: “Yeah and that’s the fun thing too, when we said let’s try out this Bing kid because Danny had introduced me, not personally, but to his music a few months prior and I like a lot of that music and I was listening to it and was like, ‘Yeah, this kid’s really good’.”
Danny: “Ben, you [just] sounded like the whitest, non-hip-hop way ever! ‘Hey, you know me, I like me some of that hippie-di-hop!’”
Ben: “I’m down with the rap game! People in our management were like, ‘Guys, this song is so off the wall, you need a big name behind it or else it’s not going to work and we were like, ‘Look, just give this kid a shot’ and as soon as we got his draft back done into a microphone on a computer, we showed it to everyone and they were like, ‘Shit this kid’s amazing, he is the person for this song, it doesn’t matter that no one knows who he is because they will after they hear this song.'"
Danny: “Yeah in three years there’s going to be some hard rock band who ask him to sing on a song and he’ll say yes and they won’t be able to get in touch with him!”
Ben: “It’ll be us again on the next record!”
Danny: “I just know I’m waiting any day now, I’m going to get a text from Kells going, ‘Yo, when do you need this song by!"
Ben: “Nah he’s too busy being famous.”
Danny: “Yeah, he’s like an actual celebrity now.”
Ben: “We’re still trying!”
Check out Asking Alexandria’s video for ‘Into The Fire’:
DO YOU THINK THAT’S HUGELY IMPORTANT IN THIS DAY AND AGE - TO STEP OUTSIDE THE BOX AND BRIDGE GENRES GIVEN THE NATURE OF MUSIC BEING SO RELENTLESSLY INSTANT?
Ben: “The funniest thing about you saying that is we didn’t actually want to release an album, we umm-ed and ah-ed for a long time, ‘Let’s just release singles, we’ll release a new song every month and the end of the 12 months, after we’ve released 12 songs or whatever, it’s part of a collection rather than an album’. I feel like our genre in particular is very stifled, it’s been stuck in a rut in the same place for a long time and it’s like - all these rap, pop, hip-hop artists – they’re all throwing out singles, why can’t we do the same thing? But unfortunately I just don’t think our genre is ready for that and everyone got afraid and chickened out. Like, ‘No no no! We need to follow the old formula!’ so when you listen to this album it is very much so how you just said because that was our intention, we wanted to release a collection of really really good songs which is why they don’t all necessarily sound like they belong together but they all have their own place in music.”
Asking Alexandria’s self-titled album is out on December 15.
The band tour the UK with Black Veil Brides in January, check out the dates below:
23 - BIRMINGHAM Academy
24 - MANCHESTER Academy
25 - GLASGOW Academy
27 - LONDON Brixton Academy