Tag Archives: Asking Alexandria

Interview with James Cassells of Asking Alexandria, 5/11/14, Southampton

Asking Alexandria are one of the biggest bands to come out of the UK rock scene over the last few years and, whilst they’ve had their well documented issues, they’ve made it out the other side and lived to tell the tale.  Now based in America, they’ve been touring around the world for what seems like forever, but they finally hit Southampton at the start of this month.  I was very privileged to grab twenty minutes of drummer James Cassell’s pre-gig time.  It’s a good one (and I’m particularly proud of it!), so kick back, grab a cold one and have a read.  Enjoy!

asking alex pic

So, James. You’ve nearly finished one tour and then you’re off to America for another?

Yeah, we’ve done about 5 weeks of this tour, we’ve got a couple of weeks left. We’ve got five days off and then we start a month-long tour of mainly North America and Canada.  We’ve never done a full Canadian tour, so it’s hitting a lot of cities that we haven’t hit before – we’re looking forward to it.

Awesome. You have The Family Ruin supporting?

Yeah, great band and cool dudes as well!

Let’s talk about ‘From Death To Destiny’, Asking Alexandria’s most recent album. It’s been very well received but how do you feel about it?  Do you think you’ve matured as a band with this record?

Definitely, I’ve always said it’s a much more mature album, especially considering the previous albums. The first one was very … not immature, but you can tell it was by teenagers.  The next album was very angry and with this one, we’re finding out our place in life, almost, so it’s a much more mature outlook on music and ourselves.  When we started the band, we were all teenagers; now we’re in our twenties, we have wives and houses, we are adults now – back then we were just kids on tour and were a mess, pretty much.

From_Death_to_Destiny pic

How does your writing and recording process work, do you all get together from the start?

Usually Ben will come to me with a guitar riff, or a chorus idea and we’ll work it, develop it and make a song and then we’ll approach Danny and the other guys. A lot of the songs on the previous albums have been mainly written by me and Ben.  This one was going about it a little bit differently and we wanted everyone to be a little more on board with the writing process, so it was a little bit more organic and not quite so disjointed.  It’s weird – a lot of bands sit in a practice room and just work it out and get songs, we don’t really do that.  We write ideas for songs and the first time we actually play it properly, is when it’s going to be recorded.  Even when we’re recording, we’ve never actually played it together.  With the next album we’re going to do that, we’re going to go about it in more of an original way.

Ah, I was going to ask about plans for the next album. Any timescales?

We’ll take the first half of next year off and in that time we’ll have a little bit of a break because we’ve been touring so much, we’ve hit pretty much every continent in the world this year, but we are also going to be in the studio recording album number four and we’re hoping to set a release date for summer.

Presumably that will coincide with a festival appearance?

Yes, we might be doing some festivals … if anyone looks back at our past touring schedules, you’ll notice that we do Europe in the summer and this summer, we did America. Last year we played Download, this year we did the Mayhem Festival in America.

You’ve launched the ‘AA Family’ website, like a fan forum type of thing. Tell me a bit more about that.

A lot of artists and bands, they have fan websites, but they charge their fans. We aren’t charging anyone anything. It’s a new concept.   We have 5 million followers on Facebook; if we post something on Facebook, it goes to a tiny percent of people and we were like, what’s the point?  So we said we were going to do our own thing, so we can actually reach our fans, when we want to reach them.

It’s also a place where they can access to new merch designs, pre-orders, chances to win tickets and we’re all on it. It’s still in its infancy at the moment, but we’re going to really step it up and we’re going to be doing loads of stuff that fans just want to see.  Hopefully it will become something really great.  I really hope it catches on because it’s a much better way for us to reach our fans and for them to interact with us and each other.

You’ve got many fans across Europe and the USA. Do you find there are any specific differences in the way that they react to you in the different countries?

A lot of people ask us that and honestly, the only thing that’s different is, for me, the accents or the language. The fans are usually very similar and its only when you go to somewhere like Japan, where in between songs they’re dead silent because the respectful thing for them to do, it’s their culture, everywhere else is very much the same, I find.  People love to sing along, some people like to rock out, some people like to just enjoy the music.  Maybe some places are louder or more extreme, but everywhere is the same.

Are they different when they meet the band?

We did a signing in the Philippines which was completely insane because they never see us – we’ve played there once, it was just crazy. People were trying to grab us … yet we’ll do the same thing in the UK or in America and it’s a lot different, people are a lot more respectful.

Well, we British are very good at queueing! Tell me what you’re listening to at the moment as you’re travelling round?  Any new bands to recommend?

I’ve been listening to The Family Ruin’s album (Dearly Departed) a lot, as I said they’re good friends of ours so I’ve been checking that out. I listen to a lot of electronic shit, especially if I’m in my bunk and just trying to chill out and sleep … it’s not verse, chorus, hooks and catchiness, it’s constant, background noise.  We listen to so much old school rock and classics, especially if we’re just drinking on the bus.

TFR USA tour pic

Who is the worst behaved person on tour?

What do you mean by “worst behaved”?

Like, who throws their toys out of the pram the most?

Ben can be a bit of a nightmare when he’s spat his dummy out, but it doesn’t happen often.   We’re all pretty bad, but to be honest, we’re not half as bad as we used to be.  When we were touring on the ‘Reckless and Relentless’ album, we were a complete train wreck, I’m surprised one of us didn’t die.  Now we’re a lot calmer, not as insane.  We’re all equally a bit older and a bit lamer, like I’m drinking Cup-A-Soup right now …

Not very rock and roll, James! Who is the best behaved and most chilled out?

Probably me.

Well, you would say that! In terms of Asking Alexandria as a band, where do you hope to be in five years’ time?

A lot of artists will have a market or a country where they are massive and everywhere else is lukewarm. We have a pretty solid fan base everywhere we go in the world and every time we go, we’re slowly creeping up.  We had a massive burst in North America to begin with and since then every notch, every album has gone a little bit further.

In five years, I just want to still be doing a vigorous touring schedule, but on a bigger scale. Bigger shows, more people, more albums sold.  For instance this tour we’re doing, this place is like, 1,700 or something, London will be about 5,000.  I’m hoping we can move to doing arenas and outdoor ampitheatres and whatnot. On this tour, we’ve so many dates very close together, so I’m really surprised we’re doing as many tickets as we are, it’s a great tour and the majority of it has been sold out.  In total I think we’re playing to about 28,000 people which is the biggest tour we’ve ever done and we’re reaching more people.  The last headline tour we did was only Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and London and all of those were sold out.

What’s been the biggest highlight so far?

Download Festival and selling out Brixton early last year – that was amazing. That’s a venue that all of us wanted to play and then we found out we had sold out on pre-sale, that was really cool.  We actually recorded a DVD there that’s finally coming out, in time for Christmas, I think.

You’ve been together as a band for some time, what’s the secret to your longevity? What tips would you give to up and coming bands?

We’ve never had a line-up change, which is pretty strange for a band of our age that’s been around for this long. Some might say that what we did was reckless or stupid, but we just put all of our chips on black.  We moved to America with nothing and just managed to scramble our way to something.  You’ve got to be, like, if you want to do this, it’s what you do and you have to devote a few years of your life to nothing else.  You have to be very prepared that you’re going to wade through shit for a long time before you get anything.  You’re not going to make any money and everyone will tell you that you should have stayed in school, should have got a job … just persistence and hard work.

Wow. Thanks for your time, James.  Great answers, great tats and it was also a great show!  Check out the Asking Alexandria sites below, don’t forget they’re about to head out on ‘The Moving On Tour’ with The Family Ruin, Blessthefall, Chelsea Grin and Upon A Burning Body across North America and Canada.

Vik and James Cassells

www.askingalexandria.com

www.facebook.com/askingalexandria

You can place pre-orders for the two-disc ‘Live From Brixton and Beyond’ here – http://http://www.sumerianmerch.com/ and catch the trailer herehttp://http://youtu.be/BdJDdPNMpAk

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Review of The Family Ruin – ‘Dearly Departed’

Fans of York-bred rockers, The Family Ruin (formerly known as The Fallen) have been waiting a long time for this album. Recently signed to KBB Records and currently about to head off on a tour of the USA with Asking Alexandria, it seems as though the band are hungry to get out on the road and destroy their American shows with as much energy and enthusiasm as possible.  I saw them back in the summer and they kicked some metal ass, so I was quite keen to grab a listen to their debut.

TFR Dearly Departed art

Dearly Departed is a full-on alt-metal fest, 14 tracks of bruising rock that sounds very current for 2014. Perfectly chosen opening track, ‘Bring Out Your Dead’ is a stomping tune, full of big riffs and vocals, although I did have to check whether I had actually put the right record on – there is, in my humble opinion, more than a striking similarity to pretty bad-boy rockers, Glamour Of The Kill on this track.

I had high hopes for third track, ‘Cirque De Sin’ – who wouldn’t with a name like that?! It didn’t disappoint, from the minute the speed riffs kick in, along with Johnny’s huge vocals, it just makes you want to get up and destroy stuff, although it seemed a little short, but maybe that’s just because I was jumping around whilst it was on ….

‘Let’s Go’ (which hit number one on the Sirius XM Octane chart within three weeks of release) is easily one of the stand-out tracks of the album for me. It has everything, great vocals, awesome guitars and a chorus that will stick in your brain long after you’ve finished listening to it.  I like the lyrics, I just like everything about it and you won’t be able to keep still whilst you’re listening to it.

Other stand out tracks include ‘Battle For The Sun’ – another epic track with lots of screaming vocals and huge guitar riffs, the absolutely beautiful ‘Haunting’, which is pared right back, heavy on the piano and really showcasing the vocals and also the awesome ‘Filth’. Not sure what I can say about that one, other than I can see it being a massive hit in the clubs.  A memorable hook, massive vocals, dirty lyrics … it’s just a huge track and probably my favourite.  ‘Let It Burn’ is also immense and will probably become an anthem for TFR.

Also, after listening to ‘Wake Up’ several times in a row, wracking my brain to think who it reminded me of, I realised that the riffs are a little bit Black Veil Brides. Obviously it’s a unique song, but yep, there’s definitely a bit of Brides’ influence in there!  Have a listen and see what you think!

Last track ‘Sonder’ has overtones of Bring Me The Horizon at the opening and it’s a great song; melodic, thoughtful and absolutely the perfect end to a an absolute belter of a debut album, which you can purchase from iTunes.  Do it – this is one that you definitely need in your collection!

www.facebook.com/TheFamilyRuin

I interviewed the guys back in June this year – check out the link if you fancy a read –

https://queenofrock75.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/interview-with-the-family-ruin-following-voodoo-rocks-festival-june-2014-london/

The family ruin band pic

BAND:

Johnny Mennell – Vocals

Craig Robinson – Guitar and Vocals

James Langley – Guitar

Dom White – Drums

Josh Adamson – Bass

TFR USA tour pic 

TRACK LISTING:

Bring Out Your Dead

Leech

Cirque De Sin

Let’s Go

Us Against The World

Battle For The sun

Haunting

Wake Up

Filth

Broken Hands

Let It Burn

My Addiction

Where We Fall

Sonder

Interview with The Family Ruin following Voodoo Rocks Summer Ball, June 2014, London

TFR dearly departed plus pic

The Family Ruin are a fantastic up-and-coming rock band from the North of England.  They were meant to be touring around America with Crown The Empire at this point in time but, due to visa issues, unfortunately they weren’t able to go.  They have, however, just announced a support slot on the Asking Alexandria ‘Moving On’ tour of America and Canada later this year.  Also, their debut album, ‘Dearly Departed’ has just been released in America this very day (European fans – have some patience, only six sleeps to go!). 

So, in case you missed the original, first time around interview that I did with them earlier this year at the Voodoo Rocks Summer Ball in London, here it is once again for your delectation and delight! 

The Family Ruin WATERMARKED

L-R – Liam Redman, Wrath Of A King; Craig Robinson, TFR; Josh Adamson, TFR; Johnny Mennell, TFR; Natalie Conway, Red Dragon Records; Dom White, TFR and Me (Photo courtesy of Emma Radwanski Photography).

What did it mean to you to be playing alongside bands such as Funeral For A Friend at the Voodoo Rocks Club night?

It’s insane. I think, years back, we played with FFAF in our hometown of York (as The Fallen), so it’s great to be back on the bill with those guys, who have obviously massively climbed the ladder since then.  I think then they had just released their first EP, so they were at the level we’re at now.  It’s awesome to be playing with the Basement boys again, we’ve done quite a bit with Heaven’s Basement before and they’re good guys.  We’ve not gigged for 6 months and this is the first show since we’ve recorded the album and signed with KBB; it’s nice to be doing a high profile London show.  Good times!

You were formerly known as The Fallen. Did signing to KBB (a record label part-owned by Ben Bruce of Asking Alexandria) bring about the name change?

We’d been The Fallen for many years and we wanted to stick with it. It’s a bit of a sad explanation really, but there are so many different variations of the name.  There are other bands out there with the same name and you couldn’t Google it and find us straight away.  KBB told us they wanted to do the best for us, that we needed to be easily identifiable, so we went through two weeks trying to think of a name.  We could have punched each other, we all thought we had the best names in the world and everyone else hated them … it took a long time to come up with The Family Ruin.  We whittled it down to about five names and sent it off to KBB, told them that we hated everything we had come up with and told them to choose.

So, who actually came up with The Family Ruin?

It’s a bit of a cheat really, but there’s a band I really like called Oh, Sleeper and I was looking for references to lyrics and stuff; they have a quality song called ‘The Family Ruin’ and to me, that just kind of sounded like what we were producing at the time musically and it defined the sound for me, in my head … I’m not sure if everyone agreed with that. It’s got an identity because you want people to read it as, The Family Ruin, so no-one’s perfect but we can all join together and make something of it.

Very profound! Who do you draw your musical influences from?

We’re all totally different, so when we come together to start writing songs, there’s a good starting point. I think that’s good though because we all like different genres of music and it all comes together to make our sound, which is hard to compare to another band.  Each song will vary; it’s not the kind of band where you’re going to get the same song throughout the album.  It also works well because we get to play with different types of bands; our songs sound like different genres.  We can roll up to some gigs and be the heaviest band on the bill and then we turn up to others that make us sound like Steps.

For anyone that’s not seen you before, how would you describe your show?

Party! That’s one thing that’s stuck with us through the years … one time we did a show back in Yorkshire and they put us on the poster as ‘party metal’, which is something we’d not heard before. We like to make sure there’s a groove in there so you can bang your head or have a good time.  We’ve been known to have a few beverages and we enjoy a good time, we just want everyone to come down and get rowdy.  We’ve got Liam (Redman, Wrath of a King) standing in on guitars tonight, he’s played a lot of riffs and tried to rock out to it, but he’s got some filthy grooves.  As long as it’s rowdy and the beer’s flowing, it’s just got to be a party.

You’ve just announced a US tour, what are you hoping will come from that?

Leaving work! That’s a big factor to be fair, we’ve spent a lot of years doing nine to five jobs, so the US tour is a massive step up for us – it’s a proper platform to take the new album on and it’s going to be awesome to be in the States.  We hope that they’re going to accept us.  We’re starting to work on a few other things over there as well, so all being well, it’s not just going to be the one tour, we have got other things in the pipeline.  In 2015 we’re going to spend quite a bit of time in America, and then we’ll focus back on the UK.

Well, you’re doing some UK dates this year, but nothing on the South coast. What’s that about?!

We hate them all, and we don’t like driving or really like leaving Yorkshire that much! No, to be honest, we’ve just been in touch with a really good booking agent who sorted us out for the UK to get us warmed up and prepped for the States.  We don’t want to look as if we’re just ditching the UK because we’re not, but this is just a small showcase tour.

But you’ve missed out the South completely …

Speak to the booking agent, although we’ve been to Plymouth twice …

That’s not the South coast though! What about Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth …

The plan is to go to the States for a while, build up a bit of a profile and hopefully that will feed back through to England. If we can get some more decent shows over here then we can tour the shit out of the UK.  It seems no matter what dates we announce, someone’s always asking why we’re not playing somewhere else.  It’s a shame for us, because we’re not hitting Scotland on this tour either and there are quite a few people up there asking why.  It’s basically just a quick, warm up tour and when we come back we’ll hit more dates.

You’ve been at this for quite some time now, what would be the one piece of advice that you would give to an upcoming band?

We would say, literally, don’t give up. We’ve had a couple of line-up changes, but you have to have a certain determination to stick at it and your heart has to be in it.  Over the years we’ve had some shit shows, we’ve lost money, but we’ve stuck at it.  You have to find the right group of people that you get along with – thankfully we’ve always had that, even with the members who have left in the past, we’ve never had musical differences or anything like that, it’s always been that they can’t fight the struggle anymore or can’t commit.  At a low level, it’s going to cost you a lot of money, you have to be prepared to sacrifice a lot of your free time and anything that you earn outside of the band, you’re going to have to put it back in.  But if the dream is strong enough, it’s going to pay off in the end, so stick at it.  If you really want it, it’s a lifestyle choice.  We all work to be in this band and if any of us didn’t, we would be nowhere near where we are now.  It’s all about the heart.

We’ve literally just landed on our feet with the whole KBB thing and everything has fallen into place since then. You have to stick to doing your own thing, too, but it’s all about your lucky break.  We started recording the EP this time last year with Sam and Joe Graves from With One Last Breath, they have a studio in York – we’re all local lads.  Ben Bruce was recording a solo album with Sam and Joe and they told him, very kindly, to check us out as he mentioned he was starting up a label.  They’d seen us play as well, but it all came down to luck.  KBB’s a very hands-on label, they want to get involved in artwork, the songs and give direction, but they’ve given us no ultimatums just because they have the knowledge.  They’re on the second stage of their careers, we’re on our first!

So ‘Dearly Departed’ hits the streets in the USA today, Europe on 29th September – seriously don’t wait to catch these guys – they’re awesome and fully deserve your attention!  In the meantime, check out the audio for ‘Let’s Go’ here – http://youtu.be/CdZ4aR6q06U

Keep an eye out for my review of ‘Dearly Departed’ – coming soon!