Asking Alexandria On Bringing Their Heaviness And Honesty Down Under

Asking Alexandria On Bringing Their Heaviness And Honesty Down Under

- By Creative Team

Bassist Sam Bettley looks forward to a year of nostalgic reunions and unapologetic authenticity as the band prepares to celebrate their eighth studio album, Where Do We Go From Here? at KNOTFEST Australia.

Words by Maddy Howell // Photo by Bri Skriloff

Having been navigating the tumultuous waters of the music industry for nearly two decades, with their eighth studio album, Where Do We Go From Here?, Asking Alexandria embarked on a journey back into their roots. Dialing back into the unapologetic heaviness and raw emotion of their early days, the English band has shared an enduring commitment to evolution since their formation in 2006.

Connecting with a dedicated fanbase across the globe, the four-piece - following the recent departure of guitarist Ben Bruce - has consistently received praise for their thrilling live performances. As the band gears up for their upcoming appearance at KNOTFEST Australia alongside the likes of Pantera and Disturbed - and with a 2024 North American tour lined up that aims to capture the spirit of their earlier years - bassist Sam Bettley reflects on the positive reception to Asking Alexandria’s latest album, the changing dynamics of touring whilst growing older, and balancing their rich musical history with a continuous drive for authenticity.

It’s been almost six months now since the release of Where Do We Go From Here?, an album that saw Asking Alexandria veer in a heavier direction than 2021’s See What’s On The Inside. How did you find the reception to album eight?

Bettley - “It was really nice, and it was probably one of the most positive receptions we've had in the past few years. For us, it felt like we got back in touch with a few of our roots on that album. We went back to our roots, but we brought in all the things that we’d explored over the last few records too. There are still elements of the emotions that defined our last few releases, but this time we kept it heavy. It felt like a natural, full circle moment for this band, and it was great to find a combination of our different styles. The response was awesome, and we loved putting it all together. It got us back in touch with a few things that we haven't done in a while, and it was so special to fall back in love with it all again.”

That felt like a huge step up in every regard for this band, which is incredible when you’re swiftly approaching 20 years since your inception. How rewarding is it to feel yourselves still growing as songwriters and musicians on every release?

Bettley - “It's a huge honor to still be able to do this. Being an artist can be a risky career, but it’s incredible to know that not only do so many people still want to engage with it, but new fans are still jumping onboard. I feel really lucky, even though it’s tricky because you can never please everybody. When you’ve been a band for as long as we have, you roll with the punches, and you have to be honest with yourself. That comes through in the music regardless, and you've just got to take it on the chin sometimes. Over time, you grow and adapt, and it's about staying true to yourself throughout that. We've never shied away from veering off and doing what felt right to us, so it's all about honesty and authenticity. We’ll always keep it real.”

That authenticity has long drawn people to this band, and you’ve culminated a strong, dedicated fanbase over the years. What has it been like to premiere these new songs in front of those people?

Bettley - “The first time that we tested any of the new songs was when we did the European festival circuit. We threw ‘Dark Void’ into those sets because it had come out as a single shortly before. I always think that songs have two lives. You can sit in your car listening to a song and find a personal connection with it, but then you can go and see it performed live and understand it in a different light. It’s a totally different experience, and it’s the same for us as the people who write these songs. You feel different playing the song in the studio as you do when you perform it for a crowd. When we were in Europe playing ‘Dark Void’, it took me straight back to the feeling of hearing that song for the first time. The atmosphere was electric, and it was crazy because it seemed as though everybody had felt starved of that feeling. There was such excitement running through the crowd, and we felt the same thing. We didn't realise how powerful the reaction to this new music would be.”

You’re going to be appearing at KNOTFEST Australia this March alongside Pantera, Disturbed, Lamb Of God, and a whole load of other sick bands. What do you most enjoy about playing shows down under?

Bettley – “I'll be running all over the place trying to see as many bands as I can! It's been a long time since we've been over there, mostly because it's a long way from… basically everywhere! We've been wanting to go back for years, but it's just taken a long time to make it work. Because it's been on our radar for such a while, it’s nice to finally be able to come back, especially as part of such a stacked line-up and such an awesome festival. We’ve played KNOTFEST a bunch of times, and we love it, but Australia is its own beast. We love Australia, and the fans are so wild there!”

Whose set are you most excited to catch?

Bettley - “How long have you got?! Obviously, I’ll be catching Disturbed and Pantera, but I’m excited for Wage War. A few of them live around the corner from me in Nashville, and they're a band that we've almost crossed paths with a lot in the past. We had some touring plans in the pipeline but when COVID happened things got cancelled, so I can't wait to see those guys. I’m stoked for Halestorm too because Lzzy Hale is such an incredible vocalist. Oh, and Lamb of God! They were one of my favorite bands growing up. Art Cruz plays drums for them now, and he's a good friend of ours. We used to tour with him back in the day when he was in Winds of Plague. When you've been doing it for so long, you get to see your friends move on to different bands and do great things. These things are always like a big reunion, so there's a bunch of people I'll be trying to catch.”

It’s a stacked line-up, and speaking of stacked line ups, earlier this year Asking Alexandria announced a 2024 North American tour. The premise of the tour is that you’ll be back on the road with your friends in Memphis May Fire and The Word Alive…

Bettley - “We did a ridiculous announcement video for the tour, and honestly it took me by surprise! I was only sent the clip a few hours before we posted it, and I had no part in its creation. It was all Danny [Worsnop, Asking Alexandria vocalist]’s idea because he's good friends with Matty [Mullins, Memphis May Fire vocalist] and Telle [Smith, The Word Alive vocalist]. It’s cool when you have those relationships, because rather than going through all the suits and red tape, you can just have fun with it. That’s the spirit that we want to embody on this tour, and it's been so many years since we've toured with those bands. We wanted to put together a package that was a throwback for us as well as a throwback for the fans. I can't wait, and it’s right around the corner already. That line-up of bands paired with the heavier show that we’ve been playing recently is going to make for a crazy tour.”

Presumably as you’ve gotten older the way you all tour has changed though. Is it generally a bit of a more relaxed, professional environment rather than a non-stop party these days?

Bettley - “It’s not necessarily down to our choices, but that’s just what happens as your bodies get older! It’s a bit more relaxed now, but if we were doing the things we were doing back in the day - I don't think I’d be here right now. We've had to chill out a little bit, and that naturally happens as you grow. I'm about to be 33, and I was 17 when we started touring. It's been a long time, and people change, but I like to think that we've changed for the better. We’ve grown, and that's thanks to the fact that we're still able to do this. People are still coming to shows and streaming the records, and I feel so lucky. I'm excited to see how everyone we’re touring with has changed too, because if we're all still doing it… we must have been doing something right.”

Speaking of change, this year is going to be a little bit of a different one for Asking Alexandria as Ben [Bruce, founding guitarist] has announced his departure to focus on his family. It’s bittersweet, but having shared a stage, a practice room, and a tour bus with him for the last 15 years, how does it feel to reflect on the journey you’ve been on together over the years?

Bettley - “Honestly, it’s a little bit emotional. Everyone says, ‘We're brothers’, about their bandmates but I speak to all these guys every single day. When that announcement came out, obviously I was aware it was happening, but it was hard. We've done a couple of tours without Ben recently because he needed to be at home with his family. We all respect that, and before anything else, I'm a family man too. I've got two kids, and apart from Danny we’re all dads. We completely understand Ben’s reasons for not touring, and I want him to do what's right for him and his family. Him leaving the band doesn't mean that we’re cutting off contact at all, and I’ll still speak to him every day. It will seem like a huge change for everybody else, but really for us - very little will change. It's just a matter of not being on the road with him, which will be hard because he’s been there since day one. He's like a big brother to me, and he’s taught me so much over the years. We've shared so many memories together on the road, but it's all love. Whether he's in the spotlight or not, he's still very much part of my family as well as the band.”

Aside from the upcoming tour, what else is on the cards for 2024? Is new music going to be in the works, or is this year all about getting Where Do We Go From Here to the largest amount of people possible?

Bettley - “Over the past few years, we've not toured as much as we’d have liked, so in 2024 we want to get in front of as many people and play in as many cities as we can. Social media is always going crazy with people asking us to come back to their city, and it's about time we packed our bags and got on the road again. We want to give back to people and share this music that we've spent so much time on. It's about giving it the life that it deserves, and people should see these songs live to truly experience them. There'll be new music too though because we never stop writing music. We've got a vault of countless songs already written, so there’s a lot to look forward to in that regard. In the meantime, I’m excited to get out there and hit the stage a little bit more.”

Having been doing this for such a long time now, and now crossing over to a new generation with your music, what is it like to reflect on how far this band has come?

Bettley - “It's crazy, and I’m constantly reminded of that journey. Everyone has those school yearbook pictures which their friends love to pull up occasionally to embarrass them, but I get that every day on social media when I see pictures of me when I was 17. The more I see it, the more I'm like, ‘Wow, who is this guy?’ Back then, I was this kid eating ramen noodles in an RV in America with no idea what he was doing. Now, I feel a little bit more established with my life, and it's awesome. I feel like the journey has built me as a person, and I think all the other guys could say the same. We'd be different people without this band, and I'm appreciative of that, especially as we've gone through our struggles. It’s certainly not been smooth sailing since we started out, but when I look back, I realise that’s a good thing.”

What’s the goal for this band now, then? Has it changed since you first joined?

Bettley - “Honestly, I don't think it has changed. To a certain extent, the goal is always unattainable, and that's why we keep striving for new things. As an artist, I don't think you'll ever be satisfied, so you just keep pushing and keep creating. You're always finding new ways to be inspired, so your goals change every single day. You can never really plan everything out, but that’s what makes it so enjoyable. We're still making music that we love, and I want to keep doing this forever… This is my life.”

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Asking Alexandria joins Knotfest Australia 2024 March 21st in Melbourne, March 23rd in Sydney and March 24th in Brisbane.

The band will also be appearing on the Knotfest Australia Sideshows with Wage War on March 20th in Melbourne and March 26th Brisbane.

See the band's Aussie schedule and get tickets - HERE

 

 

Asking Alexandria will begin their All My Friends North American Tour starting in April with support from Memphis May Fire, The Word Alicve and NERV. See dates and cities below. Get tickets - HERE

Apr. 12 - San Antonio, TX - Aztec Theater
Apr. 13 - Houston, TX - House of Blues Houston
Apr. 14 - New Orleans, LA - The Fillmore New Orleans
Apr. 16 - North Myrtle Beach, SC - House of Blues Myrtle Beach
Apr. 17 - Atlanta, GA - Buckhead Theatre
Apr. 19 - Tampa, FL - 98Rock Fest ^
Apr. 20 - Orlando, FL - 101 WJRR Earth Day Birthday 2024 ^
Apr. 21 - Ft. Lauderdale, FL - Revolution
Apr. 23 - Richmond, VA - The National
Apr. 25 - Norfolk, VA - The Norva
Apr. 26 - Silver Spring, MD - The Fillmore Silver Spring
Apr. 27 - Worcester, MA - Big Gig ^
Apr. 28 - Harrisburg, PA - Harrisburg Midtown Arts Center
Apr. 30 - McKees Rocks, PA - Roxian Theatre
May 01 - Columbus, OH - The Bluestone
May 03 - Milwaukee, WI - Hog Fest ^
May 04 - Saint Paul, MN - 93X Twin City Takeover ^
May 05 - Omaha, NE - Steelhouse Omaha
May 07 - Denver, CO - Ogden Theatre
May 08 - Salt Lake City, UT - The Depot
May 10 - Portland, OR - McMenamins Crystal Ballroom
May 11 - Garden City, ID - Revolution Concert House
May 12 - Seattle, WA - The Showbox
May 14 - Sacramento, CA - Ace of Spades
May 15 - San Diego, CA - House of Blues San Diego
May 17 - Anaheim, CA - House of Blues Anaheim
May 18 - Tempe, AZ - Marquee Theatre
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