Asking Alexandria Band brings excitement back to rock
By John Benson
An old adage is that music is cyclical. What was out yesterday will be in today and out again tomorrow.
Just think about ’80s rock, which died in the early ’90s before making a resurgence in the late 2000s when bands such as Hinder conjured up the spandex and hairspray spirit for an undeniable cheese factor. So far, what the world hasn’t seen is a band with metal bonafides hark back to the Reagan administration and distill away the glitz only to be left with solid songwriting.
That group appears to be metalcore act Asking Alexandria, which performs Saturday at the Mayhem Festival at First Niagara Pavilion. The band isn’t afraid to cite influences such as Motley Crue, Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses when describing its own music.
“We just wanted to push our own boundaries,” said Asking Alexandria guitarist Ben Bruce, calling from somewhere in Missouri. “Our debut album, ‘Stand and Scream,’ was very simplistic, and it got very popular with the younger generation. Band after band seemed to come out after that record and sounded exactly the same, so we just basically wanted to stay one step ahead of the curve and something new.”
After the group’s 2011 effort, “Reckless & Relentless,” Bruce said the band decided to wholeheartedly embrace ’80s rock ’n’ roll on its latest effort, “From Death to Destiny.” However, the calculated decision didn’t come without risks. Obviously, the band wasn’t going to recreate a Poison album, but the rally cry was in the songwriting.
“We definitely wanted to put forward that influence. So while we were writing choruses, we thought: What would Motley Crue and Guns N’ Roses do? How can we make these choruses anthems? But at the same time, we’re influenced by bands such as Slipknot. We also wanted to keep it heavy.”
Basically, Bruce said the outfit set a course to write anthems that would not only be instantly recognizable as Asking Alexandria but could also sell out a stadium. As lofty as that goal may be, the band appears to have reached it on “From Death to Destiny.” Songs such as “Moving On,” “Killing You” and “The Death of Me” contain mainstream accessibility while still carrying the torch of the band’s earlier metal sound.
Bruce isn’t shy when discussing the fate of hard-rock music. He said he could care less if people think Asking Alexandria’s fascination with ’80s rock is stupid.
“It’s almost necessary. Otherwise, rock music will get dumber and dumber and less exciting,” Bruce said. “Back in the ’80s, it was exciting. You didn’t know what Motley Crue was going to do. What Guns N’ Roses were going to do. Oh, is Axl even going to make it to the stage? It was a whole lifestyle, and it was a huge part of music, and you don’t get that anymore.”
What Bruce is talking about hasn’t been done for more than a quarter of a century since Metallica left behind the underground metal scene for mainstream acceptance with its 1991 “Black Album.”
Just like Metallica was a target for being a sellout back in the day, Asking Alexandria would love to encounter the same type of backlash.
“For people to be like, ‘Oh, well, more people know this band, so they sold out,’ [expletive] you dude,” Bruce said. “You should be happy that rock music is getting around there and invading more households and, hopefully, growing to the glorious size it once was.”