Exclusive Interview: Asking Alexandria's Ben Bruce on New Remix Album 'Stepped up and Scratched'
Metalcore group Asking Alexandria have just released a remix album titled Stepped Up and Scratched, featuring an infusion of electronic music, courtesy of a host of renowned DJs. The band has also been busy opening for Guns N' Roses, as well as touring with Avenged Sevenfold, Hollywood Undead, and the Black Veil Brides. We caught up with guitarist Ben Bruce recently to get the details on the remix album, what it was like opening for GN'R, and the band's appearance on new get-fit reality series The Warrior Show.
REVOLVER Why did you decide to do a remix album now?
BEN BRUCE It’s funny, 'cause it happened three or four years ago or something. When we recorded Stand Up and Scream, which is our first album, obviously there was a lot of synthesizers and dance and trance and stuff incorporated within that album. And back then we were really, really into sort of dance music and dubstep and all that stuff and we thought, Oh, wouldn’t it be cool if we could do this whole album as sort of a dubstep, dance, trance, sort of mix kind of thing. And it just never ended up happening.
Why do you think more hard-rock and metal bands are incorporating electronic music into what they do?
Metal has a really driving sound. It’s really energetic, and if you listen to a lot of dubstep and stuff it’s got the same feel. It’s around a similar tempo, it’s just driven. In many ways, it’s just as heavy as a metal song.
Was it important for you to keep that original heaviness from the songs?
Originally, we didn’t think of doing that, but after everyone started releasing these remix albums we thought, We need to do something to stand out. And just the way it came about it is just Stand up and Scream was mainly a guitar album—guitars, vocals, drums—with a little bit of synth mixed in it. So we thought, What happens if we literally flip-flopped that, have a synth-driven album, with heavy guitars and drums and stuff playing a smaller role, but still there keeping the heavy vibe that the original album’s had.
Were you nervous about how your fans would react?
Oh, definitely. I was like This is gonna go one of two ways: It’s gonna completely flop or it’s gonna do really well, so. It seems to be doing well, it was No. 1 on the iTunes electronic chart for ages, I don't know if it still is, but I know it was there for at least a week, which is pretty cool.
Did you know many of the producers before choosing them?
I knew a few of them. Like, we knew Big Chocolate, and we knew some of the Born of Osiris guys, who did some of the remixes. And we knew Borgore, so it was just DJs that we like. And then our record label suggested a bunch of other DJs and stuff, so we figured we'd take their word for it and see if they worked out.
Did you learn a lot working on this album that you didn’t know before?
No, it’s beyond me. I still don’t understand all that shit. People can say it’s just pushing buttons and stuff but I think it’s a lot more than that. It’s quite complicated. It’s quite difficult. There’s a lot of counter melodies and stuff that people don’t really notice that are there that goes into it. It’s kind of like rewriting a song, almost. It’s crazy.
Do you see yourself incorporating electronic elements into future albums?
Yeah, having done this, it’s sort of opened our eyes into doing an electronic style album in a different way. Before we used to go into the studio with [producer] Joey [Sturgis] and do them in the studio, but I think for this next album we’re gonna try and incorporate some of these DJs into making our electronic sounds throughout the album, just because they’re better at it than we are, obviously.
How’s the Buried Alive Tour with Avenged Sevenfold going so far?
It’s going really, really well. A lot better than expected ’cause before we were a bit apprehensive and a bit nervous, just because Avenged Sevenfold is more of a radio rock band. I didn’t know how well we would go with their crowd. But it’s been really, really good.
You also recently opened up for Guns N' Roses. What was that like?
That was the most terrifying thing in my life. I never get nervous before I play, but I was shitting myself before this show. There was probably about 15,000 people there, something like that. And half of them were like, What the fuck are these kids doing onstage? Why are they screaming down the mic at us and telling us to mosh and stuff? But then the other half were really open to it and really cool. So it was kind of a 50/50 thing. But even if it was 100 percent of the crowd that hated us, at the end of the day I would have still enjoyed it and taken away nothing but good things, because, Guns N’ Roses, man—they’re one of my favorite bands. How many people get to say, especially a band in our sort of genre and scene, how many bands get to say, "Yeah, we opened for Guns N’ Roses"? It’s just awesome.
What was the worst thing to come of your nervousness?
Except for two seconds before we had to go on stage, when Cam [Liddell, guitar] was puking in a garbage can.
Lastly, did you enjoy being on The Warrior Show, it looked intense?
Ah, yeah. It was, it was fucking horrible. He asked us to do, like, 500 squats or something with these chains round our neck. And he wasn’t really paying attention, because some people were doing different things, and some of those doing the squats were cheating. He was like, "What are you on" And they were like, "480.” And he was like, "OK, 20 more." And I was honest, 'cause I wasn’t thinking, I was like, "I’m on 200." And he was like, "OK, go." And he watched me do the rest of them. And I was like, Ah, fuck. I could barely walk the next day, it sucked.