For the second time in six months, the five almost identically coifed mates of Asking Alexandria are headlining a national tour, something they’ve never done in their own country. Hailing from North Yorkshire, England, the band is making as much noise in the glutted American metalcore scene with their accents as they are with their guitars, but they’re fine with that.
“People are intrigued by where we’re from and our accents and stuff like that,” says 21-year-old guitarist Ben Bruce. “People aren’t used to it.”
Not that the Queen’s English translates in the piercing chorus of “The Final Episode (Let’s Change the Channel),” the current fan-fave off their debut album Stand Up and Scream. But a Pet Shop Boys-esque sophistication is certainly present in the cleanly sung interlude in “A Single Moment of Sincerity.”
“I think `being British` has definitely helped to some extent,” Bruce says.
Exactly how much is hard to say; the band’s take on the once distinctly American grammar of metalcore — Bruce describes it as a “European sort of trance and a more American style of heavier hardcore” — is marked by a brutality equal to that of the genre’s Yankee vanguard, enough to earn them the largest font on the poster for this summer’s 11-band Thrash and Burn Tour.
“It’s been going really well,” Bruce says. “We were really nervous before it. It’s more of a metal tour compared to what we’ve been doing. We weren’t sure how the audience was going to react to us, but it’s actually been really great.”
He credits the band’s success to their ability to convey a message “that’s not over people’s heads.” (An example of an Asking Alexandria chorus: “Oh my fucking God.”)
“If you’re doing something completely ridiculous, people won’t understand it,” Bruce says. “Simplicity is a hard thing to try to come to grips with.”
Musically, Asking Alexandria seems anything but simple; the technical guitar work, blistering drums, and growling-choirboy vocals tap the same vein as acts like the Devil Wears Prada and Underoath, as well as fellow British imports Bring Me the Horizon. Still, Bruce maintains that they’re unique among bands from the UK.
“We’ve mixed trance music with more of an American sound, which not too many bands in the UK have done,” he says. “There’s definitely a lot of heavy-metal and hardcore bands in England — they’re everywhere — but they’re more straightforward and what you expect from a hardcore band. “
Bruce, the band’s founding member, grew up in Dubai, UAE, and seems to have been raised since he was 9 on a diet of almost exclusively American rock ’n’ roll.
“I discovered Blink 182 one day, and the more I listened to that, the more I fell in love with guitar and drums and stuff,” he says. “Then I checked out Offspring, NOFX, and that led to Metallica and older ’80s metal, and I just came to the modern metal stuff.”
The result is that Asking Alexandria, which is signed to American label Sumerian Records, and describes its name as a sort of shoulder-shrugging nod to the world domination of Alexander the Great, is significantly more popular with the 17-year-olds on this side of the pond, so much so that Bruce dispassionately refers to England not as “back home” but as “over there.”
“At the moment, I’d say yes — we’re more popular in America,” Bruce says. “We’ve never done a full UK tour. We have sold out a few shows over there, and this December we’re actually doing our first UK tour.”
Judging by a recent comment left on the band’s MySpace page, that’s not soon enough:
When are you coming back to england :’(..We want you back! Your OURS! Not America’s :( •
Thrash and Burn Tour
feat. Asking Alexandria
3pm Sun, Aug 1
The White Rabbit
2410 N. St. Mary’s