Ahead of their upcoming European tour (including Ireland and the UK), Asking Alexandria‘s James Cassells talks about the evolution of their sound, their live show and how despite being involved in other projects, Asking Alexandria is still the priority.
Just ahead of the tour, Cassells explains how even after years of intense touring, they’re looking forward to being back on this side of the ocean for a bit, “It’s always fun and exciting and fun to start a tour regardless of where you’re playing but I’m super excited for this one in particular because it has been a while since we’ve played Ireland in particular. Super stoked about that. We’ve also got some new stuff production-wise, we’ve got some new lights, we’re going to be playing a bunch of new songs, well… ‘new’ I mean ones from ‘From Death To Destiny’. Ones that we haven’t performed in the UK or Europe, so it’s always exciting.”
Over the years, Asking Alexandria have changed musical direction slightly, this is an evolution that has been embraced by some fans as well as criticised by others. James Cassells explains how this genre-shift was a natural progression, “To be honest, we didn’t really plan it, we weren’t like, “oh, we’re going to change completely for this album”. I really feel like every album that we’ve released has been different from the last, it’s evolved. I think a lot of that is down to the fact that when we recorded ‘Stand Up And Scream’ we were all teenagers, like we were going from 17 to 19, and now we’re all in our mid-20s. We’ve all grown up as dudes and as musicians. So naturally the way we write and the way we approach writing songs is going to change a bit. Yeah, we have changed the style a bit, but I don’t think we’ve stepped too far away from the Asking Alexandria sound. I think it still sounds like us, just a bit more of a mature version.”
Not all of their fans have been completely happy with the change, “There’s obviously a few people who are not happy with how we’ve changed. There’s a few people online who have said that they don’t like us any more and they prefer the ‘Stand Up and Scream’ or ‘Reckless and Relentless’ songs. And fair do’s we can’t please everyone, but then again we do have fans who prefer the older stuff but still accept us for how we’ve changed a bit and still enjoy seeing us live because they enjoy the show, they enjoy falling about and whatnot. So it’s always a bit nerve-wrecking to release any sort of music to the public because the way you perceive it is always going to be different to how others do. But I think it’s a step in the right direction in terms of the music we want to be writing and the music we’re going to be continuing to write. I’m super stoked on how people are taking it though, I really feel like we’re reaching out to a lot more people than we did say on the first two albums, like a wider fan-base.”
Talking about the age of their fan base, Cassells notes how some of their fans have grown up with them, and with age (normally) people’s music tastes open up slightly, “A lot of [our fans] have grown from being a teenager to being a young adult with us, their musical tastes are changing. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the genre and style of music that we did when we were writing ‘Stand Up And Scream’. I still like really aggressive new-age sort of metal that I feel ‘Reckless and Relentless’ really is portraying, but I really like balance now, I like a good song […] just a well-structured, awesome song, that’s catchy, enjoyable to listen to, still heavy – just a little bit different to the crazy, aggressive, a little bit unstructured way we would approach it previously.”
The band are largely based in the U.S. with their wives and girlfriends, James Cassells points out that it just makes more sense to be there for the moment but still says: “I’d live here, I’d live there, I love being back home” and being able to see friends and family. While being over there, each member of the band seems to be keeping busy outside of the band with side projects, clothing lines and even a record label under their individual names. Cassells says that they take some time out after touring so that they’re not constantly on top of one another, they need some space just to keep the band healthy, but is quite confident that “The priority is still the band.”. He continues by saying that although they enjoy that time off, they need to keep busy, and that’s where the other projects come into play “It’s just say for instance when we have time off, when we come off tour we all go our separate ways for the month or two months […] we like to do our own thing for a little bit. But at the same time we get bored […] so we like to busy ourselves with other projects whether it be music or like Ben has just started his label. […] It’s just to sort of to kill time, to keep ourselves busy, try our hand at different things, I just think it’s a bit of fun.”
The band have made their name and keep gaining popularity largely as a result of their grueling touring schedule, Cassells says that really the only part of touring that he doesn’t enjoy is the flying “I hate being in airports […] that can be stressful.” Apart from that, he still thrives off their live show and still enjoys playing songs that he’s been playing for years, “A few of the guys are a bit bored of playing certain songs in the set. I don’t really mind, I just enjoy playing my drums regardless – I get to hit things so that’s cool in my book. Some of the older ones the guys are like “We’ve played this every show for the last 6 years” you know? So it’s a little bit tedious. There’s a few songs that I really, really enjoy playing live, I think some of the songs off ‘From Death to Destiny’ I really enjoy. I like Run Free and Killing You, they’re probably two of my favourites. Just because I like the drum parts I get to play and I like the way the crowd interacts with us. I always enjoy playing the songs the crowd gets the most in to. So regardless if I’m bored playing my part, seeing thousands of people vibe off it is great.”
All their hard work has finally started to be recognised in an official way, their first single Final Episode (Let’s Change The Channel) was recently certified gold, “I’m stoked about that. That’s something we would dream of when we first started the band. Having a Gold record, like that’s insane! It feels great. It’s a massive achievement, it’s something we’re all extremely proud of. I just hope it’s the start of many more to come!“.
So with this, the future looks bright for the band, and they continue to write music and look forward, “The thing is, we never actually really stop writing music. A lot of bands are like, “oh, we’re gonna take some time off to write the next album” we don’t really do that. We just continually write music and it’s just a very natural evolution and it changes. We’ve already written so many songs, some are very different, some of similar. […] So in terms of music-wise, we’re already on the track of where we want to go. In terms of live show we really want to push the boat out. I feel like that’s really the way to set yourself apart from other acts and other bands – how well you put on a show. Nowadays with the way music is created, you can really create music without bothering to go and record it. But when you come and see a band live, there’s no faking that. If you can do it all live and have an amazing show then that’s great. And I thin that’s what we’ve been doing for the last few years […] trying to put on the best show we can. We all want to step it up in terms of the production and our look on stage. And expect that, because it’s going to be really crazy.” With that, Asking Alexandria’s return to Dublin on the 29th of October should be one to look forward to!