Asking Alexandria

Through my time writing about the up and comers of rock and roll, I have had the always excellent opportunity to speak to the band truly killing it today in the hardcore scene both overseas and here in the US with Asking Alexandria!

My first chat with the band happened with bassist Sam Bettley on their first ever US headliner tour where the band pulled in a huge amount of people to fill the space where I just again caught up with the boy who started the band Ben Bruce just two days ago now at a point much further in their career. The band released their sophomore record '€˜Reckless and Relentless'€™ this April but being the songwriter he is Ben has already started writing the follow up to the record even bringing in a second bus on this tour to start recording some of the tracks. As well as talking about the songwriting of the band, we talked about their journey so far as well as the always important first musical experiences that Ben had!

The band is one of the hardest working bands I have the pleasure to speak too as can be seen currently while on a co-headlining run with Hollywood Undead. The band finds themselves in Maryland today and read on for our exclusive with the band below!

I did talk to Sam last year during your headliner and you'€™ve toured so much since then. You did Warped Tour, you headlined here, you headlined over seas at home. How has this past year been for you?
It'€™s been pretty crazy. It'€™s been good. It'€™s been up and down. We went through a really rough patch a little while ago, well actually we do still drink far too much, but we just went through a period of getting obliterated before we even went on stage. Bad things happened and I think we learned a lot this past year about each other and about touring and just doing it properly because actually last time you interviewed us, it was our first ever headlining tour. We were still babies then. We didn'€™t really know anything. It'€™s been a good year though. We'€™ve had fun playing and we'€™ve met all the goals we wanted to reach and now we'€™re setting new ones.

Perfect and then you have '€˜Reckless and Relentless'€™ out which is the second one but I know you started this band a long time ago so are you even writing the next one?
I'€™ve started writing yeah. I started writing it about four months ago and now it'€™s seriously sitting down and trying to write a lot more. We'€™re actually bringing a second bus on this tour with in the next few days and turning it into a recording studio so we can record on the road.

Then how do you go about the writing process? Has it changed over time since the first record or is it still pretty similar?
Still the same. I just sit down on my labtop and write a bunch of demos and then I'€™ll take them to James and we'€™ll sit down together and go through them and improve them. Same formula as always.

And do you think it'€™s going to be pretty similar to the past release since this new one is so different from the first one?
It'€™s going to be different again. It'€™s still going to sound like us. The choruses are still going to be eighties fueled and anthems but we have to keep it fresh and change it otherwise we'€™re going to get bored and everyone else will get bored of it.

Then I'€™ve talked to a bunch of british bands like Architects and You Me At Six who are just now breaking out here in the states. You guys have been broken out for a while so what advice would you give to bands on their first tour?
Their first tour ever?
Like outside the UK.
Outside the UK.
Like their first time in the states. I know you opened for a Boston band in the smaller room here on your first US tour!
Oh, our first US tour. Yeah we opened for A Static Lullaby with Vanna. I don'€™t know honestly because I don'€™t know how we did it. I know a lot of bands come over and they do struggle and they don'€™t have the impact that maybe they have back home for whatever reason. I don'€™t really know how we did it to be completely honest. I think we just made people believe we were bigger then we actually were and so it caught on.

Then you'€™ve been in this band for a really long time! Did you honestly think it was going to get to this point so fast? Like did you think it was going to catch on that quickly?
No, I hoped as everyone does but you can never know. We worked really, really hard and we did things for the right reasons but there'€™s always a lot of luck involved in this industry.

And then a softer one to end. What was the first CD or cassette you ever bought as a kid and the first concert you went to?
The first concert I ever went to was Deep Purple with my step dad and first CD I ever bought with my own money was '€˜Ride The Lightning'€™ by Metallica!
And do you think that influenced you, those musical experiences as a person or for the band?
Oh yeah! I mean I love eighties rock which is obviously quite apparent in this band and I think a large part of it is because of my step dad taking me to see Deep Purple as a kid and taking me to shows like The Scorpions and Aerosmith and Dire Straits and stuff so definitely. It definitely impacted this band a lot just through me and Danny as well.

Then obviously you'€™ve been touring a bunch, these past years have been crazy, so what is going to be going on? Are you going to be focusing on your record, do you think you'€™re going to be touring again a lot?
Just touring! We'€™re already booked all of next year.
All next year is already booked?
Yep pretty much. Crazy and we'€™re in the studio at the end of March and the beginning of April but that'€™s the only time we have set aside for that.
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While I may not travel into the hip hop genre much, a boy who is always a must have interview for me brought me into that for a night with Modsun. One of the hardest working musicians I'€™ve had the pleasure of speaking to twice, he has finally come into his stride and all the hard work is paying off with the release of '€˜Blazed By The Bell'€™! He told me that this is what he'€™s been trying to do this whole time with hippy hop and finally our ears get to hear it!

Growing up in the Minnesota scene, the brotherhood that the area is known for is clear with Mod as he is constantly helping others succeed in music, records all of his material on his own which he then gives away for free and does it all with no management, no publicist and no agent! Yet he still finds himself on the road with huge names like Shwayze, Scary Kids Scaring Kids and The Summer Set and you can find him on the road tons next year including this little summer tour you may all know about with some of your favorite bands. Check out our exclusive interview below and catch him on the road with Shwayze right now!

So '€˜Blazed By The Bell'€™, your newest one.-
Got the remedy, I'€™ve got the remedy! '€˜Blazed By The Bell'€™ is hosted by DJ Ill Will and DJ Rock Star! It is the piece of music that I'€™ve been really wanting to make since I started doing this. '€™Need That'€™ was my first step in the right direction and then this whole mixtape is literally the definition of what I'€™m aiming to do with hippy hop. Pick it up, it'€™s out right now! Totally 100% free. Go to and get it now. Like I said, it'€™s exactly what I'€™ve been trying to do so I'€™m very proud of it and I'€™m going to play some new songs tonight!

And then is it pretty similar to the last one or is it really different?
I mean it'€™s MODSUN stands for Moving On Dreams Standing Upon None. I'€™m all about it inspiring myself and the fact that you wake up every morning is reason enough for me to celebrate you know what I'€™m saying. I really, really like being alive so every song I write is to make people feel happy. So it'€™s been a constant step in the right direction and now I'€™ve only been doing this for about two and a half years. The only way I'€™ve learned how to do this is by making art. You make more and more songs and you start to find your sound and your sound finds you. So it'€™s definitely a step in the right direction. Definitely goes deeper then our last stuff but it'€™s still hippy hop. It'€™s still hippy hop.

Then you'€™ve been crazily growing since that Summer Set tour. I know you were up for that Rolling Stone cover and you'€™ve been touring consistently with Scream It Like You Mean It. How has it been this year?
You'€™re good by the way! Everybody out there this is a good interviewer right here. Man everything has been amazing. Like I said, I'€™m a totally independent artist. I have no label, no manager, no agency. It'€™s literally me, my best friend Mike Bryant and my lawyer. And obviously Pat Brown and B-Rolla you know what I'€™m saying and we have the whole tour and stuff but for the most part it'€™s literally just me being independent. It'€™s definitely not a job but I don'€™t go to sleep as anything but Modsun and I wake up as Modsun. As an independent artist, you have to be able to do everything your self. So it'€™s been amazing. Like I said it'€™s all led up to '€™Blazed By The Bell'€™ and this whole time I'€™ve never had like official music videos which is a key part to hip hop and for the visuals. I just shot three videos off '€™Blazed By The Bell'€™ Three professional, official, real, director concepted, really cool videos. I think I might be dropping one this week. Look for that this week and the other ones will follow but I mean it'€™s been great and the best thing is that I'€™m totally not satisfied, comfortable, by any means. I'€™m still hungry as ever. Not even half way to where I want to be yet.

You'€™ve been steadily giving away your music for free. How do you think that'€™s helped you as an artist?
A hundred percent! I have my own studio and I'€™m utilizing the fact that it is really easy to record your own music and anyone who tells you different is lying to you. So I'€™m utilizing my equipment and showing that you literally can do this by yourself and that you can literally put out music by yourself and that'€™s how I started and it caught on. I put my very first song up on there (the internet) and it sits right next to my last song I wrote. It shows development. It shows that you can start out and become something. So, everything'€™s good (laughs)!

Then I know you literally just started this tour.
Just started today. I haven'€™t played a set yet on this tour.

Then what is coming up? You'€™re on this one for a while and then?
And then I have an awesome January tour and then I will be out all summer on an awesome tour.
Let me guess!
(Laughs) Maybe you'€™ll see me this summer on a tour with a lot of your favorite other bands!
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A Rocket To The Moon

Back in November of 2009, I headed out to the Love Drunk tour which at the time was a huge event for me and the show where I did my first interviews with bands I'€™ve now talked to three or four times each with The Maine and VersaEmerge but one band I hadn'€™t spoken to again till just a few weeks ago was A Rocket To The Moon!

Despite two band members being from the state I'€™m based in, the band has had an incredible journey since the first record has dropped which lucky for them has kept them steadily on the road across the country which kept them away from this local scene so I definitely took up the opportunity to sit down with Eric Halvorsen from the band when they came back around home. The band has now just about finished the record cycle for their debut record and will hopefully be back in the studio really shortly from now in January before they head out for their first major (besides the UK) of international touring. Be ready to hear new music from this incredibly talented band and read on for my exclusive with Eric about his first musical experiences to what the band will be up to into these next few months!

It'€™s not exactly soft but '€˜On Your Side'€™ has been out for about two years now. Is it in the works to do the new full length?
Yeah! We'€™re writing now and hopefully we'€™ll be all set to start recording in January so long as we have all the songs that we want and we think that the record is good enough to put our name on it and give it out to the people.

So you'€™ve obviously been touring then a bunch. You did your headliner in April most recently then you went to Indonesia.
Yeah we did Indonesia then the UK and then over the summer we did a bunch of Six Flags stuff.
Then how do you think the record'€™s been going over, all of this touring, being that you'€™ve grown so much since that release?
Yeah we definitely evolved a lot since '€˜On Your Side'€™ came out. I think we'€™re focusing a lot more on the music itself and just being real and raw. Instead of you know having a bunch of lasers and keyboards and all of that stuff. It wasn'€™t very heavy on '€˜On Your Side'€™ but it was there. We'€™re just trying to wean that out and just focus more on playing live rock music. I think that side of things has changed. I think the touring side of everything is going really well. This tour kind of happened randomly for us. Like it just was an option. It was either we sit at home and do nothing or we can go out and tour with great people and great bands. It'€™s a fun tour for us because '€˜On Your Side'€™ is so old. We'€™re not really focusing on pushing a record I think it'€™s more just going out and playing music every night. So, it'€™s a lot of fun!

That'€™s why I ask about the new record because it has been out for a while. Maybe do you think the sound'€™s going to change a lot then on that record?/
It will still be Rocket To The Moon but it'€™s definitely going to be far different then '€˜On Your Side'€™. I don'€™t think it'€™s going to be too drastic to where people are like taken aback by it but I don'€™t think it would be fair to anyone if we put out the same record again you know. Especially with how long it'€™s been out. I feel like we would be cheating ourselves and our fans if we put out the same thing.

And that'€™s what seems to be one of the most talked about reasons behind bands calling it quits like The Academy Is and Augustana because I think the fans expect the same kind of music.
I don'€™t really understand that. I don'€™t know why fans are like that because with me at least, if a band is putting out a record then I want it to be different. I want them to be completely new songs and not sound the same. Them playing their music is just as exciting for me to hear it as a musician and a fan as well. To see some one grow and change. Yeah I never really understand why some bands just crank out the same records over and over again. It'€™s a shame too because both of those bands are really great. I love Augustana and it'€™s just really unfortunate that that happened.
I won'€™t lie, I was really excited to have the chance to interview Dan. I'€™ve listened to them my whole life.
Yeah totally. '€˜Can'€™t Love, Can'€™t Hurt'€™. The perfect record. I did hear recently though that he'€™s still doing stuff as Augustana.
Oh so he'€™s still going to do it and just have different people?
Yeah, I guess. I mean that'€™s a rumor and I'€™m not completely sure but that'€™s what I heard last time we were in L.A. but yeah we'€™ll see what happens.

Then, maybe for a soft one, obviously you do tour with bands all over music, like Never Shout and Fake Problems on this tour who are definitely something different from what your fans may be used to but maybe who would be like your dream tour with three past bands you'€™ve already toured with?
That we'€™ve already toured with? Jeez! Well I'€™d love to tour with Hanson again. That was probably one of the coolest tours we'€™ve done just because they'€™re such an amazing band. Watching them every night was such a big influence to all of us so I would love to tour with them again! I usually say friends'€™ bands because those are always the funnest tours. You have to be careful with your choices!
Well, you can make like a festival line up!
Alright! The Maine, The Summer Set, Mayday Parade. If we'€™re going just off music, I would love to tour with The Maine again. Their new record is really good and I'€™d love to watch that every night and then my third. I really enjoyed touring with Fun. I love that band and I love that record and they were one of those bands that I watched every single night live. Plus I loved The Format so it was kind of a big deal. That would be a cool tour!

Perfect then maybe what was the first CD or cassette you ever bought as a child and then the first concert you can remember? Be honest!
Well the first CD, I don'€™t remember cassette, that I bought I bought two. I bought Hanson'€™s '€˜Middle of Nowhere'€™ and then I also bought the Savage Garden CD. That was both on the same day which is really weird because we ended up touring with one of those bands and it'€™s very surreal and weird to me. I was in third grade and jamming out to Hanson and then now we'€™re touring with them but I guess the first real concert that I was taken to was Stevie Nicks but I was like six years old when that happened. The first concert that I wanted to go to was this big holiday festival. It was Blink 182, MXPX, Liz Phair, Moby (laughs), 311.
It just keeps getting better and better.
Yeah (laughs) it was a really broad line up but yeah that was my first show that I wanted to go to. Now I probably would much rather go see Stevie Nicks.
Well, do you think those experiences influenced you at all just you as musician or Rocket as a band?
Well yeah, sure I mean I'€™d say the first show I went to really influenced me to start playing music and stuff but growing up, my parents were huge Fleetwood Mac fans, Pink Floyd, The Eagles. My dad really loves Tears For Fears so just listening to bands like that I think that'€™s what really shaped my music interests to what they are now but yeah I liked bands like Blink 182 and stuff like that definitely got me into playing music and wanting to be in a band.

Perfect then you may not be able to say specifics and talk about it, but what is going to come up after this tour? After Never Shout, like are you going to focus on making the new record?
Well, yeah we'€™ve already started writing. We'€™re going to write some more and then hopefully start recording around January and then we'€™re doing a bunch of international stuff. Some things I can'€™t say. What is announced though is we are going to Australia for the Soundwave festival in February and then we go to Brazil after that with The Ready Set and We Are The In Crowd. So, very exciting. There are other places in there but I can'€™t say it because it hasn'€™t been announced. Going to be very exciting stuff for us and those are all new places for us.
You haven'€™t been to Brazil yet, really?
Or Australia and the other few I can'€™t name but we haven'€™t done much international touring. We'€™ve only done Indonesia and the UK and I guess you can consider Canada international because it'€™s outside the US.
Crazy because you guys have been touring for so long.
Yeah but really we'€™ve only been on the road, I mean I'€™ve been with Nick for three and a half years, for about three years and then as this band it'€™s only been about two so it'€™s pretty crazy. It seems like it'€™s been forever but definitely been a lot shorter then everybody thinks .
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