With their new album released this year, and an upcoming tour with Black Veil Brides running through January and February of next year across the USA, Europe, and the UK, things don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon for metal band Asking Alexandria. A departure from the sound previously heard in The Black, the band having rejoined with original member, Danny Worsnop, seem to be heading to a more mature sound, with much more layers underneath in the album. We chatted to bassist Sam Bettley about the production of the album, the upcoming tours, and more!
ME: So, we’re a few days away from the release of AALP5; how are you feeling?
SAM BETTLEY: Great! Honestly, we’ve been waiting for this to come out for a while. It’s been a while since anything’s come out for us, so we’ve always been hard at work for the past year, so it’s just around the corner, it’s amazing how close, so we’re all really excited.
ME: The new album has a more mature metal sound than your previous sound in The Black – can you explain why you took this decision?
S: When we talk about which direction we went in, there’s lots of people saying “Oh it’s this direction – what’s the reason for it”, so honestly, we wrote a lot of the music over a long period of time; it’s just a collection of songs that’s just honest to us; towards the end, obviously, Danny [Worsnop, vocalist] coming back, it really tied it together, which meant it sounds, to us, like the original lineup, it just had its own sound! We’ve just been spending so much time together, writing music, then Danny coming in at the end, tying it all together, it really did sound like our own, but again, we have grown up together, our styles change, like anybody who likes music, and it’s just a really honest collection of music that we just love ourselves! In fact, Danny coming back tied it together!
ME: One of the notable things in the album is the intricate and complex-sounding rhythms you play – tell us more about it, and the types of bass guitars you use.
S: The actual bass guitar I use is the Ernie Ball Music Man Stingray, and I have done for quite a few years; that’s on the road and in the studio – just really versatile, not only road-worthy, but just great sounding, and I’ve used that for multiple albums we’ve released. In terms of the rhythm, and with the bass line, we were really having a lot of fun with that. Obviously, in the past, I’ve just been sticking to James [Cassells, drums], and his rhythm; he’s got quite a complex kick rhythms, which obviously sets the rhythm for anything we do on guitar; the breakdowns, really heavy. For James, he’s really creative with that, and with me, the bass, I’m part of the rhythm section, so me and James, toe to toe, we’re pretty tight together so in the studio, it was really fun trying to play around with some bass lines that would dance in and out of those rhythms as well as being quite melodic themselves, so yeah, had a lot of fun with that, it’s good.
ME: What was it like working with From First To Last’s Matt Good as producer?
S: Matt’s a really good friend of ours, we’ve known him for many years, before we even played with the idea of recording an album! We’ve toured with him, with From First To Last years ago; and that’s actually where we met him, on one of our first ever tours actually, and he’s just become a really good friend over the years. It didn’t feel like going into the studio with Matt from From First To Last, how people describe him; it’s just Matt! It was really really easy, and honestly, it was the most enjoyable time I’ve ever had in the studio, ‘cause it just felt like I was just going to a friend’s house – all our guards were down, really on it, ‘cause recording music can be really stressful at the best of times, so when you get to do it with, not only your best friends, and everyone in the band, there was someone else in the room that fits in with you guys; almost like a 6th member of the band!
ME: You’re heading out with Black Veil Brides on tour in the US and in the UK and Europe – looking forward to heading out on the road again?
S: Yes! Oh my God, yes! Definitely, we’ve been itching to get back out now, we’ve been off for some time, we’re all rested up! There’s the whole thing about this, as well, we’re taking the show to the next level on this one. With the release of the new album, the original lineup together, we’re hitting hard on this one! So I’m really excited about the shows ‘cause we’re really stepping it up.
ME: You also have festival dates lined up; which ones are you the most excited for?
S: With the American ones, I’m excited for most of them, ‘cause they’re usually really awesome, but with the European ones, obviously we’ve been announced for Download, so for me growing up, doing that, it’s just amazing, so we’re just really excited about that, and it will just hold a special place in my heart.
ME: Recently, you and the rest of the band got your merchandise rights back, and opened the online store, Alexandria Place – how has that been for you?
S: It’s been amazing, we’ve been able to do some really cool things that we’ve never been able to do before. It’s so amazing to get your merch rights back because, not only is it quite important these days because, at the end of the day, we’ve been a band for 10 years now, and it’s just nice to have so much control over it ‘cause, other than the music you put out, there’s a lot of these companies putting out merchandise and stuff like that, but to have complete control over what we want to put out, with our name on it, it’s just very important – it’s been a lot of fun, a lot of hard work, actually it’s been a LOT of hard work this past week; we’ve been in the headquarters of Alexandria Place everyday pulling all-nighters, making sure things are done, so we’re definitely really stuck in, a lot of work, but it’s definitely worth it.
ME: Who would you have a bass battle against?
S: He’s a good friend, and it’s probably random, but probably Ryan [Neff] from Miss May I, just ‘cause we’ve toured loads with him, he’s just so into his bass; he would take it so seriously, and I’d love to go up against him. That would be in our world, but anyone else, I couldn’t begin to think – there’s a long list! But it would be a battle, it would be me checking them out saying “Oh my God, you’re amazing!”.
ME: What advice would you give to those who want to play bass, or are inspired to become bassists because of you and your music?
S: For me, I was a guitarist before I was in Asking Alexandria, I was a teenager, i played guitar and I had barely touched bass before I had joined the band and, for me, as a musician, a lot of people think “Oh play guitar.”, and for me, when I was younger, it was “Yeah, I’m a guitarist”, but being a bass player now, I can see I’m so much more versatile. I think, for anybody else that is starting out, playing bass for a band, it’s very odd. For me, I like to say that you don’t know the bass is there until it’s gone! When we said earlier that I’m part of the rhythm section, you need to make sure you and the drummer are really tight together, you’ve got a good relationship, good writing relationship; it’s very important you and the drummer are tied together, and it will show!
ME: We have a couple of fan questions here – Denise Contreras asks: Can you spread the news of the new AAFamily website?
S: Right now, I’m not too sure about all that! I’m sure once we get out on the road, which is only in a couple of weeks, people will be seeing some things soon, don’t worry about that!
ME: Spencer Gilmour asks: How is this album different from other AA albums?
S: We’ve definitely had a lot of difficulty in the past that was publicly got addressed in the past few years; now that’s all out, I feel like this time round, the original lineup; honestly, all 5 of us are in the healthiest state of mind, it almost feels like it was in the beginning, writing music, taking the risks, doing whatever we wanted in the studio, and that’s how it feels again. Now that we’ve got all those things out of our system, Danny’s back, he’s honestly like a different person! Together, it’s just the relationship we had in the beginning; that will definitely show through the writing, so I think that’s what’s gonna separate this from the latter albums of our discography – I don’t think you’ll see more of an honest, and a bit more edgier sound like we were at the beginning; kinda middle fingers up, doing what we want, and that’s what Asking Alexandria is! I think that’s what this album is, it definitely speaks volumes!
ME: Laure Milne asks: What do you enjoy most about being in Asking Alexandria?
S: Without sounding cliche, like “I get to play in a band and travel the world”; that really is the best thing, not only doing that, but to do it with my best friends! We’re the same guys we were when we were growing up, listening to the local bands playing in local bars; 10 years has gone by, and when you do look back, you think of what we’ve done, and what we’ve created. So they’re just 5 crazy guys from England, they have this idea, it’s been turning into something so massive, but we’re still the same people, and to us, it’s just amazing, it’s kinda funny really! We get to pour our hearts and everything into our music, but at the same time, we are just still 5 friends from around York, England, and to be able to say that after 10 years, it’s really amazing, so I love the fact that we can still say that and do that, and not a lot of people in bands can say that; we very nearly were one of those bands, but getting back together with the original lineup again, it’s just amazing, and I’m really thankful for it; to still travel, and see everybody, and it’s for our band too; it’s amazing.
ME: Bronasan asks: What’s your favourite song from the album & why?
S: We all talk about this, and every single one of us has got a different song that we love for different reasons. I really love “Alone In A Room”, which actually just heard the other day on Daniel P Carter’s Radio 1 Rock Show! But to me, it’s just such an explosive song; musically, it’s explosive, just makes you want to move, it’s a great opener; to me, that’s really important on an album – it’s a very different style of opening to an album, usually have the one drawn out intros, and this one was just explosive, makes you want to jump; lyrically, the concept of it is very close to home, it’s speaks a lot about some personal things within the band, and to Danny, and for me, honestly it came out great, it’s amazing. Really honest song.
ME: Jordan Spence asks: Which song was the most exciting/fun to make?
S: “Eve”, being one of the heaviest tracks on the album, that was really exciting. We made that song in just a few hours with Matt – again, this is what I’m saying, when we go to the studio with Matt, it’s like we’re just hanging out at a friend’s place, and the next thing you know, you just managed to make 2 songs in a day! It just comes out so naturally, and “Eve” was one of those songs, and it was so fun because it was so heavy; we didn’t feel like we were putting on a pigeonhole, or anything, so that was a really fun one for me. We all love heavy music stuff, and to write a heavy song is a lot of fun.
ME: Finally, after the album, and the upcoming tours and festivals, what are the plans for the future?
S: This year, there’s a lot we haven’t announced yet, but definitely keep touring all over, and trying to reach places that we’ve not been in a few years, especially with Danny! So yeah, honestly we’re just really busy touring, and making sure everybody gets to see us in all corners of the world with this new release. Lot of travelling! You’ll be seeing us pop up everywhere!
Asking Alexandria’s self-titled album is OUT NOW!