Alter The Press!


Interview: Alesana

Whilst back in the UK in support of their new third full-length release, 'The Emptiness', Alter The Press managed to speak to Alesana before their sold out headline show at London's O2 Islington Academy.

The band spoke to ATP about being back overseas, the concept behind their new album and the possibility of it being made into a movie, Edgar Allan Poe and more.

Alter The Press: It's your first time back overseas since supporting The Devil Wears Prada, a few years back. How has it been this time round?
Shawn Milke (lead vocals): It's been great. Honestly, the shows were not very good, but we are excited being back here, with this record, and doing the headline thing.

Dennis Lee (screaming vocals): It's completely different than it was the first time. The kids have been really energetic and the shows have been great, you can never predict how it's going to be, because every place is different, but it's been really crazy.

ATP: This time you are here with your friends in A Skylit Drive. How did the two of you meet?
Dennis: Years ago, when we were on our first label, Tragic Hero Records.

Shawn: We were the first ones to blow up from Tragic; then they did the same thing.

ATP: Your touring schedule has already been insane. Where has been the best place to play this year and why?
Dennis: Tokyo was really fun.

Shawn: It's hard to top Tokyo, it's so cool there, it's like being on a different planet being there, it’s so wild.

Dennis: That was the first time we played our album all the way through.

Shawn: It was the first time we played 'The Emptiness' in it's entirety, so it'll always be a special show for us.

ATP: Would you do that in the UK?
Shawn: We are still feeling it out; the kids have been reacting phenomenally to the new music, so it's definitely something we would consider before we leave. We have everything on the iPod, backtrack wise, so we can kind of make the decision as we are going along and say, 'Screw it, we're doing the whole record tonight!'

Dennis: It's just weird because we've hardly ever come here and we have fans since the first record. They want to hear so many of the older songs; it's not like playing in the States, and playing the same cities over and over. We've had people who have been to our shows 16 times or so, it's crazy.

Shawn: So when you play the new record for them, they can accept it because it's different for them, because they've seen you play the old stuff.

ATP: 'The Emptiness', the band's third full-length release. An eleven part, twisted love story set in 19th century England. Who came up with the idea?
Shawn: We did.

Dennis: We both write the lyrics together, toss stuff around and we had a lot of different ideas.

Shawn: It was actually when we were in Europe last. We were at an after party in Germany, dancing around, and we decided we would do a horror-based record. It just took so many different forms and twists and we finally settled on late 1800's, a small town in England.

ATP: It's set in Slough in England. Have you even been there?
Shawn: I can't even remember why we chose Slough!

Dennis: It just needed to be a small town. There were certain mechanics in the story line because, if you have a guy killing people in a big city, it'd be over really fast.

Shawn: It just needed to take place in one of those small kind of cities, in the late 1800's, where it would take 45 minutes to walk into town; and there would be this small cobblestone town, with a bar, a hairdresser and things like that. We just researched small towns that existed that way, in that time period, and Slough was one of them.

ATP: This record was based on the influences of Edgar Allen Poe. What are your favorite works by Poe?
Shawn: Honestly, the poem which we based our female lead on, was 'Annabel Lee'.

Dennis: I really like 'The Pit and The Pendulum'. It's a short story about a guy who's locked in a room, there's a giant hole in the ground and he just doesn't know it's there. Shawn: I love the way Poe writes though; it's very creepy.

ATP: Have you thought about bringing these influences into your live show?
Shawn: One thing we are dreaming to the stars, is eventually performing 'The Emptiness' straight through, with people playing 'The Artist', 'The Thespian' and 'Annabel Lee' (the three main characters in the story) on stage.

Dennis: I think it would just be cool, if we just made a full movie, and had a projector playing it.

Shawn: We really want to try and turn this into a film, and if we could do that, and have it match up with the record perfectly, we could just play the film behind us while we play.

ATP: Can you see that happening, having actors performing the story on stage with you?
Shawn: If we reached the next level as a band, sure, but at the level we are now, there is no way.

ATP: At the moment, could you see yourselves doing a movie?
Shawn: It's something we are pushing for. The problem is, we don't want to half-ass it, we don't half-ass anything. If we were going to do it, we would do it right; at the right time, the right budget and with the right approach.

ATP: Have you sat down and had a proper discussion about this, or is it just an idea at the moment?
Shawn: I've chatted with the head video guy at our label about it, and spoke to the director of our music video as well. It's really about, how do we even go about beginning this process, how do we justify it, how do we make it worth our time, and the money, to make it a film. I know in my heart of hearts, and creatively, I desperately want to make it.

ATP: You recently put out the music video for 'The Thespian'. Do you have plans for the next video/single?
Shawn: It's so hard because there are songs I want to do, but you can't make a four-minute video based on it. You are already trapped between choosing two or three songs, but we will probably decide on the fly about that, based on the fan reactions. It would probably be between 'A Lunatic's Lament,' or 'The Lover;' as far as length is concerned, and overall accessibility.

ATP: You started writing the album from the beginning of last January. Have you already started working on new material?
Shawn: Yes and no. My brain has started clicking back over to that, we will have to go back in the studio in eight or ten months. It's always a process with us, we get into the mindset; we never force writing. Pat (Thompson - lead guitar) and me were having this conversation the other day actually, it's about that time for us, to get those wheels turning again. We don't know what we are going to do for it, we don't know if doing another story is too predictable, or are we setting ourselves up to fail, by trying do the exact same thing again? Should we go in a completely different direction? We never actually do a record that is just a record, so might just do that.

ATP: What's planned after this tour?
Shawn: A few weeks at home, then Warped Tour. We are doing Malaysia and Australia in September.

Dennis: We are trying to get Hawaii in there too.

Shawn: South America in December, too.

ATP: Will you come back to the UK with this record?
Shawn: We'd love to, we tell fans that we’ll be back, but the demand has to be there, and it has to work.

ATP: Anything you would like to add?
Dennis: Buy my album so I can pay rent. Don't steal from me.

Shawn: Don't steal our album. I don't come into your room and take your things.

'The Emptiness' is out now on Fearless Records.

- Jon Ableson

Alter The Press!