OK, this was a very fun song. Usually a song takes me maybe an hour to write. But this one I was just sat staring at a piece of paper for an hour. We’re in the studio, and Matt Good, our producer and friend, is playing this one video game waiting for me to write in the studio. It’s kind of like Space Invaders but from the future. So it’s super trippy, and there’s all this weird stuff going on. So I’m just staring at the screen, and the song’s playing on loop. I’m like, “Dude, you gotta turn that fucking game off. I feel like I’m in space. I’m starting to lose it. I think I’m going crazy.” And he’s like, “Dude, well, write something weird like that then.” And in my head I’m like, “Well, what fucking weird stuff do I have?” And then I remembered about the Denver airport.
For anyone out there who is not aware of the Denver airport conspiracy, I would highly recommend reading into it. I am not a conspiracy theorist, but the shit’s fascinating. And the Denver airport is one that it’s really hard to debunk because it’s like there are murals in there of genocide and cleansing the Earth. It’s a crazy place.
I don’t usually get to write about just impersonal things. I never really write about anything that isn’t about me. It’s super different. It’s nothing like anything anyone has heard from us before. But I think that’s the beauty of this album, where Ben and I threw out the rulebook of what it was to be Asking Alexandria. We destroyed what Asking Alexandria was and started anew. This is our first album as far as we’re concerned. That’s why it’s self-titled. We’ve had it and then I went away, and now I’m back but as a completely different person. And the guys are completely different people so…as much as we’re happy to have the gang back together. It’s like we’re all very different people, and we can’t pretend that we’re not very different people ‘cause that’s how we end up in the exact same fucking place we were. We’ve progressed and we’ve matured as songwriters, as artists, as musicians, as people. And we want to showcase that. Honestly, I don’t give a fuck what people want. I’d rather do something completely different.
It was about four or five years ago. I think we were out with Avenged Sevenfold, and Ben started getting very guitar-y. If he spends enough time around Syn [Synyster Gates, A7X guitarist], he’ll do that. So we were on the bus and we wrote this. He’d just written like the [sings riff] and I started singing a vocal, and like, “All right, let’s get this to the studio.” We had a tour bus that had a studio in it—which unfortunately has since been completely destroyed in a crash. We went back and wrote that song really quickly, and then it was all set. And then I fucked off. And that was actually one of the ways that Ash Avildsen talked me into doing the band again, or at least going on that tour again, because he and I were getting dinner in Los Angeles—I think I was doing some movie thing—but he was like, “Hey, so ‘Vultures’ is such a great song. It’s a shame it never came out.” And I was like, “Dude, I love that song.” He’s like, “Well, you know the Asking guys are thinking about starting another album. How do you feel about them doing it?” And I was like, “I don’t want anyone else singing that song. Like that is such a personal song. He was like, “Well, what if you sing the song on the album?” It was weird, I haven’t spoken to these people in three years. He’s like, “Listen, it’ll just be like a bonus song, just be you and Ben acoustic; it’ll be real nice.” And I was like, “Listen, you talk to him about that because I can’t say “yes” and sign someone up, who, let’s be honest, I don’t even know anymore.” Couple days later, Ben showed up at the door, like completely out of the blue. We hang out, and I get a phone call a week later, and it’s like, “Hey, will you do this tour?” And it was instantly time for this song to live.
We wrote it when the blindfold finally came off from the industry, when we finally took it off ourselves, and realized how much we’d be fucked all up. It was ahead of its time because it was about what we were later on. And it’s why I left. And we’d been worked into the ground. We’d been told that if we took a break, our career was done. That’s what we were told. And we were exhausted; we were broken; I was an addict; I’d lost a baby, and their thing was, “Well, go on tour,” suck it up. You can deal with it from the road. So it was that. It was this downward spiral that just continues and continues and continues, and it was just us being bled dry. Because all they see is money. They don’t see people behind the paychecks. They just see the paychecks. So if we take a month off, that’s a month they’re not getting paid; they don’t want that. They don’t care if in six months we’re dead because they’ll find someone else to fill that space. And like, we’d literally bought drugs and drinks, chicks and all this different stuff just to keep us moving. It reached a breaking point, and I got out.
But it was me leaving that kind of woke everyone up, and, I mean, going into it now, it’s a completely different story.
“Eve” is another one like “Under Denver” where I got to write about [impersonal] things. It was originally the title track for the album. It was the first song I recorded for the album, and it’s the conversation the snake in the Garden of Eden is having with Eve, talking her into eating the apple and breaking down the walls of Eden. It’s the devil on the shoulder. It can be interpreted in many different ways as that story can. It’s a life-lesson thing. In a way, it’s the music industry. It’s that guy on my shoulder being like, “No, it’s OK. Just get some cocaine, and go to a strip club. You don’t need to deal with your problems.” It’s the bottle of Jameson on the side that’s like, “Nah, you don’t have to face stuff. You don’t have to actually deal with things. You can just drink me and forget it all. It won’t come back and haunt you. Promise.” It’s got a little bit of heavy, old Asking flavor for people.
“I Am One”
This one is another kind of tongue-in-cheek one. “I Am One” means “I am God.” It’s the natural progression of my God complex. From being the king in “Where Did It Go” to being God in “I Am One,” it was the natural progression of egotism. I’ve been alone for kind of my whole life. I’ve raised myself; I’ve taught myself; I guided my own hand into being a man. And all of the problems and things I’ve been through in my life, it’s always come down to me by myself dealing with it, so that’s what that song’s about. It’s kind of being the lone wolf and being a master of my own universe, a master of my own fate where I learned very quickly in life not to rely on other people. There isn’t anything that’s too much or too big to handle by myself.
“Empire” is the perfect song to showcase mine and Ben’s throwing out the rulebook. We were in Europe, and then had been on a listening streak of listening to this new hip-hop music. And the mixes are always great, and they always sound huge, and he’s like, “Dude, why don’t we have a hip-hop mixer mix the album?” And I was like, “That’s great in theory, but here’s something you’re not considering, Benjamin: Every single instrument on those things is from a plugin that’s already mixed and mastered. They’re all digital. There’s not one guitar on there; there isn’t a drum kit on there. They don't have anything to actually mix. But, we entertained it. We talked to like Dr. Dre and shit and that then stemmed into, “Dude, what if we got fucking Kells to rap on one of the songs or something?” So I talked to MGK and being like a real-life, actual celebrity now, he’s impossible to get a hold of. So he said yeah, and then you know, a month or so goes by and I’m like, “Hey dude, let me know when you have some time scheduled so we can duck into the studio and shit for this” and then heard nothing back. And then called him back like two weeks later, “Hey dude, getting close to the wire here.” Still nothing. He comes through Nashville, and one of my buddies was at his show, so I fucking raced down to the venue. I grind up my wheels pulling in so fast, and I jump out, and he’s like, “Hey man, I forgot you live here.” I’m like, “Yeah, you also forgot to record that fucking song.” So he’s like, “Oh shit, I’m sorry I’ve been super busy.” So he says he’s going to do it. A month goes by, and I’m like, “Dude! Come on! You’re really fucking me up right now.” I’m like all right, he’s not going to fucking do it. He’s going to call me in six months, after the album’s done, and be like, “Hey, were we ever going to do that song?’ And I’m like, “Ha, it came out!”
So, I called Yelawolf. I don’t really know the guy, so I’m doing the full pitch, you know, selling it to him, showing him the songs like, “Yeah, I’m into it. We’ll do this. “And he’s like a real-life celebrity, too. Apparently these hip-hop guys are much more successful than I am. So I’m trying to get in touch with him. I’m in Arizona, physically recording the album, and I’m calling him, being like, “Dude, when can you fucking get here?” It’s not going anywhere. So at this point it’s like, fuck, well who do we reach out to? We don’t really know any more rappers, and we’ve kind of already done this song as a rap song. And there’s no going back now.
So we figured, if we can’t get a bigger name in rap to come in and bring a new demographic to us, the best thing we can do is to offer the same opportunity in reverse to a new artist, or an up-and-coming artist. I showed Ben [a Seattle-based rapper named Bingx] and we were really digging it, so why don’t we showcase him? Why don’t we open new doors for him? If we can't have new doors opened for us, we have all these doors that’s opening for someone else. So, we hit him up. Within like an hour, we had a response back. And he’s a producer as well, and we didn't have to fly him anywhere; he did it in his studio and recorded the full thing, and it was awesome. And that whole song [is like] “fuck the world, and figure out who you are.” It’s letting the past die, allowing yourself to become better and moving forward.
I basically just complained about how my friends are too famous to hang out with me anymore.
In Los Angeles on Sunset Blvd., there is a hotel called Grafton [On Sunset] where I lived for some time. I got rid of my place in Beverly Hills, and I was kind of inbetween places not quite sure what I was going to do. I was recording From Death To Destiny, so I was there for a month, maybe two months, because I was in the studio. I was living at this hotel and not showing up at the studio more often than I was because I was on a massive drug bender, and it was a very dark time. It was actually right after Mitch [Lucker, former Suicide Silence vocalist] passed, so I was in a massive dark hole. I was out of my mind. I think I’d been up for about four or five days, partying. It was lots of drink and drugs, but there wasn’t much fun.
Long story short, the night ended after everyone had gone. I’m laid on my back convulsing not being able to move, kind of reading myself my last rites. I managed to get to the hotel phone, and for my life I have no idea how this happened, but I could only remember one fucking number and it was a girl I’d dated a few years before that. I called and she drove out at a million miles an hour and essentially saved my life and took me out to rehabilitate in, I think it was San Bernardino. The song was just in that moment, like, “This is it. I’m dead now.” And then getting that second chance. That should have been the moment that I realized that I should probably change things, but it wasn’t. But it should’ve been. I guess by that point it was probably my third or fourth chance. It was the experience in that moment of “This is it. This is where my life ends.” and reflecting back on what you’ve done and what you’re leaving behind, and I knew I had to survive.
“Xplicit” (a bonus track only available on physical copies of the album)
[The band] just sent it to me as a joke. They didn’t expect me to ever do anything with it. James [Cassells, drummer] had gone in, and he was just doing this crazy, fucking heavy drum thing. Then Ben did one guitar over it. They sent it to me, and I was like, “Dude, I’ve got this.” I went in, and I did one take, one path of ad-libbed freestyle. And I was like, “Guys, this album is a pretty serious album. I need one shit-talking song on it.” And they were like, “Oh, here we go. Danny’s coming in hot.” And I wrote possibly the greatest lyrics that have ever been written by anyone ever in history. [Laughs, spits absurd trash talk.]
So I was like, I’m gonna do a smack-talk song, but with schoolyard kid insults. Well, here’s an exclusive for you: I’m shooting a music video for that song, like a full-production music video. The label [isn’t] happy about it. I’m just throwing money away. And we’ve got a bunch of people in it, like, a bunch of cameos. It’s stupid. It’s a star-studded cast, for real. Seriously, I’ve had to make some phone calls, like big phone calls. It’s gonna be amazing.
Asking Alexandria's self-titled album will be released Dec. 15. You can pre-order it here. Check out their tour dates below.
12/14: Phoenix, AZ @ Rockbar Inc. (Album Release Party)
1/10: Salt Lake City, UT @ The Complex
1/11: Denver, CO @ Fillmore Auditorium
1/12: Kansas City, MO @ Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland
1/13: St. Paul, MN @ Myth Live
1/15: St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant
1/17: Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE – Indoor
1/18: Grand Rapids, MI @ 20 Monroe Live
1/19: Milwaukee, WI @ Eagles Club Stage
1/20: Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre
2/2: Worcester, MA @ Palladium
2/3: Portland, ME @ State Theatre
2/4: Montreal, QC @ M Telus
2/5: Toronto, ON @ Rebel
2/7: Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa
2/8: New York, NY @ Terminal 5
2/9: Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
2/1: Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
2/12: Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
2/13: Nashville, TN @ Marathon Music Works
2/14: Indianapolis, IN @ Egyptian Room at Old National Centre
2/16: Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live
2/17: Houston, TX @ House of Blues
2/19: Albuquerque, NM @ El Rey Theater
2/20: Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee
2/22: Boise, ID @ Knitting Factory Concert House
2/23: Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater
2/24: Seattle, WA @ Showbox SoDo
2/25: Vancouver, BC @ Vogue Theatre
2/27: Spokane, WA @ Knitting Factory Concert House
3/1: San Francisco, CA @ The Warfield Theatre
3/2: Las Vegas, NV @ House of Blues