In many ways, Asking Alexandria’s sixth studio album, Like a House on Fire — arriving May 15 via Sumerian Records — is a fresh start.
The project follows the English rock band’s 2017 self-titled album that produced the group’s third No. 1 title on Billboard’s Hard Rock Albums chart, and featured the return of estranged singer Danny Worsnop, who had left in 2015 to pursue other musical interests. “Our last record was a lot of reconnecting, re-bonding and relearning from each other,” says guitarist Ben Bruce. “On this new record, we were 100 percent comfortable again. We were totally on the same page, and it was very easy and natural to come together and create magic from a place that was familiar and confident.”
Together, the band members — Worsnop, Bruce, guitarist Cameron Liddell, bassist Sam Bettley and drummer James Cassells — also have toned down their hard-partying ways. “This is the first album that we’ve done sober,” says Bruce, adding, “We pride ourselves on the fact that we grow and change and explore new roads while staying true to ourselves with every record.”
And if the latest single, “Antisocialist,” is any indication, they haven’t lost their edge. Reminiscent of Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff,” the song and video aggressively take on the stressors of day-to-day life. “There are a million songs about falling in love and breaking up, and partying with your friends and having a good time, but this is about something everyone goes through but no one addresses,” says Bruce. “If you’ve had a bad day, you can turn this song on and get all your rage out.”
The album is currently available for pre-order on the band’s website, and Asking Alexandria will kick off its first U.S. headlining tour in over two years on Apr. 30 in Phoenix (where a majority of the band now calls home) that also will feature Falling in Reverse, Wage War and Hyro the Hero. Its fan base in the States remains strong: Asking Alexandria has logged 708 million streams of its catalog, according to Nielsen Music/MRC Data.
To coincide with the announcement of the new album, band founder Bruce talked to Billboard about the new single, past mistakes and what it was like to write music while sober.
For those who are not familiar with the band, how would you describe your sound?
We often get pigeonholed as metalcore, which used to drive me insane because we’re not just that. I always say we’re a modern-day rock band. We’re everything great that rock music has to offer: the energy, the excitement, the rebellion. But we don’t sound dated.
What’s the meaning behind “Antisocialist”?
At some point, everyone just copes with getting through the day instead of actually enjoying the day. We’ve all had days when we wake up in a bad mood. You wake up and think, “Everything sucks,” and everything goes downhill from there. You stub your toe and it’s the most annoying thing in the world, or you get toothpaste on your shirt and it’s like, “Great.” There are those days where things just snowball, and all you really want to say is, “F–k you. Leave me alone.” Basically, the song is a big middle finger in the air for anyone who wants to curse out the world.
Is there an underlying political message?
None whatsoever. It’s just a play on words for being antisocial and saying, “Leave me alone.”
What’s the concept behind the video?
It’s about a little girl who’s essentially an adult — life sucks, she’s got a job, she’s got taxes to pay — and it follows her on the sh–tiest day ever. Everything that could go wrong goes wrong. Eventually, she snaps and writes, “F–k off” on her forehead for everyone to see. Basically, it shows that everyone was a kid at one point and had a bright future ahead of them. You woke up, and your biggest worry was what cereal you were having for breakfast or what video game you were going to play. Then, in the blink of an eye, you’ve grown up and you’ve got s–t to worry about.
Watch the video for “Antisocialist,” which is premiering today on Billboard.com, below:
Who are some of your influences that may be apparent on Like a House on Fire?
That’s difficult for me to answer because I’m influenced and inspired by such a wide spectrum of people — from Slipknot to Zac Brown Band. I literally listen to everything: Motley Crue, Avenged Sevenfold, Ed Sheeran, Adele. But I don’t listen to Adele and go, “OK, we’re going to write a record that sounds like Adele.” But I will listen to an Adele record and go, “Wow, these melodies and chord progressions are beautiful. I want to write something as beautiful and meaningful as this in my own way.”
You’ve toned things down lyrically over the years. Why is that?
It’s a natural progression. When Stand Up and Scream came out [in 2009], we were angsty, angry teenagers, and we sounded like angsty, angry teenagers. I’m sure we all remember the first time we swore at our parents. The first time I said, “F–k you, Mom!” I was like, “Whoa, there’s no coming back from that.” We were very much in that phase when we did our first album. We were “F–k you, Mom!” teenagers.
Now, I’m a 31-year-old father of two who’s expecting a third kid. I’m happily married. I don’t do drugs anymore. I could not hold my head high while telling my 3-year-old daughter I just wrote a song where the catchphrase is “You stupid f–king wh—” [a lyric from “Not the American Average,” which RIAA has certified gold]. I couldn’t be proud of that. And I don’t condone people behaving or saying things like that, especially now that I’ve had a daughter. It’s not cool; it’s not what we’re about. It’s not funny. It doesn’t hold any substance. It’s just a meaningless lyric for shock value. We’ve grown up.
You just mentioned that you’re not doing drugs anymore. How did that affect this record?
Honestly, making this record while sober was terrifying. I was really, really scared because I write all the music. Everything starts with me. And I was like, “What if I can’t write music anymore because I’m not f–ked up? What if I’ve got nothing to write about? I used to be so depressed all the time, and now I’m happy. What the hell am I going to write about? I can’t write about rainbows and daisies. That’s not very rock’n’roll.”
Then I realized that just because I’m not going through inner turmoil like I was before, it doesn’t mean our fans aren’t still going through stuff. Maybe they can learn from us and know they’re not the only ones going through it. We’re still going to address stuff like that, and I learned very quickly that I didn’t have to put myself back in that place, but I could revisit those moments in time and still be able to write about them. When you listen to this album there’s a huge sense of triumph, and there’s a lot of growth because of the fact we’re now sober and in a different phase of our lives.