Who seems like a hard-working fellow with his eyes on getting work done rather than being a rock star. A nice chat, at any rate.
MTV only posted part of the interview, so I’ve pasted the complete transcript below the cut.
What’s it like being a hard-travelling rockstar and frontman to one of today’s most in-demand bands? To find out, Clutch parlayed with Ben Bruce, lead guitarist of Asking Alexandria. We talked about tours, tribulations, and traveling in close quarters with your buddies.
Clutch: So you just flew in right?
Ben Bruce: Yeah, last night flew in. I actually just got back to the US about two days ago–flew in from Birmingham to New Jersey from New Jersey to Vnx so I’m a little bit tired. I think am a little bit drunk from yesterday, to be honest.
Clutch: It’s better to be drunk than hungover.
Ben Bruce: That’s right.
Clutch: That was actually my first question you are kind of all over the place at the moment, you just been flying over the states, you have a tour down under coming up in October, then you’re allr Europe, recording an album in March. When do you breathe?
Ben Bruce: I don’t really breathe really often. I don’t remember the last time I tasted oxygen if I’m honest. We have had some months off this last time because my mum just got remarried so I went to her wedding, obviously. We just took the whole month off because it was time for a breather.
We just finished touring. We really never take a break. Any time we ever go off is December for Christmas and that’s been like that for the past 2 years, and so this change is a nice opportunity for us to sit down and take a breather and we were all looking forward to it. And then I go on the break and I think maybe a weekend I say, “Oh, fuck, this is really boring, and I miss touring and I miss writing music and I miss recording.” I just miss the buzz that we get and I met up with everyone the whole band last night for the first time in about a month and they all said the same thing and I don’t think…we are just not used to resting with a lot to do, we do have resting hours so I guess we’ll just keep more time on.
Clutch: So you are more comfortable on the road then?
Ben Bruce: Yep, just grown accustomed to it, it’s our lifeline.
Clutch: In the European tour schedule you get one night off in every nine days?
Ben Bruce: Yeah, sometimes we don’t have enough time to even do what we book, I remember this year at some point we played a show somewhere in Europe and as soon as we finished playing we packed up our stuff went to the airport, flew to another show got off the plane, played another show that same day, finished that show packed up our stuff, got back on the plane and flew to another show to Austria. And we landed in Austria 45 minutes before we had to be on stage and we had another song that we just made it. I think it was 3 shows in one day and it’s really difficult–it’s stupid. That it was ridiculous.
Clutch: That’s some James Brown service right there.
Ben Bruce: [laughs] It’s ridiculous and I don’t think people realize…we get a lot of people saying “Why didn’t you come to my country? Why aren’t you here? Do you not care about your fans here or there?” We really do, it’s just finding the time. We can only do so much. We do the best we can but sometimes we fall behind and it just happens that way.
Clutch: When you are touring and on the road a lot, how do you avoid living like crap? Any road favorites?
Ben Bruce: If I’m honest, we do live like crap on the road and I’m not really too sure how long we’ll last. If we have any road favorites unfortunately it would have to be McDonald’s. When we get cravings and we just have to stop there or we’ll get a little bit limpy. So we get our daily Big Mac which is necessarily not a good thing.
Clutch: Well there’s protein there.
Ben Bruce: Yeah either McDonald’s or the liquor store.
Clutch: You know the two are made for each other.
Ben Bruce: Exactly perfect, you get drunk and get a Big Mac. That’s the way it goes.
Clutch: What’s one of the weirdest venues you have ever played?
Ben Bruce: Before we got signed, we were making nothing. We were doing Wal-Mart car parks, it wasn’t a Chuck E. Cheese’s–I don’t remember the exact name of it but it was like a Chuck E. Cheese’s. It was a little fast food joint that had a games room upstairs and we played in the game room and that was a high point for us. It was one of the first shows ever, after which we went down and played on all the games, went in the little kids’ area, got some ice-cream…wasn’t all bad.
Clutch: It will buck you back up, ice-cream and play gym.
Ben Bruce: It was really good times, as embarrassing as it is.
Clutch: And no one is throwing stuff at your head, or if they do it’s rubber balls.
Clutch: Exactly! I think it was easy, it was fun. We turned it into a game of dodgeball, so we connected with our inner child.
Clutch: Have you ever had like a dangerous show where somebody was actually throwing things at you?
Ben Bruce: When we were first starting off, not like right in the beginning, but maybe a year into touring or so, people started hearing about our band and we started getting a reputation. It got really stupid, when we first started we were drawing a lot of girls, not a lot of boys, and people got a hold of that, and we got a reputation for drinking a lot and swearing a lot.
There was an incident somewhere in Arizona I can’t remember exactly where we were, but I remember we were playing and the security guards at the place were a straight edge crew, which I’m not that familiar with. We were having fun and a girl flashed her tits and we were like, “Boobs!” Some guy in the crew got offended by that and said that we were sexually harassing this chick, and disgraceful, and took a swing at one of our men — grabbed our bassist off the stage when I got off stage they grabbed me and pinned me against the wall and just basically kicked the shit out of us. I said, “Well! It’s over the top, but if you don’t like looking at boobs and prefer cock, that’s fine by me, but don’t take it out on me.”
Clutch: So boobs are offensive but taking a swing at somebody who didn’t have anything to do with it…that’s not offensive at all.
Ben Bruce: Exactly, that’s absolutely spot-on, apparently. So it’s a little bit crazy, but you live, you learn and you get used to things on tour. You learn lessons about how to deal with stuff like that. Actually, we got to a point where most straight edgers respect us enough to just leave us alone, even if they don’t like it, they appreciate what we are doing.
Clutch: Do you appreciate what you are doing? Because you brought up a good point: You had an army of young, beautiful women looking at you as hard-travelling bad boys. At what point did you realize you are leaving the dream?
Ben Bruce: It’s not like that anymore. We sort of have a broad spectrum of everyone, really. But I guess I haven’t really taken it all in, and I don’t think I will ever be quite used to it. Maybe when I’m tired and old and wrinkly and my tattoos all look like shit and I’ve lost all my hair, but right now I think myself and the other guys are not trying to think too much about it because you don’t want anything to go to our heads and take things for granted. We are just having a good time while we can and very appreciative of the things that we have been given and faithfully continue.
Clutch: That’s a good attitude to have, which I guess goes hand to hand with how hard you guys are working. You’ve got the new album in the works, how is this going to differ from Reckless & Relentless?
Ben Bruce: Our first album Stand Up and Scream worked wonders for us, but it needed to establish us as a band and join up a fan base across not just America but the world really. When it came to making our second album it was a bit nerve-wrecking because we didn’t want to release the same thing, but we were nervous of coming out of our comfort zone. But just for us as a band if we are just releasing the same albums over and over again, same ideas, I feel like the fans will get bored and probably we’ll get bored and we won’t enjoy what we are doing and it’s really important to change our style to a certain extent for every release. Our new album will be just different from Reckless & Relentless, does that make sense?
Clutch: It does and actually feeds right into the next question I was going to ask you. Do you have any surprise influences?
Clutch: Personally as a guitarist I’m really influenced by great guitarists like Gary Moore and BB King and even the old pop bands, the Beatles, stuff like that. People don’t really write songs like they used to. I feel like it’s all the same. We just have to take the bullshit. I feel like the way we were listening to old bands, it may not be very obvious when you listen to it but there is a lot of blues influence, soul ’60s, ’70s and ’80s influence in our styles.
Clutch: You’ve gotten tattoos for people before. Has anybody gotten a tattoo of you?
Ben Bruce: There’s a lot of people! Which is crazy, I mean I’ve got people comingto me like, “Look, look!” and they’ve got my signature in their arms and I’m like, “I don’t remember signing this.”
“I know! You did this about an year ago, this is a tattoo now.” A tattoo of my signature and I find it a little bit crazy. I saw one person with a tattoo of my face on their shoulder which was a bit crazy too, so it happens. I don’t know how it’s going to feel like in five years’ time, probably a little bit pissed off when they go, “I just can’t get this tattoo off.”
Clutch: And if you run into one in a bar?
Ben Bruce: I know to go the other way. [laughs]
Clutch: Have you ever had an off the wall nutter groupie?
Ben Bruce: There were some crazy one. It was like Alabama, a little bit out of the way and some girl ended up back at our bus, and she ended up stripping butt-naked and had us tattooed right above her vagina? And, uh, tried to have sex with me, Danny, and James at the same time and…yeah. Wanted us to take a picture with our penises next to her ass and touching her vagina which was a little bit disturbing. Safe to say none of us–well, one, I won’t say which one, partook in this particular activity. That was a little bit strange.
Clutch: Yeah, I can see how that can be surreal.
Ben Bruce: Yes, definitely not something I was interested in.
Clutch: So recently you tried to build your Twitter followers to 30,000 and you ended up with more than 60,000.
Ben Bruce: That’s a bit crazy.
Clutch: Are you building an army?
Ben Bruce: I am building an army. I’m making a religion based on facts.
Clutch: Anything else you would like to add?
Ben Bruce: I think that covers everything. You could write it, like, “I’m going to introduce you to this band, you have to guess. It could be Bon Jovi.”
Clutch: You don’t have the feathered hair for it. Back in the day, vintage Bon Jovi, you could hang-glide on his hair.
Ben Bruce: I always introduced myself as Bon Jovi, actually, hoping it would catch on and then maybe I would be able to walk in the hall of fame but I chose the wrong rock star apparently, because he’s not in the rock hall of fame.
Clutch: Be careful because if you become Bon Jovi you have to stay in New Jersey forever.
Ben Bruce: I don’t want to get stuck there.