“There’s nothing worse,” reckons Asking Alexandria guitarist and bandleader Ben Bruce, “than watching someone getting older and clinging onto their youth.”
It's a philosophy writ large across his band’s upcoming sixth LP Like A House On Fire; the title of which is not only a reference to the renewed relationships between the founding members, but also to their willingness to let the past burn in favour of a brighter future.
“As you get older and have kids,” Ben nods, “family becomes such an important thing. It’s about seeing that rock'n'roll is able to carry on being passed down from generation to generation. We went on tour with Shinedown and Papa Roach recently, and it gave me a different perspective and a different approach to songwriting.
“It made me reflect on the more hardcore shows in clubs we would play as a younger band where there would be a line of ambulances waiting outside. The fanbase back then was slightly younger than us, but predominantly of a similar age – young and angry, just like we were. That’s not the sort of band that we want to be [any more]."
Violence, he realised, was a truly devastating force: fuel for self-destructive behaviour, and simply counter-intuitive for musicians attempting to build a future.
“As we’ve grown, we’ve come into these bigger events and cross-generational crowds. We don’t want to be the cause of harm to anyone, or to have fans leaving the shows with busted noses. You don’t want those five-year-olds with their parents thinking of shows as scary and violent – the type of places they don’t want to go back to for a while. You want them thinking it was amazing. That’s how you get more rock fans in the world.”
In making that stadium-swaying music while maintaining the character that makes Asking great, he acknowledges, there has to be a finely-balanced trade-off.
“Maybe some ‘danger’ is taken out,” he muses, “but we can replace that with light, hope and bigger, more important life lessons... We’ve seen a huge spike in suicides and depression around the world. It’s apparent to me that people feel so hopeless. With all our experience of alcohol and drug addiction, friends and crew members dying, we’re in a unique position of being able to say that, yes, life can suck, but look where you can get to from those dark places.”