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Alesana: Celebrating Ten Frail Years of Vanity and Wax

Alesana: Celebrating Ten Frail Years of Vanity and Wax

Alesana: Celebrating Ten Frail Years of Vanity and Wax

Alesana has been touring across the country, celebrating the ten year anniversary of their first full length magnum opus On Frail Wings Of Vanity And Wax.  And what an absolutely mesmerizing performance they delivered at the iconic Roxy Theater on the Sunset Strip!  The venue was packed to the rafters, and Alesana presented a powerhouse set seething with passion and conviction.  Playing the album in its entirety along with an encore, Alesana enraptured a crowd who sang along to each and every song.  A few hours prior to taking the stage, Alesana members Shawn Milke (lead vocals, rhythm guitars) and Shane Crump (bass, backing vocals) sat down with Highwire Daze to discuss the Ten Frail Years Of Vanity Wax Tour.  Other topics included Shawn Milke’s Revival Recordings label, Shane Crump’s side project The Ivory, playing Knotfest in Mexico, and other topics of intrigue.  Read on…

How has Ten Frail Years of Vanity and Wax West Coast Tour been going and what have been some of the highlights?
Shawn: The highlight is that we are playing music together. That is always the highlight.
Shane: It’s the ten year anniversary tour of On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax so we are playing this record in its entirety on the West Coast this time. We did it on the east coast before and now we are doing it over here.

What has it been like to revisit these songs after ten years?
Shawn: It is kind of exciting. It takes you way back to a different time that we were in then. Once you get a couple of shows under your belt, it just feels like anything else.

What goes through your mind when you think ‘ oh my god, this album is ten years old’?
Shawn: Just crazy that people are still coming out to see it, I think. That is the most humbling part. You have people who say they were thirteen when the record came out and then you have people who are thirteen now that are coming out to see it. That is the most mind blowing part of all this

You just concluded a rather ambitious trilogy of albums. What are you going to do to top that?
Shawn: I don’t think the goal is ever to top it. It is just to do something that feels new. If it feels new to us and it feels challenging to us then we enjoy doing it.

What was the experience playing Knotfest fest in Mexico?
Shawn: From what I remember of it, it was awesome.
Shane: Its crazy that it was about 25,000 people. We aren’t usually used to playing for that many people. I think we are more in tact with the more intimate shows. Being so far apart from the crowd and that many people is just kind of surreal in its entirety.
Shawn: It almost felt like we were just playing for each other. Every one was so far away. We are used to this – small clubs, intimate, a lot of people packed in. We just kept looking at each other and laughing most of the time.

Did you get to meet Slipknot at all?
Shane:Jake met one of the guys.
Shawn: We saw a bunch of them in passing. Everybody was super down to earth. There were no egos or anything. It was fun. Just a bunch of dudes hanging out.

Shawn,What made you decide to start Revival Recordings?
Shawn: I always wanted to start a label. I want to help bands that I love. I love so much different kinds of music and I wanted be a part of helping those bands learn from the stuff I have been through and to hopefully help music be a longer term career for myself.

What advice would you give a band seeking a record deal?
Shawn: Write songs, know how to play them, do all that stuff first. So many bands think that you just find a bunch of guys and now we are ready to be on a label. Being on a label is the next step – it’s is the next step, not the first step.

What do you look for in a band to sign to your label?
Shawn: I look for the unspoken thing, man. I look for good people who are doing jt for the right reasons and not just trying to be famous or popular. They believe in their art and they want to take it to the next level. I look for that thing that I can’t quite put my finger on.

Shane, what is currently going on with The Ivory?
Shane:  This year I think I am going to put out another EP. I was thinking about putting out a full length but I kind of like the EP vibe right now. I think I might do two more EPs then maybe put out a full length. I don’t know. I am just writing right now. I do plan to release something this year though.

Have you played live under The Ivory yet?
Shane: Yes. I actually did an East Coast tour with a Revival band actually called The Funeral Portrait. It was mostly East Coast and Midwest. It went super well, and people seemed to like it. I brought copies of the Gloom EP to the show because people just want them. I don’t know why.

What is the story behind the title the Gloom EP?
Shane: It was a pretty depressing time in my life, I had recently split with a girl. Pretty much took that negative energy. and turned it into something positive. It was more of an outlet for me at the time. It was like as soon as I sang the last line on the record, I just felt something just leave my chest. That is what music does for a lot of people. I just want to help people.

Do you think your next EP will be more Gloom or are you happier now?
Shane: I think it will be a lot more dancier now. A lot more upbeat now. A little heavier and a little more artsy with it.

Would Alesana and The Ivory ever want to tour together or has that already happened?
Shawn: I mean we would do it. He is already here, right?
Shane: I don’t know if the fan bases would mesh very well. It is a different vibe.

Could you do two shows in one night? That is the big question!
Shane: I don’t know if I could. I would probably drink too much. Just being honest.

Your second full length album Fade Myth Fades To Legends is about to be ten years old. Have you thought about doing a ten year anniversary tour for that one?
Shawn: The plan right now is that we will do all the anniversary tours. It is a great excuse to get together and to celebrate a point in our career. If the fans keep showing up, we will keep doing it. It is really up to them.

When you look back on that second album, what do you think of it now?
Shawn: That album was just like a transition for us. We were on the heels of a successful release and I think any band on the first time of dealing with that – the pressure of writing a record – just reflects differently. I wouldn’t say that I would change anything about that record because I don’t like to be that way artistically, but that was definitely the most challenging part in our career was figuring out exactly what we were. The next album The Emptiness – it was like, ‘oh that is what we are’.

Shane, do you still keep in touch with the guys in Your Name In Vain (the first band you were in prior to joining Alesana).
Shane:  Yes. Actually the singer Alex Jones came to our most recent show in Raleigh NC which is where we live. Yeah, we are all Facebook friends and stuff like that. We all have our separate lives right now. I’ve been with Alesana for eleven years.

When you look back in that time of your music career what would you think of the Your Name In Vain albums now?
Shane: I was actually only on the first EP. Then I actually helped to write a lot of the full length stuff that they ended up putting out on Tragic Hero.
Shawn: But then we stole him.
Shane: Then I ended up quitting college, went on tour with them, and now I am in the band,

What do you think has kept Alesana together for its been over ten years, didn’t you say eleven, how long has it been?
Shawn: This has been our thirteenth year as a band.

What has kept you together for a lucky thirteen years?
Shawn: It’s just us. We love doing it, man. Every time we get together for a tour, it feel like a family reunion. It is a great chance to put life aside and just be us again for a couple weeks every time we do this.

What is the plan after this tour is over?
Shawn: Dennis and I have been coming up with little ideas for new concepts. That means Pat and I will start rattling off stuff soon and start sending ideas and another record will be born.
Shane: Keep writing art, you know.
Shawn: Absolutely man. We just get to do it on our own terms now. It is a lot of fun.

Alesana is:
Dennis Lee – unclean vocals
Shawn Milke – lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano
Patrick Thompson – lead guitar, backing vocals
Jeremy Bryan – drums, percussion
Shane Crump – bass, backing vocals
Jake Campbell – lead guitar, backing vocals

(Interview and Candid Photo by Ken Morton – Live Photos by Jack Lue)

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