Diving back into their roots and taking a journey back in time to celebrate the fortune that they have experienced throughout their career, North Carolina rockers, Alesana, have been touring nonstop playing their legendary debut LP in its entirety. Making a consistent impact on the scene and breaking free from your typical regime, Alesana has developed a cult following that has been right there with them along their ride since day one. We caught back up with lead vocalist, Shawn Milke, to discuss what the debut LP means to the band personally, tattoo additions since the last time that we touched base, what’s in store for 2017 and more.
You’re gearing up to hit the road for your ‘Ten Frail Years of Vanity and Wax’ tour. Tell us about how the debut LP has impacted your life and how your thoughts toward the debut LP have shifted over the years.
Frail Wings changed my life. As a songwriter, having a record finally reach an audience is an indescribable feeling. You work so long and hard to reach that moment and when you do it feels surreal, almost like a dream. In fact, even now with doing the 10-year anniversary tour, I still don’t know that I have reflected entirely on the accomplishment. I like to think that one day I will finally take a big step back and take a moment to appreciate how fortunate and lucky I’ve been. It is beyond humbling that fans, old and new, still care so much about Frail Wings.
What projects are you guys currently working on?! Any upcoming new releases that you can fill us in about?
I am working on a couple things that are still under wraps at the moment. I always like to try to think outside of the box and offer our fans unique items and experiences, similar to our novel Annabel. One thing I can assure you is that new Alesana music is on the horizon.
Let’s talk tattoos. Any new pieces since the last time that you guys caught up with us?
I recently added a piece on the left side of my chest, right over my heart. When our first son, Sebastian, was still in utero I used to play my guitar for him and sing the song Campfire Kansas by The Get Up Kids. I did the same thing when our second, Julian, was in the womb. Now, they are 4 and 2 and I still sing them the song every night before bed. The piece I got is of two ladders leaning on a crescent moon with two little boys at the top of each ladder. In the sky are the lyrics “Let’s take the moon and make it shine for everyone.”, which is a line from Campfire Kansas.
Who are your musical influences and how have they impacted your style as a musician?
My musical influences are all over the map which I think helps a great deal in creating a more eclectic, diverse approach and experience. Aside from The Beatles, who manage to sneak into just about everything I’ve ever written, I would say that Mew, Mae, and Between The Buried and Me are the biggest for me. The elements they all use to create their art is beyond inspirational for me.
After touring the world, does it feel the same/different coming back home to North Carolina? Have you grown a deeper appreciation for your roots over the years?
Very much so. In fact, my wife and I chose to settle down and raise our family in North Carolina after having seen so much of the country and the world because we realized how much it truly did feel like home. As fun and exciting as it is to travel the world, nothing beats being home with family. Roots are very important to me and the deeper we can plant them, the better.
What particular song on ‘On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax’ means the most to you and why?
I don’t know if “means the most” is how I would put it when I consider the fact that the whole record is so important to me and our success as a band. I can say with certainty that I’ve always loved Nero’s Decay. I think it’s because it was the last song we wrote for the record and I could begin to see where our music and art were headed. To this day it is still one of my favorite tunes to play live. I also remember being in the studio and having to make Frail Wings in only 13 days. By the last day, I was exhausted and I almost passed out singing the final refrain on Nero’s. I like to think that you can hear the desperation and elation in my voice during that section and not just me trying to not fall over.
Any up and coming bands that you recommend we check out and you’d like to give a shout-out to?
Please check out the roster of my record label, Revival Recordings. We are Good Music By Good People. Famous Last Words, The Funeral Portrait, Artwork, Alteras, Charlatan, Misery Loves Company, Versus, and Thieves.
What do fans of Alesana have to look forward to in 2017?
I like to think I always have a few tricks up my sleeve. There are a couple of cool things I am working on for our fans. I can also assure you that new music is on the horizon.
If you could give your younger self a pep talk with words of wisdom, what would you say?
Take a deep breath and a step back every now and then to truly experience and appreciate the unbelievable journey you are about to embark upon. The years of sacrifice and hard work are about to make your dreams a reality.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?
It may sound cliche, but we sincerely have the greatest fans in the world. You have all supported me in doing things my own way and helped me to reach a level of success that not only allows me to continue creating art, but also affords me the platform to nurture fellow artists on their journeys. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.