Alesana kicks off their Chaos Is A Ladder Tour today with Megosh, The Funeral Portrait, and The Things They Carried. Alesana, early this year released, their Decade EP which celebrates the band on their 10-year run. Cliché was lucky enough to catch Shawn Milke a few days before the tour to discuss their dark literary influences, the band’s 10-year run, as well as the highly anticipated conclusion to The Anabel Trilogy.
Cliché: There have been attempts in recreating, or using primary influences of Poe’s works, as well as a few attempts on The Inferno. Not many of these works were received well due to the failed attempt to capture the original passion, thus making it a challenging project. What made you want to tackle these complex works with The Emptiness and A Place Where the Sun Is Silent?
Shawn Milke: For that very reason! We love playing that role of the underdog, and choosing literature that was so harshly critiqued, it just felt like it paralleled our approach in our own art.
Edgar Allen Poe’s work still touches the masses today, whether its television shows like The Following, movies like The Raven, or influences in other aspects of art. What is it about Poe and his work, where he has become one of the most influential writers of literature today?
I think that with some of the greatest artists created, whether it is literature or film, or something like that, it always takes a while for people to catch up. It’s the way he delivered his stories at the time, which you know, where original. People didn’t quite understand it; they didn’t get it. At the time, people just didn’t realize how brilliant he was. There are so many different ways you can stem his ideas and his images.
Your record A Place Where The Sun Is Silent is a beautiful take on another noted work: The Inferno by Dante Alighieri. Was this particular work inspiring to you in particular, due to the content being about the Everyman going through trials on Easter Eve to reach the apex of grace and happiness, whereas in reality this is indeed an everyday battle?
I don’t know if it was necessarily that I was personally touched or inspired by that story. That story paralleled where we wanted to take our story. It was very specifically chosen to be the material that kind of influenced what we were doing because we wanted our characters to be trapped in Purgatory and be dealing with those types of pains.
There has been mention a few years ago about there being a dream to turn The Emptiness into visual art with the band’s music composition. Has there been any progress with turning this into a reality?
Just with ideas. We haven’t really started to put the idea into motion, but that is because we are going to be concluding the trilogy. We would rather know where exactly the story is going before we take on any visual interpretations. That is certainly something that is on my top list of goals to accomplish!
You had stated in a previous interview how Alesana is “not here to send messages; we are not politicians.” How do you feel about artists today succumbing to writing what they think is popular, instead of writing from what’s ticking within?
Art is in the eye of the beholder. I am not one to critique art or criticize anyone who does things their way. How we do our thing is another way, but that doesn’t make our way the right way, or anybody else’s way the wrong way. It’s just OUR way and that is how we have chosen to go about our career.
Alesana has been through member changes. Considering that you have hit your ten year mark as a band, do you feel that despite all the obstacles, Alesana is where the band is meant to be, or are you all still on your journey similar to Dante?
It’s strange, because you aren’t the first one to say that we have gone through many member changes. Our lineup right now has been a variation of the same lineup for close to six to seven years now. Jake left for a time being when he had some family issues, and Alex filled in and then when Jake was ready to rejoin, he did. I mean, in the very, very early days, we had a couple of different guys, but once we found our core, we stuck to it.
This EP does not revolve around a literary work, but rather focuses on Alesana as a whole, so to speak. Did you find it discomforting to place the spotlight on yourselves?
It was actually harder to write it than the other records. Being self-reflective sometimes is more challenging–not that it is a bad thing, it was just different! You get so used to doing something one way, that when you push yourself to try something new, it will always be challenging at first, but it was rewarding in a different type of way. Our records are always very rewarding in the end. So this one especially was since we tried something really challenging and really new for us and it really worked in our opinion.
Would you say that during the challenge you discovered something new about yourselves?
Not necessarily. I mean it was a self reflective record, a therapeutic record if you will. We didn’t write it the Decade EP as a means to figure ourselves out, or to discover something within ourselves. It was us just writing about our career and the experiences that we have had–the ups and downs, the good, the bad and the ugly. We have all had our ups and downs. We are all very comfortable with who we are and we live our lives very positively. None of our art is never a means to therapy, it is just a means of having a good time, and people will hopefully like it and find some joy in it.
The finale to your trilogy will be engineered by Neil Engle and you will be producing it yourself. Are you excited or nervous about this record since it will contain your production touches? Do you think it will be easier or more of a challenge with you taking on this role?
Well, the Decade EP was also the same. Neil engineered it, and I had produced it. The single we released was in the same format with Neil engineering and me producing. We kind of had gotten our sea legs underneath us in preparation for the big guy! We will actually be releasing another single this December, which will lead into the new record coming out in the Spring!
What can you tell me about the brewing of the final chapter of The Anabel Trilogy? Can we expect another full-length based on another complex literary work? Perhaps something along the dark romantic novel of House of Leaves?
The single that came out last December, “Fatima Rasulka,” was an exploration of the alter ego of Anabel and the single coming out this December will explore the alter ego of… well, I don’t want to give it away! The new full-length will take us into the final step of the whole trilogy and basically it will be based on The Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle.
Alesana kicks off their Choas Is A Ladder Tour today! See dates and tickets below:
9/12 Austin, TX- The Dirty Dog – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/13 Tyler, TX- Crossroads Music – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/14 Dallas, TX-Trees – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/15 Houston, TX-Warehouse Live – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/19 Atlanta, GA-Masquerade – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/20 Ybor City, FL-Orpheum – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/21 Orlando, FL-Backbooth – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/22 Jacksonville, FL-1904 – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/23 Greensboro, NC-Green Street Club – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/24 Raleigh, NC-Southland – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/25 Springfield, VA-Empire – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/26 Providence, RI-Simons 677 – PURCHASE TICKETS
9/27 New York, NY-Webster Hall – PURCHASE TICKETS
Alesana Interview: Photograph courtesy of Alesana