Alesana’s Shawn Milke and Dennis Lee talk with the Technique about country side projects, guilty music pleasures and World of Warcraft addiction.
Where do you draw your artistic influence from/what gets the creative juices flowing?
Lee: Definitely we are the bookworms. So it is literary-driven. Musically, it’s just everything. We just have really wide influences personally, each guy in the band. The whole idea of literature is what drives a lot of the stuff.
Milke: I think our diversity and our personal tastes have always driven what we do collectively. Because it’s funny, I don’t think any one of us would individually listen to a band like us. Like, if we weren’t us, our flavor wouldn’t be the first thing we’d put on. But I love making what we do. And I think that holds true for almost every guy in the band.
If you could play any other genre, what would it be? Why?
Milke: I would do back-porch country. Without a doubt. It’s a style of music I know I could never play, but man, I wish I could. That stuff comes on, you just sit in a rocking chair and just love it- drink down a beer…
Lee: I was going to say Honky Tonk. Outlaw Country. Hank III, David Allan Coe, Willie and Waylon… I listened to a ton of them… That would be so much fun.
Milke: I envy it. When I see performers like that I’m like, “It just looks fun.” And it always looks fun, people who listen to it look fun…
Lee: I think we just started a country side project.
Milke: I think we did.
Lee: That just happened.
Milke: We’ll call it Alabama.
Lee: Alesana and Alabama.
Be honest, where does Atlanta rank as far as tour location?
Milke: I think because of the Masquerade, it’s right up there for me. Our front of the house engineer tonight turned twenty-five, and I said, “You could not be having a birthday at a better venue in America than the Masquerade.” Honestly. Especially on a Saturday night.
Lee: I went to my first silent disco here, which was awesome. Atlanta’s awesome. My wife’s from Atlanta too, so I’ve got a lot of heartstrings tied here. But a lot of good friends have been coming here for years. This was one of our first out-of-state shows.
Milke: Our first out-of-state show and our first big stage was where we’re playing tonight, for Modern Mash. First time we walked in, we were like, “Oh my god.” That’s what Pat and I were talking about tonight- this room’s not as big as it is in my mind. Because the first time we played it, it was the first time we weren’t playing in a closet for ten people.
Lee: Remember the loading dock that dropped down from heaven and pulled your gear up instead of lugging it up the stairs?
Milke: Yeah, it’s definitely way up there man.
You recently released the song “Nevermore” from the Decade EP. What can we expect from Alesana in the future?
Milke: We are going to complete our trilogy; the Emptiness and A Place Where the Sun is Silent trilogy. Which we are sort of titling “The Annabelle Trilogy.” We haven’t really locked down a title but it seems like what it will probably be.
Lee: You know, the Decade EP hasn’t been released and it’s really good that “Nevermore” got released because that is the song … that is directly at our fans about the state of music, and it’s really at a crossroads about whether or not we’re going to keep letting garbage that people keep trying to convince themselves they like happen or start supporting real art. And it’s a good story and it sets up the last part of our trilogy … we’re just going to keep writing crazy music. This kid [Milke] started a record label so we get to do it at home now.
Milke: We have a studio and a label so whatever we want to do we can do it. There’s no way to tell us no.
Lee: No one can stop us!
Milke: To get back to the music scene thing, it’s in a very dangerous tailspin, and we mean it when we say it- that somebody’s got to do something about it, and it begins with you.
Last question, for Tech students- favorite video game?
Milke: I have a half-sleeve of the Legend of Zelda, so I think that probably states that. I have the newest game for DS still in the plastic for this tour.
Lee: Have you seen the 3DS XL?
Milke: I almost got the XL.
Lee: They have Monster Hunter for it. Man, this is a really tough question to ask a gamer. I’d have to say my favorite game of all time is Final Fantasy VII. Every time. But I did a lot of Halo back in the day. My whole sleeve is Warhammer 40K. But I played tabletop, with the miniatures and dice.
Milke: Let’s not forget the time we almost lost you as a friend to WoW.
Lee: I did actually have to stop playing World of Warcraft. I would get home from tour, I’d take out all of the lights down in my basement and put black lights in… I had a projector on the wall. And I slept every other day, because it was raining so much. I got my Hunter up to the highest DPS on the server and… now I’m not allowed to play anymore.
Milke: You see where I just zoned out? Where I just started staring off into the distance?
Lee: So favorite game… it’s like saying my favorite thing to do in my free time is smoke crack. It’s really, really fun but I know I’m not allowed to do it.