Band members discuss their creative process and future

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?

Milke: Alcohol.

Lee: Yeah.

Milke: PBR.

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.