Drawing from literary heavyweights like Edgar Allan Poe, the Grimm Brothers, and Dante, The Inked Magazine Music Tour headliner, Alesana, creates an awesomely dark experience.
Fitting in was never an option for Alesana, and they’ve gained all the more fans for it. The self-proclaimed pop-metal band blends fierce growls and smooth vocals in a way that’s not “hardcore,” “screamo,” “metalcore,” or any of the other labels it’s so popular to put on bands with a screaming vocalist. To play on the subgenres, they originally dubbed themselves “sweetcore” because, according to a friend, they were just too damn sweet to be hardcore. Throw in the uplifting lyrics, the literature-based storytelling, and the inspiring messages the band calls PMA (Positive Mental Attitude), and you’ve got something that is hard to find in the music industry: originality.
The six-member band may seem at first glance to have too many cooks in the kitchen, but it’s their size they credit for their creativity. Songwriters Shawn Milke (lead vocals, rhythm guitar, piano) and Patrick “Peezee” Thompson (lead guitar) craft the band’s inspiring lyrics, while Dennis Lee (unclean vocals), Jeremy Bryan (drums, percussion), Shane Crump (bass guitar, backing vocals), and former Eyes Set to Kill guitarist Alex Torres (another lead guitar) make up the rest of the three-vocal, three-guitar onslaught that is Alesana.
“We don’t try to be like anyone else or to be something we’re not,” Milke says. “By having six members we are able to pull off the same guitar and vocal harmonies in a live setting that we have on the record.” That means no Auto-Tune, no backing tracks, no compromising anything for the live performance (like The INKED Magazine Music Tour, fuck yeah!)—something the heavily themed albums deserve. Since 2006, when they released their first full-length, On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax, the band has been choosing a literary concept for each record they put out. “Dennis and I are both big literature nerds,” Milke says. “I’ve always loved music, so I thought it was a good way to get my stories out there in a different kind of way. It separates us from our peers. Not many bands do it the way we do it.” And everything they do has this kind of personal touch, down to the name of the band. Alesana was taken from Aliceanna Street in Baltimore, the block on which Milke and Thompson grew up.