Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to sit down with Alex Raser, drummer and vocalist for the alternative metal band Alborn. During our chat, Alex and I discussed the origin of the band and how Alborn came to be, the release of the band’s most recent EP entitled ‘Impairative‘, as well as how Morgan Rose, drummer for the band Sevendust, became involved with working and producing Alborn‘s original material. Read the exclusive interview below!
ST: Hello everybody! I’m Sydney Taylor and I’m here with Alex Raser, drummer and vocalist for the alternative metal band straight out of Northern Illinois, Alborn. Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me this afternoon Alex. It’s great to have you.
AR: Definitely, thank you so much for having me.
ST: How are you doing during the craziness of the world at the moment?
AR: We’re managing. We’re definitely still really busy – always just doing the downtime stuff that bands do, working on music. We were just finally able to play our first live show since March and it was a very good time. But, that’s kind of the only one on the schedule right now. As of now, we’re just going with the flow and waiting for the green light just like everybody else.
ST: Right. It’s the only thing you can do! Where was the show if you don’t mind me asking?
AR: It was at the Apollo Theater in Belvedere. It’s a pretty old venue which is actually what I prefer because the acoustics in the place are always really cool. You know, big grand ceilings. It was all nice and echoey and full, it was really cool.
ST: Awesome! So, I want to get into the background of the band itself. I know you guys first came together in 2016, or even a little bit earlier than that. What made you guys decide that you really wanted to pursue this band and really go for it with writing, releasing records, and everything that comes along with it?
AR: When we started in late 2015/early 2016, we were a cover band full-time playing all of the classic four hour shows in bars for three or four hundred bucks at most. I don’t know – we enjoyed playing the music and enjoyed being on the stage but we were growing tired of playing other people’s music basically. We just kind of sat down and spit out a few originals that probably sucked at the time, but, it just kind of came naturally. The feeling was there, it was kind of easy to transition from being a cover band into growing into the original band. Now we’re just doing originals all the time, so, I don’t really have an ‘a-ha’ moment when it really happened, you know? It just kinda did.
ST: Was this your first experience being in a band that was writing originals? Were you ever a part of a group before this that you experimented writing new music for?
AR: No, this project is the only band I’ve ever been in full-time, actually gigging. Our frontman Justin has been probably writing his own music for over ten years on a crappy four track. But other than that this is the only thing that we’ve dove into full time and really invested ourselves in.
ST: Was being a musician something that you had always dreamed of? Did you listen to music when you were younger and fantasized about and wanted to make happen?
AR: Yeah! We always grew up around music. Our dad’s were in bands together at a super young age so we were always hanging out around the scene. So, I kind of always just assumed that I or we were gonna eventually step into the shoes. I’d say we started… I didn’t start playing music until I was like twelve or thirteen so I got kind of a late start compared to some others with super cool stories about playing gigs when they were three or four years old. Once I finally sat behind a kit I knew that was what I wanted to do for a hobby and hopefully a career someday.
ST: That’s great. I feel like so many people discover music through their parents, me included, but what were some of your favorite bands during that time – that you were listening to when you were younger that you really enjoyed? Has being a fan of those artists carried into what your influences are for Alborn at the moment?
AR: Definitely! When I first got introduced to playing music or being a musician I was listening to mostly mainstream bands that were available at the time in the mid to late 2000’s like Seether and stuff like that. Once I kind of, really started studying the music I started getting into your harder nu-metal bands and stuff like that – a lot of Korn, and Sevendust, and Deftones. Nu-metal is kind of my number one and it just branches out from there. But that’s pretty much what I’ve always grown up around. Hard rock, nu-metal, and then I’ll listen to some heavier stuff and then some lighter stuff. I’ve got a wide spectrum now. But, I always grew up around your classic hard rock stuff.
ST: Is it the same for the other guys in the band or do you have a situation where you guys are influenced by different subgenres of metal and you have to make that work in your writing?
AR: Definitely. I think that is one thing that helps a lot with our writing process, is the fact that our spectrums are so wide. Like a couple of us will even listen to like rap music and stuff a lot of times. Our bassist likes a lot of alternative; he’s super into Paramore and the lighter Linkin Park stuff and that really comes out in his playing and his writing. I think it’s nothing but a benefit.
ST: A lot of the time when everyone is into the same things it can make some pretty amazing stuff, but I feel like variety really helps in creating something that hasn’t really been done before. I also want to talk to you about the brand new EP that you guys just released on August 28th entitled ‘Impairative.’ Congratulations on the release of that! What was the process of putting that EP together? Was it something that was a result of quarantine or were you guys working on this way before the shutdowns?
AR: We’ve been working on this EP since like 2017 at the latest. Right when we first started working with Morgan and Jose in the studio, after we got tight and they knew they wanted to work with us further and establish some sort of business relationship, there was instant talk about some kind of compilation of our music whether it be an EP or full-length and we elected to just end up going with an EP. It’s been in the making for a long time and a couple of those songs are as old as late 2016/early 2017.
ST: Well, congratulations on that finally being out. Your hard work is out there for everyone to listen to. What’s your favorite song off of the EP if you had to pick one?
AR: It changes around. I would say my favorite on the EP is probably “Waves” just because of how well it goes over live. It’s a great sing-along tune, a lot of people seem to gravitate towards it because it has a catchy chorus and it’s a little bit different paced then the other stuff on the album. It’s a little bit of a lighter one but it’s still… it kind of fits right in its own little place. I like the diversity of that one.
ST: I’d also like to chat really quick about the process of getting Morgan from Sevendust involved in wanting to work with you guys. I’m sure that was a pretty big accomplishment to have him notice you guys and want to reach out and work with you and produce what you guys are doing. What was that process like and how has it been for you guys?
AR: It came about because we had actually won a Battle of the Bands in our hometown. One of the prizes we were awarded was two free songs written, mixed, and mastered with Jose at his studio called The Attic in Geneseo, Illinois. After we got that lined up, Jose just happened to hop on Facebook and make a post that he apparently was tight with the drummer of Sevendust and that he was going to fly him out and have some bands come produce with him. So, we instantly messaged him and we were like, ‘we’ve already got this thing going on, so how ’bout we just kind of transition it into the thing with this guy and see what we can make of that.’ It was like we had already known each other for years the first step we took into the studio together. He was super easy to work with, he’s super fun and relaxed and makes it really easy to fully express yourself when you’re in the studio. I love the stuff that comes out when we’re all working together. It’s been seriously awesome working with him and Jose. They do great work.
ST: That’s such a cool story. I think it’s so great too that you guys started from being a cover band and working your way up – paying your dues. Before I let you go, at the end of every single one of my interviews I ask five rapid fire questions I call the Metal From The Inside Five. You can answer them fast, if you want to think more about them you can too. Number one, if you weren’t working in the profession you’re currently in, so being a drummer and vocalist in Alborn, what would you be doing?
AR: I would probably be in some sort of trade honestly. Like, welding or pipe fitting. My old man always grew up around that, kind of the town I’m from is really blue-collar you know, so that’s just kind of the assumed position of someone going to work their ass off and make a bunch of money. If I had to pick a dream career, it would probably be like something silly… like playing video games or something.
ST: What is something you wish everyone knew about you?
AR: We take a lot of pride on our authenticity I guess you could say. Like on and off the stage we seriously love having normal conversations with all the people that come to our shows. We don’t have any specific attire we wear on stage. We’re literally just your classic blue-collar dudes from Illinois and we try our best to bleed our authenticity into our music as much as we can. But for some reason, I would always get kind of starstruck by somebody if I was going to a show and they had this ‘aura’ about them that set them aside from everybody else in the crowd. I was always off-put by that. I like everybody being comfortable around us and talking to us like they would anybody else, you know?
ST: If you were stranded on a desert island and you only had three records that you could take with you to listen to, what would they be?
AR: Oh gosh. This answer changes all the time. Tool ‘Ænima’ or ‘Lateralus’, Mudvayne ‘L.D. 50’, and Red Hot Chili Peppers ‘Stadium Arcadium.’
ST: What is one piece of advice that you would give to your younger self?
AR: Don’t get frustrated at the little things. We have gone through a lot of hardships already in just the few short years that we’ve been an established original band. Everything from time consuming projects that don’t seem like they’re going to get you anywhere or money stretches. Things like that. I just wish I would’ve known about everything that really entailed being in a band, especially that you’re trying to make a career out of. Just practice your skills, save your money, and definitely become a people person. No matter how much of an introvert you are. If you’re gonna play shows you have to be able to talk to people which was one thing that I struggled with very badly at the start. I was always kind of really shy and just like, ‘no one is actually here to see my band, they’re here to see the next band.’ So when people came up to me and wanted to talk to me I just kind of shut them down a little bit and went about my way.
ST: If you could have one super-power, what would it be?
AR: Mind control, because then I could just get someone awesome on drums to give me some badass lessons for free… you pretty much get whatever you want with mind control if you control the right people. For some reason, I’ve been asked that question a lot of times so I had an instantaneous answer but I don’t really have much of an explanation for it.
ST: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon!
AR: Yeah, thank you very much for having me!
Thank you so much for checking out this interview with Alex Raser of the band Alborn!