Then And Now is a new column inside Substream’s print edition that features a band looking back on their history along with exclusive, vintage photos. We thought we’d give you a taste of Substream #45’s Then And Now with Alesana—to see the full thing, order your copy now! —ed.
THEN AND NOW: ALESANA
By Shawn Milke, vocals/guitar
YEAR FORMED: 2004
WHY WE STARTED: Back in 2003, I was playing in a pop-punk band in Baltimore called the Legitimate Excuse. I had begun listening to a lot of From Autumn To Ashes and I decided I wanted to add a new layer to my sound as a songwriter, get a little bit heavier, a little bit stranger. Patrick and I were on the same page musically so we packed our bags and moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, where Alesana were officially born.
OUR FIRST PRACTICE SPACE: It was a tiny, itty-bitty storage unit at a place called Morningstar on Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh. When I say tiny, I mean tiny. We couldn’t even all fit in there at one time. When we would practice our live performance, it was pretty much a lot of ducking and praying. But man oh man, I wouldn’t change it for the world. So much of what Alesana is—our work ethic, our drive, our storytelling—it all began in that 6-by-6-foot storage unit. Oh, and we weren’t allowed to practice there, either, so we had to be stealth and only practice late at night.
THE FIRST SONG WE WROTE: It was called “I Never Thought” and I wrote it on a crappy acoustic guitar in my dorm room at college. It was pretty much four chords, a lousy vocal melody and angsty, forlorn teenage lyrics. I still have the song on a cassette tape and every once in a while I’ll pop it on just to see how far I’ve come as a songwriter and vocalist. That tape is living proof to not give up on yourself in the early days. Everybody has to start somewhere. Every singer/songwriter has an “I Never Thought” laying around somewhere in their past.
WHY WE CONTINUE: We absolutely love playing and touring together and our songwriting chemistry has never been stronger. Our dedicated fans in the Alesana Army inspire us to keep telling our stories and to keep challenging ourselves as musicians.
THE NEWEST SONG WE’VE WRITTEN: The newest songs would be those written for our new album, Confessions. When we write an album, all of the songs are essentially written together so it is hard to say any one particular tune was the most recent. Confessions is the final installment in our original collection known as the Annabel Trilogy. I’m not sure if I have ever been more excited to release a record than I am for this.
THE BIGGEST CHANGE BETWEEN THEN AND NOW: Overall, I would say it is the idea of being concerned with critics and worrying about the opinions of folks who don’t enjoy our music or our band. I think it is natural, especially early on, to try and win the praise of everyone and everything. But as we moved deeper into our career, we’ve realized that making music is all about pleasing yourself and your fans, first and foremost. I think that confidence has shown more and more with each release.
Pick up Alesana’s new record here!