Founded in 1995, American rock/alt band Alien Ant Farm have seen worldwide success, and they’re back in the UK on what could be seen as a ‘comeback tour’. After a performance at The Duchess, we thought it was time for a catch-up to talk their hit album ANThology, the current music business and future plans.
By Jane Howkins
You’re currently touring for the hit album ANThology in full. There have been a few bands recently that have played whole albums at gigs, usually to commemorate an album anniversary (fellow touring band InMe played their first two albums Overgrown Eden and White Butterfly in full last year). What prompted you to decide to perform the whole album for this tour?
Well, we came over last May for a tour with our great friends Hoobastank and P.O.D. that went very well. We realized at that time that aside from a couple of songs that charted well in the UK, we actually had a bit of a ‘hit album’ that a lot of people grew up to and still hold dear. It was an obvious choice at that point so we got to it and began making arrangements.
These shows are being treated by some as a ‘comeback tour’ even though you’ve toured and released a few albums over the years without properly breaking up. Do you feel that’s the case?
We’ve been through quite a lot as a band, including break-ups. In this day and age with the way this business is, it seems we’ve always been on the comeback. Although we’ve released a couple of records, until last May we hadn’t come over to the UK for some time. So, maybe it’s our UK comeback.
When ANThology was originally released in 2001, you were propelled into the limelight by singles Smooth Criminal and Movies. What was that like?
It was fast and furious. We were kids then and we went from the hood to the lime light at a very accelerated pace. That was a time when records still sold well and videos were still on TV and somehow that has helped us have some longevity in a world where bands disappear after a year or so. I’m happy with it.
The music business has changed quite a bit since then, with many bands having to go down a more DIY route. How have you found that recording and releasing music has changed over the years?
Of course it has. It’s great on the production side of things. We can develop music together via email if we choose to do so. We all have studio standard capabilities right in our own homes. It’s a great world for DIY bands to get noticed as well. The difficult thing is to stay noticed when most people’s attention span shifts as simply as clicking on a link that takes you off to the next thing.
Your latest album Always and Forever was released in February of last year. Do you have any plans to record more music after this tour, or will it be time for a well-deserved break?
The making and releasing of Always and Forever was such a struggle for the band that it became a toxic situation. I blame the label mostly. Although we love a lot off the music on that record we are extremely excited and dead set on writing for another release.
How is the writing process for you? Do you do much whilst touring or is that something you tend to do off the road?
Mostly off the road. I think we all like to get in our own little comfy spots and submerge ourselves in our own ideas and then sort of present them to each other for development. Sometimes we tend to fiddle with ideas at sound check but the bulk of it is done at home.
Who would you say your biggest influences as a band are?
We’ve always been very spread out influentially. We all have our favourites and new interests which has always been important to our sound. But we also have certain common influences that maybe act as the glue for putting all of that together. Too many artists to list. It’s more interesting to hear what people might assume those are by listening.
Any bands/artists you think our readers should check out?
I think everyone should go listen to David Bowie’s ‘Black Star’ right now.
Alien Ant Farm
Video via Youtube
Your video for the song These Days featured your band playing on a rooftop across from the red carpet for the 2003 BET Awards, and it’s always been an intriguing one to watch. How did that come about, and how much of it was pre-planned?
The only thing planned in that video were camera positions and the acquiring of the rooftop… For which we lied about the plan. Everything else was purely surprise. We definitely didn’t front on any of it and it was scary because we knew the risk involved. In hind sight, it was an extremely scary moment. We also crashed a Justin Timberlake/Christina Aguilera concert and entered our own float in the LA Gay Pride Parade for the video but ended up just using the BET Awards segment for the video. You can find the full cut on YouTube if you search it.
Where would you say your favourite places to perform are, and what has been your favourite gig to play so far?
Without trying to sound like a kiss up, we enjoy the UK. We’ve had the same success in other regions but the fans here are the best. Not just ours but as a whole. Fans of rock and music in general. People take it much more serious in the UK and aren’t afraid of not looking cool in front of their friends. We’d be here all day if I tried to narrow it down to just one show. We’ve been fortunate enough to take part in many amazing situations.
Why do you think people should come and see you, and what can one expect from your shows?
Why, is something I think best answered by one’s self. If you can’t think of a reason why, it might not be for you but if you’re interested you should definitely come and see for yourself what we have to offer. We’ve always had a lot of fun with it while maintaining a certain level of craftsmanship. I think it’s a good mixture that translates to a pretty good time for the concert goer.
Any last words for the fans?
Thanks to the fans for all the years of fun and smiles and for what’s to come in the future for AAF. We appreciate you all more than you know.
Alien Ant Farm played at The Duchess on Tuesday 12 January 2016.