Interview: Shawn Milke of Alesana Talks Ten Frail Years of Vanity and Wax Tour, Alesana’s Future and More!

You’re at the point where you’re over a decade into your career, 7 phenomenal albums and a hit book. These things alone are incredible accomplishments and I commend you for all of them. Let’s talk about your seminal debut album, though, On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax. 10 years ago, you released this album and started something that, at the time, you likely didn’t know was going to be huge. How does it feel looking back, nearly 13 years later and seeing everything that has been built? 

It is very humbling.  As a musician and songwriter you put an incredible amount of heart and soul into your first record.  It is a culmination of a lifetime of striving for the goal.  To see so many people celebrating that album 10 years later is just plain awesome.

Your current tour, dubbed the Ten Frail Years of Vanity & Wax tour, is on its 2nd leg, where it is hitting the Midwest and West Coast. Each night, you’re performing the tour’s namesake album in it’s entirety. How was the East Coast leg of the tour and what was your favorite part about playing these songs live, cover to cover, each night? 

Both coasts were fantastic.  Our fans were so kind and involved and made the whole experience memorable.  My favorite part of playing the record all the way through is being able to transport back to the time when those tunes were written.  It is almost like being able to go back and be a kid again.

It’s always interesting to see how a tour package is put together. This was a huge tour for you and, rather than reach out to bands who may have helped fuel your success at the time, you decided to throw all new blood on this tour. You’re taking out For the Win (Artery Recordings), Versus (Revival Recordings), Charlatan (Revival Recordings) and Vesta Collide (Stay Sick Recordings.) What was the decision-making process in putting this package together and when were you certain that these were the guys you wanted on tour with you? 

At this point in our career it is about helping other artists.  We had some great bands lend us a hand and give us a chance when we were just breaking out and it is nice to be able to pay it forward to some of today’s up-and-coming bands. 

Nostalgia is a great thing. There’s something to be said about hearing a song you haven’t heard in years and instantly recognizing it. Do you still listen to On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax yourselves and, if so, how does it feel when you listen back after all these years? 

I don’t listen to our catalog too often.  I will usually visit each record about once a year.  That changes a little bit when writing season hits.  I like to go back and see how we did certain things to help mold and influence current writing sessions.  It allows me to grow the songwriting while still holding true to certain themes and motifs that help to create that signature Alesana sound.

The Annabel Trilogy has come to a close but, as you recently announced, there’s still more to come in that world. A 2nd edition version of your book was announced, due to overwhelming demand from fans, in which you also announced that the next book in the series will be titled Madeline. What can you tell us (without spoiling anything, of course) about this new book and when do you expect it to be released? By the way, for anyone reading this interview, you can head here to pre-order bundles that include a sneak peek at the first chapter! 

Madeline is going to continue the story of Annabel but through a different lens, both narratively and thematically.  I love the characters and want to continue to develop the universe but I don’t want to simply march out the same vibe and themes.  Similar to our albums, I want it to be recognizable as a part of the story but also take the reader in a different direction.  One major difference is that there will be no album associated with the second book so the narrative experience will be completely fresh.

Will there be other legs or other countries of the 10 Frail Years of Vanity & Wax tour? 

We will be playing the album in other parts of the world but I am not at liberty to disclose where at this time.

My personal favorite tracks from OFW are “Tilting the Hourglass” and “Alchemy Sounded Good at the Time.” What is your favorite song from On Frail Wings of Vanity & Wax to play live and why?

Nero’s Decay has been my favorite since the beginning.  I love all of the changes and the energy.

You’re very supportive of all of the bands on your roster. In particular, Shawn, you went live with Joe Taylor from Versus to talk about the message of suicide awareness that they seek to spread with their music. How do you feel this helps fans relate to the artists and connect with both of you on a personal level? Do you try to seek out bands who have a message like that to spread? 

I love when bands have a message, artists who are creating their universe with a purpose.  It’s not about being cool, it’s not about being a rockstar.  It’s about a vision, a movement, a message.  It doesn’t matter what the message is, just that it exists.  Live with passion, live with a purpose.  I hope that our Revival fans are able to be just as passionate about our artists as we are.

2017 is shaping up to be a big one, so my final question is a 2-part question: 

  1. What release has you the most excited for 2017 on the Revival roster? 

Man, that would be like asking me which of my kids is my favorite.  It is an impossible question to answer.  I am excited for all of our releases.  

B) What does 2017 hold for Alesana, in terms of new music, tours, merch, etc? We know that Madeline is in the works… but what else can be expected? 

There are some pretty awesome things up my sleeve for Alesana this year.  Stay tuned.

That’s all I have for you. Thank you so much for doing this with me, again! Is there anything else you’d like to say to your fans, our readers and the general public?

It is always a pleasure, Barrett.  To you and to the greatest fans in the world I say thank you.