As summer begins to wane, so does festival season, which means many artists are hitting the road to bring a more intimate show to their fans. This includes this autumn’s no-holds-barred, internationally flavored tour de force: The Psycho Thunder Tour.
Co-headliners Asking Alexandria and The Hu are serving up a smorgasbord of sonic shades that will bring them throughout most of the U.S., beginning in Atlanta, working through the Northeast, Midwest, and down Southwest to their final stop in Las Vegas.
Among their travels will be a stop at Piere’s on Friday, Sept. 22, with Bad Wolves and Zero 9:36.
Asking Alexandria & The Hu
w/Bad Wolves, Zero 9:36
7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 22
5629 St. Joe Road, Fort Wayne
$49.50-$174.50 · (260) 492-6064
While Asking Alexandria and The Hu would be a delight to experience individually, the unusual co-headlining status is further confounded by a detail that’s likely perplexing readers who already know what’s coming.
The Hu are a Mongolian folk metal band that primarily writes, records, and performs with traditional instruments — morin khuur, tumur hhuur, tsuur, tovshuur — that are accompanied by evocative throat singing. Asking Alexandria, on the other hand, is an English metal band whose oeuvre has traversed such broad swaths of hardcore, emo, metal, hard-rock, and electronica that they’ve eluded any finer taxonomy, despite the cult status they’ve earned over the course of their 15-plus years.
So, what could they possibly have in common?
As it turns out, quite a bit, though from dramatically different vectors.
The idea that any band has “something to prove” is as problematically thorny as it is historically pervasive. Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us have found ourselves questioning the creative decisions made by any artist, be they issues of conceptual continuity, an interest in “true” sound, or merely grappling with what it is we’re hearing.
The notion of expectation in art is maybe a better way to contextualize what any act might have to prove, but it’s deceptively nuanced.
Fans of Asking Alexandria might find themselves wondering how a band whose career has been defined by such a staunch aversion to genre boxes would release a post-pandemic album amidst the resurgence of interest in the 2008-to-2012 era of emo- and hardcore-adjacent music — the very same that spurred their success — hits a fever pitch.
Conversely, The Hu are straddling a millennium-old cultural division between Eastern and Western conceptions of the roles heritage and history play in reaching out to the world — assimilate or inform?
Melding musical styles
In 2019, The Hu received one of Mongolia’s highest honors: the Order of Genghis Khan. Though there may be many ways to accomplish such an award, they’re defined by the manner in which a recipient’s efforts bolster the sovereignty and autonomy of the Mongolian nation and culture, typically by sharing abroad.
As Galbadrakh “Gala” Tsendbaatar articulates it through a translator, they hold this distinction in exceptionally high regard, viewing it as a loose challenge to the band as they blossom into a bonafide international act whose work complexly threads a needle between the Western vantage point of exoticization and a unique opportunity to educate and entertain.
Gala said their continued exposure to American music culture comprises two major revelations: that the American music industry is “massive” and their fans are “intelligent” and “eager to learn.”
Gala said each band member has been trained in the classical style of the culture, but rock and metal music of the 20th century still played a significant role in their musical creation. By blending traditional themes, poetry, and mythology with contemporary and classical instrumentation and songwriting, The Hu deliver a voltaic assemblage of music that weaves through thousands of years of international culture, resulting in a live performance that augments and reimagines their records for a distinct stage experience.
This diverse musical tapestry has landed the band guest spots in both entries of the Star Wars Jedi series of video games — a signifier not lost on Gala, who’s humbled by their inclusion — and collaborations ranging from William DuVall and System of a Down’s Serj Tankian to remixed versions of their tracks bolstered by the likes of Jacoby Shaddix and Lzzy Hale.
Though Gala admits there are “too many (bands) to name” regarding Western metal acts, it’s safe to say Metallica places high on their list, with Gala fondly recalling the band’s inclusion as one of the 53 artists tapped to contribute to The Metallica Blacklist, a pastiche of covers and remixes that cross genres in a tribute to the band’s legacy.
Asking Alexandria bassist Sam Bettley was eager to discuss their latest album, Where Do We Go From Here?, as well as the tour.
Bettley admits that there was a tinge of concern over the language barrier while touring with their co-headliners. But he and the rest of his band made fast friends of Gala and The Hu, adding that he was blown away by their live show.
Since 2009’s Stand Up and Scream, Asking Alexandria have never been shy about exploring new ideas.
While the band has remained largely under the broad umbrella of metal-as-heavy-music, permutations like metalcore, emo, electronicore, and post-hardcore have received dedicated entries in their discography. Arguably, 2020’s Like a House on Fire takes this to its furthest reaches, straddling lines between arena rock, pop, and EDM-fueled R&B, anchored by a core of hard rock, with 2021’s See What’s on the Inside following by pairing back on stylistic diversions for a refined thesis of heavy rock.
Coincidentally, their latest album asks the logical question of any band finding themselves at this nexus of artistic evolution and closing in on a 20-year milestone: Where do they go from here?
Everywhere, Bettley explains, articulating the album as something of a love letter to the past 15 years that expertly toes the line between nostalgic and reimagined, a feat he attributes to their reunion with longtime producer Matt Good, who’s been with them on every record since 2017’s self-titled LP. Good’s consistency has enabled a support that nurtures their pension for exploration while keeping them tethered.
As an album recorded during the pandemic, their typical process was upended, but it opened new doors for writing that allowed the band to be far more detail oriented and to take their time.
“After all, we’re all family men now,” Bettley said. “At such a dark time, it made a world of difference to be home with our families.”
It’s something he believes they’ll carry with them as they move into the next album or project. On that, Bettley is excited, saying that one of the hardest parts of recording the last album was knowing when to hang it up.
“We just could’ve kept on creating,” he said, eager to get back to work, but not before an explosive tour that we are assured will hit all the right notes for fans of all Asking Alexandria eras.