Alesana - Sound In The Signals Interview

Alesana recently announced that they will release a book entitled Annabel on August 31st. The short novel will focus on the story that their three concept albums are based around. You can hear the first chapter read by vocalist/guitarist Shawn Milke and his sister Melissa. Milke was kind enough to tell us more about creating Annabel, how much he appreciates fan support, and what has gone into the upcoming special edition release of Confessions.

First off, thanks for the interview.
Shawn Milke: My pleasure!

You just announced your upcoming book Annabel and the re-release of Confessions which are due out August 31st.  Can you tell me a little about what made you decide to create a book, how much time you spent on it, and what fans of the band can expect from it?
The plan was always to do a book, it was just a matter of when.  Even back in the days of The Emptiness my hope and goal was to expand the plot and character development into a larger story.  As far as how much time was spent, there hasn't been a large period of time that has gone by in the last 6-7 years that I haven't thought about the story in some capacity.  Actual physical writing time once I started compiling the book itself, I would say 6 months of outlining and storyboarding and 6 months of writing, re-writing, editing, and compiling.  If you have been a fan of Annabel and the last three records I think you will very much enjoy the book.  It is abstract but the answers are all right there on the page if you decide to dig in deep.

Book Cover
You've discussed getting inspiration from classic literature and stories. What about those classic stories really drew you to them and made them have such a huge impact on you, lyrically? What are some of your personal favorite classics and why?

It's tough to say. I've done a lot of reading in my life and, like any other art or medium, certain things stick with you and effect you more powerfully.  Poe has always been one of my favorite poets. The writings of Dante were something I explored in college and I would say I enjoy their complexity more than anything.  L'Engle was one of my favorites as a kid. Combining three such completely different types of authors to help inspire the Annabel trilogy of records was a way to encourage our fans to broaden their literary tastes. One of the biggest reasons for having our themes and lyrics influenced by literature and famous authors was to inspire and encourage our fan base to want to explore these pieces and maybe spend a weekend reading a book or possibly writing something of their own. As a band we have a platform to influence others and we chose to use that platform to bring attention to literature and storytelling instead of more frivolous things.  There are few things more satisfying than when a fan tells me they read "X" book or studied "Y" author due to the influence our music had on them.  Its an awesome feeling.

I've seen you describe the first three Alesana albums as a trilogy. How do they all work together and what type of story did you set out to tell with each of these albums?

Well, the trilogy is actually our 3rd, 4th, and 5th studio full length albums. Our first was inspired by Greek mythology, our second by Brother's Grimm fairy tales. The trilogy works together by infusing the very distinct sonic universes depicted in the story of Annabel. Each album has a very different vibe and it helps to tell the story through our songs.

Fans can sometimes get enthralled with these high concepts and narratives. Have you found that a lot of your fans have become super fans and are kind of looking for all the meaning in the lyrics and music? If so how does it make you feel to know you've impacted a listener like that?

Its wild, such a great feeling. The fact that we have such a profoundly dedicated core fan base is a dream come true. Thanks to them I think that the story of Annabel, and Alesana as a byproduct of that story, will live on for a very long time. I very much enjoy reading all of the fan theories and seeing their artistic interpretations. It still blows my mind when I see someone with a tattoo of Annabel. I love talking about the story, I could go on forever. Anyone who reads this, if you catch us perform sometime please come find me and we will chat it up about Annabel and Roderick and the whole story. Thank you for making it so much fun to tell this story.

You're also re-releasing Confessions. What are you doing special for this re-release in terms of packaging and track listing?

It is all re-imagined artwork, more in the vein of an old book you might find in an ancient library.  Less futuristic than the original artwork and more geared towards the telling of a story. We are also including the single Fatima Rusalka which was a bridge track between A Place Where The Sun Is Silent and Confessions. Fatima Rusalka is such a huge part of the story so it felt appropriate the include the song as the opening track on the re-release. It also includes a brand new song that mirrors the epilogue of the book. The song is called Ciao Bella and I think fans of our lighter, more piano driven material will definitely enjoy it.

What is one of your favorite memories from the recording of Confessions that you have never told anyone before?

My son Julian was born during the making of Confessions which was hugely influential on me for a plethora of reasons.  I can still remember watching him sleep while working out various guitar and piano arrangements.

I guess that wraps it up. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions. Do you have anything else you would like to add?

Thank you to our amazing fans for over a decade of support and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share the crazy world of Annabel with you.

Pre-order Annabel HERE and you will also receive a special edition of the Alesana album Confessions, which includes the single "Fatima Rusalka" which has previously only been released digitally as a single and one new unreleased song.

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