By Kat Westbrook
When it comes the hardcore scene in the northeast, music fans tend to lean towards bigger cities, but one band from the small state of Delaware is catching national attention. Formed in 2011, Awake At Last has been changing their local scene with their brand of hard-hitting melodic rock. After their recent line-up change, which included the addition of new guitarist Imran Xhelili, the band is preparing to climb the next mountain in their journey. With a string of tour dates up and down the east coast in the spring and the release of a new music video for “King of the World,” the guys in AAL are showing the scene that you don’t have to come from a big city to make big strides in the industry.
I sat down the Imran before the start of the band’s spring tour, and he expressed how excited the band was to start this new phase in their journey. Their tour in January went exceedingly well, with some notable shows at Rock Shop in Fayetteville, NC and New Brooklyn Tavern in Columbia, SC. Imran says that he was “amazed with the response and the energy” that they got from fans both old and new. For the upcoming tour dates in April, AAL will be revisiting some cities from their winter tour so they can hopefully draw even more support from new fans and that old fans can come back out and have a good time.
On March 7th, AAL played a sold-out show with well known rockers Hawthorne Heights in Staten Island, NY. Since the band just recently shot the music video for their popular single “King of the Worl,” the band is excited to see how fans will react to their live performance upon the video’s release. Their cover of “Rude” by MAGIC! is another song that the guys are excited to play live, since the response to this song is always big since many people know the words (at least to the chorus).The band wants to know “how much people will be into the song and whether or not [they] collected some new fans from it.”
The process for shooting the video for “King of The World” was a very proud and exciting moment. The acting scenes on the first day were a new experience for the band, because AAL got to interact with the actors and watch the directors bring everything together. The second day of performance shots went well, with the band going over the song about thirty times or so. Everything went relatively smoothly, but an unexpected obstacle came up during the warm-up take of the performance scenes; Imran’s guitar strap unbolted from his guitar, and they had to use duct tape for a quick fix. After resolving that problem, things went smoothly, and Imran reports that the experience was “very rewarding on all levels,” with the band gaining some music video savvy.
As far as the new EP goes, which has yet to be titled, the band’s new dynamic is really helping the guys create a a new, ever-evolving sound, with vocalist Vince Torres focusing solely on vocals instead of both singing and playing guitar. The addition of Imran on guitar gives more options for their new sound. When tracking songs, the band all comes together and has what Imran calls a “giant jam session” with lots of demo tracks and layering. They go into the studio with a pretty developed idea of what they want the finished sound to be, which helps cut down on expensive studio time.
With all of these new developments, the road to success hasn’t always been a smooth one for AAL. Before Imran joined the band and took over the management, AAL was working with a manager who was reportedly funneling money from the band. After Imran joined AAL, the band parted ways with their manager and Imran took over managerial duties. The band is currently not signed to any label but is on 3Thirteen Entertainment for bookings. Other than that, AAL has to juggle the pressures of being normal guys with jobs and college to worry about, as well as the constant struggle of getting everyone together in the same room. Getting back out on the road gets motivation back up for everyone in the band to keep pushing themselves to the next level.
With this next leg of touring kicking off for Awake At Last, it’s time for the band to push themselves even farther to increase their already-growing presence and popularity in the east coast music scene. This point in their journey is a make-or-break point in the band’s history, and AAL continues to prove that they’re ready to face the next wave of challenges in order to make a splash in the hardcore scene.