You are a touring and recording artist and front-woman for the hardcore band ‘Drown This City’. How long have you been playing music for both personally and professionally?
I grew up with music from an early age and was singing in choirs, musicals and as a solo classical performer between the ages of 5 – 17. I actually wanted to be an opera singer. Then something clicked at 18 and I discovered bands such as Muse, Alexisonfire and Parkway Drive and I knew I wanted to be in a band. I joined my first band at 19, and have been working in and out of bands ever since.
Describe a day in the life of Alex Reade..
During the week I’m either working the corporate life or attending Uni to study Communication Design. On the weekend if I can I’ll drive as far in whatever direction I feel like and go exploring somewhere. I get really restless during the week so I just want to disappear off somewhere new and walk and be in silence.
How did you get your start in the music industry – what is your story of how you got to where you are today?
I was new to Melbourne and one day at the age of 19 I literally went ‘fuck it’ I’m joining a band. I don’t know what came over me I jumped on Melband; picked the first band I liked the demos of and headed off to Wick Studios in Brunswick to meet the guys. I’d never written a song before; I’d never been on stage or had any band experience. I was this little terrified kid who only had classical experience but I had fallen in love with heavy music and I had this other side I needed to get out. When I auditioned I walked in and said shut up and let me sing before I pass out. The rest is history.
What advice would you give someone wanting to become a musician? Did you receive any advice when you first started that has stayed with you?
I think everyone responds to different advice and different messages on how to succeed so it’s tough to think of what I could possibly pass on to anyone else. I’ve received a lot of advice but it’s important to filter it out and take away only the things that serve you. The best advice I could give is to be present when people are telling you what to do. Be aware of your gut feeling and trust that implicitly – you don’t have to do what anyone tells you, and if you feel sick, even slightly sick about doing something then trust that feeling and stick to your guns.
“I’ve received a lot of advice but it’s important to filter it out and take away only the things that serve you.”
If given the chance, what would you change about the current Australian music industry to make things better or fairer for musicians?
It really surprises me how un-supportive people are for each other, not just band to band, but fan to artist, human to human, whatever. There’s a growing trend where trolling, negativity, shit talking and tearing people down privately and publicly has become a bell and whistle of the industry – it’s almost a rite of passage. The amount of times I’ve seen comments online of people tearing others down, tearing me down and I go and stalk their profile only to see they are in a local band, and I just think really? Is this what you do with your time and how you want to represent yourself and your passion?
I would definitely urge people to be more positive and supportive for their own benefit. If you are a negative miserable person hell bent on tearing others down karma will ultimately get you. Let’s just work together and celebrate all the music and talent Australia has to offer, enough of the hate bullshit.
Have you had to overcome any challenges or adversity in your career, and if so how did you approach them?
One of the biggest challenges for me has definitely been building a tough exterior to cope with negativity and criticism. You don’t grow up hearing every negative thought people have about you, so when you join a band and lay your heart and soul on the line you inevitably cop hatred about everything you do. It’s really hard to deal with. But I read a great article recently about what makes elite athletes stand out from normal people and allows them to be pushed to the absolute extreme and the key quality was possessing ‘grit’. Basically the ability to get up every time you fail miserably and do it again.
So I sort of realised I didn’t have to solve a million problems or fix anything about myself before I could embrace being in a band or putting myself out there, I just needed to get up every day and do it again. It took a lot of weight off emotionally on the days I thought I couldn’t cope. If my body just keeps on going eventually I’ll catch up and feel OK again and get stronger every time.
I also started to realise that nothing happens when you are criticized. Literally nothing happens.
“The amount of times I’ve seen comments online of people tearing others down, tearing me down and I go and stalk their profile only to see they are in a local band, and I just think really? Is this what you do with your time and how you want to represent yourself and your passion?“
Are there any skills that you’ve needed to develop as a musician that you didn’t realise you’d need?
People skills, organisation, determination, sacrifice, patience. Pretty much every virtue or skill I’ve tried to acquire in my life has come in to play when working with music and being in a band.
What is your favourite gig that you’ve ever played and why?
Definitely our recent EP Launch we played at the Workers Club a few weeks back. We managed to sell it out, which was a great feeling, but it was also one of the first times I’ve managed to stay present onstage and really enjoy the moment. Most of the time with all the adrenaline and excitement the gig just blurs into crazy energy! But this time I was able to breathe, look around and really take notice of what was going on it was great.
What is the song you wish you’d written? (but didn’t)
If it was a heavy song I’d have to go ‘Voice of the Voiceless’ by Heaven Shall Burn. It’s one of the first heavy songs I ever listened to and it holds so many significant meanings for me. For a mainstream song, I’d go ‘Shine On Your Crazy Diamond’ by Pink Floyd.
What advice would you give to your 18yo self?
Don’t take shit from anyone and really learn where your personal boundaries are and how to assert yourself. I’d also tell myself to enjoy the little wins, the little achievements and not to take any opportunity or experience for granted.
What tips would you give an artist trying to succeed in Australia? Is there a certain route they should take?
Have perseverance. And don’t sit around being shitty because opportunities aren’t landing in your lap. Learn to adapt. Work hard in every aspect you can, that includes gigging, social media, working on your craft. There is endless work to do in the current music industry you’ve got to research and watch what’s going on. I’m learning this every day.
Who are your role models in the industry whether they be international/Australian?
Davey Havok of AFI was a huge influence for me growing up and still is. I admired his unrelenting strength being straight edge and vegan – that’s a huge fuck off to the world to come out of your preconditioning and develop your own belief system away from the mainstream. I used to read all of his interviews and take a lot of strength and inspiration from his own journey and message.
Top 3 artists to watch right now?
Gonna go Aussie on this one. I’m completely obsessed with Ocean Grove and Hellions, but it’s no surprise these guys are already on the rapid rise. I’m also digging Ecca Vandal I’d love to see that fierce lady make it big.
What does the rest of 2016 have in store for you?
I’ve got a big 6 months ahead navigating through Uni and hopefully writing an album with Drown This City. But my goals are all creatively based, that’s the way I like it.
What is your go-to karaoke song?
I’ve never actually been to karaoke. But if I did I’d probably pull out some sneaky Heaven Shall Burn – scare the shit out of everyone!