Interview by Tony Cannella
From the Bay Area, Letters From the Fire returns with a great new album, “Worth the Pain” (which is due out in September). This will also be the album that introduces their new singer Alexa Kabazie. I am pretty sure that once “Worth the Pain“ is unleashed, Letters From the Fire will be a pretty formidable force in rock music. Recently, Alexa Kabazie was kind enough to chat with Femme Metal. We covered a variety of subjects and this is what she had to say…
The first thing I wanted to talk about is your debut full-length album “Worth the Pain”. It comes out in September. For those who aren’t familiar with Letters From the Fire, how would you describe the record?
I think that we have a little something for everyone on the new record. I come from a lot of different influences. I think that we have very catchy hooks for people who like pop music, and we still have that hard rock edge for people who like the heavier side of LFTF.
Can you talk a little about the writing and recording process for “Worth the Pain”?
We all went into the studio for 6 weeks with Kile Odell. The guys would get together with Kile and write the music, then I would get the music I’d sit and write. I’d start on it with the vocals. I would sit in a room and a couple of others – Donny Thomas and Josh Landry actually helped us with the record – and we would sit together and kind of just put the top-line on top of that. That’s kind of how it works for most of the songs. There were a couple that we worked with other people on. Actually, the single “Give in to Me”, we went down to Atlanta to work with Johnny Andrews on that song, which was awesome. There’s another track on the record called “Bruised” which we worked on with Drew Fulk which was also an awesome experience because he is a crazy good top-line guy.
You have also filmed and released a very cool video for the song “Give in to Me”. What can you say about that?
That was an awesome experience, too. Jacob the director was amazing to work with. He had an awesome vision from the start. We went to Los Angeles and shot the video with him – we did it all in one day. The first half of the day was us actually doing the performance, and then the second half was dedicated doing the story-line. We shot it in this really creepy warehouse, like an old butcher house or something. It was really spooky and creepy which ended up being really cool for the video.
Can you talk about what “Give in to Me” is about lyrically?
We actually wrote that song purposely from a perspective to try and keep it open to interpretation. Where we were coming from was, I have ADHD and I have to take medication for that. We were talking to Johnny when we were getting ready to write this song – what we wanted it to be about – and I said, “you know this drug I have to take it, but it’s like a love/hate relationship, because yes it helps me, but at the same time it can have negative effects, sometimes it makes me have really bad anxiety, or sometimes it makes it harder for me to sing because it affects the way that my muscles are working”. We sat down and talked about that and he said, “What if we write the song from the perspective of the drug?”. If you listen to the song and think about it that way you can really tell where we were coming from, it’s like the drug is talking to you, the drug knows what you want, the drug wants you to give in to it.
Do you feel that it helps you or can help others by speaking about ADHD?
I definitely do. I went for a really long time undiagnosed. When I was in grade school and high school, I didn’t have any problems academically and I didn’t have any problems acting out. I am not on the hyperactive spectrum of ADHD, I’m more inattentive. Once I thought about that as a possibility and I went to my doctor about it, the more I learned about it, the more it made sense for me. With ADHD and mental illness in general I think a lot of it goes undiagnosed because there is obviously a stigma attached to that. I think that speaking out and trying to remove the stigmas attached to things like that is really important.
I really love the new record. My favorite song is “My December”. I was really taken with the lyrics for that song. Can you discuss what the lyrics are about?
That song is about a cousin of mine who struggled with drug addiction for a really long time. It is actually about one cousin of mine; it was spooky because right when we finished the record another cousin passed away from a drug overdose. It’s about them, and their struggle with drugs and not being able to kick that addiction and how that can take away a life that had such potential to do great things. That song is one of my favorites too. I kind of wrote that one from a very personal place, so I’m really glad you like that song.
This is your first album with the band. How did you come to join Letters From the Fire?
It was really weird how it worked out. I had worked with Kile with a previous band of mine. I ended up doing a demo with him, because I was planning on starting a new project after I had quit my previous band. So, I did a demo with him. His manager Scott Marchand got involved with me. Scott had heard from Letter‘s previous management that they were looking for a vocalist. He sent them over the demo that I had done with Kile. At first they were like, “we don’t really want a girl” – because they had a male vocalist before. They listened to it and they really liked it. They sent me a couple of instrumental tracks, and I went back into the studio with Kile and we put vocals on them, we sent them back over and they liked what they heard. We got together for a weekend and wrote a couple of songs, after that I think everyone was kind of like, “yeah this fits, this works”. So we went forward from there.
Have you played many shows with the band yet?
We’ve played showcases and stuff, we’ve practiced. I haven’t actually played any shows with Letters yet. I just filled in for Failure Anthem, for a week-and-a-half on their last tour, which was awesome, but I haven’t had the chance to play any shows with my band yet. We’re really excited to be on the road soon.
You mentioned that you played a few shows with Failure Anthem. How did that whole thing come about?
Kile – who produced our record – is actually the lead guitarist for Failure Anthem. Obviously, we had worked together before and I know those guys. When J.D. ended up getting sick they called me up and said “hey, can you do this?” and I said, “sure”, because I have listened to their record, so I was familiar with their songs. They called me the night before, I flew down the next morning. We didn’t really have any time to practice, we just practiced acoustically – a couple times, we ran through the set – so, it was very on-the-fly, but it worked out really well and it was so much fun. I had a blast with those guys.
When the album comes out in September, do you have a lot of touring coming up?
We’re going out on the road for about 2 ½ months. It should be announced soon. I think it starts in mid to late August until mid to late October. That’s going to be a lot of fun.
Will you be supporting another band or will it be a headlining tour?
We will be supporting another band.
I want to ask you, who are some of your biggest influences in music?
My influences come from a whole spectrum of things. When I was writing, I tried to listen to a lot of things outside the genre, so I would listen to Demi Lovato or just other pop artists, and try and pull from that. Within rock, Lzzy Hale (Halestorm) is obviously a huge one. Alanis Morissette is a huge influence for me. Nine Inch Nails, I think is really cool. I love what they do with electronics and stuff.
We’ve come to the end of this interview Alexa. Thank you for taking the time to speak with Femme Metal and we wish you the best of luck with “Worth the Pain” when it is released. In closing, do you have any final words for your fans to wrap this up?
Thank you so much to everyone. I wasn’t really sure what to expect when I joined the band; I wasn’t sure how the fans would react to the new vocalist being female. So just thank you to everyone for accepting me with open arms. Make sure to keep requesting the song on the radio. If you haven’t picked it up, make sure to buy it, and keep an eye out for record pre-orders because those should be coming up soon.
Band photo by Aaron Marsh