Listening to music can trigger vivid memories and powerful emotions. I was recently reminded of this when I had the the pleasure of enjoying the live sounds from the band AVLN, a heavy metal band that played at Loaded in Hollywood. What is most interesting about heavy metal is that there is a strong possibility you’ll likely beunable to make out the words of the songs.
I was intrigued by the dominant actions of the lead singer, Alexander Ray, who was head banging, dropping to his knees, and interacting with the crowd. I was able to make the song about any prevailing moment in my life by living vicariously through his movements. The pure joy of performing that escaped from Alexander Ray was captivating, especially to know the lead singer was battling the flu. Many people would have taken the day off from working if they were sick but for him it was not his job, he was merely performing because he absolutely loved to. This made me wonder what started his love of performing.
After the show was finished and the applause from the crowd faded, I had a conversation with Alexander Ray about his performance. The entire band shined through the darkly lit venue with their strong sounds from the guitar, bass, and drums. With his voice nearly gone he told me he didn’t care how sick he was as long as he could perform he would be OK with spending the next few days even more sick if that was the price he had to pay.
Across his arm, Alexander Ray, has the words, “Tell All Your Friends” tattooed as a reminder of what began his drive to play instruments and sing music, as well as write his own songs. The band AVLN came together in 2015 with founding members and friends: Alexander (Lead singer), Jordan (Bass) and Nick (Guitar). It was easy to start the hard-core band because the group of friends all had a love for music and they all played instruments as well.
Starting a band was something they always talked about while having a few drinks until one day the drunken thoughts became a sober reality. Alexander himself was heavily influenced by Taking Back Sunday and this (Tell All Your Friends) was the album that made him want to learn to sing.
With minor help from his older brother, who was also in a band, Alex learned how to play the drums and guitar as well as perfect his vocals. There is something beautiful about hearing a live band play purely on talent without any extra help needed. Members of the band are talented with their own musical backgrounds and stories. Along side Alexander is, drummer Falco, guitarist, Nick, and bassist Jordan.
I spoke to Jordan and asked from where his motivation for AVLN came . Jordan told me the band, Say Anything, played a major role in finding their sound. I also spoke to Raul who was with the band from the beginning and was going to be making his comeback; he spoke highly of the band and shared a few pieces he was working on with the guitar.
A few days later I interviewed Alexander Ray to learn more about his bands AVLN and PLUSH. AVLN is heavy metal where as PLUSH, which began in 2010, is alternative rock.
“My favorite song varies on my mood. If I am really feeling it it’s whatever song hypes up the hardest and I can rock out to but if I am in a more lax mood, it’s whatever can connect emotionally,” Alex told me when I asked about his favorite song to perform.
Alexander’s band PLUSH began as a two-piece band, himself and original drummer, Phil Van Lleeuwen, but it has since then grown. The band PLUSH has a purple vibe, which is personal for lead singer/lead guitarist and songwriter, Alexander Ray because it is his favorite color. “Plush,” The Stone Temple Pilots song, seemed purple to Alexander which made the connection for creating the bands title.
Alexander admitted that like a lot of beginning artists, “For the longest time my goal was to ‘make it’ so that everybody could hear my music and know what I have to say. At some point it just changed and I realized that my music was not a career path and more of something that I just had to do for myself”.
The media consumes many bands and commercializes therefore, it is rare to find true passion and I, for one, have seen and heard what that sounds like by watching them perform. Alexander Ray says he would like to someday play at the Troubadour because it is a great venue and also the NOVO in downtown LA, I personally hope to see both AVLN and PLUSH play at both venues so I can once again see his passion release from his pores and rain onto the floor as he drops to his knees and throws down the mic.
Many people have a dark impression of heavy metal bands and though the music is in order to make you feel, the members themselves were light and overloading with happiness. A few of the only made out words from the show were memorable words from Alexander Ray’s performance were “Fuck Hate”. He spoke many times to me about how beautiful life was and there are so many great things to be appreciative for. His positive vibes shaped how I have come to view him and his band. I would recommend anyone, despite what genre of music they prefer, to listen to both AVLN and Plush in order to hear what a true band sounds and feels like.
My final question was what was in the future for the two bands, “As far as AVLN’s future, we just want to play as many good shows as we can and rock the shit out of all of them. And as far as PLUSH, as long as I can still talk and use my hands, I will make music and it will be called PLUSH” Alexander Ray revealed.
There is nothing more beautiful than watching someone’s eyes light up as they talk about what they love.