The internet was recently sent into a tailspin when Make Them Suffer revealed that their new member would be none other than the wildly talented metalcore queen, Alex Reade (formerly of Drown This City).
We at Wall of Sound were hyped at the news and just had to grab Alex to chat about how her world has been turned around and changed for the better since joining one of Australia’s most prolific metalcore bands, the intricate story behind the conception of her addition to the group, becoming the pioneer of the keytar in the metalcore genre and what her ever-so-bright future might just look like…
Hello Alex, thank you for chatting today! We gotta know, how did the relationship between Alex Reade and Make Them Suffer begin?
I was asked to join the band around three months ago. However, previously, I was going through some things with my old band, Drown This City. After two years in the COVID era, we were struggling, and for the first time ever, I was faced with the feeling that my music career was over. I have put my heart and soul into my music career, and I wasn’t sure if it would go anywhere. It was depressing and soul-crushing to go through; I just didn’t know what was going to happen. However, I kept bumping into Nick (McLernon, guitarist). Nick and I became friends during Melbourne’s harsh COVID lockdowns as we were living only a few streets away from each other. We were both living alone, so neither of us had many interactions at the time. I thought that he seemed cool, we had met once or twice before, so I asked him to go for a run. I’m not sure why that seemed like a really good idea, but I asked him, and he was excited by the idea. So, the first time we properly met was during this run, and we spoke about music and touring. He told me all these ridiculous Make Them Suffer tour stories. We laughed a lot; it was a really good time. We happened to connect on this energy of being highly motivated together and pushing each other to reach our potential; this energy ended up fuelling some massive 16km runs.
Lockdown eventually ended, and we parted ways a little bit as we both went off to our respective bands. Somewhere down the line after that, we ran into each other in a random setting, and we began having a discussion around the fact that we were both having the identical experience of not knowing whether our bands were going to survive. We were both worried, but we just laughed it off to each other and left it at that. Then a few months later, when I was quite certain that my band was finishing up, I bumped into Nick in the middle of the street during a day when I would usually be at work. We walked straight into each other and started talking about music. Once again, we told one another that the future for each of our bands was looking bleak. I don’t remember saying this but apparently, I told him that ‘maybe one day we will be side by side on stage.’ According to Nick, that’s the last thing that was said before we parted ways, and something clicked in his mind. He left that interaction thinking of this new possibility. Later that night I got a message from him that said, ‘let’s talk, can we have coffee tomorrow?’. I had an ‘oh my god’ moment because it dawned on me that he might ask me to join Make Them Suffer. We met up the next day and we had this massive conversation which is what ultimately lead to me joining the band. All these random occurrences that led up to that moment started making sense. Years ago, Make Them Suffer accidentally followed me on Instagram. I have screenshots of it and sent them to Sean (Harmanis, vocalist) telling him that I’m flattered but it was clearly some sort of mistake because they were only following the band members and then somehow started following me. I also used to joke with Nick about all the members being stuck in Perth during the border closures so he and I would do a Make Them Suffer cover set in Melbourne. Until Nick and I had coffee, it had never clicked in my mind that I could be a part of this band. As soon as everyone thought ‘maybe Alex can do this’, it seemed to really take off from there.
I parted ways with my previous band, which was perfectly fine because everyone in the band was ready to make that decision as well. I only told one friend about it and nobody else, not even my family. I bought a keytar and all this other gear and knuckled down to learn the songs. It was so stressful and anxiety-inducing, however, at the same time it was very exciting to go home at night and practice Make Them Suffer songs in secrecy. We managed to record ‘Doomswitch’ in that time, which was just with Nick, I still hadn’t spent any time with the guys from Perth. The first time meeting them was when we filmed the ‘Doomswitch’ music video in Brisbane with Colin Jeffs from ten of swords media. We all clicked straight away and had the best time together. Then I didn’t see them again until this tour started in Brisbane and that connection continued to strengthen, it was so much fun. It was an insane story that has worked out so well which is pretty mind-blowing for me.
Wow, that seems like it was meant to be! You spoke of how you and Nick connected on a level of pushing each other to help get the best out of one another. Was this energy maintained when it came to writing and recording ‘Doomswitch’?
I didn’t have any involvement in the songwriting process of ‘Doomswitch’ at this stage, I had a tiny bit of influence when it came to fine-tuning the track with our producer Callan Orr, but the song was already written by Sean and Nick. The thing I felt from Nick’s energy was that not once in the process of asking me to join the group did, he give me any kind of negativity or doubt. He smothered me in positivity by saying things such as ‘I know you can do this’, ‘I believe in you’ and ‘I trust you’. Having his trust made me feel good about the entire process. I have so much respect for him, he’s an absolute legend.
It must have been so hard to keep this life-changing news just to yourself without telling anyone.
I told my best friend Courtney, I didn’t tell my family or any of my extended friends because I didn’t want to tell anyone in case it doesn’t work out. It also felt good to keep the secret, put my head down and work hard. Once we had recorded the song and the music video, when it was really set in stone, I started to tell a few other close friends. This was the first time in my life where I have done the grind. I put my head down, disappeared and then came back saying ‘surprise, look at what I did!’ It’s probably the best thing that I have ever done in my life. This is also the proudest I have ever been in my life.
We are all proud of you Alex! I want to talk about your new keytar. A keyboard is a reasonably common instrument in the metalcore world, but I think that you might just be the first keytarist in the genre. Where did this idea come from?
I need to do a deep dive to find out who has a keytar because you are right, a keytar is not common at all. When Nick and I had conversations about what I was going to do in the band, I was looking at keyboards online. I sent him a couple to get his thoughts and he sent me back a keytar and said, ‘What do you think of this?’ I was shocked at first with my initial reaction being a firm no. Then I watched some videos and discovered how cool and underrated a keytar is.
Obviously, it’s a keyboard and once you pick it up it turns into a full synthesizer. When I first held it up like a guitar I fell in love with it, I felt like a rockstar. Somewhere along the line, Nick decided that he wanted a keytar in Make Them Suffer and I decided to go with it.
I absolutely expected for people to disapprove of it. I was ready for at least fifty per cent of YouTube comments to be against it but the keytar has seen a lot of love. There’s so much you can do with it. Give me a year, and you’re going to be seeing some wild solo sh*t from this keytar!
You know we are dying to see that! Ever since its release, ‘Doomswitch’ has been sitting high up on the YouTube music charts which is crazy. You seem to have been in this band for only a short while and things are already kicking off massively. How have you been processing that?
I’m probably still not processing it, but I am trying to allow myself to feel that pure happiness because there is so much to celebrate. I am a long-term Make Them Suffer fan and they have such an established fan base and they have seen so much success. I expected the general reception from the existing fanbase would be along the line of ‘oh cool, another song’ and ‘there’s a new member, I’m not sure if I like her.’ I was ready for everything but the common theme that keeps popping up is ‘they’re back, ‘they’re back bigger’, and ‘I’m so excited for the future of this band’. I can’t describe how crazy of a feeling it is to be a part of that. The energy and the excitement around the beginning of this era of Make Them Suffer is reassuring and such a good feeling. I love that everyone has been super respectful of everything that has happened before I joined and they are open-minded about where this can go.
It’s great to see you’re getting so much support, especially from long time Make Them Suffer fans as quite often change in a band is criticized more than anything else.
I absolutely agree; it’s shocking. I was ready for some backlash. When I read the comment thread on anything Make Them Suffer related, I keep thinking to myself ‘where is all the hate?’. It’s so good to be accepted by those day-one fans of the band.
You deserve it! So, you are currently on a nationwide tour (our Melbourne show coverage here). How have your debut shows with Make them Suffer been?
It has been the best experience of my entire life, and I think that this is something that I am probably going to remember until the day I die. I have been so focussed on practicing and whether I am going to be playing these parts right. Singing and playing at the same time is completely new to me. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself, but for the first show, which was in Brisbane, I wasn’t nervous. We played at The Brightside, which was sold out.
The entire day in the lead-up to the show was great, we were all having so much fun together. When I got on stage, I felt a sense of familiarity which was bizarre because I used to get bad anxiety before all my shows. This time it feels different, perhaps because I am no longer fronting the band. I’ll never forget that the second song we started playing was the first song of the set with a clean chorus. When my first clean singing part came in for the chorus, the entire room erupted singing this song. It completely blew me away; it actually shocked me. It didn’t occur to me until then that of course that would happen at a Make Them Suffer show, especially when they have been away for so long as everyone was so excited to see them, but I had never expected to be the one singing these parts to a sold-out crowd that is singing them back. I will never forget that feeling, I had this big smile on my face. It was the most insane moment of my life.
Photo Gallery by Clinton Hatfield.
There’s sure to be many more moments like that to come, especially on your upcoming USA tour with Bad Omens. Have you been able to process the thought of doing a national USA tour with the band you have just joined?
No, I haven’t processed it at all. I had a calendar in my lounge room that I looked at every day and I wrote out the phases of what I could focus on because there was so much happening so quickly. The first couple of months was just learning the songs, then these last few weeks has just been rehearsals and performing, then eventually it’s the tour. I have just been so focussed on one day at a time to make sure that I do a good job and not get overwhelmed that I haven’t even thought ahead.
I looked at it this morning, and it is at the part where it says ‘USA tour with Bad Omens’. I’m leaving next week. This will be my first overseas music tour, my first long tour with any band, let alone with Make Them Suffer alongside Bad Omens, Dayseeker and Thousand Below, all extremely talented bands. This tour is going to be seven weeks long! I said to my bandmates ‘be ready for me to cry at the airport because I think that is when I am going to realise in that moment that this is a dream come true.
International touring is something that I have always wanted out of music and I’m about to achieve that. Apart from that I don’t care what happens for the rest of my life now, everything else is just a bonus [laughs].
It’s so good to see you beaming with gratitude! Looking past this upcoming Bad Omens tour, what can fans expect from Make Them Suffer?
Well, there’s a few things but I can’t say anything! Obviously, there is new music coming, everybody knows that. There’s a lot of energy, full steam ahead! There’s going to be so much awesome sh*t, actually, but my lips are sealed. All I am going to say is that I know a lot of people are expecting and/or hoping for some things, and I think that we are going to deliver them.
Ooh, you have me excited now! Before I let you go do you have any last thoughts for fans?
Just a big thank you for being so accepting and making my life so happy. I’m just so extremely grateful for everything.
Interview by Adam Rice
Follow Alex’s journey with Make Them Suffer on Instagram
Stream ‘Doomswitch‘ here