By the time they released their fourth full-length, A Place Where The Sun Is Silent, in 2011, Alesana had built a steady national following, broadened their musical ambitions well beyond the post-hardcore template and jumped from one large indie label, Fearless Records, to Epitaph Records, an even bigger one. They were, and are, one of North Carolina’s most successful bands, even as most of its members set up residence in other parts of the country.
But Alesana, which started as an upstart Raleigh band in a scene centered around the now-closed venue The Brewery, has come back home—well, mostly. Frontman Shawn Milke moved back from Maryland. Bassist Shane Crump and drummer Jeremy Bryan returned from Florida and Illinois, respectively. Singer Dennis Lee never left. They came back to open a new chapter for the band: Last year, Milke and Alesana tour manager Giacomo Crismale founded Revival Recordings, now the label home to Alesana and other bands they recruit. (So far, the label has released one title: an EP from Baltimore’s Megosh.)
That meant leaving the comforts of Epitaph to venture out on their own, something Milke says had the support of Epitaph founder Brett Gurewitz. “He fully understood,” Milke says. “He was like, ‘I’ve been where you are,’ and he just let us go. It was very mutual.”
On Oct. 27, Milke and Crismale unveiled their latest venture with recording engineer Neil Engle: Adelaide Recording Studios in downtown Raleigh. That had been part of the vision all along, but the idea only came to fruition when the established commercial studio SoundTrax offered to share space. The studio’s ribbon cutting arrived just before Alesana began recording a new single, which Milke calls an “audio business card” for Adelaide. The reception was a calm before the storm as about 30 people, mostly friends and family, gathered to greet Alesana’s new creative epicenter.
“SoundTrax does not have a history of aestheticism,” owner Tom Guild laughed, impressed by his new partners’ cosmetic additions. After spending years recording in a wide range of settings, from on-the-cheap home projects to deluxe studios in California, Milke had a clear idea of what he wanted.
“I really tried to take what was great about all those experiences and put it into Adelaide,” Milke says. That meant fresh paint and new floors, low lighting and candles, even a custom scent to define the studio and make it more relaxing.
On the production side, Milke recruited Engle, who worked under producer Kris Crummett on A Place Where The Sun Is Silent and 2010’s The Emptiness, to move from Portland, Ore. “I wanted a fresh mind that’s open to ideas and open to doing things a little bit differently,” Milke says.
For all parties, the new space presents new opportunities: to explore new approaches with an established band, to mentor younger bands, and to work within the context of Raleigh. “We want to have a local footprint here, and a local-first mentality. We came back to Raleigh for a reason,” Milke says. “We love it here. I believe in this city, I think it’s a really creative city, and I want to partner with local bands, other studios, other labels, everything.”
Next year should be a big one for the band, and for Revival Recordings. Alesana plans to follow the forthcoming single with an EP for Artery Recordings, the label run by longtime manager Eric Rushing, and then a proper full-length on Revival. Megosh also plans to issue an LP on Revival next year, and an album by Seattle’s Shoreline Drive is also on deck. Raleigh metal band A Turning Day has also discussed recording at Adelaide.
For now, the space is mostly full of opportunity, which is more than enough to excite the stakeholders. Says Engle, “This is the ultimate playground.”