June 5, 2024

At last month's Slam Dunk festival, ASKING ALEXANDRIA bassist Sam Bettley was asked by James Wilson-Taylor of Rock Sound about the recent departure of the band's founding guitarist Ben Bruce. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "Well, we have Paul Bartolome. He's been playing with us for a year now. He's been playing guitar. It's been awesome to tour with him. He's a great guy. He's another British lad.

"Yeah, as weird as it's been without Ben, we still speak to Ben every day," he explained. "So that dynamic is only really — for me, it's just different as soon as we hit stage.

"I don't know if you noticed, but we run around a lot on stage. So there's a lot less bumping into each other now that Ben's not here."

Bettley previously discussed Bruce's departure from ASKING ALEXANDRIA this past February in an interview with El Planeta Del Rock. At the time, he said: "Here's the thing: we're all brothers, and we've been brothers since, it's been 15 years now. And when we started doing this, obviously we were all young and we were kids, really. And throughout the years, we've all got families. We've all got kids. I've got two boys — four and about to be two — and he's got a family and he's got kids. And if there's one thing that we always said, it was always put family first. And if you're feeling there's certain things and reasons that I don't wanna go into — it's not my place to go into — but it's just a no-brainer. He's staying home just to be with his family for a bit, and we still speak to him all the time, and he's still like just as much of a brother to all of us, and it's just not as big of a deal to us, because we've kind of known about his feelings of this for a while. We've done a few tours without Ben, actually, recently too, because of these reasons of him needing to be at home with his family. So to us, it's gonna be definitely weird and different to be on stage without Ben, for sure, but I will be definitely speaking to him and seeing him just as much as I ever did. There's no bad blood there. We all have families, so for us to put ourselves in his shoes and he's our brother, we get it. And much love and respect there."

Bruce formed ASKING ALEXANDRIA in 2006 and has played on all of the British band's eight studio albums, including ASKING ALEXANDRIA's latest full-length release, 2023's "Where Do We Go From Here?" A new ASKING ALEXANDRIA EP, "Dark Void", arrived last month.

In a message posted on Instagram on January 19, the guitarist thanked the ASKING ALEXANDRIA fans for their "years of love and support" before explaining that "it's time to dedicate my life to my family. On top of family medical situations, leaving my children means missing out on too many important moments in their lives."

Ben's full statement read as follows:

"To my amazing AA family,

"First and foremost, I want to say thank you to everyone for the years of love and support. It means more to me than you can imagine.

"I've spent my entire life dedicated to music. It's been my first love since about the age of 2 and the journey I've been on has been absolutely incredible. As I've grown older and my life has inevitably changed, I have come to realize how precious time is. The time I have spent with all of you has been the time of my life. But now it's time to dedicate my life to my family.

"On top of family medical situations, leaving my children means missing out on too many important moments in their lives. It's so important for me to be there for them as they grow, and to be here for my family as they need me to be, which means, after a lot of thought, I will be stepping away from ASKING ALEXANDRIA.

"Thank you to everyone who has come and seen me play live and listened to the songs I've written over the years. The memories will love on in my heart forever. I truly love you all so much for the years of support you've given me and ASKING ALEXANDRIA. Thank you from the bottom of my heart."

Bruce had been the lead guitarist, backing vocalist and primary songwriter of ASKING ALEXANDRIA since the band's inception nearly two decades ago.

ASKING ALEXANDRIA recently announced the second leg of their successful headlining "All My Friends" U.S. tour. Produced by Live Nation, the trek will kick off Tuesday, September 24 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and wrap Saturday, November 2 in Chico, California. The band has invited returning special guests MEMPHIS MAY FIRE and THE WORD ALIVE along with opening act ARCHERS.

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