Hey, hold on brother! By once again smashing it on tour with his sibling Ben, Alex Haenow has confirmed that talent clearly runs in the Haenow family!
Alex’s legendary guitar skills are up there with some of the best. The accomplished musician has been perfecting his craft since a young age and it’s certainly paid off.
From being fellow members of The Lost Audio to performing at post X Factor gigs, Alex and Ben have nearly always worked side by side. The pair recently wrote Ben’s ‘Alive’ EP together and their brotherly bond is a huge driving force of their success.
Earlier this month, we caught up with Alex Haenow backstage in Manchester for a rare solo interview. He exclusively spoke to us about: his favourite songs to perform live, dealing with tinnitus, the importance of protecting your ears and much more.
You can read highlights and hear our full interview with Alex Haenow below!
You’re currently rocking it out on tour with your brother Ben again, how would you compare this tour to the last one?
“I certainly am. For this, it seems more alive. It feels more real to us. It feels much more like our band and the way we do things. The last tour was fantastic, we really really enjoyed it, but this definitely feels more like us. It’s us in our own van. It’s kind of all off our own back so yeah, it’s much more organic and us.”
You and your guitar sound incredible on the rocked up version of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’. Are there any songs that you particularly enjoy performing live?
“I love you. I really enjoy the set; everything seriously. From ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, I get a guitar solo so I’m pretty chuffed with that. I really enjoy playing the set; everything from ‘Testify’ to the acoustic stuff. If I do say so myself, I think it’s quite a dynamic and enjoyable thing to listen to. But yeah, I enjoy the whole thing.”
On Ben’s first album, he has a song called ‘Brother’ which he wrote about you. How did you feel when you first heard the track?
Alex: “Well that’s actually a common misconception. It was actually written about our third brother who doesn’t play an instrument: Ned Haenow. (laughs) We couldn’t have him on tour because he’s much better looking unfortunately.”
CelebMix: “That’s a lie, isn’t it?”
Alex: “Yeah. (laughs) It was really quite an emotional thing because I didn’t know of this up until I heard the album. To hear it back, I’m honoured because it’s one of my favourite tracks on the album. It’s a banger; it’s a great track.”
Back in the day, you and Ben used to be in a band called The Lost Audio. How did the group come together? What made you and Ben decide to start making music?
“Blame the Gallagher brothers I think. From the beginning, we actually had an uncle that used to come down when we were kids with his electric guitar and sort of play. We were ‘oh wow, that’s the coolest thing’. Then, actually, Ben decided to get a guitar for Christmas. I thought ‘alright, if he’s getting one, I’ll have one too then’ and that was it. Ben played for about three weeks and decided that he couldn’t be bothered with it anymore and luckily enough, he ended up having a magic voice. That was it; we sort of fell in love with Oasis and started a little sort of tribute band. It’s all grew from that.”
After developing tinnitus, you had to take some time out from performing. How are you coping with that nowadays?
“It’s a struggle. Unfortunately, it never goes away. When I was diagnosed, I just assumed I was losing my hearing. I thought I couldn’t be around music and I thought I would be going deaf but it’s something I’ve learnt to deal with. You’ve just got to manage it. You’ll see me with my in-ears in, that’s because it deadens some of the sound so the stage sounds not so loud. But yeah, it’s just one of those things I’ve got to try and manage.”
What advice would you give to any musician, or anyone in general, who has developed tinnitus and is struggling with it?
Alex: “I would say seek help and don’t give up. When I got diagnosed, I spoke to my doctor and it was kind of like ‘oh’ because they can’t see it. It’s not anything on your body or skin and they can’t give you a tablet for it. So I ended up going to see an audiologist and that was the best thing. They sat me down and explained what was going on. You’ve just got to protect your hearing so for any musicians out there, or people enjoying music in these loud clubs, I would strongly advise wear ear protection.”
Ben: “Condoms kids.”
Alex: “Yeah, condoms for your ears. Protect your hearing. You only get one pair of ears. Really, seriously, to all of the kids out there listening to their iPhones. I played my guitar at ridiculous volumes, I’d have a Marshall stack, I’d have it all turned flat out and rehearse in little rooms thinking we were proper rock and roll and I’ve ended up worse off for it. So, genuinely, protect your ears dudes and dudettes.”
How many guitars do you actually own? Have you got a favourite or is that like picking a favourite child?
“It is. They’re my babies. I’m absolutely a geek. I’m obsessed with my kit. I love guitars, I love amps. I’ve got far too many, that’s the honest answer, but not enough.”
If you could swap places with one person in the band for a night, who would you choose? Is singing something you’ve ever been interested in yourself?
“Do you know what, I look at it and I think it’s an amazing thing but I really enjoy what I do. I love guitar so much. We’ve got the best frontman in the world, in my opinion, why would I want to get in his way? I’m really happy with where I am in the band.”
What does the rest of 2017 have in store?
“Hopefully a bit more rock and roll. We just want to continue this tour. After this, we want to buy this van and carry on playing for you guys. That’s what we love to do more than anything. If we could do that, that would be our dream come true.”
Over the years, Ben’s fans have certainly shown you a lot of love. If you could leave a message for everyone who’s supported you, what would you say?
“We have the best fans. They’re respectful, they’re lovely. The support that we have is mind-blowing. To stand up there on stage and they’re singing the lyrics back to you, I can’t explain what that feels like. It’s such a powerful, beautiful thing. I just want to say I love you all and thank you so much for the support. We hope to see a lot more of you.”
Alex and Ben’s tour continues tonight in Cambridge and you can purchase tickets for their remaining live shows here. The final date will be in Dublin on the 31st March.
Make sure you also check out our exclusive interview with Ben Haenow here. As well as being interviewed, Ben recently took over our Twitter account for a live Q&A session and some of his answers were actually about Alex. You can view highlights here.
Which song do you think Alex and his guitar sound best performing on tour? Have you been to one of his and Ben’s live shows? Let us know over on Twitter @CelebMix!