INTERVIEW: Alesana | Shawn Milke



Written By: Michael and Terri Gonzales


The craft of creating an album in whole that feeds and builds off of a storyline throughout its entirety has sadly become a bit of a dying art form in this day and age. Whether it is the short attention spans of consumers, general impatience of society overall, or the over abundance of music available at the literal swipe of a finger there are many different factors that could possibly be to blame. Nevertheless it seems that regardless of what the reason may be, there are fewer and fewer truly great albums being released these days. It seems that the concept album has been continually diminishing as the years carry onward leaving more and more albums to get loaded up with filler material lacking any true substance or passion.


Thankfully there are still some incredible and passionate artists out there that take pride in creating unique conceptual albums that immerse the listener deep within a storyline that can ultimately transport listeners into a fictitious reality as they immerse themselves within the music. Sweetcore pioneers Alesana have been a saving grace for the lost art of concept albums by creating a three part trilogy consisting of 3 albums throughout the past 5 years that have culminated together creating one hell of a story that has become The Annabel Trilogy. The saga begins with 2010’s The Emptiness inspired by the work of Edgar Allen Poe. It was then followed up with 2011’s A Place Where The Sun Is Silent which was based off of Dante Alighierei’s Divine Comedy. The final installment of the epic trilogy was 2015’s Confessions which drew its inspiration from the series of novels that make up The Time Quintet by Madeleine L’Engle. Confessions is where everything truly comes full circle with plenty of plot twists and revelations where all is revealed bringing this captivating saga of the Annabel Trilogy to a close. The Annabel Trilogy encompasses happiness, love, greed, lust, evil, choices, consequences, and the many different perceptions of one’s own life in general along with much more making for an incredible read that has already captivated countless fans and is sure to draw in many more.


Alesana frontman Shawn Milke was kind enough to answer a few questions for us and give a bit more insight in regards to the upcoming Annabel Trilogy being released as a complete novel for the first time, and also what we can expect to see and hear from Alesana in the future. Alesana’s upcoming tour celebrates the 10 year anniversary of their debut album On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax which will be performed in its entirety. Is this truly the end of Annabel or only the beginning? Read all about everything below and be sure to grab your pre-order of the Annabel Trilogy while you still can. Get yours now before it is too late as this novel is truly one of a kind.


Back in 2006 when you were writing your debut album On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax did you ever imagine creating something like the Annabel trilogy someday?

I would have to say no.   We always knew that we wanted to lean more thematic and conceptual.  In fact, The Last Three Letters was our first original story and the first allusion to Annabel.  When we did The Emptiness we didn’t know that it would become so popular and I think it is the passion of the fans that led to the story developing as much as it has.


Regarding the quote, Creating this abstract universe and telling the story of Annabel has been, in every way possible, both challenging and rewarding.” can you elaborate more on what was most challenging and rewarding throughout the process?

I’m largely referring to the act of writing the book.  It was a very time consuming and daunting task but the amount of attention and hard work it required made the achievement all the more rewarding.


Aside from the literary inspiration that these albums were based on, were there any musical influences that inspired you as a band during the writing and recording?

I am inspired by everything that I listen to.  I think some fans would be surprised to hear my playlist throughout any given day.  The two biggest musical influences on Confessions were Sigur Ros and Between The Buried and Me.



Do you foresee yourselves writing any more literary works in the future unrelated to the album writing process?

I would love to.  Overall, I really enjoyed the experience and I definitely have several ideas for different stories.  My next goal is to turn Annabel into a graphic novel.


What was the inspiration behind the re-issue of Confessions ?

Releasing the book was the biggest inspiration.  It was an opportunity to reimagine the artwork and include a pair of tracks that were not on the original release, including a brand new song called “Ciao Bella” that pairs with the epilogue to the book.  It is really cool, complete collection.


Are there any specific songs that you’re most excited to play off of On Frail Wings of Vanity and Wax on the upcoming tenth anniversary tour?

I can’t wait to play “The Last Three Letters” and “Nero’s Decay”.


Any ideas or thoughts regarding your next album’s direction or concepts that you would like to share?

I have a few ideas bouncing around.  I’m excited to try something more contemporary, possibly draw inspiration from the ways of the world and society we currently live in.  There is a small chance that we continue on with the world of Annabel on the next record, but even if we do not I will definitely entertain the idea of writing a sequel to the novel.


Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge, thank, or any last words?

Thank you to everyone who helped to make this book possible, you know who you are.  Most importantly, thank you to our amazing fans for pushing me and inspiring me to complete this story.

Alesana has sold out of their limited run of 500 copies of Annabel. So they have decided to make 250 more copies of Annabel available for pre-order! In addition, they have made two new bundles available as well. You can also check out their brand new lyric video for “Fatal Optimist” exclusively at Be sure to order your copy of Annabel today and grab your tickets for the upcoming Ten Frail Years of Vanity and Wax Tour!




The Annabel Trilogy