Asking Alexandria's “When the Lights Come On” will be the anthem for BLAST Pro Series: Los Angeles on July 13.

It used to be that if you went home and played Mortal Kombat for five hours every night and all of your friends were just online usernames, you were a loser. The message in countless movies and TV shows is clear: If you’re a nerdy gamer, you won’t get the girl.

But times have changed. Now, an elite gamer can be a millionaire. Global gaming tournaments have become such highly watched events, and ESPN has even begun televising the major championships. In a world of perpetual technological advancement and interconnectivity, eSports emerges as the sport of the future. According to BLAST Pro Series, a global circuit of gaming tournaments, “An estimated 380 million people watched eSports last year and a projected 428 million will watch this year.”

Photo courtesy of BLAST

That’s good news for Asking Alexandria, whose song “When the Lights Come On” has been named the official song of 2019 BLAST Pro Series: Los Angeles. “When we wrote that song,” says guitarist Ben Bruce, “We wrote it specifically with arena crowds in mind. The whole song itself is about that feeling and about that moment when those lights come on and the show starts. It only exists there and then. That’s the kind of energy that these eSports events are capturing and creating now.”

The growing enthusiasm for eSports competitions has indeed turned them into arena-sized affairs, creating a new stage for rock and metal to gain fans. Asking Alexandria are the first to take that stage, and will also be recording their own version of the BLAST theme song. There also is talk of possible live performances.

“I think it’s an exciting new platform,” Bruce says, “If you look at these eSports events, there is huge production and even just the energy from the spectators—it’s like an NFL game. And that’s where rock ’n’ roll is most at home, in a live atmosphere where people are already energized. The marriage of the two is going to be quite magical.”

In this new era of competitive video gaming, tournaments such as BLAST are becoming the next stadium shows. In fact, the story of the rising gamer has a lot in common with that of the rock star: Both start out in their parents’ basement, get mocked for wasting their time on something so unrealistic and ultimately prove everybody wrong in the end.

“I suppose it’s come full circle,” Bruce muses. “When kids were growing up [saying], ‘I’m gonna be a rockstar!’ a lot of parents were like, ‘That’s silly. Unless you’re one of the few, there’s not much money in that. You have to get a real job.’ Now, I’m sure there are kids at home playing video games and their parents are like, ‘You need to get out more!’ and they’re like, ‘No, but I want it to be my career,’ and there are people [saying], ‘Well, don’t be silly.’

Going from playing with a couple of people online to playing in BLAST tournaments is like the equivalent of a band starting out at VFW halls and making their way to Madison Square Garden, both in terms of scale and money. The 2019 Pro Series Global Final champion, for instance, will win $350,000 to go along with their trophy.

Having been a gamer growing up, Bruce is awestruck by the evolution of pro gaming and is happy to be part of it as a musician. As he gets hyped for this new venture, he recalls what it was like to play Counter-Strike in his local Internet cafe.

“There’d be a bit of banter and camaraderie between the people in the cafe,” he explains. “Now, I can’t keep up. If you go online and try to play Counter-Strike or Call of Duty, you’re playing against the entire world. I used to go to an internet cafe and there would be 40 or 50 people and I’d be like, ‘Man, it’s busy.’ Can you image playing video games in a fuckin’ arena of people? Jesus Christ.”

But he and Asking Alexandria are no strangers to big audiences, which is what the song “When the Lights Come On” embodies, and why they are so excited about the musical partnership with BLAST and the new fans they’ll make along the way.

“If I didn’t [get excited about playing],” Bruce states, “I wouldn’t do it anymore. I’ve got two kids and a wife and leaving for tour is the hardest thing. It’s really difficult to leave now, but as soon as I set foot on stage and all that excitement comes back, and I feel those butterflies in my stomach again, that’s what keeps me going. I love it.”

Pre-Sale for BLAST: Los Angeles starts May 8, and you can sign up here. Tickets go on sale May 9.

Asking Alexandria, "When the Lights Come On"

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