Draw Me An Elephant: The Word Alive

We sat down recently with Telle Smith (vocals) and Luke Holland (drums) from The Word Alive to talk about basketball, summoning spirits and the negatives of having your little man on show.

What is your favourite smell?

Telle Smith: “This is probably really cliché, but clean laundry. The right laundry detergent smells really good.”

Luke Holland: “I’m from Arizona and it doesn’t rain there, but I love the smell of rain.”

Telle: “Laundry and rain. Wow…”

Do you have any phobias?

Telle: “Spiders and vaginas.”

Luke: “Deep water. The unknown scares the shit out of me. Ultimate outright chaos and riots – humans losing their shit just scare me. Burning crucified kittens also scare me.”

If you were kings for the day, what rules would you impose?

Telle: “Free healthcare for the world would be awesome. I think the cost of higher education should be one tenth of what it is. Studies show the average person is in debt until they’re like 55 years old. I’d try to tackle some real-life problems.”

Luke: “At birth, every child will have to get ‘ballbag’ tattooed on their butt. I think everyone would walk round naked ‘cause they have ballbag on their butt.”

Telle: “It would eliminate the need for clothes.”

Luke: “Strippers wouldn’t make as much money if everyone is naked already.”

Telle: “Unless the strippers don’t have ‘ballbag’ tattooed on their butt and that’s what makes them exotic.”

Do you have a secret talent or party trick?

Luke: “Drums. Playing drums.”

Telle: “I’m pretty good at basketball. Above average good. I almost got a full-ride into college because of basketball, life could have been so much different. I could have got really good and been the first 5’9” white dude in the NBA. But I wasn’t that good which is why I chose music, if I got one broken ankle in college then my career would be done. But now I’ve broken bones, including my ankle, on tour and I can play a show the next day.”

Luke: “I played baseball for seven years, I was good at that.”

Have you ever had a supernatural encounter?

Telle: “Yes. My brother and I used to go to this girl’s house in our neighbourhood when we were growing up. Their dad was a heroin addict and dealer – but we were too young at the time to know what was happening, and he was pretty good at hiding it. But needless to say there was some weird shit in that house. We’d go over there and he’d just leave so we’d end up getting into trouble, and one day we tried doing séances and trying to call upon Bloody Mary and all that. My brother and I were both doing it in separate rooms at the same time and my brother ran out screaming with blood shooting out of his nose and I was in the bathroom with the door locked and the mirror exploded. And the door was locked so I couldn’t get out – even though it only locks from inside. I started screaming and finally got the door open and my friends on the other side of the door said they never heard one word. And the mirror was completely intact. I’ve never fucked with anything like it since.”

What’s your favourite television show?

Telle: “Game Of Thrones.”

Luke: “Breaking Bad or Game Of Thrones.”

Telle: “The storyline and the acting in Game Of Thrones is insane. It’s got everything – nudity, slitting throats, tragedy, dragons, drama, revenge, sex… I’ve not read the books I went straight into the TV shows. But then you have Breaking Bad too – I have a Heisenberg tattoo. It’s the first TV show I was obsessed with. It was when I discovered binge watching.”

If you could live as anyone else for a day, who would you be?

Telle: “David Beckham. He’s got a great bod, great family, great wife, he’s rich, he looks awesome in underwear…”

Luke: “I’d be Rosie O’Donnell.”

Telle: “I’ve seen her naked.”

Luke: “So you’ve seen me naked? I like where this is going.”

What is your favourite book?

Telle: “The Perks Of Being A Wallflower. It’s a really interesting read, it’s kind of dark and depressing, and it’s weird that I like that but I do. Scar Tissue, is the book I’ve read fastest. Anthony Kiedis’ autobiography is one of the craziest stories. All of the Red Hot Chili Peppers should be dead ten times over. But the story of what they’ve been through and what a legendary band they’ve become is a really amazing read, especially for a musician. It’s like 600 pages and I read it in four days, I couldn’t stop reading it.”

Luke: “I’ll go for Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets. Actually, I read all the Harry Potters and that was my least favourite, so I’ll have to choose The Order Of The Phoenix. It starts slow but has a dynamic ending.”

What is your most embarrassing moment?

Luke: “I was about eleven years old and my brother and mom were sitting in my family room on the couch talking about something serious. I came in wearing PJs and started talking to them, then my mom looks down and puts her hand over her face and turns. Then my brother starts cracking up and I look down to see my dick hanging out of my PJs.”

What band epitomises metal?

Telle: “Since we just toured with them, I’ll have to say Killswitch Engage. They’re a great lvie band, they’re energetic, they can shred when they want to but they’re so melodic. Sustaining their career as a ‘big band’ is pretty incredible.”

Luke: “I agree. And I’d add Celine Dion. But Killswitch was a pleasure to watch every night.”

Telle: “Creed are up there, too.”

Luke: “Creed are too heavy for my taste.”

Draw me an elephant.

The Word Alive’s new album Real is available to pre-order here from iTunes.

Luke Morton joined Metal Hammer as Online Editor in 2014, having previously worked as News Editor at popular (but now sadly defunct) alternative lifestyle magazine, Front. As well as helming the Metal Hammer website for the four years that followed, Luke also helped relaunch the Metal Hammer podcast in early 2018, producing, scripting and presenting the relaunched show during its early days. He also wrote regular features for the magazine, including a 2018 cover feature for his very favourite band in the world, Slipknot, discussing their turbulent 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone.