"Heavy punk rock is the best way to describe it," explains Ben Perri, lead singer of From Autumn to Ashes. "It's got elements of hardcore. It's got elements of rock 'n' roll. It's got elements of punk." Since their start in 2000, the Long Island-based quintet has opened for Thursday and Taking Back Sunday, rocked out at "punk rock summer camp," the Warped Tour, and gone on MTV's Headbangers' Ball. At 26, he feels he's grown up a lot. After witnessing his moshing fans, though, Perri hasn't lost his ability to command thunderous crowds.
On the phone, Perri is friendly and lighthearted. He seems like someone you would want to hang out with. Onstage, he's the oddball. He's dressed in the non-descript garb of someone entering his late 20s. He doesn't have a shaved head or a Mohawk. No tattoos or piercings are visible. He's wearing a long sleeve shirt, blue jeans and a tattered baseball cap. He doesn't look like a punk rock star. The same cannot be said of the hordes of fans crammed into The Trocadero.
Perri shrieks on nearly every mosh-heavy number. "It's a big release. I don't ever really show my emotions or share very much with many people. It's just playing and doing what I do that helps me get those feelings out." Tens of thousands of volts of guitar power and shredding vocal chords leave the sold-out crowd frenetic.
Just like tourmates Atreyu, From Autumn to Ashes mixes screaming, aggressive rock with some more melodic elements. Drummer Francis Mark's side is the Heaven, Perri's is the Hell: "I do the angry stuff, the emotion, the negative in my life. He takes the positive."
Perri's outlook has gotten brighter, however, even if he still sounds like a tortured animal. "The stuff I write is very personal," Perri explains. "When I perform it, it's like revisiting an old girlfriend or an old friend."
He admits that his yawps might be hard to understand, especially over feedback. Perri wants fans to read through the lyrics more carefully and pick out those elements that speak to each individual. "A lot of the lyrics come from personal experience and while I'm not old, I'm older than most of my band."
His phone demeanor speaks to the wisdom that comes with even relative age. "I think I've grown up. I think being on the road really helped me grow as a person." Instead of trying to be cryptic with his messages, as he has in the past, Ben looks to "write some straightforward stories of everyday life"