Alan Ashby is blasting music and head-banging backstage.
He throws back a beer and periodically puts the drink down for some lunges and squats.
He’s about to perform.
Ashby, the guitarist of Of Mice & Men, is loyal to his pre-show ritual. The band will open for Bring Me The Horizon on March 2 at the Electric Factory.
Although Ashby is only 22 years old, he said he can feel his body deteriorating slowly every time he walks onstage and performs the band’s metal music.
Ashby joined Of Mice & Men three years ago after briefly working at KFC.
“I went from scraping s— off the walls of a fast-food restaurant bathroom to being in a rock band in the same year,” Ashby said.
Since joining the band as the rhythm guitarist, Of Mice & Men has played Warped Tour three times, put out two albums and embarked on a few world tours.
The band got its start after the two initial members, vocalist Austin Carlile and bassist Jaxin Hall, posted a cover of the song “Poker Face” by Lady Gaga on its MySpace page in 2009.
“They just wanted people to know that the band existed,” Ashby said.
Two months after uploading the video, the page had more than a million hits, as well as a few more members.
In the two years following the cover, members came and went, but by early 2012, Carlile, Aaron Pauley, Phil Manansala, Valentino Arteaga and Ashby made up the current members.
Ashby said he feels fortunate that the band was able to take advantage of social media.
“You kind of are your own press source now,” Ashby said.
Ashby said he grew up listening to bands that taught him how to play guitar. By the time he got to high school, he could play three albums on guitar: Guns N’ Roses’ “Appetite for Destruction,” Linkin Park’s “Hybrid Theory” and Papa Roach’s “Incest.”
“I think everybody grows up as a fan of music, learning to play the covers from the people they want to be like,” Ashby said.
Ashby was able to play next to some of these musicians while Of Mice & Men played at Warped Tour.
The band name, Of Mice & Men, originates from the classic novel by John Steinbeck, paying homage to the theme of the novel.
“It was a book that every kid had to read in high school, it’s about the American Dream,” Ashby said. “What is a rock band if it’s not the American Dream?”
The band embarks on its “American Dream” tour on Wednesday at the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, N.J., and will be in Philly on Sunday.
Ashby said he had never been out of the country before joining the band, but since then has traveled the world.
“You wouldn’t expect it, but the areas that aren’t big cities seem to appreciate music more,” Ashby said. “In Scotland, people were doing some crazy s—, jumping out of windows and moshing.”
Ashby said the biggest moment for him so far was flying over Japan knowing that he was going to play a show there the next day.
“It was like New York without an end, it just kept going, and knowing that we were playing a city like that was just mind blowing,” Ashby said.
Ashby also said hearing the band’s music for the first time on Sirius XM Radio in a friend’s car was a standout moment in his career.
“My friend was like ‘Dude, I knew you were in a band, but I didn’t realize you were that big,’” Ashby said.
Of Mice & Men released its third album, “Restoring Force,” in January. The record was a five-month process, and while Ashby said there’s a lot of worrying behind the scenes, the finished product is well worth it.
“It’s really cool to put out something that so many people like and can relate to and are excited about,” he said.
“It’s like a painting when it’s all done,” Ashby said. “Looking back and thinking, ‘Yep, that’s what I wanted it to look like.’”
Paige Gross can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.