Current Metal Hammer magazine cover stars Of Mice & Men on the ups and downs of their career to date, their thoughts on fronting up the New Metal Revolution and their hopes for the future…
The New Metal Revolution issue of Hammer (available here) is dedicated to showcasing a new generation of superstars-in-waiting: do you feel a kinship with other bands in the issue?
Austin: “For sure. There’s so many good bands pushing forward right now, and it’s so cool to see bands that maybe came from the same place as us originally doing their own thing. I mean, if you look at say, A Day To Remember or Sleeping With Sirens, we’re very different bands, and we’re taking different routes, but we’re all out here, helping each other and supporting each other. I was texting Kellin [Quinn] from Sleeping With Sirens the other day, talking about stuff, and Danny from We Are Harlot too: obviously he’s stepped away from Asking Alexandria now and so I texted him saying ‘Hey man, I’m here if you need to talk, or whatever.’ I mean, three or four years ago, before he was in our band, Aaron reached out to me like that when I was going through some shit, just saying ‘Hey man, you don’t know me very well, as we’ve only met a few times, but if you need someone to talk to…’ Two years later, when I decided that we needed another singer, I thought of that guy who showed me kindness and showed me support, and now that guy is as much a part of Of Mice & Men as any of us. This life is more to all of us than just music.”
Aaron, what made you decide to get in touch with Austin at that point in time?
Aaron: “I remember just feeling compelled to do it. I thought ‘This guy is obviously going through some shit, and a bunch of people are hating on him on the internet and that sucks.’ I remember he put his phone number up online and said ‘I’m going to change this number in five minutes, feel free to talk shit to me’ and so I sent him a lengthy text just to say ‘Hey man, keep your chin up.’ At the time I just felt like this guy could use a friend. And I’m proud to call him a friend now.”
In recent interviews Austin has talked about how he doesn’t want to see OM&M as just another Warped tour band: is that a mentality you all share in 2015?
Aaron: “I think we’re all on the same page with that. We’ve always refused to set boundaries for ourselves. We want to be the biggest band in the world. Anybody who’s in a band that doesn’t want to be the biggest band in the world is just wasting their time, because that drive is what keeps you going on those long, cold lonely days on tour. But we want to be big for the right reasons, with music that has integrity.”
Tino: “Definitely. When it came to making Restoring Force we made a conscious decision to step outside of our comfort zone, because we felt like our band needed to take a chance and push ourselves and to maybe shock some people: we learned a lot about ourselves in the process and ultimately in doing that it gave us a reinvigorated passion for our music. Our music is our legacy: when this is over no-one will remember what clothes we wore in a certain photoshoot or care about a quote we gave online once, the timeless thing that will last forever is our music.”
When Austin left the band [in 2010] was that a scary period, considering he was very much the ‘face’ of the band at that point?
Phil: “Well, yeah, sure, but at the time we were just so focussed on the music so we weren’t going to let it stop us. But obviously it was unfortunate that Austin had to leave, and he was always going to be hard to replace. It was an interesting year without him, because Jerry [Roush] was a very different guy, but we survived. But that was a crazy time – I was kicked out for a couple of hours back then too! There was lots of drama and childish stuff, but it’s all worked out, and we’ve never been closer. We know that we have something together that’s just magical.”
Tino: “I think we were all still learning how to be a band at that point. At the time it happened we were focussed upon touring the record we’d just put out, but when it came time to think about making a new record, that’s when we thought ‘Maybe it’s time to bring Austin back.’ We knew that’s what the fans would want, and we’ve listened to our fans from the very first day that the band was created. I think we needed some bumps in the road to show us what we are all capable of.”
What was the idea behind reissuing Restoring Force with a handful of new tracks: why not go straight into making a new album?
Tino: “Well, with our previous record The Flood we didn’t feel like we’d got everything we wanted out of that record so we went back to the studio and recorded some more songs while our brains were still in that creative period and headspace. And so, again, this time I think there were additional things that we wanted to do which would fit sonically with what we had done with the original version of Restoring Force. Our producer David Bendeth really challenged us: he said ‘You guys have been going down easy street this whole time, let me throw some curveballs at you and see what you do.’ And every member of our band stepped up and crushed every task at hand. I think you can definitely hear a more cohesive unit on the new songs. Restoring Force really brought balance to our band and helped everyone find their place in Of Mice & Men and now I think we can go into the next record with a clean slate and new confidence.”
Aaron: “I feel like the new songs have kinda drawn a dotted line under this phase of our career. We’ve pushed the boundaries of what we originally did with Restoring Force, we’re slowly expanding in every direction and going deeper. So much entertainment now is just on the surface, you look at it and digest it and you’re done with it, but we really want to give people an extra dimension to our music, and I feel like with the next record we’ll be able to achieve something special.”
Before then, you’re coming back to see us in the UK. Excited?
Phil: “Super excited! I can’t wait to do Brixton Academy and all those big venues in the UK. We started out at The Underworld and moved our way up from venue to venue, so to now be at Brixton is something that I never thought would happen for us, so it’s kinda mind-blowing.”
And then? Do you see a ceiling for this band?
Phil: “Well, wow, the sky’s the limit for us, whatever comes our way we’re not afraid. I wish us to become that festival headline band, that Metallica-level band. For a band like us to even play main stage at those big festivals is already kinda crazy to us, but if we could climb higher that’d be amazing. I mean, ten years ago a band like Avenged Sevenfold were doing what we were doing, and now they’re festival headliners, so why not us too?”
Austin: “I never want to see a ceiling for this band. If you get a footballer who has played in the Super Bowl once, he doesn’t go ‘Well, I’ve played the Super Bowl now, good enough…’ he’s going to want to win the Super Bowl every year of his career, and he’s going to try his best to do that. And that’s how we are. I want to do this ‘til I die. For me and Aaron and Alan and Tino and Phil, music is what we’ll be doing forever, whether or not anyone hears it or not. We’re so grateful to be doing this, and we’ll be doing it for life.”