Those few skeptical eyebrows that raised at the pop-tinged sound of That’s The Spirit will be shooting up into their hairlines at the latest news from the Bring Me The Horizon camp. The band will realise a long-held dream of performing with an orchestra this April, when they take to the stage at London’s Royal Albert Hall in aid of Teenage Cancer Trust.
“We first talked about doing something with an orchestra when Sempiternal came out, just because we’d made such a feature of the strings,” says keys player Jordan Fish. “We thought we could play the whole album with an orchestra and it would be a cool thing to do for a show, but after that, it never really came up again – I guess it’s not that realistic. Usually, it costs a lot of money, plus I just don’t think we were confident enough at the time to do it.”
The idea stayed in the back of their minds as a frivolous dream until their booking agent told them they’d been asked to play a show at the Royal Albert Hall. “As soon as the offer came through, we thought it would be a cool opportunity to do something with an orchestra,” continues Jordan. “We’d done a Maida Vale session for Radio One not long before, and I arranged some strings for an acoustic version of Drown, so that gave us a little more confidence to be like, ‘OK, can we take it further.’”
It wasn’t long, though, before Jordan and the rest of the band realised the enormity of what they were doing; when we spoke to him, they were only halfway through arranging all the string parts, despite having just seven weeks left before the show.
“I didn’t realise how much work it was going to be!” Jordan says. “It’s gone way beyond what I thought it was going to be. It’s really exciting, but at the same time, it’s fucking scary.”
Surely Bring Me The Horizon, the hoody-wearing scamps who clawed their way up through Sheffield’s toilet venues, can’t be about to go full Nightwish on us? “You’ve got to be careful not to go overblown and make it too pompous,” admits Jordan.
“We’re lucky, we’ve got two guys doing the arranging – a guy called Will Harvey and a guycalled Simon Dobson. Simon’s a brass composer, and he’s really good. The arrangements he’s done are really tasteful, nice interpretations of the songs. I want people to come away and go, ‘I was not expecting it to be that good.’”
Unsurprisingly, they’ve managed to shoehorn in their rebellious streak. “Having Antivist in the set we were like, ‘That’s going to be cool because it’s such a ridiculous song’,” Jordan continues. “I’ve got the whole choir saying ‘cunt’!” You’d think such an audacious statement might have been met with some resistance, but Jordan says the rest of the band and their management were on board with the idea from the start. “Everyone’s really into the idea, especially Lee [Malia] – he’s the biggest Metallica fan. He’s really into S&M.”
Jordan, surprisingly, isn’t actually a big fan of the metalclassical crossover sound, saying he often finds it “cheesy”. He’s determined that BMTH’s show won’t lay it on too thick. “Rock music in general is a very bold genre, so if you put strings on it, it can easily become melodramatic,” he explains. “You need to be careful about where you have those moments and where you offset them with bits of humour.” Aha, so that’s where the swearing choir comes in.
Pushing boundaries is something BMTH obviously enjoy – they fearlessly strode into electronic and pop territory on That’s The Spirit, and Jordan isn’t worried about how their latest orchestral venture might be received. “Anything that’s a bit different for us is like, ‘Oh, cool, this is going to be a challenge,’” he says. “We’re always into that kind of shit, even if it doesn’t come off. Not being in our comfort zone is something we like, in a weird way. With our band, there are so many opportunities to do cool stuff.”
Does that mean a jazz mash-up is next on the list? We wouldn’t put it past them.
BRING ME THE HORIZON PLAY THE ROYAL ALBERT HALL ON APRIL 22