Of Mice & Men Interview

Of Mice & Men InterviewThere is one band that is currently taking over metalcore. You don’t have to look very far to find out who it is, flick through any magazines, browse on sites like Tumblr and they are everywhere. ‘They’ are Of Mice & Men. Not only are the band known for their punishingly heavy shows and bouncing riffs, Of Mice & Men have a reputation for being one of the most positive and enthusiastic bands in the scene at the moment.

Crossfire’s Emma Wallace caught up with vocalist Austin Carlile and drummer Val Arteaga ahead of their sold out London show as part of their Autumn/Winter UK & Europe tour. Here’s what went down…

You’ve been massively busy this year, but what’s been the highlight of your recent touring schedule?

Val: Everyday that we get to get on stage is a highlight. We spent the summer on Vans Warped Tour and every single date of that tour was insane. We’ve just finished an August Burns Red tour, and again every single date on that was amazing.

Austin: We’re here ready to start a sold out UK run, how awesome does that sound? That needs to be a highlight. We played New York last night, woke up, flew here, got here and have to play a show tonight. Its hectic but its awesome.

Sounds very intense, but like you say, awesome too. Do you suffer from jet-lag with all the traveling?

Austin: Oh boy yeah! But today I had an English Breakfast… man! £5 but it was massive. That helps sort the jet lag out.

Val: Oh man I’m so jealous. Can’t believe I missed out on that.

You’ve changed the set list around a bit recently, which songs get the pits started?

Austin: All of them! ‘The Depths’, ‘Ohioisonfire’… Oh and ‘The Flood’ is a banger. Anything heavy.

Well your new stuff is particularly heavy, is that the way your looking to go in the future?

Austin: I’d say it’s more like a step for us. We wanted these last tracks to come out as their own piece, we wanted to show our fans this is a direction we can go but not one we may stay with. For the longevity of the band, I think we’ll stay with the melodicore style, we’re a band that includes singing, and that will be something that won’t ever fully disappear.

Does that mean clean vocals will be coming back when you release new material?

Val: Yeah, for sure.

Austin: Yes. 100%.

When is the new album coming out? Everyone is excited for it!

Austin: 2013…!

Val: If the world doesn’t end.

Austin: What?! I don’t want the world to end. Why’s the world ending?

Val: I don’t know it’s just supposed to soon.

Austin: Oh man. Well I don’t care. As long as the world isn’t dead before our third album, it can explode the week after, but it’s something the world needs to hear!

Who do you think are the best acts around at the moment in your scene?

Austin: Our boys in Memphis May Fire who will tear apart the UK. And, well because of their front men, Linkin Park and Slipknot. Corey Taylor, man he’s just awesome, the best front man around.

He is awesome! Who do you think is the best front man of all time then?

Austin: Frank Sinatra! Haha hands down Frank! And I can answer for Val, he’ll say Michael Jackson.

Val: Hell yeah. Michael Jackson is the man!

Austin, so would you say Corey Taylor and Chester Bennington have inspired you?

Austin: Well obviously a bit. They are amazing. But when I started the band I never thought we’d get anywhere near their level, I’m pretty realistic. And still if someone said to me right now that I would be touring with Slipknot, I’d be like ‘Man… So sick!’.

Is your persona on stage different to who you really are?

Austin: For sure! For Val that’s ridiculous, of course he’s different! Emma you’ve seen him beat the shit out of a drum kit and look at him now, he’s like a like a puppy.

Val: True. I feel like our personas will always be a bit different on stage, but they aren’t massivelly different to what we are really like.

Austin: Hey, mine’s different!

Val: How so?

Austin: Well in real life do I walk around growling at people? No! I don’t spit at people in real life either.

Val: I guess not, but you’re pretty weird in real life and on stage!

Austin: It’s a bit like being in a theatre, you are different on stage, you play a character. I’m like Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde, a bit like the single Austin and the not single Austin… too completely different people!

Val: Aww…

Austin: Dude that wasn’t meant for an ‘Aww’, it was meant for an ‘Oh. Shit’. I’m dangerous. Actually I’m being stupid, I’m not at all. But single Austin is tastefully playful, like I am on stage.

Val: Dude no one cares…

Before you go on stage, how do you get ready?

Val: It’s a secret.

Austin: No, I’ll break it down for you. Phil and Tino set up and do all the gear and stuff and Alan and I stay on the bus and we get pumped to music, something heavy like Lamb Of God or Korn. We head bang together! Then the tour manager is like ‘Guys come on!’ And we meet up with other guys, have a little huddle, get more pumped. Alan yells at us. He’s a bit mental. And then we shout at each other, go more mental. Then we are ready. I love it.

Last time I spoke to you guys, you felt something was lacking on tour, do you remember?!

Austin: No.. Oh wait. Yeah. A tour kitten. Yeah I caught up with Emma before a show and went on about cats. We wanted a tour kitten to come on the bus with us. A cute kitten to cuddle. Actually last time I spoke to you I was dressed up as a cat, and now I’m all over Tumblr like that, a bit embarrassing…

So my last question is do you have a tour kitten now?

Austin: No, unfortunately not. Although Alan does have a kitty back home, she’s real cute. I moved on from cats, I want a tour puppy now. Man I’m so metal…!

Austin Carlile, Of Mice & Men

Words: Emma Wallace
Portrait Photos: Tim Easton
Live Photos: Emma Wallace

Memphis May Fire Interview

Dallas band Memphis May Fire are rapidly emerging in the metalcore scene and blew away many fans and critics alike with latest release ‘Challenger’. This autumn the band headed over to our shores with Of Mice and Men for a fully sold out Rise Records tour. We sent Emma to catch up with singer Matty Mullins backstage at the London date. Although Matty has been reported as coming across with arrogant swagger on stage, the Memphis May Fire front man is actually impeccably polite and full of honest truths about the scene and his band. Here’s what he had to say…

Matty Mullins, Memphis May Fire

Your older brother is also a musician, do you think his example has influenced you?

Of course, 100%. When I was growing up, his band was doing really well in the Christian scene, and they were touring in a bus just a few months into their career, so seeing that was like ‘Wow’. I also found his live show really inspirational, it wasn’t just his success that motivated me.

My sister dated a lot of musicians, so I got to meet lots of interesting people through her. My whole family has influenced me really, my mum took me to contemporary Christian concerts! I went to DC Talk as one of my first shows, my mum used to take me to Creation Fest, so musically I think I had a privileged upbringing.

My brother was living it and my mum and sister also got me involved, so I guess I was involved musically from a very young age. I’ve always known how the game works, I thank my family for that.

Which songs are you most proud of lyrically?

Jeez… I know it’s not really a proper answer, but I guess all of them. I can’t say a specific song as the albums are all different from each other.

If you listen to all our albums back to back you can see that my lyrical style changes. ‘Sleepwalking’ was more poetry and philosophically influenced, ‘Between The Lies’ was more me writing politically and morally. From then on we went to ‘The Hollow’ and that was a significant change, it was written about people that I know and experiences that people go through. Not necessarily things I have personally experienced but events people close to me have. Death, divorce and other issues are mentioned there. I think it gives our fans an outlet to relate to. ‘Challenger’ is different again. It’s about us as a band and who we are as people, and it reveals some things we struggle with.

As every album is different, my lyrics don’t stand alone. It’s more like a journey. I love that some people are touched by my lyrics, but I’m not hugely proud of them currently. I don’t think I have peaked. There is still a long way to go and I perceive myself to write much better lyrics in the future.

Do you think your personality comes across differently in the media and on stage to what is actually is like?

Yes. For sure. Our music is somewhat heavy and wild. This isn’t my personality. I’m not a manly man. I don’t drink massive amounts or like tough sports. I don’t live a ‘heavy’ lifestyle. A little bit of my personality comes out through my music, but the bold image I display on stage is quite different to who I really am. I’m quite quiet and through our music I can release emotions that I can’t release day to day. I feel I can articulate myself and get my point across in a louder fashion through music than I can through any other means.

Memphis May Fire, Electric Ballroom 10.10.12

Who would you consider to be the best front man in history?

Oh my gosh! That is a difficult question. I’m going to have to really think about this one. I reckon some people might hate me for my answers, as my musical upbringing was very different from many others. I reckon everyone would be like ‘Iggy Pop’ or ‘Mick Jagger’, but for me, it’d be Toby Mac from DC Talk. Despite being in his late 40s he still goes wild on stage and he does a hip-hop project on the side that’s really cool. There are some great front men in the heavier world currently. Jake from August Burns Red is amazing. In our genre, he’s hands down the best. I also want to mention Anthony Green, he’s amazing too.

If we are talking about stage presence, I think Christian from Blindside is so different, but in a good way. His moves are like no other. He doesn’t do metal stomps or hardcore hand movements. He just does flowing dance moves, it’s like he really connects with the music.

You’re on tour with Of Mice & Men at the moment, Austin Carlile is another much loved front man, what do you think it is that makes him so popular?

I think it’s because he’s developed so much over the past few years that he’s been touring. I saw videos from the Attack Attack! days and he’s made massive steps since then. And what’s more, it’s really inspiring that he’s doing this, and so well, with such a serious heart condition.

He has to be careful on tour because of his condition, but it doesn’t stop him being awesome on stage. He’s a real passionate dude as well, he loves his fans and he always tries to give the best performance he can which is really important when you are fronting a band.

What qualities make up a good front man?

To be original anymore is impossible. Everything has been done. So taking something that’s not original and putting your own twist on it is really important. Showing individuality is the key I suppose.

So Memphis May Fire are on the latest Punk Goes Pop album, how did you get involved and why did you chose ‘Grenade’?

Well, we were approached, there was a huge list of songs, and ‘Grenade’ looked like it suited us best.

You see, we’ve never been a funny band. We don’t try and be popular by acting stupid, so we wanted to pick something that still reflected our style. Lyrically, I think it transcends the sort of thing we write rather than being a more stupid style of pop song. On ‘The Hollow’ there are a lot of songs about heartache and ‘Grenade’ is sort of similar. It was fun to sing it. I’m not the biggest Bruno Mars fan but I think his voice is really cool, I respect him. Although I’m pleased with the song, and I think the whole album is great, its not something we are looking to perform live. We don’t want to be a band that rides off someone else success.

What are you planning for the rest of 2012 and 2013?

Literally two days after we get off this tour we will be heading out with Asking Alexandria, As I Lay Dying and Suicide Silence in America. That’s going to be massive- maybe the biggest tour we’ve done as a band. I’m so stoked to be going out with As I Lay Dying, they are iconic. Then after that tour we are off to Soundwave Festival in Australia, then there are two more US tours that haven’t been announced yet.

It sounds very full on! Will you be back over in the UK at all?

Yes. That I can confirm. The details are still a secret at the moment, but it’s going to be awesome!

Words: Emma Wallace
Live Photos: Emma Wallace
Portrait: Tim Easton

Memphis May Fire, Electric Ballroom 10.10.12

Of Mice and Men Live at Electric Ballroom, Camden

OF MICE AND MEN
w/ Memphis May Fire, Secrets

Electric Ballroom, Camden
10th October 2012

After selling out way in advance and with a queue lapping the outside of Camden’s Electric Ballroom, you know for a fact tonight’s show is going to be crazy. From an all-American line-up, Secrets are first to take to the stage. They are the perfect warm up act for this sort of audience, plenty of sub-drops and head bangs get the party off to a fine start.

When Memphis May Fire roar into action its clear that many of the Of Mice & Men fans here tonight are also deeply entwined in a love affair with this band. A vast majority of the crowd go wild. Considering Memphis May Fire aren’t headlining the response they get is very impressive. The room jumps as one to the bouncing riffs, with ‘The Sinner’ uniting the band and crowd in a mass sing along.

Before the show, Matty Mulllins discussed with Crossfire what he feels makes a great frontman, and with this performance he definitely put into practice what he preached; lunging across the stage and fully engaging the audience like the pro he is.

Secrets were impressive, Memphis May Fire took that up a level, but Of Mice & Men are just in a league of their own. Valentino Arteaga is a machine behind the kit. Alan Ashby and Phil Manansala create dirty, dirty riffs which entice permanent pits. Aaron Pauley takes care of clean vocals and finds near vocal perfection whilst pulverising filthy baselines that penetrate ear drums in the most heavy of fashions.

Austin Carlile has the audience in the palm of his hand. There are few frontmen that can work a crowd to this level but it’s not just his showmanship that is impressive, his vocal ability is superb. Holding growls for as long as he can then charging around the stage is no easy task.

With ‘The Flood’ and ‘The Depths’ (bonus tracks taken from the recent reissue of their 2011 release) causing just as much carnage as old favourites its becoming ever more obvious that Of Mice & Men are a dominant force in modern metalcore. No longer will they be playing club shows, surely the next step will be Academy shows. If their success back in America is anything to go by, a UK arena tour in the future isn’t as far-fetched as it may sound. Tonight was hands down one of the best shows of the year.

Words & Photos: Emma Wallace