Of Mice & Men Talk "The Flood" and So Much More
Wed, 27 Feb 2013 12:51:11
Of Mice & Men stand primed to take over heavy music.
They can crush skulls with the best of them, but they've got some of the most infectious hooks the entire genre has seen in decades. In that respect, they're unlike anything out there at the moment. Either bands go balls-out heavy with no melody at all, or they drown out any heaviness with too much harmony. There's magic in Of Mice & Men's balance. At the same time, their lyrics have begun resonating immensely with leagues of heavy music fans everywhere, leading to countless sold out shows. With an upcoming run with A Day to Remember and the making-of their next studio effort on the horizon, all eyes are rightfully on Of Mice & Men…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Of Mice & Men singer Austin Carlile talks The Flood, influences, fans, the next record, and so much more.
Did you have one vision in mind for The Flood?
We recorded The Flood literally two days after everybody met Alan Ashby [guitar]. The entire band met Alan the day we left to drive to the studio. They got to know him on the two-day drive there. Alan and I brought ten of our songs that we'd written for another project and recorded those. Some of them are "Ben Threw", "Product of a Murderer", and "Still YDG'n". We rushed into it, but the re-release with "The Calm", "The Storm", "The Flood", and "The Depths" fit in better because we actually had a couple of weeks to work on it. We got the time to be a band, which is nice since we hadn't been able to do that prior.
What's the story behind those four songs?
We had an idea. There's a funny story. Alan actually used to play "The Calm" for his ex-girlfriend when she'd go to bed. He'd always jam it, and we thought we should put it on there. "The Storm" has the same sound, and it's about going through trials and tribulations and dealing with people like that. "The Flood" kicks up. They move as titles go. We always knew we wanted to name one song "The Flood". Valentino Arteaga [drums] was like, "Why don't we call one 'The Calm'?" In "The Flood", we have the sonar and the underwater sounds. "The Depths" is heavy and dark. It sounds really deep. It just happened. You can't plan stuff like that. If you do plan it, it seems forced and cheesy. It's cool how it ended up working out.
Where did "Let Live" come from?
I actually wrote it dealing with a cheating ex-girlfriend. Right when I recorded that album was a week or two after that happened. It was just fresh on my mind. We had the idea for the song before we even went into the studio. I had one part of the chorus. We didn't really have a track structured like a pop song so we did that with this one. All of our music comes together for some reason and ends up how it is without our planning, which is pretty cool.
Right now, what's your favorite song from the record?
From some of the older material, I'd definitely say "Product of a Murderer". At the beginning of the song, I do the infamous, "Are you ready?" like Jonathan Davis from Korn. We're all big Korn fans so I do that live. At the end of our set, we play "The Calm". Everybody puts their phones up in the air, and it's really powerful. Alan adds on to it, and it's four-and-a-half minute. Then I come on, and we do "The Storm". It's very emotional to me. There's raw emotion, and it's fun. We have an intro leading up to "The Flood". We hold it out, and I talk. "The Depths" is our "last song". Those four songs back-to-back are my favorite part of the set by far. They're what I'm most proud of for us as a band and myself as a vocalist and lyricist. I'm most attached to those. This headliner was the first time we played them so it was really cool to do that.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the lyrics?
Absolutely! I'm not hating on any kind of music that doesn't. A song about throwing dollar bills in the air is cool to listen to. I love any kind of music. With us, I really like to write material that's relatable and clear-cut. If it was a bad day, I'm going to sing about the bad day. I'm not going to disguise it in a metaphor about a pony or something [Laughs]. I like our music to be relatable. In "The Great Hendowski", I sing about giving money to a homeless man and talking to him about love. The guy was literally asking me, "Why are you so happy? You're going to die one day!" I told him, "I'm happy because I have this and this". The only metaphor I used there was, "How can you smile with your lips around a loaded gun?" He was essentially saying, "How can you smile when you know you're going to die?" I like that. Kids can click with that. They can take it any way they want to, but it's something they can relate to. They've been through it and have dealt with it. We have a song about divorce, a song about addiction, a song about being bullied, a song about losing a loved one, a song about a loved one cheating on you, a song about you cheating on a loved one, and a song about sex and how much you're crazy about someone. That's important. I've always latched on to music I can relate to.
What bands shaped you?
I listen to so much music. I can't stop listening to Mumford & Sons and A$AP Rocky right now. That's an indie folk band and a hip hop artists [Laughs]. Back in the day, the music that got me into wanting to do heavy music was Linkin Park, Limp Bizkit, and Pantera's Cowboys From Hell. I heard Hybrid Theory, and I was like, "This is awesome! This is so cool!" I'm a huge Limp Bizkit fan. They're a heavy band, man. There are certain parts that are heavier than anything out now. It's heavier than all of those bands who just tune to "A" and put their finger on the top string and play heavy music. It's about the emotion behind the music and how you present it. Having a song and a complete transformation is something I want to touch on with Of Mice & Men when we record our third album coming up. It's not heavy because we tune to "G"; it's heavy because it's so real and powerful. You're banging your head like, "Damn, this is sick!" I'm really excited to write. I want to write music that people want to hear and they can't help but feel. That's what I latch on to most with music. If I listen to something and I feel it, no matter what it is, that's art. That's music.
That new Limp Bizkit record is going to be sick.
It's so sick what Fred Durst has been tweeting about it. It's heavy music. Linkin Park and Limp Bizkit made me go, "Dang!" Now, I listen to everything. Lamb of God is one of my favorite bands. I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with Randy Blythe. I did the memorial show for Mitch Lucker from Suicide Silence. Right before me, Tim Lambesis from As I Lay Dying sang. Then, I sang. The guy after me was Chad Gray from Mudvayne. Mudvayne is ridiculous! After that, Max Cavalera came on, and they did "Roots Bloody Roots" from Sepultura. After that, Randy from Lamb of God did the last song. That was the greatest nights of my entire existence. I got to support my friend and his family and be on stage with a band I've always liked. Sepultura was one of the first shows I ever went to. It was cool to go, "Hey Max! I'm Austin. It's nice to meet you!" Randy came up to me afterwards and said, "Man, you killed it! How old are you?" I was like, "I just turned 25!" He said, "No fucking way!" It was hard for me to keep my calm [Laughs].
If you were to compare The Flood to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Noah's Ark! [Laughs] I don't know! I think it might be a mix of American Beauty and American Psycho. It's a love story gone wrong. "O.G.Loko" is about having sex with somebody you care about. Then, it twists and turns. I feel like it'd be a Shakespearian tragedy. It's heavy.
What's it like interacting with your fans?
People say it all the time, "Our fans are the best". Our fans are amazing every single day. We did 20 mall signings before sound check as our tour was sponsored by Tillys. Meeting these kids, hearing their stories, and learning about things they've been through and overcome was insane. They'd give me letters and gifts. I got twelve boxes of gifts. We shipped them all home so I'd have them. It's so cool to see how much Of Mice & Men means to these kids. The fact we can be that band kids look up to is incredible. The years in high school and college suck unless your goody two shoes "Mr. Rich Kid". Even then, those years still suck. Our audience is like 12-25. To me, it's so cool to see how much they love us. They say, "You inspire me". Really though, they inspire me. Knowing we get to do this makes me inspired to do more and be a better person myself. Our fans are spectacular.
How's writing the next album coming?
We've been trying to write throughout this tour. This run has been insane. We're so busy, and we're working hard. I was raised to work my ass off, and that's what I'm doing.
What's your favorite Of Mice & Men song?
See our feature on why they can take over hard rock here!