Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon Talks "Sempiternal", Movies, and More
Mon, 20 May 2013 09:48:02
Bring Me the Horizon deliver a dose of what the doctor ordered for heavy music on their latest album Sempiternal. Once again, they transcend boundaries and expectations and elevate not only themselves but the genre as a whole. Sempiternal is as reflective as it is raw, revealing singer Oli Sykes most potent, passionate, and powerful lyrics yet. They've crafted one of the most intriguing and immersive heavy albums in recent memory, and it's a must-have for fans and newcomers alike…
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Oli Sykes of Bring Me The Horizon opens up about Sempiternal, talks movies, lyrics, music, and more.
What ties Sempiternal together for you? Is there one distinct vision or vibe?
It's planned out to be that way. It's got a concept in the structure. There's a step process. Every single song represents a different realization. It was made to be like a journey. The first song is the first step, and the second song is the second step. You can't really listen to track six, and then listen to track one. You have to figure out the first step before you can figure out the next thing. We tried to make that connect in every aspect with the songs and music and how they blended into each other. It goes from heavy and then gives you a breather. The songs are meant to reflect the emotions as well. It's not just random. We wanted to make it a journey you wanted to start at the beginning and end at the end rather than just hear one or two songs or put it on "shuffle".
What are the elements of that journey?
The first track, "Can You Feel My Heart" is all about admittance, admitting you have a problem, and admitting something's wrong. That's the first step of the whole album. In my life, I had to admit certain things to go further. They all deal with different topics. The second song "House of Wolves" is all about my relationship with God and faith. I'm an atheist. I don't believe in God. I was asked to believe in him when I was in this bad place. I couldn't understand why I needed a god or, in my opinion, something that doesn't exist. People shouldn't need to get that for themselves, their families, and their friends. I still look really hard at that aspect. The album is called Sempiternal, and I guess that's the realization I came to that changed everything and made it possible for the record to be written and for my life to continue. Sempiternal basically means everlasting and unchanging. I think everybody can say they have something about them—it could be a habit, an addiction, a disease, or whatever—that they can't change. Sometimes, just admitting and accepting it rather than fighting it can make a world of difference. You can never cure it because it's in your DNA and the way you are, but you can arrest it, keep it at bay, and learn to live your life with it. For me, that realization was the most important thing that's happened to me in my whole entire adult life. That's what it all circles around. I had to realize so many other things before I could realize that.
What's the story behind "Hospital for Souls"?
Without giving too much away, if you read to the lyrics and really listen to it, you can probably figure out the kind of place that I was at. That song is all about ascending. I guess it's like rising from the ashes and renewing yourself after learning all of these things. I changed who I am. The lyrics mean, "Say goodbye to the old person, watch me burning, and coming back as this new person".
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
It was something I really wanted to do. I've never done it before to the degree I've done it on this album. I really like when bands do that. The music paints a picture, and it's not just the words. It's the actual sounds and guitars. They all create this illusion. Even though, no one is saying, "This is what's going on", it forms a picture in your head. I tried hard to do that on "Empire (Let Them Sing)". It's all metaphorical. When you listen to it, it sounds like a man who thinks he's the ruler of an empire and could never be defeated, but he's on the brink of being defeated. It gives the feeling of people barricaded behind castle walls. It's about relapse and getting defeated again but not seeing the writing on the wall. I don't know how well I accomplished it. I wanted to get the lyrics and the way I screamed to paint vivid imagery in the listener's head.
What encourages that?
I can literally be inspired by anything. I could be inspired by the cheesiest pop song, dance, or reggae. We rarely draw influence from other metal bands or rock because we wanted to take other influences and put them into our own band. We got inspired by film soundtracks, movies, and a lot of books I read. I let everything inspire, and I didn't look in the places you'd expect us to look. We looked at different styles and media for inspiration.
If you were to compare the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
We're very inspired by Danny Boyle's films. He did 28 Days Later and The Beach. John Murphy does all his music. Before we wrote the album, we would play his 28 Days Later theme tune. If we could get our music on any film, a Danny Boyle film would fit it well.
What heavy bands do you come back to?
Pantera is obviously a band that influenced our riffs and guitar sound. That's why we wanted to work with Terry Date. They're one of the bands we can all agree on.
What are you listening to now?
I'm listening to ambient instrumental music from Bonobo. He's got an amazing album out. It's a proper chill out CD.
Do the songs on The Deathbeds EP follow the through line?
We didn't have any B-sides, but we had a lot of ideas so we put those ideas together and made a couple of songs. They don't fit in with what Sempiternal is. They're actually quite different. The lyrical content isn't connected in that sense. I was really pleased with those songs. It felt like a well-oiled machine. I think they're really strong.
What's your favorite Bring Me The Horizon song?