‘I’m probably Aaron’s fifth or sixth biggest fan’: an interview with Of Mice & Men

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Of Mice and Men are the latest American metalcore band set to take the rock world by storm. They’ve been slowly gaining momentum over the past couple of years, with regular appearances on the US leg of Warped tour and supporting jaunts for heavy hitters such as Bring Me The Horizon. In addition to that, at some point last year they managed to find time to record and release their game changing new album Restoring Force, which blended their signature metalcore sound with a host of different influences to create one of the most original albums the genre has produced so far. Just before the first show of their sold out European tour at Southampton’s Mo’Club, vocalists Austin Carlisle and Aaron Pauley sat down with the Edge for a quick chat.

Congratulations on selling out your European tour. Why did you decide to start it off in Southampton?

Aaron Pauley: Well, we always think it’s nicer to start off the tour somewhere a bit off the beaten path in a slightly smaller venue, not one of the bigger cities. If the venue is a bit smaller it makes it easier to iron out all the wrinkles and still play a great show. The crowds get crazy into it here as well; there are people outside who arrived at midnight last night!

Austin Carlisle: Yeah, I went to the mall in town earlier and it got a bit hectic to be honest, quite a few people recognised me and started to follow me!

You recently released your new album Restoring Force; were you pleased with the critical reception it got?

Austin: Whenever you do new music, you always worry about whether people are going to like it or not, but it’s a normal worry that happens with every recording we do, and it’s usually outweighed by how anxious we are to get in the studio and get everything recorded, so people can hear what we’ve produced.

Aaron: I think for us, we always believed that if it meant enough to us and we took the time to really make something of quality, then if worst comes to worst and our fans didn’t like it then other people would. In that respect the album was something of a leap of faith for us. In the end though, both the fans and critics responded really well to it, and we were very happy with that.

Why did you decide to move away from the traditional metalcore sound for the latest album?

Austin: We didn’t consciously make a decision to sound different on the new record, we just recorded the album that we wanted to hear. We wanted to make something that was uniquely ‘Of Mice & Men’ without being grouped together with a bunch of other genres and bands. We just want to have our own sound, which sounds like us.

Aaron: We’re older now as well, and it gets kind of boring to be writing and playing the same kind of music all the time. It starts feeling very formulaic and we all wanted to challenge ourselves and write something that was more hard rock, with influences from the bands we loved when we were teenagers. My favourite bands were bands like Tool, A Perfect Circle, Breaking Benjamin and Incubus. They were just bands that had really good song writing, and wrote really memorable songs.

‘Space Enough To Grow’ is really different to all the other songs on the album and it’s far quieter and slower. Would you ever play it live?

Austin: We may do it on this very tour, wait and see!  It’s my favourite song on the album actually, I listen to it a lot, probably about three times a week, right before I go to bed. And, I don’t feel bad about doing that, because I don’t sing on it! [laughs]I would say I’m probably Aaron’s fifth or sixth biggest fan! I’m not number one, because his friends and family wear shirts say ‘Aaron Pauley for president’ to some of our shows, and I don’t have one of those yet, so I‘ve got some work to do!

Are you looking forward to playing an absolutely sold out European tour?

Austin: Yeah, it’s going to be incredible. We’re so stoked that the only way people can see us in Europe this summer if they don’t already have tickets is to go to Reading and Leeds festival. We’re really excited that the tour sold out so quickly and of course we’re excited to play such a huge festival! We’re doing so much this summer, we’re in South America for a week, we go from Brazil to Germany, and then onto Reading and Leeds.

Have you ever had an overly intense or scary fan experience?

Aaron: Yes, we definitely have, on numerous occasions. But, I feel like, a lot of the time they don’t really realise that they’re being over intense, so we don’t really judge anyone for it or make fun of them. It’s just nice that people care so much about what we do.

How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it before?

Austin: I would just say to them: ‘turn it up, bang your head and you’ll find out for yourself!’

Aaron: Yeah, I don’t think there’s a word to describe our music. I always find it hard to describe music anyway, but if we had to put a category on it, probably American hard rock is the closest.

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