LIVIN’ ON THE EDGE

TO CRE­ATE THEIR NEW AL­BUM MA­NIA, FALL OUT BOY TORE UP THE RULEBOOK AND AL­MOST COM­PLETELY REIN­VENTED THEM­SELVES. ACROSS A STO­RIED CA­REER FILLED WITH BOLD LEAPS OF FAITH, IT MIGHT JUST BE THEIR MOST DAR­ING STEP YET. BUT IS IT ONE TOO MANY?

Kerrang! (UK) - - Fall Out Boy - WORDS: DAVID MCLAUGH­LIN PHO­TOS: LIND­SEY BYRNES

It’s hard not to won­der what the wide-eyed kids in Arma An­gelus might have made of all this.

If, for some rea­son, that name doesn’t mean any­thing to you,youtube is your friend.there you’ll find grainy footage of a young Pete Wentz, with fire in his eyes, scream­ing straight­edge songs in what looks like a school gym­na­sium to a cou­ple of hun­dred peo­ple.at one point or an­other, for vary­ing stints, all four fu­ture mem­bers of Fall Out Boy played some part in the Chicago hard­core crew’s story. Men­tion their name to­day, though, and it’s clear it’s one Pete hasn’t heard for a while, let alone con­sid­ered within the con­text of how his right­eous teenage self might re­act to the mu­sic he plays now.

What would he have thought of the new Fall Out Boy al­bum, MA­NIA?

“It would be be­yond his realm of un­der­stand­ing,” the bassist reck­ons.“he prob­a­bly wouldn’t be­lieve that any of this was even a pos­si­bil­ity. I think he’d

“YOU WANT TO MAKE THINGS THAT ARE AU­THEN­TIC, NOT TO PUR­POSE­FULLY ALIEN­ATE PEO­PLE…” PETE WENTZ

prob­a­bly just think it was cool that he’d get to meet Me­tal­lica and Jay-z one day.”

It’s kind of a fit­ting re­sponse for a man who has spent the bet­ter part of the past 15 years rub­bing shoul­ders with the stars, and even basked in the spot­light of celebrity him­self at the height of it all. From any­one else it might come off as name-drop­ping. But that’s just the bizarre world Pete Wentz in­hab­its.to­day, in fact, he talks to us – for the lat­est of FOB’S many K! cover sto­ries over the years – ahead of shar­ing a stage in Philadelphia with a cast of char­ac­ters that in­cludes Ke­sha, exmem­bers of One Di­rec­tion, Halsey and Chainsmok­ers. This is nor­mal­ity now. No won­der it feels light years from where he started out.

But even MA­NIA is a world away from any­where the quar­tet have dared to go to be­fore. And it might just be the al­bum that prompts many peo­ple to won­der: have Fall Out Boy gone too far?

Pete Wentz, Patrick Stump, Joe Trohman and Andy Hur­ley are pre­pared for this.they’ve cer­tainly had time to be, any­way. Es­pe­cially since MA­NIA was orig­i­nally sup­posed to see the light of day this past Septem­ber, only for a re­think and some ex­tra time spent record­ing and re­fin­ing things to mean it’s just now get­ting its re­lease.

The four songs in the pub­lic do­main to date are a rea­son­able in­di­ca­tion of just how out there a lot of this ma­te­rial is.there’s the Edm-in­flu­enced odd­ity of the Nikki Sixx and Brit­ney Spears-ref­er­enc­ing lead sin­gley­oung And Menace, the spaghetti western stomp of Cham­pion, the sway­ing dance­hall rid­dims of Hold Me Tight Or Don’t, and the fran­tic pop grooves of The Last Of The Real Ones. Else­where on the record’s re­main­ing six songs, the quar­tet get into ev­ery­thing from melo­dra­matic bal­ladeer­ing to soul­ful gospel, and they even try their hand at breezy reg­gae along the way. Note the ab­sence of much in the way of rock among those in­gre­di­ents.

“It’s not like a box of ce­real where we must in­clude this amount of rock, or that much Top 40 [ap­peal],” the bassist ar­gues.“i play a lot of our demos in the car and my kids are like, ‘Yo, are you guys hip-hop?’ and I’m like,‘oh… we’re not.’ But I get it.”

Pete main­tains that the only barom­e­ter for in­clu­sion is qual­ity and the pri­mary goal is an al­bum “with­out any skip­pers” on it. But it’s in­escapable that the big R doesn’t ap­pear to be of tremen­dous in­ter­est to the four-piece on these songs.yet it might be the group’s most am­bi­tious, if head-scratch­ing, re­lease ever.

“When you move around, adapt and evolve, it’s not go­ing to be for ev­ery­body,” Pete rea­sons sim­ply. He’s not get­ting off that easy, though. Fall Out Boy are some­thing of an in­sti­tu­tion in the al­ter­na­tive scene, and this cur­rent trans­for­ma­tion is a fairly dras­tic de­par­ture from the sound that made them so beloved in the first place.as some­one who fa­mously loves to ex­press him­self through anal­ogy, we put it to Pete in terms he can prob­a­bly ap­pre­ci­ate: imag­ine if when Dis­ney bought the rights to Star Wars, it sud­denly de­cided that fu­ture en­tries to the fran­chise would fun­da­men­tally change the tone and fab­ric of that uni­verse, per­haps in­sist­ing on more jokes and fewer lightsaber bat­tles. In some ways that’s what this feels like, and a lot of long-time Fall Out Boy purists are rightly go­ing to be pissed about it.

“Oh to­tally, I get that,” he says, hold­ing his hands up in ac­cep­tance.“i un­der­stand the emo­tional at­tach­ment, and it’s tough to be a die-hard fan. If you grow up lov­ing this one thing more than any­thing else you’ve ever loved and then the artist goes and changes it for the next project, that’s pretty hard. I’ve been on the other side of that with Star Wars, in fact. But when I watch those movies with my kid now, I re­alise,‘oh, this isn’t be­ing made for me, it’s for this guy!’”

It’s an in­trigu­ing – and po­ten­tially re­veal­ing – in­sight into the mo­ti­va­tions and in­ten­tions un­der­pin­ning Pete’s own out­put nowa­days.

“I might be filled with nos­tal­gia for the Star Wars ex­pe­ri­ence, but those aren’t movies that are made for me, I don’t think…” So who is a Fall Out Boy al­bum made for in 2018? “That’s a great ques­tion,” comes his time-buy­ing re­sponse.then a lengthy pause, followed by much hum­ming and haw­ing, as if he’s pub­licly con­sid­er­ing the co­nun­drum for the first time in a while and be­ing care­ful about how to frame the re­ply.

“The age span at our shows is pretty wide now. I see peo­ple who were prob­a­bly there 10 or 15 years ago, but I also see peo­ple who’ve only heard [Amer­i­can Beauty/amer­i­can Psy­cho sin­gle] Uma Thur­man on the ra­dio. For some, the al­bum and the body of work is im­por­tant. But we’re also liv­ing in a sin­gle and stream­ing era. So, we’re mak­ing a record for peo­ple who only like rock’n’roll that sounds like this, and we’re also mak­ing songs for peo­ple who only lis­ten to ra­dio, where there are no gui­tars at all. It can be a lit­tle schiz­o­phrenic, hon­estly.”

It sounds like tricky ter­rain to ne­go­ti­ate while si­mul­ta­ne­ously bear­ing the weight of legacy, need­ing to push for­ward and at­tempt­ing to keep things as ar­tis­ti­cally stim­u­lat­ing as pos­si­ble. No won­der, then, that the re­sults are so di­verse and eclec­tic, and it took the band longer than ini­tially an­tic­i­pated. But if any­one is un­der the im­pres­sion that MA­NIA is a wil­ful up-yours to old-school fans who’ve sup­ported them through ev­ery­thing, think again.

“I want to push the ball fur­ther down the field,” Pete ad­mits, “but I don’t want to piss peo­ple off for the sake of it.we’re not teth­ered to any­thing, but, by the same to­ken, you want to make things that are au­then­tic to you and not to pur­pose­fully alien­ate peo­ple.”

Au­then­tic­ity is a theme Pete comes back to time and again. By all means dis­like the new Fall Out Boy sound and di­rec­tion, but don’t dis­credit the heart and soul that went into the songs that bear the band’s name now.

On the face of it, Patrick Stump seems like an odd per­son to dis­cuss punk rock with in 2018. Even though he bat­tered the drums at the fi­nal Arma An­gelus show back in the day, the Fall Out Boy vo­cal­ist was al­ways more of a shrink­ing vi­o­let. It says a lot that when the band rose to promi­nence with Take This To Your Grave in 2003, he was busy ob­sess­ing over crooner Burt Bacharach and new wave icon Elvis Costello.

The son of a folk singer, he has al­ways been the in­tro­spec­tive yin to Pete Wentz’s bol­shie yang, shun­ning the glitz and glam­our of fame in favour of a life of pri­vacy. If the bassist/lyri­cist rep­re­sents the brains of the op­er­a­tion, and Joe and Andy pro­vide its beat­ing heart and mus­cle, then Patrick is un­doubt­edly the band’s soul. But, by his own ad­mis­sion, how he ended up here re­mains a mys­tery.

“I’m such a weird guy,” he says, laugh­ing at him­self in typ­i­cally self-dep­re­ca­tory fash­ion.“i don’t know, man; if my band weren’t in­ter­est­ing, I would be a very un­in­ter­est­ing per­son. I don’t know how any of this hap­pened, hon­estly. I’ve never re­ally felt like I made sense, cer­tainly not in rock. I didn’t even know I was play­ing rock un­til some­one said so. Rock’n’roll is very at­ten­tion-grab­bing, self-se­ri­ous and badass and, like, I’m none of those things!”

Yet it’s punk rock that’s on his mind at the minute – the only strand of rock’s DNA that Patrick ad­mits

to ever feel­ing some­thing ap­proach­ing kin­ship with. He cites The Clash and their end­less rein­ven­tion as in­spi­ra­tion. He ar­gues that Talk­ing Heads do­ing “what­ever the fuck they wanted” was more punk than any­thing fast, loud and an­gry bands ever man­aged.

“It was the free­dom of ex­pres­sion [in punk] that brought me in,” he ex­plains.“sure, I was dis­en­fran­chised, I didn’t fit in and I didn’t want the nice car or to re­tire to the sub­urbs ei­ther, but the thing that re­ally grabbed me about punk rock was the idea that you could be any­thing.that was my punk rock.”

It’s tempt­ing to draw par­al­lels with that in­ter­pre­ta­tion of one of rock’s most con­tentious sub­gen­res and the spirit be­hind the cre­ative rein­ven­tions played out across MA­NIA. Tempt­ing, but a temp­ta­tion the front­man seems un­com­fort­able with.

In­stead, he down­plays it with a shrug and says,“as long as I’m just be­ing my­self, I don’t re­ally care what you call it.”

Pete on the other hand? He’s all for it.

“I think this is the most punk rock thing Fall Out Boy can do right now. Me on What­sapp talk­ing to Burna Boy [who guests on Sun­rise Rip­tide] in La­gos, Nige­ria? That’s su­per-punk rock.and that’s su­per-im­por­tant to the cul­ture of Fall Out Boy.the spirit of in­clu­sion is some­thing that we’ve al­ways tried to main­tain, and that comes from the world of punk rock; the idea that if you don’t fit in any­where else, you can fit in here.”

The irony of course be­ing that the more Fall Out Boy ex­pand their sonic pal­ette and the bolder their records be­come, the less it seems that they fit in, well, any­where. It’s not lost on them, ei­ther.

“It’s weird, be­cause you are al­ways you, but the world keeps chang­ing,” the vo­cal­ist con­sid­ers.“we would be this band and we have been this band no mat­ter what the con­text. In the pop-punk world, they think we’re too pop.when we go to the pop world, they’re like,‘what are you do­ing?! Is this Slayer?! This is the heav­i­est mu­sic I’ve ever heard!’ And of course, it’s re­ally not…”

Not for the first time in their ca­reer, Fall Out Boy seem caught in an im­pos­si­ble po­si­tion.they can’t please ev­ery­one and which­ever way they turn they seem to con­fuse some­one. So, they’re do­ing the only thing they can to main­tain san­ity and pro­ceed with con­fi­dence: trust in their in­stincts and do what feels right.

Be­cause at it score, MA­NIA is out­sider art op­er­at­ing within a pop mi­lieu. If you’ve paid close enough at­ten­tion through­out their ca­reer, that’s Fall Out Boy’s en­tire oeu­vre to a tee. Sure, they’ve been emo torch bear­ers and they’ve been thrown in with the pop-punk crowd be­fore, but there’s al­ways been a lit­tle more to them than most. It might be one of the pri­mary rea­sons they’ve out­lived a lot of their peers and con­tinue to thrive. Call this lat­est rein­ven­tion an iden­tity cri­sis if you must, but look at the big­ger pic­ture and judge by the stan­dards Fall Out Boy have set for them­selves, and sud­denly ev­ery­thing about MA­NIA makes a strange kind of sense.

“An iden­tity cri­sis for me would be to still be wear­ing the stud­ded belts and arm bands from a decade ago,” Patrick says, mak­ing a fair point. “At the time of the emo thing, we had no idea how we ended up there.we weren’t try­ing to or try­ing not to, we just did our thing.we didn’t even know there was a scene!

“It’s so funny when I look back,” he con­tin­ues, sound­ing semi-irked, semi-amused by the idea that they’ve some­how aban­doned their roots.“peo­ple talk about [From Un­der The] Cork Tree as this emo record, but there’s re­ally weird, ag­gres­sively strange stuff on that al­bum. If you want us to be the band that we were in 2005, this is what that band does.the band that did …Cork Tree is go­ing to do Hold Me Tight Or Don’t, be­cause we were re­ally weird then, too!”

He calls it weird­ness; Pete calls it au­then­tic­ity. What­ever way you slice it, the chief cre­ative duo be­hind the wheel are adamant that there’s noth­ing they’re do­ing now that isn’t true to who they are, who they have been and what it is that makes them a spe­cial,

“IT’S TOUGH TO BE A DIE-HARD FAN. I UN­DER­STAND THE EMO­TIONAL AT­TACH­MENT…” PETE WENTZ

unique force.they in­sist that if any­one calls bull­shit on this record, then they’ve fun­da­men­tally mis­un­der­stood all that’s come be­fore. It’s merely the lat­est in­stal­ment in the saga of Fall Out Boy’s mu­si­cal is­land of mis­fit noise.

“It’s go­ing to be po­lar­is­ing,” Pete con­cedes,“but we can do what­ever we want as long as it’s au­then­tic to us.when artists re­lease some­thing out of nowhere that chases a trend, if there aren’t clues lead­ing peo­ple there it feels like jump­ing the shark. Fall Out Boy has changed on ev­ery record, so we’ve def­i­nitely pre­pared peo­ple and cre­ated a road-map [lead­ing here].”

That’s why they ag­o­nised over the finer de­tails.that’s why this record took longer than it was sup­posed to. Patrick com­pares the de­lay to be­ing in a queue for gro­ceries, sud­denly re­mem­ber­ing you’ve for­got­ten es­sen­tial in­gre­di­ents and hav­ing to give up your spot in line.“we were re­ally close,” he in­sists.

Pete doesn’t seem so sure, sens­ing that when they made the call to push things back, what they had at that point – in his mind, at least – “wasn’t re­ally the record we in­tended to make. Hon­estly, I wasn’t even sure what di­rec­tion it would take.”

Both agree, though, that as much as it was a bum­mer to ex­tend the dead­line and let fans down, the al­ter­na­tive was re­leas­ing some­thing sub-par.af­ter all, at this point no-one in Fall Out Boy re­ally needs to be in Fall Out Boy. But if they’re go­ing to be, with all the sac­ri­fices that come with that, what’s the point in giv­ing it any­thing less than the best they’ve got? The stakes are too high and much greater than merely the four of them now.

“We could just stay at home on our couches and do what­ever,” Pete ad­mits of their priv­i­leged po­si­tion.“but if we’re go­ing to go half­way around the world to play shows and leave our fam­i­lies for months on end, I want us to be ex­cited about play­ing new mu­sic that I be­lieve de­serves to be played.”

For all the protests and im­pas­sioned de fences of MA­NIA’ sm any idio­syn­cra­sies, there does seem to be a tacit res­ig­na­tion that it will prove a leap of faith too far for some. It’s an artis­tic push for­ward that Fall Out Boy had no choice but to make, how­ever.they’ve trusted in each other and, as al­ways, the quar­tet re­main their own big­gest crit­ics.

“When we started, the first thing we con­nected on was the fact that we didn’t agree on mu­sic,” Patrick of­fers, only halfjok­ingly.“all four of us come from very dif­fer­ent back­grounds. So the mu­sic that we make at any par­tic­u­lar mo­ment is the only mu­sic that all four of us can agree on at that par­tic­u­lar mo­ment.there’s no way for us to do that and put out records that sound like the records be­fore and have it not be a lie, or disin­gen­u­ous. I don’t want to be like that.that’s so un­fair to your au­di­ence.the way to keep things go­ing is to be hon­est and make art that you be­lieve in.”

He likens the search for a Fall Out Boy song nowa­days to that feel­ing when a stranger asks for di­rec­tions and you strug­gle to ex­plain them, but you know how to reach the des­ti­na­tion. It’s the one thing Pete and Patrick seem to be on the same page on – luck­ily, it’s quite an im­por­tant thing.

“We have an instinct for it.and, hon­estly, I think the instinct can some­times be off and we only re­alise later,” the bassist con­fesses.“we pick our bat­tles now, but the way that we ar­gue and dis­agree pulls ev­ery­thing into the cen­tre. We’ve got­ten a lot bet­ter at let­ting the best idea win, but some­times peo­ple try to push it fur­ther ahead, and there are even some songs where it’s like,‘this is just way too safe and down the mid­dle.’”

The big­gest crime Fall Out Boy could com­mit right now, then, would be to aim for con­ven­tion, to ap­pease fans and to do some­thing they think they should, rather than some­thing they col­lec­tively want to.there are lim­its, though.to ad­dress the ques­tion that hangs over this whole en­deav­our, there is a line that the quar­tet know not to cross.“the lim­its re­ally as­sert them­selves,” prom­ises Patrick.“we push them and they snap back to let us know some­thing’s not right.”

“There’s never a point where me or Patrick could rap or go hip-hop or some­thing,” Pete nods, re­as­sur­ingly.

The bot­tom line is Fall Out Boy don’t want to be just like any other band.they don’t want to set­tle for the nos­tal­gia cir­cuit and di­min­ish­ing re­turns.and if that’s not cool with some of their fans, then that’s just the way it’s go­ing to be.

“I was read­ing an in­ter­view with [Dutch film­maker] Paul Ver­ho­even,” the singer fin­ishes, pon­der­ing the risks in­volved in cre­at­ing some­thing that truly mat­ters.“he said, ‘I should never have made [2000’s Kevin Ba­con-star­ring] Hol­low Man, be­cause I see now that it’s a movie any­one could have made. It’s not a movie that only I could have made.’ And I think that’s im­por­tant to Fall Out Boy, too. That’s the line that’s too far. I don’t think we could ever re­lease some­thing that just isn’t us.”

In a world filled with artists happy to churn out their Hol­low Man, per­haps we should be grate­ful that Fall Out Boy are still around, striv­ing for a Robo­cop.

“AN IDEN­TITY CRI­SIS FOR ME WOULD BE TO STILL WEAR STUD­DED BELTS AND ARM BANDS…” PATRICK STUMP

Af­ter more than eight years as a band and sev­eral hun­dred shows on stages rang­ing from the small­est of clubs to the big­gest of fes­ti­vals, you might ex­pect Of Mice & Men to be able to take ev­ery­thing in their stride. “The Of Mice & Men men­tal­ity is that the best laid plans of mice and men of­ten go awry,” says drum­mer and found­ing mem­ber David ‘Tino’ Arteaga, ref­er­enc­ing the John Stein­beck novel and Robert Burns poem from which they took their name. “what has al­lowed our band to con­tinue this long has been the abil­ity to roll with the punches, to as­sess the sit­u­a­tions and make the best de­ci­sions pos­si­ble at the right mo­ment.”

Rewind to April 21, 2017, how­ever, and you’d have seen a band with quite a store of nerves.the in­au­gu­ral Las Ra­geous fes­ti­val was kick­ing off in the streets of down­town Lasve­gas, head­lined by Avenged Seven­fold and Gods­mack with sup­port­ing roles for the likes of Kill­switch En­gage, an­thrax and Mastodon. It saw the first Of Mice & Men per­for­mance since front­man Austin Carlile an­nounced his de­par­ture from the band a few months be­fore.

Of Mice & Men had de­cided to con­dense their for­mat from a quin­tet to a four-piece, rather than look for a re­place­ment, with bassist and co-vo­cal­ist Aaron Pauley in­stead step­ping up to take on the role of the full-spec­trum front­man.

The show – cap­tured on the Un­break­able doc­u­men­tary re­leased later that year – was a jump into the deep end, but it was also a tri­umph.

“All that fear or anx­i­ety that might have been there just washed away af­ter that first show,” says Tino. “We could all look at each other back­stage and know that we’re locked in and that we can con­tinue this thing with our au­di­ence. It was our big de­but and we felt the vibe again that we hadn’t felt in so long. For us, that was the lit­tle spark that ig­nited this train. We now need to play for more peo­ple, do more tour­ing.we need to not stop, to throw more coal into the en­gine and keep this freight train run­ning.”

There’s a song on new al­bum Defy called Back To Me, which Aaron had pre­vi­ously told K! was about “reignit­ing pas­sions within your­self”. Cou­ple that with Tino’s com­ment about not hav­ing felt that vibe for so long and the mixed re­ac­tions to patchy pre­vi­ous al­bum Cold World and you might

just leap to the con­clu­sion that Of Mice & Men had been lack­ing a cer­tain spark prior to Austin’s de­par­ture.

Sug­gest that might be the case, how­ever, and the un­fail­ingly ami­able duo of Aaron and Tino get as close to splut­ter­ing in­dig­na­tion as they ever do. “It’s the ex­act op­po­site,” in­sists Aaron. “What I’m talk­ing about on that song is us­ing your pas­sion to light a way back to your­self when you feel lost or you feel you’re los­ing your iden­tity through change.to us, mu­sic has al­ways been that guid­ing light, so that’s never lapsed. If any­thing that was what we used to get through the change.”

“That’s what has driven this band from day one,” Tino con­tin­ues. “We’ve al­ways had the fire, and ev­ery­one who has ever con­trib­uted to the band has had that pas­sion. In a lot of ways we needed to put that into a song, about how im­por­tant it is to be able to find in­spi­ra­tion within your­self and to reignite what makes you you. It ab­so­lutely wasn’t lack­ing, but it was some­thing we wanted to draw at­ten­tion to.”

So the fact that Cold World did re­ceive such a mixed re­ac­tion wasn’t on your mind when ap­proach­ing the new one?

“Ev­ery al­bum is its own snap­shot in time. Not ev­ery al­bum is for ev­ery­body, but ev­ery al­bum we cre­ate is very hon­est for us, so there’s noth­ing that re­ally feels out of place,” Aaron sighs.

They might not feel like they had any lost spark to re­cap­ture, but the best-laid plans do in­deed go awry and, from the out­side at least, it looked like the band might have been in se­ri­ous trou­ble when Austin dis­cussed his even­tual in­ten­tion to step away from mu­sic, pri­mar­ily due to his long-run­ning bat­tle with Mar­fan syn­drome, a ge­netic dis­or­der of the con­nec­tive tis­sue, with Kerrang! in the sum­mer of 2016.

Six months later, he was an­nounc­ing his de­par­ture, and the band’s fu­ture ap­peared bleak.

“Of course it was painful for us when Austin said he couldn’t carry on,” Aaron says.“we’d watched him suf­fer for the bet­ter part of a year and a half. It was bit­ter­sweet in the sense that all of us were re­lieved that he was go­ing to be fo­cus­ing on his health, but at the same time it was kind of unimag­in­able at first to think about do­ing it with any­body else, or even with­out him.”

So did you think at any point that ev­ery­thing you’d all built to­gether could be about to end? “No,” he says, sim­ply. “Of course it was a shock,”tino rea­sons.“but I don’t know that there was any true fear for us. It was more a case of,‘okay, let’s work through this, let’s fig­ure out what the next step is.’”

“We don’t have a play­book for life.we go through our lives and peo­ple get to watch us through a mi­cro­scope.as peo­ple we don’t al­ways have the an­swers or the right way for­ward, but as Of Mice & Men, any time there’s been a chal­lenge put in front of us, we’ve man­aged to dig deep to move for­ward.”

When pushed the singer does con­cede that, at the very start of the process, there were con­ver­sa­tions about whether the four re­main­ing mem­bers would con­tinue un­der the Of Mice & Men man­tle or some other guise.they’d been through so much, how­ever, and were such a tight-knit group that to not re­main to­gether at all was unimag­in­able. Un­til this tour cy­cle, in fact,aaron,tino and lead gui­tarist Phil Manansala were not just band­mates, but neigh­bours, with rhythm gui­tarist Alan Ashby liv­ing “up the road”.

It didn’t take long for the four of them to de­cide that the best way for­ward was to pre­serve and ex­pand on the Of Mice & Men legacy – for them­selves, for the fans and for their for­mer front­man.as soon as they started work­ing on new mu­sic they knew it would be as Of Mice & Men, and Aaron’s new role also seemed the nat­u­ral next step.

“It was brought up in the very ini­tial stages when Austin told us he was leav­ing,” says Tino when asked if they’d con­sid­ered look­ing for a re­place­ment.

“He ac­tu­ally brought up a cou­ple of peo­ple that he thought might work, but I don’t think the four of us ever dis­cussed that, be­cause we knew it wasn’t go­ing to feel right. I think it was im­por­tant for us to move for­ward with the four re­main­ing mem­bers of the band.”

The first fruits of the band’s new in­car­na­tion emerged al­most as soon as they re­turned to the live cir­cuit, with the sin­gles Un­break­able and Back To Me com­ing in quick suc­ces­sion. Mu­si­cally, both were de­signed for max­i­mum live im­pact, and that sense of pure un­fet­tered en­ergy was car­ried through to the rest of the al­bum.

Defy is cer­tainly not one-di­men­sional. there are plenty of dif­fer­ent flavours to be sam­pled, but it has a heav­i­ness and sense of mo­men­tum that was largely miss­ing last time out.

“We spent the sum­mer tour­ing with frickin’ Ozzy Os­bourne and Go­jira and Prophets Of Rage.we were see­ing so much heavy mu­sic, we were rein­vig­o­rated,” nod­stino.“we just tried to am­plify ev­ery­thing. If it’s heavy, it bet­ter be bru­tally heavy. If it’s gonna be fast, it needs to be even faster. If it’s go­ing to be emo­tional, it needs to dig deep and tell a frickin’ story.”

In terms of those sto­ries, the fact that the first sin­gle was called Un­break­able, while the al­bum it­self is called Defy, sug­gests it has an un­der­ly­ing theme.

“I think some of the songs def­i­nitely re­sound with that theme, but other songs are very hon­est about not feel­ing un­break­able,” says main lyri­cist Aaron.“there are songs on both sides of the spec­trum, about deal­ing with loss and deal­ing with change. So, while the over­all theme of the al­bum is in re­gard to change, not ev­ery song is nec­es­sar­ily a ‘rise up’ or ‘rise above’ song. It’s about ac­knowl­edg­ing the pain or ac­knowl­edg­ing what you’re go­ing through.”

And he’s right: there are songs on the al­bum that pull the lis­tener through the emo­tional wringer. Given the sit­u­a­tion they went through to get here, you can for­give the odd ‘rise above’ chest-beater any­way, but there are also songs like the suit­ably tu­mul­tuous War­zone, which was writ­ten in the wake of a 3am panic at­tack, or the ‘ev­ery­body hurts’ sen­ti­ment of On The In­side.the al­bum closes on a haunt­ing note with the at­mo­spheric If We Were Ghosts, a song of loss that was at least partly in­spired by the death of Ch­ester Ben­ning­ton, whom Aaron de­scribes as a good friend.

In short, Defy is a rip-snort­ing mix of what Aaron calls “fes­ti­val bangers”, but which never sac­ri­fices that sense of pro­gres­sion.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve rein­vented our­selves,” the singer says.“we just take note of the world we’re in, take note of what we’re go­ing through and then we write about it. Ev­ery al­bum for us is like a year­book, and ev­ery year­book tells a dif­fer­ent story, be­cause you’re al­ways in a dif­fer­ent place in your life.you can have growth with­out a com­plete rein­ven­tion.”

That’s what Defy rep­re­sents, and it’s an al­bum and an op­por­tu­nity that’s got its cre­ators fired-up.

“We’re in the wake of our most im­por­tant record to date,” pro­claims Aaron.

“2018’s go­ing to be a huge year for us, and we’re ex­cited for the new al­bum to start things with a bang. There’s go­ing to be lift-off and the ship will have sailed.”

We’ll let that splen­didly mixed metaphor ride, be­cause Of Mice & Men have bat­tled through dif­fi­cult times to pro­duce an ex­plo­sive come­back of an al­bum. Just be on that ship when it lifts off.

“YOU CAN HAVE GROWTH WITH­OUT REIN­VEN­TION…” AARON PAULEY

Ev­ery­thing was get­ting a bit too much for Joe Trohman

Aaron: never one to be short of a spare pick, to his credit

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.