Bring Me The Horizon step onto a new road

As of now, Bring Me The Horizon is the most hated successful metal band – at least by a certain group of people on the Web. And yet, it absolutely doesn’t bother vocalist Oli Sykes, who doesn’t care one bit about what’s being said about him and his band on the Internet. Actually, the mere fact that people react passionately – for no one seems to have a neutral opinion regarding Bring Me The Horizon – is something positive to Sykes.

The band’s latest release, Sempiternal, won’t change the opinion of those on the grouchy side. First because, well, it is a Bring Me The Horizon album – but also because the band is slowly moving towards a more electro atmosphere. According to the vocalist, this is only the first step in a “crazy” evolution, brought about by the arrival of keyboard player Jordan Fish, who seems to have broadened the band’s musical horizon.

Sempiternal is the first evidence of that. This album is filled to the brim with electric sounds and clean vocals play a predominant role. Speaking of which, the vocal parts are very inspired by Linkin Park, a band Sykes admires, and have been a true challenge for him.

We took advantage of this interview to talk about video games, and particularly about Metal Gear Solid, an ambitious saga the band pays a discreet homage to in the album. The series has changed the lives of many gamers, and is famous for being more than just a well-penned video game: it’s an experience.

« We don’t consider ourselves a metal band anymore, to be honest! »

Radio Metal: Terry Date produced this new album. Was it him who pushed you further on the electronic road for this record?

Not at all, to be honest! Terry was great to work with, he wasn’t really controlling. We presented the songs before going in the studio, and he was cool with that, he didn’t change anything. He was kind of: “I’m here to get the best sound out of you guys, and that’s what I’m gonna do”. And that’s what he did. It was our decision to push ourselves farther in that department.

By integrating so many electronic elements, aren’t you afraid to lose sight of your metal bases, since these elements take such a large place in the record?

Every time we make a new album, we bring new sounds into it, and that’s what we want to continue doing. We don’t consider ourselves a metal band anymore, to be honest! I don’t know how to really describe our sound, but I usually say: “If you like heavy music, give us a listen. Check us out if you haven’t heard us before”. I think it’s more than a metal band. Obviously what you’re saying is true, but we don’t necessarily worry about that, because we don’t want to be a pure metal band. We want to have influences all over the scope of music.

« I wanted something powerful and aggressive, but with lots of melody. I think Chester Bennington (Linkin Park) is one of the best examples of that in rock music. I’m not ashamed to say he was an inspiration. »

This album is also a lot more melodic than the previous one, and features very cool vocal lines. Some of them remind me of Linkin Park, a band that was also produced by Terry Date. Is this some sort of influence?

Yeah, definitely. Singing like that is a new thing for me, it’s something I haven’t done in the past. It was a challenge for me. I listened to Chester Bennington from Linkin Park, and stuff by Pantera, and that’s what I wanted it to sound like. I wanted an aggressive kind of melody. I didn’t want to sing clean and soft all the time. I wanted something powerful and aggressive, but with lots of melody. I think Chester Bennington is one of the best examples of that in rock music. I’m not ashamed to say he was an inspiration.

About this album, you declared: “There’s a very euphoric sound carousing through the album, a very uplifting and yet sad sound”. Does this come from your actual state of mind? Are you euphoric and sad at the same time?

I guess my music is all about sadness. It’s all about darkness. There’s not much room for happiness, because when you’re happy, you don’t think that much and there’s nothing to write about. When you’re happy, you don’t worry and you don’t think about anything. Most of the topics are about sadder things. But on this album, what I’m talking about is in the past tense. So I’m not talking about I’m in this place and this is how life is, I’m talking about a place I was in. It’s uplifting in that sense: it’s about a time yesterday, it’s not the present.

That actually explains why the lyrics are so sarcastic, like you wanted to talk about dramatic things in a light way.

I think there are things in life that need to be treated like that. There are very stupid people out there, and very stupid things, and if you let yourself become too angry about the way the world is, then you’re gonna be miserable. If you can see how the world is and laugh about it, it’s much more fun. There are very sarcastic comments in the lyrics, it’s very tongue-in-cheek. That was my intention in doing so.

From your first record up to that one, you’ve been having less and less rhythmic breaks and more and more melodies. Is it a planned, long-term direction or is it something that came naturally, without you paying attention to it?

It was just the way we wanted to move forward. In my opinion, we’re getting better at writing songs, at playing our instruments and at structuring songs. With each album, we get more confident, and that means we don’t feel the need to hide behind noise. It can be a bit more natural, cleaner, and raw and stripped down sometimes. It’s simpler, I agree, and it’s definitely more and more melodic. But I think in some respects, that makes it more powerful, because it’s so much heavier. The melody is here, but there’s all that aggression there. In a live situation, there are going to be so many more sing-alongs. It’s going to be a much more powerful show because of that.

In what way does having Jordan Fish on keyboards change your writing and recording process?

It was kind of a turning point on this album. He opened the door for us to do so much stuff that we couldn’t do before. We had all these ideas, but no one knew how to do it. No one knew how to play a keyboard or program stuff or work in the way that Jordan did. Bringing him in meant we could experiment and expand so much more than we were able to do in the past. I think he had a great impact on the new sound.

You’ve declared: “Bringing Jordan into the mix changed things completely. He opened up so many more possibilities”. Do you think you will be able to go even further on the next albums thanks to him?

Yeah, I think it was just the tip of the iceberg, really. It’s just a starting point, because it’s all new. We have to get used to working with him. For this album he came in halfway through. Next time, we’ll be working with Jordan from the start, it will be comfortable. I think the album is going to be even crazier next time.

« Since the very start of our career, even at a very small scale, we’ve always polarized opinion. I guess we just do something that makes people react in a very passionate way. In my opinion, that’s good: a bad reaction is better than no reaction at all. »

How do you think your fans will react to that evolution?

I’m quite confident, and that’s not something usual. Even when I’m happy with the album, I usually have that worry: are they going to like it? But I feel so positive about this new album, I’m so confident about it. I’ve always worried in the past, and everything always worked out fine. This time I’ve got so much more confidence that I feel like people are gonna share that kind of excitement with me. The reactions so far have just been so good that I’ve a really good feeling it’s gonna be a positive reaction.

The first single is called “Shadow Moses”. After some research on the Internet, the only reference we could find about that title is the videogame Metal Gear Solid. There are other references to that game in the album, like “The House Of Wolves” and “And The Snakes Start To Sing”. Are those just coincidences or are you actual fans of that game?

I personally am a massive fan of Metal Gear Solid, so you’re right in thinking that’s where it came from. But the song title has no relation to the song, apart from a similar sound in the beginning as a reference to Metal Gear Solid. There’s no correlation between the title and the lyrics. It was more like a working title when I was writing it. And then, we thought the title “Shadow Moses” could be a tribute towards the game. Every other title has a relation to the lyrics.

What does that game mean to you? What’s your favorite in the series?

I think number one is my favorite, because it’s the first one I played. The Playstation never really had a game that good. There hasn’t been a game that groundbreaking since. Number two is my favorite apart from that. I know it’s the worse for a lot of people, but not for me.

“Shadow Moses” is a reference to the game that was released on Playstation in 1997, but did you play the remake on Game Cube? What did you think of it?

I never played the remake on the Game Cube! I still play the original.

What did you think of the ending, Metal Gear Solid 4, that was released in 2008 on PS3?

It was insane! I like, literally, never saw the huge twist at the end, and how they waited until the end of the credits to reveal everything. It was edge-of-your-seat stuff. The whole game was like one big movie. It was intense, incredible.

Kojima will be releasing a new series, Metal Gear Rising, more action-oriented and with Raiden as the main character. Do you think you will try this new series?

I’ve played the demo, actually. It’s fucking cool! I was a bit apprehensive when I saw the style and everything. I didn’t know if it would be my thing, ‘cause I’m not really into this kind of styled fighting games, like Devil May Cry and stuff. But I played the demo, and it’s amazing!

« My music is all about sadness. It’s all about darkness. There’s not much room for happiness, because when you’re happy, you don’t think that much and there’s nothing to write about. »

Let’s go back to music! It’s your second record with Epitaph. How are things going with them? Does the presence of Brett Gurewitz have an impact over your choice to keep working with this particular label?

Yeah, definitely. When we signed to that label in the first place, Brett came to see us personally. He was so passionate about Bring Me The Horizon, he told us he loved the band, and we could tell it was genuine. That was the main reason for signing with Epitaph, even though we were offered more money in other places. They seem so passionate about Bring Me The Horizon, that’s why we’re still with them now.

You’re about to launch a new project, that would consist in creating a comic-strip called “Raised By Reptiles”. What’s the state of your Kickstarter campaign to raise funds? Why do you want to take part in such a project?

I’m a big fan of comics as well as video games and music. We’ll have to see how it goes. It’s like the first week into the Kickstarter thing, and we’re kind of already met our target. It looks like the project is gonna happen, so that will be cool.

In a 2009 interview, in answer to the question: “Why have people got you wrong?”, you said you rubbed people up the wrong way, but didn’t know precisely why. Has your opinion on how people view you has changed?

I’m not really sure; you’d have to ask people! I don’t really pay much attention to anything I read on the Internet. Actually, I don’t really read anything like that. I’ve no idea how people perceive me nowadays. I just do what I do. I can’t change those people’s opinion, do you know what I mean? At the end of the day, they don’t know me anyway. They make an opinion based on the way they think I am, not the way I actually am. There’s no changing that.

What’s striking about Bring Me The Horizon is that, especially on YouTube and Blabbermouth, the reactions to the band are pretty extreme. People either love you or hate you. How do you explain that?

I don’t really know how to explain it. Since the very start of our career, even at a very small scale, we’ve always polarized opinion. I guess we just do something that makes people react in a very passionate way. In my opinion, that’s good: a bad reaction is better than no reaction at all. It makes you feel like you must be doing something that creates an opinion, and I think that’s what you need to do. If everyone is like: “Yeah, they’re all right”, then you don’t really get anywhere. A bad emotion is still an emotion, and the fact that we’re getting emotions out of people says a lot about our band.

Interview conducted by phone on March 2013
Transcription : Saff’

Official Bring Me The Horizon’s website : www.bringmethehorizon.co.uk

Album Sempiternal out since April, the 1st 2013 via Epitaph Records

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