With their fourth album, Sempiternal, released in April, this is one of the most talked about bands around. We spoke to Bring Me The Horizon about all the hard work Oli’s done to make his vocals good enough, what the album is really about, how Jordan Fish joining the band has affected their sound and how they’ve used the criticism they’ve received over the years to their advantage. Could BMTH become the biggest extreme metal band in Britain?
Why did you release ‘Shadow Moses’ first? It’s probably the least exciting song on the album…
“We never intended for it to be a single. We played some live shows last year and we wanted to play a new song, obviously one that would be good for the crowd but management said we really should do it with a video and it came out a lot better. We were a bit apprehensive because like you were saying, it’s just a bit… stock. In comparison to the rest of the album, it does feel that way but if you compare it to our last album, it’s still a giant leap.”
You’ve also released ‘Antivist’, which is emphatically negative. What’s the overall message of the album?
“The album’s a concept in the way that each song’s a realisation of the process to get to the next song. When you get our album, it’ll be outlined what’s what. It makes a lot of sense. Every song’s got a completely different meaning or message but it is all observant of something that’s happened or something that’s happening.”
“‘Antivist’ is a bit of a social commentary. It’s not even about us, it’s just our generation – they’re lazy, sit on their arse and think they’re doing something. Don’t talk about politics; don’t talk about shit you don’t know; say it’s horrible how Texaco have ruined the world and you’re driving around in your tourbus. Everyone being hypocrites, thinking they know what they’re talking about and they don’t know shit.”
“It’s too hard to say what the album’s about and that’s why it’s called Sempiternal, which means ever-lasting journey and that’s why our logo is called The Flower Of Life. That’s sacred geometry and it basically represents everything that goes on in the universe.”
Are there any guest vocals on Sempiternal?
“No. The only other people that feature are these two brothers in a post-rock band from Sweden called immanu el and that’s just textures and ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ to add a bit more depth. In terms of guests, there aren’t any and that’s a conscious decision because there’s been about six guest vocalists over our last two albums, which is cool – we like doing that – but we wanted this album to be just us, Bring Me The Horizon. No gimmicks. No nonsense.”
Your vocals do have a much broader range on Sempiternal than ever before. What have you done to improve your voice?
“It was an ambition before we started making this album to put melody into the vocals so it weren’t something I could do already and it weren’t really that easy either. When I started doing it, it took a lot of time but Jordan is a bit of a musical boffin and he knows everything about every instrument so he really helped me get it. It was basically just me and him spending hour after hour, day after day in my house. I would write a chorus or a melody but I didn’t actually know how to sing it so we’d map it out on a keyboard and I’d just practise for hours and hours until it started making sense. That was basically the process.”
Has Jordan joining the band on keyboards and electronics altered the band’s sound in that direction?
“To be honest, I don’t feel like I brought that in. We’ve got the same musical interests, pretty much – we all listen to very similar stuff – so it’s more facilitating it rather than exerting my own influence.”
“Jordan opened up the door to what stuff we’ve always wanted to do but also I think Jordan’s style is very distinctive. He had a band called Worship before this and you can hear that in our band so it’s definitely his influences greatly included on the album but we’ve always wanted to do this kind of stuff, we’ve just never had a person that could do that kind of thing.”
You’ve been tipped to break out into the mainstream since Suicide Season. Is the increase in melodies an attempt to achieve this?
“There’s a lot more melodies and a lot more poppy-ish sounding stuff on it. It’s not in any way a pop record but since we introduced Jordan into the band it’s been one of the things we can think about a lot more. The electronic things – we can do stuff like that a lot better.”
“We’ve always liked the idea of being the catchiest, heaviest band that we can be but I think after There Is A Hell… we’d done so much in terms of different instruments and textures. We’d done everything. We’d done choir. We’d done strings. We’d done all these digital things. It just felt like the only way we could push ourselves further was if there started to be more melodies in the vocals rather than trying to add. I had to push myself in terms of not just screaming but putting some depth to what I’m doing, Matt adding more to the drums, making unique beats and obviously Jordan adding to it but I think everyone just pushed a bit harder.”
You’re an incredibly heavy band to have been headlining Brixton Academy. How do you think your success thus far has changed the shape of the British metal scene?
“I think it opened it up to a younger crowd. Extreme metal: it’s not just hairy dudes with big beards.”
“Some younger bands came through as well. I think the fact that we’ve stuck around as well… We took on a lot of shit when we were younger. We’ve stuck around and I think that we’ve proved ourselves to a lot of people. We’re not just a fad band who are just doing it for the sake of it.”
“I like to think that we’re a very British band in the sense that we’ve worked really hard. It hasn’t been an overnight success – we’ve worked at this for eight years and it’s been a very steady growth. There’s never been a great jump. We’re not just one of those American bands that come over and are the biggest band in the world for a year. Coming from where we were, hated by most people – and probably quite deserved with the music we were writing and the way we were – we’ve worked so hard to convince people. We’ve had to work so hard just to become better musicians because we didn’t know what we were doing in the first place. I think we’re very unique sounding but that’s because we’ve always kept working at it.”
How much has that criticism affected you? You’ve never seemed to throw your toys out of the pram over any of it…
“We might pretend like we don’t care but we also consciously listen to it. We’ve worked harder and harder and we might have kicked against it to each other but I think we knew that we had to get better. We have a chance to be a big band so that this could last a lifetime and not just a couple of years so we did listen to people and we did listen to criticism and we grew stronger for it.”
Sempiternal will be released on 01 April 2013 via RCA, but you’ve probably already decided whether to buy it or illegally download it already, so whatever. Bring Me The Horizon will be on tour in the UK in spring before heading out across the USA for Warped Tour. Check out BMTH’s Facebook for more details and the option to click Like on stuff.