Last summer, Of Mice & Men released their sophomore album The Flood , their best album to date and probably one of the best new hardcore albums of 2011. The wildly popular album shot the band onto a whole new level, but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Earlier this year, Shayley Bourget, one of the original members, quit Of Mice & Men, leaving the band without a clean vocalist or bassist.
But even that hiccup didn’t slow down Of Mice & Men. The band recruited clean vocalist and bassist Aaron Pauley originally from Jamie’s Elsehwere to fill Bourget’s shoes. Also a bit after this interview took place this summer, the band released The Flood Deluxe Reissue, which includes four new songs that act as kind of last comment on The Flood.
At the San Antonio stop of the Vans Warped Tour this past summer, lead screamer Austin Carlile sat down with us to talk about the story behind the new songs, a permanent replacement for Bourget and why he hates music genres.
This is your third year in a row to play Warped Tour. How does it feel to be back?
Austin Carlile: It feels great. We’re on the main stage this year and playing some new songs and have a new line up and really enjoying it. Having a blast.
What do you hope to accomplish this summer on Warped?
Carlile: I want to be the band everyone knows that goes hardest. Plays the hardest, parties the hardest, lives the hardest, loves the hardest, does everything the hardest, harder than anybody else.
You guys are releasing The Flood Deluxe Reissue on July 24. Why should fans who already bought The Flood go out and get the deluxe edition?
Carlile: Most people would say the songs. There are four new songs. My biggest reason is the artwork. I actually had a really big part in the artwork, creating it and drawing it myself and picking out select parts that I wanted to do myself when it came to the lyric book. The lyric book and the artwork are a really cool look into my head, which is kind of scary. I think that really true fans of Of Mice & Men will really appreciate the artwork and appreciate the time and what I did with the lyric book and all of that.
Will the new songs on the deluxe edition appear on your next full length?
Carlile: No, the third album will be its own entity. We did the re-release of The Flood mainly to close that chapter of Of Mice & Men out, and there’s still some stuff I wanted to say and have known for the re-release so I just kind of recap on all that. We put that away, and that’s another chapter of the band and start the next chapter.
You released “The Depths” recently, and it has a much darker, harder sound to it than anything Of Mice & Men has put out before. Is that the direction you’ll be going towards for the next album?
Carlile: Not at all. It’s kind of funny because people here are like, “Ah we hate it! You’re not my favorite band anymore!” and I just laugh at them because our re-release is the “The Calm,” “The Storm,” “The Flood,” “The Depths,” and all the songs progressively get a little heavier, a little more different, a little meaner as they go. We did that for a reason. I have a really cool story to tell behind those four songs. “The Depths” is the craziest step away from anything we’ve ever done in the past. So the [re-release] will be everything that encased our first two albums along with the four new songs.
So can you give me a little idea of what that story is behind those four songs?
Carlile: People ask to hear it and I haven’t mentioned it a single time for a single interview. Buy the album, listen to the songs in a row, and get the experience. I actually just listened to them last night, sitting in the back lounge. I put my headphones on and listened to our whole entire re-release, and it’s so good. And I never ever, ever, ever, ever talk about our band like that, but I’m really proud of them and really proud of the songs and if you already like Of Mice & Men, you’re going to effing love the new stuff, and if you’re not a fan yet, this is the stuff you should listen to.
Considering the sound of “The Depths” many people are categorizing you in the djent genre. Would you agree?
Carlile: I think that is the most ridiculous statement in the world. We are not that kind of band. I love those kinds of bands; I enjoy listening to them. We’re not that kind of band. That’s not the type of band we’re going to go for. It’s a heavy song; there’s nothing djent about it. That’s a ridiculous statement. I don’t know why people have to categorize things in music under music. It’s music and it’s music and it’s music. When you start putting genres on things, I think it’s completely ridiculous, and I hate that. I think that the people who put caps and the people who put genres on music are the people who are killing our music industry. I’m a very firm believer in listening to music and listening to bands because you like them not because it’s a certain type of genre.
Have you started recording songs for your third album?
Carlile: We’ve actually been demoing stuff, yeah. As far as full studio production, no.
How many songs do you have demoed so far?
Carlile: A handful. A good handful. We have a lot of demos from past stuff that Alan [Ashby] and I worked on. I recorded a thing on my phone two nights ago just by humming it. On a voicemail to Alan. I’ll wake up at four in the morning and he’ll be in the front lounge with his guitar hooked up to a thing, playing and making up stuff. So we have a lot of material we starting to work with.
When do you think the third album will come out?
Carlile: Besides next year, I have no idea. Hopefully early next year. The sooner the better. I’m really stoked for our fans and for our haters to hear it as well. Shut them up a little bit.
Why did you decide take over both vocal parts after Shayley left instead of getting a new clean vocalist?
Carlile: I feel like I was the only one at the time who could and who kind of had the right to. Out of respect and out of the fact that this band is a machine, I kind of wanted to take over it myself because I started the band and wrote the songs and the lyrics and wrote lots of the melodies and wrote lots of the singing lyrics. I just felt like it was appropriate for me to do that, but here on Warped Tour we had our friend Aaron Pauley come out. He’s singing for us and playing bass and keys. Sounds absolutely phenomenal, and we couldn’t be more stoked to have him out with us this summer.
Do you plan on getting a permanent clean vocalist/bassist?
Carlile: 100 percent. The third album will have cleans, it will have good cleans, it will have the same exact heaviness that we’ve always brought, and the same exact melody and softness and sadness parts that we’ve always had. I’m just so excited for us to bring it out and show everyone that we’re not slowing down.
With the huge popularity of The Flood, are you nervous at all as you write and record your third album, especially considering the huge vocal change?
Carlile: Not at all. I like being challenged. I think I’ve proven that in the past. It’s a chance for us to step up and show everybody what we’re really made of, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do. Not nervous at all, just excited for the opportunity to make everybody shut up and listen to the music because that’s all that matters. And I hate the drama-this, drama-that, this-that, it’s like just do what you do and let us do us, and it’s that simple.
You’re going to be on Warped Tour all summer. What do you have planned for the fall?
Carlile: Tour. Tour, tour, tour, tour, and writing. I can’t tell you who. It’s actually a really sick, metal, djent band…but not really at all. It’s a cool band, really respectable band. We’ll be direct support for the tour with them, and then after that we’re doing a UK/European headlining tour again, which is doing really well with the pre-sale. We want to be on the road and in people’s faces.
So this next tour will be in America.
Carlile: Yes. Cat’s out of the bag!