by Tim Birkbeck
If there is one thing you need to know about Californian metal band, Of Mice & Men is that they are relentlessly hard working.
With several line-up changes, the band have today released their fifth studio record Defy – an album that shows the band with a new lease of life, one they are keen to show the world.
Having gone through personal hardship – founding member and former vocalist Austin Carlile leaving the band due to health issues – it seems like now as a four-piece the only way is up.
Vulture Hound caught up with newly promoted front man and bass player, Aaron Pauley to talk about the band being revitalised.
Last year was a pretty hectic year for you guys, so for an insider how did you find the year for Of Mine & Men?
It was a roller-coaster, it had its ups and downs – there was a lot of change but overall it was an incredible year for us as a band.
You mentioned change, and the big one that a lot of people have picked up on is yourself stepping to the front and becoming the main vocalist. How have you found adapting to that role?
It has been awesome, the way we have tackled writing song and writing music hasn’t changed directly. It has been such a hectic year, so it doesn’t seem like such a big change for us, but I can understand for the audience it is.
Have you found it a bit of a learning curve that the whole burden of the lyrics was on your shoulders to some extent?
Before this we used to write lyrics together, so there wasn’t a learning curve from that aspect. I guess for us it was more about having a discussion when it came to this record as we wanted to put something out that was universally accessible to my bandmates. Because it is not my story and my message, it’s our story and our message. So there was a lot of talk, and our band is very family orientated and we spend a lot of time together. So that brought a lot of clarity to what this record wanted to say.
You’ve described this as a new chapter for Of Mice & Men. Was there a conscious choice to put a line under what had been released in the past?
What we really wanted to accomplish was to take the elements of our music which we thought were exciting and excited our fans and put them into the two singles (‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Back to Me’), and it was a good benchmark to see where we were musically and sonically. So we got to play those songs across Europe all summer and we saw them take off and people really responded to them. We took that energy and it was our goal to put that into the record, and it had felt like it had been awhile since we have done that. For us each record we do is like a snapshot in time.
Was the new record already in motion when you released the two singles or was it a steady progression to get where we are today?
About half of the record was written when we released ‘Unbreakable’ and ‘Back to Me’. We kind of had the sound and we tweaked it. Touring was a great way to mark how they were coming across and being able to go into the studio and solidify what we wanted to do. For us we always wanted to do something that was very live oriented and have something that we can forever be excited about.
With the new record coming out and yourself taking centre stage, have you set any goals for 2018?
We just want to play where ever and whenever we can. For us we want to get out and be as busy as possible. As a four-piece it has been a huge blessing to permeate the live music scene again and we want to be a band that people can count on seeing us. We feel reinvigorated with this album and we just want to get out and talk to people.
You have always come across as an open and honest band that has never shied away from what is happening behind the scenes, do you believe that this is a reason why people are drawn to Of Mine & Men?
I think for us that aspect of the band isn’t something we have ever really thought about. That openness is just another extension of what we hope to accomplish as a band. The whole goal is to have connections with people and have the human experience.
With all the line-up changes in the past do you feel this is the most stable the band has been?
In the last five years I feel like this is the most cohesive line-up we’ve had. Not that it wasn’t before but going through such a major change it wasn’t just a line-up change it was a major life change for us. So the four of us were all we had to deal with that and go through that situation.
Defy is out now on Rise Records.
Catch the band on tour in the UK later this year: