Bring Me The Horizon are a band that like to push the envelope with everything they do. There is no denying their rise in becoming one of the biggest rock / metal (or what ever you want to call them) bands to emerge from the UK’s thriving contemporary metal scene in the last decade. The bands new album ‘That’s The Spirit’, is a landmark statement, and one that Overdrive had the pleasure in discussing, with bassist Matt Kean.
OD – So this is BMTH fifth studio album and I have to say as each album has been released throughout the bands legacy, there is a phenomenal amount of progression and evolution with the sound. When writing, do you set out to totally outdo what you have done before?
MATT – Well, I guess we always try to start out fresh when approaching new material. We don’t really consider our last album at all in the writing process, but like you said, we try to better it, however, in a different direction. I guess people get hung up on what they sound like and they are scared they might alienate their old fan base. For us, we have never really been bothered about being popular, so I guess it makes it a bit easier to experiment and try new things, we play the music because we love, rather than what’s gonna be big or not. So we’re open to taking risks and that just keeps things really fresh for us.
OD – Well, that format is clearly working for you, judging by the success of the band to date.
MATT – Yea, I think also, some bands, especially ones that have had a big first or second album, will always try to recreate that, whereas with us, if one of our albums was big, we’ll try to better it.
OD – What was the general influence on this album in terms of sound, for example, what were you all listening to or exploring when it was being written?
MATT – Yeah, I guess everything we listen to finds an influence somewhere in our material. You can probably tell a bit more on this album rather than the previous releases. We have always approached a new album with that in mind and will continue to do so. Like with Suicide Season, we were referencing pop music for structure and core progressions and we though were just awesome and worked really well. On this album, I think it’s a lot clearer to identify new influences and sounds. There is a lot of electronica on this album, almost euphoric dance music elements here and there, at times. The thought process behind that, was if we added that together with the metal / rock sound, it becomes darker and I guess a little more evil. Then there are points on the album, that touch on almost the pop or indie side of things and then we have Happy Song, which is really punchy and bouncy, so there loads of different influences on this album, that just work really well for us.
As a band, we have really broad musical tastes. Our approach to music is very simple. As long as it’s good, then obviously we like it. We even like some of the big selling singles that are around today, or perhaps some really bluesy and saxophone based stuff from way back. We listen to everything really, there are no restrictions on what we listen to, as long as something sounds cool, we are happy to use it or draw influence from it, as we have no restraints and are not afraid to be different.
OD – Why did you choose to record in Black Rock Studios in Greece to record the album?
MATT – Well, basically the decision was based on the amount of money that the label were giving us to make the album and we figured that if we didn’t use the cash, it was going to be taken back, so we thought about it and came up with the idea to go somewhere really cool to record it and to be honest, it really worked out great! The island itself (Santorini, Greece) is really beautiful, but there is not much to do there on a daily bases. Even though it looks awesome and the weather was great, it was really productive not to have many distractions, as we were there to work after all. Honestly, we were under pressure to make a record that we were all proud of and continue the legacy of Bring Me The Horizon and only had a set amount of time to record and produce, so yea; there was a considerable amount of pressure to deliver.
OD – How long did you take up residence in Black Rock Studios?
MATT – Overall, I think we were there for around six weeks or so. We kind of took things easy as well. For instance, one thing we did on this record which we had never previously done before, was record all the songs individually. So, we would do the drums, the guitar’s, base tracks and then vocals individually. Where on previous albums, we would lay down all the drum tracks and then everything else on top of it. This time around, doing it individually, we found that it just gave us a better chance to explore the music and let it breath a bit more, which in turn helped us see and hear things from a different perspective.
OD – Ollie (Sykes, Vocals) has said recently that the title ‘That’s the Spirit’ is a reference that he believes is a metaphor for a type of positive dead-end, or if there is nothing else to say, when things are fucked. How did the title come about in reference to that statement?
MATT – Yeah, it’s actually a line in one of his lyrics (Happy), but I think most of the album has a lot of that theme, of searching for positives, when your in that bad situation. Even the umbrella which we used in the artwork for the album, is a symbol for when its raining and its bad but the umbrella shields you a little bit, so it’s just just finding that little positive, in the throws of a really negative situation.
OD – This new album is by far the cleanest sounding production that I have heard from BMTH, can you talk a little about the production process, as I know that it was produced by Jordan (keyboards). How was that dynamic having someone in the band doing the production, was it a little more relaxed?
MATT – Yeah, completely. It was way more relaxed this time around. During Sempiternal (2013), we kind of figured that out, as we demoed the last 2 CD’s before we went into the studio, so we kind of had everything that we wanted. We had no reason to actually go with a producer because we knew what we wanted to sound like, we already had our reference and our demos and it was just down to making the studio parts perfect.
This time around, we figured we didn’t need somebody to tell us what to do and Jordan (Fish, Keyboards) has his own studio, so he knows all the technical stuff and we had a friend of ours, Al Groves, do all the engineering, like micing us up in the studio and stuff like that. So it was really relaxed overall, but had an undercurrent of pressure to do the best we can. Like I said before, the way we recorded with everyone doing their separate parts, just really worked well for us, as we could just focus on the songs, making them sound as best as possible and I think it really paid off.
OD – You guys just completed the 2015 Reading / Leeds festival, where you were playing under Metallica, did you happen to meet any of the guys in the band, or see if they were checking your performance out?
MATT – I’m not sure if they checked us out, but we didn’t meet them that day. We have met them before though in the past. About two years ago BMTH played the Soundwave Festival (Australia) and Metallica happened to throw a huge BBQ for all the bands. It was during this BBQ that we ended up meeting them and having a chat with them. They came across as a really nice bunch of guys and to be playing just under them at Reading and Leeds this year, was kind of mind blowing to say the least.
OD – How was the Reading / Leeds performance for you, it must have been kind of mind blowing to be standing on stage in from of all those people?
MATT – The show was pretty crazy, especially because we hadn’t done any live shows for like 8 months or something like that. We were recoding this album when we got the offer and we were like “we have to do these gigs”. We thought to ourselves, “well if nobody buy’s the next album, this might be the highlight of our career!” ha ha! It’s really weird playing live shows that big, (90,000 punters) as I kind of just zone out to the point that it almost feels like a dream. Now when I look back on it, the whole thing just feels totally surreal. I think afterwards, it was like a mixture of relief and euphoria, because the whole performance just went so well.
OD – It must be a impossible to come down after a show like that, how did you even manage to get to sleep that night?
MATT – Yes, your absolutely right! It’s pretty odd to go to bed after a huge show like that. I don’t think I went to bed until something like 3 or 4 am and I still couldn’t believe the crowd that we pulled. It was a definite highlight for sure.
OD – I had heard that there is a very high possibility that a main-stage headline offer had been made to you guys for next years Download? Is there any truth in that?
MATT – No we’ve not had any offers or anything. Andy (Copping, Download Festival Booker) was actually at the Reading show and said he really enjoyed it the performance and he was a big supporter of BMTH. But no, we haven’t had any offers for Download 2016 at this point and to be honest, we haven’t really started planning that far ahead.
OD – It must feel good to be playing to such huge audiences in light of all the negative shit that people have said about the band in the past?
MATT – Well, we are a really close group of friends within the band and even our friends that are there around the band are very close friends to us all. We are a very close collective of people and have been for approximately 10 years or so. Our response to all that negative stuff, was to stick close through out all the shit and what actually happened, is that it really made us stronger as a band. These day’s, we just let all that stuff bounce off us and I kind of feel that we are immune to it, if you know what I mean. Overall, it’s definitely helped us all to just stick to what we believe in and just prove them all wrong.
OD – I have to ask about he album cover, with it being predominantly a black album, were you going for the Beatles (White Album) and Metallica (Black Album) as a statement? Who’s idea was it to do that?
MATT – The look that we were going for on this album in terms of the aesthetic of the cover, was t super minimalistic. We didn’t openly reference those bands (The Beatles / Metallica), it’s just the way that it all came together for this record. Although the cover is very dark and minimalistic, when you open it up, you see all this crazy, multi coloured artwork. It’s all within keeping with the theme of the album which is like the darkness is the outside, then you open it up you find the good part inside.
OD – Can you reveal any information on when you will be touring this album and can we expect to see shows in Ireland?
MATT – We haven’t been to Ireland for a while, but we always enjoy going over there. Like you said, it;s not really in our hands. I think when the promoters are looking at booking us or any bands from the UK, they have to consider that there is a ferry involved and stuff like. When you look at things from their perspective, it has to make sense for them to put the show on logistically, but we love playing live anywhere and are willing to travel anywhere to perform, as long as it works out for all involved. Playing live is the one and only reason that this band exists. We don’t really enjoy doing video shoots and all of that stuff, but when it comes to playing live, we just love it. We have played in Israel and South Africa and various parts of Asia, which was a new experience for us, but I’m sure we’ll come back to Ireland eventually and when we do, it’s gonna be mental.
OD – What’s been the most insane situation you have found yourself in, since the band started to get very popular, as I’m sure there have been some mind blowing experiences?
MATT – I think for me, it was the Wembley show in December of last year. I remember one point, I think we were playing, Can You Feel My Heart and everyone got their phones out and put their lights on. I just remember looking out into this huge crowd and thinking to myself, ‘this is fucking insane’. I was almost close to tears. It was a really powerful moment for me.
OD – Finally, you have played with some of the most exciting and groundbreaking bands in the metal / rock genre, is there anyone that you would really like to tour with or share a stage with?
MATT – Its difficult because, I’m trying to think of who we haven’t played with. We have played with so many bands in the past. Let me think, oh yea, it would be really cool to do a tour with The Prodigy. That would be amazing. I think it would be a really good fit for us. Anyway, you just never know what’s going to happen down the line.
BRING ME THE HORIZON – THAT’S THE SPIRIT IS OUT NOW VIA SONY MUSIC. CLICK THE GRAPHIC BELOW TO ORDER YOUR COPY.
Interview – Oran O’Beirne
Transcription – Katie McGarr
Photography – Stock images
Interview © OVERDRIVE 2015