By Bradley Zorgdrager Four albums and nine years into their careers, Bring Me the Horizon have lost a guitarist (Jona Weinhofen) and added one who also plays keyboards (Jordan Fish). Sempiternal is that fourth album — the one their label thinks will launch them into Metallica-size stardom. Bassist Matt Kean tells Exclaim! about shouldering these expectations, the road to get here and what success means for the Sheffield band.
Sempiternal, is kind of your least drastic stylistic change from album to album; it kind of built on There Is a Hell [Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret] more than previous albums, which kind of went in a different direction. How did you come to the decision to kind of build on your sound, as opposed to take it in a more drastic/different direction, and how do you feel it compares to previous releases? Well I think we just, we never really set out to write a record a certain way. I guess it just reflects where we're at musically. So when we sat down to write it, Lee, Jordan and Oli all sat down and just wrote whatever came first, I guess. That's all we did.
You guys have a keyboardist now. How did that come about, and how do you think it affected your sound? It happened because we've always had people — well on the last two or three albums, we've always had a little bit of electronics on it. On Suicide Season, we did the electronics ourselves. Oh There Is a Hell… we had Sonny Moore (Skrillex); he did a bunch of the electronics on that. And then when we came to write this time, we were like, "Oh, electronics are probably going to be on it again," and we got one of our friends. It was Jordan [Fish, programming/keys] who came and started writing with us. It became apparent throughout the writing process that it was more and more involved. So after he was writing so much, we were like, "Well, do you want to join? Because it would awesome for you to do this stuff live, and you've pretty much helped write the album with us, so you're a part of the band anyway."
What's it like performing shows with him? Does it change the dynamics on stage? Yeah, because normally we just had the drums at the back, and now we have like two different risers, and Jordan's on one side and Matt's [Nicholls, drums] on the other side. It kind of changes it up a bit, but I think it makes it a bit fresher, as well, for everyone.
Will he be playing the electronics from the older albums too then, or would you just backtrack those ones? No, he'll be playing them too. We've already done some shows with him and stuff, and he's figured it all out. He's playing a lot. I think he's playing, yeah, everything from the old songs as well.
So your band has now recorded with Terry Date, known for his work with Pantera, and Fredrik Nordstrom, who helped shaped the Swedish death metal scene. What has it been like working with these big names for metal and what are Bring Me The Horizon's plans from here? We haven't decided on the next CD. But working with those two guys … when we decided to go with Fredrik, we knew what kind of sound he could get for us and we thought that sound was awesome. I think that's what really drove us to go with him and it was awesome working with him — he was like a crazy, nutty professor. And Terry was also the right man for the job, for us, because he was kind of relaxed. We had already demoed the songs, so we kind of knew what we wanted them to sound like. So he just helped us achieve that and he didn't really interfere in any way, like with the structures of the songs or anything.
So you guys are signed to RCA now, and it's your first time on a major label, but you've been a relatively popular band for quite some time. Why the wait to go to a major label? Well, we already had a contract with an indie label in the UK; we signed like a long one. So it was just basically because we were still on that label and we weren't really looking for another one.
Fair enough. When RCA signed you, I read somewhere that they said, "Signing you guys is as important as signing Metallica." How do you guys feel about that? I think it's kind of crazy, but it's good because everyone who works there is fully behind the band, and they have never pressured us to change our sound or anything like that. They want us to be a metal band and they want us to be, like you said, as big as Metallica. So everyone is just super cool.
So you're not feeling any pressure to change your sound, but do you guys feel any pressure to measure up to that — to not let them down? I think we put more pressure on ourselves, to be honest. When we were writing, everyone was just like super stressed out because we just wanted to make the best CD we could.
And then the CD actually leaked, like two months before its actual release date, which is not something bands are too excited about. But you guys actually tweeted about how excited you were that everyone was loving it. And then you put it up for streaming and pushed the release date forward. How did you come up with this decision, which is obviously not the norm for bands? Well, we knew it would leak at some point, but we were hoping it would be maybe like a week before, like most CDs. We finished recording it in very early December, so we were always a bit like — because there was so long between us actually finishing it and then it coming out — we were always a little bit wary. We were always like, "Oh no, maybe it's going to leak," and it did eventually. And we were just like … we knew we'd wrote a good CD, so we weren't too bothered about it leaking because we were just excited that everyone enjoyed it and everyone seemed to be digging it. So we just bumped the release date up to get it out there as quick as possible.
Do you think sales numbers will suffer at all from the leak and the bumped release date, or do you think it will actually benefit you guys? I think it might affect it a little bit, but like I said, we're super confident in this album, and we're just hoping that, if people do like it, that they go out and support us. Judging by messages we get on like Twitter and stuff, it seems like a lot of kids are super excited just to get the physical copy. And we're in the position where it comes with like a huge book and there's like explanations about the lyrics and stuff like that. So we worked really hard on getting all that solid.
That's sweet because you guys are kind of in a unique position; people don't just buy CDs like they once did, so it's cool that they're looking forward to buying the physical album. Yeah, yeah. I think that once it leaked, we were a little bit like, "Oh no, maybe it's going to really affect it," but then judging by like everyone's reactions to it, and them telling us that they're going to buy it anyway, it's pretty cool.
This might be kind of a sensitive subject, so I apologize in advance if it is, but Oli Sykes [vocals] tweeted about Jona [Weinhofen, former guitarist] not writing for, or playing on, the album. Would you be willing to give us the official version of what happened with Jona? We're not allowed to talk about it; our label told us not to talk about it. But yeah, it's kind of sorted out now anyway. We all had a big talk about it when we were in Australia, so it's kind of done with and finished with.
"Shadow Moses" must be a nod to Metal Gear Solid… Yeah!
Are you guys all big gamers? Is that something you guys do while you're on the road? Yeah, we really love playing computer games. It's something that we can do on the road to like pass the time. I think everyone on the bus pretty much plays FIFA. And yeah, Oli loves Metal Gear Solid as well. I think he's got like a tattoo of Metal Gear Solid. And I think the choir at the start of "Shadow Moses" is a nod to the level as well.
So Bring Me The Horizon is coming up on a headliner for Warped Tour. It's a shorter set and it's outside, so what can fans expect from that Bring Me The Horizon performance? Yeah, I think it will just be the same as always; we have been on Warped Tour before. Obviously, we're going to be playing a lot of the new stuff because it's so exciting for us to play it. Like I said, having Jordan as well will add a little bit of a different element. We haven't toured in North America for quite a while now, so it's going to be good to finally get back over there and play some of the new songs for everyone.
Right on, anything else that's coming up for Bring Me The Horizon that you wanted to talk about? Umm, well I think that Warped Tour is the only thing we've got like definitely booked, like apart from within the UK, and a European tour, but that's about it.