Bring Me The Horizon: This album needs to be the one that lasts forever
On the brink of the release of their fourth full-length studio album ‘Sempiternal’; Bring Me The Horizon are at the forefront of the British metal scene and are spearheading the resurgence of modern British bands. I talked to front man Oliver Sykes about purging inner troubles, the band’s religious connotations and isolation in recording.
How’s it going with Sempiternal?
Yeah, it’s good. It’s not out until April 29, so it’s just a waiting game at the moment. The reception to what’s been put out so far is really positive. It feels really good for us especially. I’m feeling really positive, which is new for our band, so it’s really exciting.
It must be quite frustrating to wait for everyone else to hear it.
It’s killing me. We finished it in November, and we wrote it way before that, we’ve had these songs for so long, it’s just that and we’re worried about it leaking. We want people to hear it, and we want to go out and play it. So yeah, it’s a little frustrating, but that’s how it works I guess.
Good things come to those that wait.
Yeah man, exactly.
Let’s talk about recording. You recorded parts of Sempiternal far out in the Lake District, what was the reason behind that?
We started there because that’s the usual approach we take: recording in isolation. Most albums we go away somewhere remote and record. It didn’t work out as well for us this time because we liked that before as we were always touring, and we needed somewhere quiet to go. But this time, we had a bit of time to chill out before that, so we didn’t need it as much. It took us so long to get into the writing process this time because we had that massive tour, and we hadn’t written for so long. It takes a while each time – a few months – to find that first song, and be like ‘this is it’, because we always start off by believing that this album is going to be completely different to the last, but we never know why, and we never have that vision, but it’s always about finding that first song that’s going to represent the album, and that took us a while.
So where was the rest of the album recorded?
The majority of the recording was done at my house with a computer; and that was when Jordan was brought into the band, he’s a bit of a geek so he knows all that stuff. We got a bit of a set up and it worked so much better, we put it down on the computer and wrote a quick electronic beat to it, rather than six people in a practice room, and everyone smashing their instruments. That was always the most frustrating part about writing, so it was a new and unconventional way of writing for us, but it worked really well.
Was that like the early days of the band then?
Yeah, in a way. At the same time, it was completely new to us; we would always do it in a practice room from the start. It was new in the sense of just writing from scratch into a computer. It works so much better because it means you don’t have to start with the guitar necessarily; so you can start with a synth, or with a drumbeat or with a vocal line. It opens up so many more opportunities for us, and you could come back every day and go ‘that’s really good’ and fine tune it at every point.
How did Jordan joining the band come about in the first place?
Basically, with digital and programming aspects, we always bring someone in to do that, which we’ve done on the last few records. Each time it got a bit more evolved. He [Jordan] was originally a friend who we’d bring in on a more freelance basis. He would sit down on his computer, and we say what we want and it’s basically like that. But this time, it kind of progressed more and more until he was writing the songs. He’s amazing, he’s got loads of style, he’s got loads of ideas and he listens to music that I don’t listen to. We connect on a very similar level, even if we don’t know the same bands and music, we both know the same elements of music and what makes a song good. I don’t think many people find people like Jordan in life, someone you can trust to do something like that. I can’t trust many people to go off and design our band a T-shirt, or do something on our behalf; but I feel very comfortable with him writing stuff. It was a turning point for the album when he got involved, he’s responsible for a big part of that new sound.
With this album and its predecessor, there are a lot of religious connotations, is this deliberate? Is religion a big thing for the band?
I’ve always been an atheist. I obviously just don’t believe in God. But I’ve had a lot a sorting myself out do, and it came to the point where I was put in a position where I asked to believe in God. I was asked to hand over my faith to god, and let someone try and help me. For me, I just thought ‘are you serious?’, because they thought my only reason to get better was because of god, that imaginary guy in the sky. That really struck a chord with me, and I thought of all the people around me trying to get better because of this reason, because of god. I didn’t get it then and I still don’t get it now. Everyone in the world, no matter who you are, knows what’s right and what’s wrong; you don’t need anyone to tell you. You don’t need a set of guidelines to tell you what’s wrong; you know when you do it. That’s how you should live your life, you shouldn’t have to believe there’s a fiery hell that you’re going to, or there’s a kingdom that you’ll go to.
So how does this affect the band, the fans and the album?
I don’t have strong voiced opinions. For example, I’m a vegetarian, but I don’t give a fuck about people eating meat because that’s their choice and it’s not going to change them. I think people are rude who point their finger and belittle people, but that’s just an example. I think religion is evil, I think it’s the root of all evil, I think it causes thousands of deaths and I think it’s a brainwashing tool. Kids need to know that, especially those that we play to around the world. I’m not going to tell them to not believe, but I want people to think about it, and explore the avenues of it. It’s not harmless belief, it’s not like Santa Claus or anything, it causes so many wars and so much fighting, and the fact that I was supposed to get better for that reason really infuriated me. It is a talking point of the album, yeah.
You say ‘getting better’….
It’s not something I talk about. You could listen to the album and put two and two together.
Fair enough. So the definition of the Sempiternal is ‘eternal and everlasting’, is this the motive of the band?
It symbolises a lot of different things, some of which were intended, some that kind of came together. This album needs to be the one that lasts forever, just by Bring Me The Horizon, no guests, no gimmicks, no nothing. It’s straight up us, it represents what we’re about, what we do, and what we’ve spent the last 10 years doing, working on, and progressing. The flower of life – which is the cover of the album – means a lot of things, but it boils down to simply representing everything, it’s the life of everything and that’s where ‘Sempiternal’ comes from. The ongoing theme of the album is that every song is about a different point, with a different story and a different message, it’s a step-by-step concept. When you get the album, it will have it laid out in steps. Each song represents a different kind of realisation, whether that’s credence, admission or religion. It’s a process. Sempiternal stands for the realisation of something that’s never going to go away. People have afflictions and diseases that you can’t get rid of and sometimes – no matter how hard you try – it’s always there.
Are these ‘afflictions’ purged during the writing process?
For me, it’s like therapy. I get to be completely honest because I’m writing it down and I don’t have to sugarcoat it. For me, I don’t have to explain my lyrics to anyone if I don’t want to. Getting out on stage and screaming it is a complete and utter relief. I’ve learnt sometimes that talking about stuff and letting it out is the best form of therapy that you can do but even this is a greater form of that.
So a purification, of sorts?
Does the need for Lads On Tour (the band’s documentary) come from the need to show the fun side of the band? A side that isn’t shown in the music.
The music is very serious. We’re not professionals, we’re five kids that come from Sheffield and we don’t know the world that we’re in, and we’re still those people. We’ve got to talk about how epic is to play Brixton and talk about symbolism, and we just can’t do that. We’re quite competent songwriters now, but when you sit me down and try to talk about, I’ll stutter. It’s not who we are, it’s important to show that we’re not as serious as we come across.
To wrap up, what’s the next step after Sempiternal’s release?
Just getting out and touring! It’s the fun part now; the hard work is over, so it’ll be a year or two of just constant touring.
Bring Me The Horizon’s fourth full-length album – Sempiternal – will be released April 29th 2013, through Sony Music and RCA.
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