"We didn't want to wait and let the world figure out what was going to happen..." - Metallers Of Mice & Men talk their new collection, Echo and starting anew
With touring not an option during the pandemic, artists have taken a myriad of different approaches as to how to fill the time they were suddenly handed. Some bunkered down, cancelled their release plan and decided to wait it out until something approaching normality returned.
Others did not, they got productive, embraced living and playing online for fans and put out more music than ever. Metallers Of Mice & Men are decidedly in the latter category.
They spent 2020 and 2021 constantly working. They wrote so much material, all written across Zoom and Twitch and designed to be heard in headphones, tracks that while still capturing the band's signature heaviness, also create an immersive atmosphere.
The result is Echo, which brings together three EPs released in 2021, Timeless, Bloom and Ad Infinitum, as well as a cover of Crosby, Stills and Nash's classic 'Helplessly Hoping'.
Echo is now on shelves and we spoke to the band's drummer David Valentino 'Tino' Arteaga about why they decided to bring these EPs together and why they're going it alone in the future...
You’ve compiled your Timeless, Bloom and Ad Infinitum EPs together to make Echo, why did you decide to take that approach for this record?
"We wanted to spend 2021 releasing new music and carrying a conversation with our audience that was different because times were drastically different. It was a cathartic release schedule that we were sharing these stories with our fans in real-time as we were writing them."
"We felt the need for connection and didn't feel like we could just save an entire body of work for a traditional release format. Echo is the collection of songs that span 2020-2021."
How was the recording process? Were these songs recorded at the same time, in batches or throughout the year?
"The recording process was very stream-of-consciousness-driven. Since our touring plans had been cancelled at the beginning of 2020 due to the world shutting down, we immediately took to writing to make sense of our feelings and what we were experiencing."
You ended up working separately over Zoom, how was that? Were the sessions productive or did you find things took longer than they would if you were in the room together?
"I feel that because we have so much experience writing albums together, we naturally found ways to virtualize the writing sessions. Through the use of collaborating via Zoom and broadcasting our sessions live on Twitch, it made the experience really fun since we were learning this new language together and sharing it with our fans."
You self-produced this album, why did you decide to go it alone on this record?
"Out of pure necessity! Living day after day in uncertainty during lockdown, we didn't want to wait and let the world figure out what was going to happen. We wanted to challenge ourselves to use the tools we have and the skills we've learned from working with some of the best producers in modern rock and metal and create something completely ourselves."
Are you going to continue the process for your next record? Or did you miss the presence of an outside voice?
"We're truly enjoying the process that we've developed and it's really allowed us to expand, not only our knowledge of production, but our musical vocabulary and introduce new elements when they feel honest and exciting to us, instead of whether or not someone else likes or understands it."
"There are so many nuances to our sound and because we've learned so much from all the producers we've worked with, it felt like a natural step. I think our fans really appreciate that we are taking it into our own hands."
You covered Crosby, Stills and Nash on the record, why did you pick out that song for a new take?
"It was a really beautiful song that Aaron (Pauley, bass/vocals) really connected with after losing his mother-in-law, which then resonated greatly with me shortly after when I lost my mother. It's a song about being helplessly hopeful, there's so much emotion that hangs in that balance that we as humans all can understand. It's the perfect way to end the collection of songs that is Echo."
Which song on the album took the longest to get right?
"The title track 'Echo' probably took the longest because it came from a couple of musical ideas that we wanted to incorporate in the collection but didn't seem natural to include until the Ad Infinitum EP. It fits perfectly there because of its blend of ethereal melody, soundscapes and heaviness, which only after the Bloom EP was released, made sense to us."
And which came together most quickly?
"'Obsolete' came together really quickly! It was a song that Alan (Ashby, guitars) had been working on while we were on the road that once we were sidelined from touring, we felt really resonated with us to complete and refocus our energy into writing the songs that would follow."
Why did you decide on Echo for this record’s title?
"A recurring theme throughout the album is that of the human experience. As we get older, we become more aware that what we're experiencing now, has been happening for centuries before and we are currently just living echoes of the past."
"From feelings of pain and sorrow to uncertainty and the quest for knowledge and understanding of existence. The album as a whole pays tribute to that idea and we hope that resonates with our audience."
This album marks your first for Sharptone Records, how have you found life on a new label?
"Big shout to Sharptone! We're a very hands-on band when it comes to our music and creative direction so them helping facilitate everything we needed to be fully immersed in these projects was amazing. They also are genuinely championing the metalcore movement in a big way which means a lot to us."
You’re booked to come to Europe in the summer of 2022, will you be out before that or is that your first planned shows?
"Our return to the stage will be 2022 Rock Am Ring/Rock Im Park and our entire summer festival run including Download, Hellfest and so much more!"