OF MICE AND MEN interview online. ‘Timeless’ EP out 26th February 2021.

 I spoke to AARON PAULEY from OF MICE AND MEN about playing bass and covering all vocal duties after the previous singer left and how it seemed the most organic solution, recording remotely and the move to SharpTone Records. You can check it all out below.

"There's an old idiom about what you're supposed to do when life gives you lemons," explains singer Aaron Pauley about the EP. "Sadly, to disappoint, this wasn't exactly that. We started writing this EP shortly before the initial lockdowns in spring of 2020, before we knew that our world was about to become a radically different place. A lot of these songs were born from a place of wondering how we'd fit into 2020 and beyond, both as adults in our 30s as well as a band that's a decade into our existence."
Regarding ‘Obsolete,’ he says, "It's a song about questioning how future-proof one is in the grand scheme of thing and acknowledging that maybe we aren't at all. I think we all wonder, to a certain extent, whether or not we'll fit into the future, or how we would, or what that would look like. Obsolescence is very prevalent in our lives. We see how quickly old phones become virtually useless, how quickly fads and trends come and go. It's all too easy to ponder about when you'll become a covered wagon, or a flip phone, or Myspace."
"'Timeless' is a song about becoming increasingly aware of impermanence, written through somewhat of a sombre, yet romantic, lens," says singer/bassist Aaron Pauley. "At the beginning of the pandemic, I was watching a lot of black and white movies. One of my favourite movies is Casablanca. I wonder if any original copies exist. You know, although that movie is universally regarded as being timeless, the actual celluloid is so fragile. But I think we find a special kind of vibrance in life when we're aware of our own impermanence."
At its best, heavy music produces songs of escape and catharsis. Few bands demonstrate this ethos as powerfully as Of Mice & Men, the multifaceted metalcore machine whose mission is to make the soundtrack for every heartbreak, melancholic rumination, and moment of triumph. It's a potent and perfect storm of elements. A bombastic and uplifting roar familiar to fans of Linkin Park; a layered crunch akin to the Deftones; thrashing old school riffage a la Slayer and Exodus; the sensual atmosphere of Sade or Radiohead; swirled into a singular sound uniquely OM&M.
Across a half-dozen studio albums, the group's combination of crowd-moving breakdowns, staccato rhythms, and soaring melodic vocals bridged the gap from the underground to the world at large. Their songs catapulted them onto massive tours with Linkin Park and Rise Against (2015); Slipknot and Marilyn Manson (2016); and Five Finger Death Punch and In Flames (2017).
At every turn, no matter what obstacles presented themselves, the four men at the Of Mice & Men core since 2016 never lost sight of the strength of their connection to the audience or each other. They refocused and persevered at every turn, delivering massive anthems that work in the most intimate of punk clubs, the biggest of European festivals, and American rock radio formats alike. It's all about the songs themselves and what they mean to people at the end of the day. The music of OF MICE & MEN begins as something deeply personal shared among the quartet. Once they're turned loose, they take on new meaning, adding to the soundtrack of people's lives.

MAL-
Good to talk to you.
AARON-
You too. Thanks for having me,
MAL-
Since you joined in 2012 tell me about the time you've had in the band. 
AARON-
It's been incredible. I mean the opportunities between the places that we've been able to travel and the producers that we've been able to work with and some of the bands that we've been able to meet and befriend. It's just yeah, like you said it's been a pretty wild ride. 
MAL-
You've come to Australia a couple of times on the Soundwave tour. What are your memories of those? 
AARON-
Oh, man. It's just always such a good time with friends and Australian crowds are just some of the best on Earth as far as just pure raw energy, so it's always always a good time and we were actually fortunate enough to come out there for Download a couple years back. that was a lot of fun too.   

MAL-Right, tell me about the path to becoming the lead vocalist in the band. How did that come about? It seems to be an interesting turn of events when you just sort of read about it. Tell us about it from your side. 

AARON-

Yeah, you know when he told us that he had to leave the band. We knew that we were going to continue. We didn't really know in what capacity and we knew that we weren't going to try and force anything. So we kind of just got together shortly thereafter and then just, you know started jamming and once we were jamming, you know, that kind of leads to 'oh, let's play some of the old songs' and then, 'Oh fire up the PA' and I started doing just vocals, just doing all the vocals over the old songs and we played probably like six or seven songs and we were just like hey like, okay this seemed like the most organic solution rather than introducing any sort of new elements to the band, we kind of just refine what the band was doing leading up to that point.
And then we started working on 'Defy' maybe a month or two after that. 
MAL-
It's always fascinated me with vocalists doing, if you like, the two different styles, how their voice holds up. What experience have you had in that? Has your voice always managed to hold up? Have you ever had to take a break? 
AARON-
No, I mean the only time I've ever like had a blowout in my voice was because of being ill and trying to perform, just knowing better and knowing that maybe I should probably tell my tour manager. 'Hey, you know, maybe let's reschedule this one' versus, you know, just wanting to get it your all for the fans that show up and wait in line. So it's usually just from overexerting when I'm sick, no, but I mean with proper technique it's two sort of different mechanical approaches to the way you use your voice box, if you do it properly you don't injure yourself or hurt yourself.
MAL-
Right tell us about how all the bullshit going on in the world right now has affected recording and releases. You've got a three-track EP coming out, which is excellent by the way, tell us about how that was affected by all of this bullshit. Did you manage to get together? Did you have to do it separately? Was it done beforehand? And the release has been delayed, tell us about that.
AARON-
Yeah, I haven't even seen my bandmates for about a year in person, but I mean we've been working over zoom and you know, because we all kind of live apart from each other anyway, that was I think going to be the main method that we were going to write and I think this just kind of, you know forced us into you know jumping in both feet, but I think you know this time has allowed us more time to focus on the purely creative side of being a band and making music, rather than the live touring and live entertainment business side of being in a band, you know, and I think that as far as the art is concerned and the musical conversation, you know, I've always said when you when a band releases new songs, that's the beginning of the conversation, and it's I think not having the method of communication in the form of live shows and touring and just how that is communicative in and of itself, I think it's kind of forced us to go back to finding the original reason why we all wanted to play music in the first place was because you know, at least for me personally. I always just wanted to write songs. So, you know being put in a position where it's like, okay, this is ALL you have to do right now, if you choose to do it because it's not even you have to, you can utilize this time you can't spend doing something and you can spend it doing something you can do. So it's working on new music.
MAL-
So this release rather than like a full-length album and I believe there's two more EPS to follow this year, why that approach? 
AARON-
You know for us that approach minimizes the length of time between us finishing material and you being able to hear it and you know, I think the time it takes to create and then eventually curate an albums worth of material takes a lot longer and creates a lot more lag time in that conversation than creating a few songs that are a snapshot in time, and releasing those and you can kind of do that in a more timely manner. You're almost releasing smaller snapshots in time, smaller collections, and it just makes for the ability to release new music all year. 
MAL-
Tell me about the songs on here. We've got 'Timeless', 'Obsolete' and 'Anchor'. Any stories behind them you want to share with us? 
AARON-
You know, a lot of the songs deal with the concepts of obsolescence and impermanence and the changing of seasons and I think how you know, as you know for all of us were all in our early 30s now and I think that you kind of become more keenly aware as you live more life of the impermanence of things and so I think that we written these songs at the beginning of the pandemic, you know starting in March / April / May and so it was kind of before all of the lockdowns and before we knew a hundred percent that things were going to change radically. So it relates I think in a way to the pandemic situation, but a lot of this was written in the precursors to that, you know.
MAL-
What's the funniest thing, going to dig back into your brain here.. what's the funniest thing, back when you were touring, the funniest thing that's happened on tour. 
AARON-
There was one time when we were on tour with Linkin Park where we were playing a song where it starts off with just me singing a really kind of high falsetto spooky eerie melody and Alan our guitar player's playing a very clean guitar with sync delay. And it's one of the first days of the Linkin Park tour, and so while we're actually playing that song live he looks over and sees Mike Shinoda's standing side-stage watching him and he botches the chord and it's just the two of us and I kind of look over at him and he just looked over and I can just see that that he's  mouthing expletives out loud to himself. 
MAL-
Excellent. So, back to the EP what's happening now? We've got this coming out very soon. Have you started working on the next one or was this a contained project, 'get this one out and then we'll worry about what comes next'? 
AARON-
No, so, we're currently working on our third one. That's like kind of in towards the end stages. I think yeah, you know, we're just kind of consistently working on music and however, we can figure out the timetable to put it out is kind of more flexible. So we're definitely sitting on stock and waiting to release it rather than you know, releasing something and then. 'All right. All right, come on boys cook up the next one hurry',you know?. Aand that's kind of the cool thing too is working in smaller formats, you can change your approach, you can release three songs and say 'Hey, how about this? After this, why don't we release EP2 this way?', you know? And that's already come up in the conversation. So, you know after making six albums, it's kind of just a fun and sort of rejuvenatingly exciting thing to inject into the process. 
MAL-
Now you mentioned the band is like living apart, where are you located?
AARON-
I'm in Huntington Beach, California. 
MAL-
And the rest of the guys? 
AARON-
They're all in Southern California. I mean, we are all within, you know, a couple hours of each other, not terribly far, but also not terribly close. 
MAL-
But you haven't seen him in a year.
AARON-
Because of the pandemic and because of life circumstances and other things, you know, 
MAL-
I don't know about you but I'm going stir-crazy with no gigs. It must be even worse for musos.
AARON-
Yeah, It is when I when I let my brain go there. Otherwise, I just try and really stay focused in the songwriting realm because otherwise, I really do tremendously miss it.
And yeah, so any time I start to miss it I'll go back and watch some old live videos and be like damn. All right. Well, what can I be doing right now? I can write some more music so that eventually when we can play will have some new stuff to play.
MAL-
Careful. You're getting older, you'll start reflecting too much and thinking about what you should have done different. Trust me on that one. Hey, Aaron, what else shall we talk about? 
AARON-
We're excited to be on a new home with SharpTone Records, you know, we love our old label, Rise they're great. You know, it's just been exciting to work with the new label on a sort of, you know, testing the waters of the new format, you know, just releasing Eps and whatnot and SharpTone's been an awesome creative partner. Yeah, you know, just follow the socials for the latest up-to-date news. And yeah, we miss everybody down there, been too long. It's very seldom that we don't go to Australia, you know on an album cycle so, you know, but we'll be back. 
MAL-
Let's hope so. Aaron, I think we've pretty much covered everything, man. 
AARON-
Well, thank you so much for the time. Thanks for for covering us and for covering the band and honestly, we just can't wait to come back. And once we have some more new music to drop and more stuff to talk about I'll be back on the show to talk about it.
MAL-
Rock and roll. Hey Aaron. Thanks for your time. Good luck with all the new music. 
AARON-
Thank you so much and stay safe, and we'll see you soon.