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Interview: Aaron Pauley (Of Mice & Men)

Image Credits: Press Pack
Image Credits: Press Pack
Image Credits: Press Pack

Gather around heavy metal fans because we’re about to talk about your next favourite album Defy from California’s four-piece Of Mice and Men. After touring Europe and the UK at the end of last year, Of Mice and Men released their fifth studio album, Defy, on the 19th of January.

While I’m aware this is not a genre for everyone, for those who are into this kind of music, I’m sure you will love this album. How can you not when it’s energetic, fiery, intense. And just to get a sense of what I’m talking about, take a listen to my favourite track from the album, ‘Back To Me’.

If you want to find out more about Of Mice and Men and their new album, I had a chat via phone with the lead vocalist and bassist of the band, Aaron Pauley. Here’s what he had to say.

I know you’ve toured the UK and Europe a couple of times. How does the British audience compare to the American audience or to the rest of Europe?

In general, the audiences are similar. I think, if you like our type of music, that comes with a certain kind of mindset. So, I think a lot of fans all over the world are similar. Some fans that I see in Germany, for instance, remind me of fans I see in California and vice versa. I wouldn’t say there’s a difference between fans but more in terms of the shows. A lot of the festivals around here are a lot more diverse.

You travelled the world, gigging everywhere, but is there a place in the world where you have never been and you would like to have a gig there?

Yeah, I think going to South Africa one day would be awesome. There are so many places where we haven’t been. We probably need to think about that and make a list. But we just want to play anywhere we can.

How different do you think your new album, Defy, is from your previous album, Cold War?

Cold War was a lot darker. I think that Defy definitely has a lot more energy in it and I think that’s because we’ve pretty much gone right into the studio after doing festivals the whole summer in the UK. So, we were able to put into the album a lot of that energy we received from the audiences.

The title of the album is also the title of the song ‘Defy’. What made you choose this one as the title-track?

I think for us it seemed very appropriate because everything we’ve been able to do as a band has been through defying people’s expectations and at the same time our own expectations.

The album has 12 tracks in total. Which song was the most difficult to write?

The song ‘Defy’ was the hardest one to write because we wanted to experiment a bunch of things and we’re kind of perfectionists. But I think every song has its own hardships.

I noticed that the album cover of Defy resembles the covers of the band’s first two albums, with the big ampersand in the centre but differently stylized and the one for Defy looks like a microchip. What is the meaning behind it?

Yes, like a circuit board! It’s because, for us, the band is about the unit and it’s always been like that. If you’re familiar with circuitry and how that works, you need every single one of its components in order to make the circuit work. So, for us, that was one thing that described ourselves the best. It’s a symbolic reminder that it takes all of us to ensure that this band operates as effectively as ever before. And, also, I think it looks cool.

Your latest music video is for the song ‘Warzone’, also taken from the album. Can you explain what the concept of the video is and how it is related to the song?

Lyrically, ‘Warzone’ is about a panic attack or an anxiety attack and about how that could feel like a war zone. So, the video in a way is a visual representation of what the song is about, recreating an anxious environment, a claustrophobic feel.

Finally, what is your favourite memory that you have with the band members?

Man, there are so many of them. I don’t know if I can’t think of just one. I think one that stands out to me is the first show we played in Las Vegas. After the show, I just remember being in the van, with our band, our crew, and driving back home from Las Vegas. That was probably one of the best memories. There was so much laughter, so much joy. It was also a certain amount of disbelief, like “we just did that!”.

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