Hardcore five-piece Of Mice and Men rolled in to yet another sold out stop on its current tour in Mesa on Sunday. The State Press sat down with frontman Austin Carlile to talk about the tour, the band’s highly anticipated new record and the fans.
The State Press: Tour just started for you guys. How has it been going so far?
Austin Carlile: It’s been great. The whole tour’s been sold out so far, which is pretty cool. It started in Seattle, and now we’re all the way down in Arizona. We just got out of California, which is kind of a blessing and a curse because it’s like, “Oh, we’re leaving home; it sucks,” but it’s also like, “Oh, we’re leaving home; things can slow down.” When we’re home, we have all the industry people and all the friends and family and girlfriends and moms and dads and press. It’s just kind of a chaotic select few days. So it’s nice to be out of California, and we finally feel like we’re on the road now. The bands that we’re touring with are all really great guys. We hand-selected all the bands that are playing. It’s cool. It’s a really cool vibe.
SP: What is your favorite aspect of touring?
AC: I think just being able to get to see so many different things. I mean, I went to bed in San Diego, Calif., and I woke up in… Wait, where are we? I knew we were in Arizona! That’s the coolest thing about it, especially when we’re overseas. Like, we’ll go to bed in Belgium and wake up in Germany. That’s the coolest thing. Just being able to see the world. After this tour, we have one day off (then) we fly to Japan; we have two days off in Japan, then from Japan, (we go) to Australia. So it’s cool like to know that I’m home March 8, but in between those two days, I’ll be on three different continents, all these different countries, states. It’s really cool to be able to say that’s your job title to travel the world and play rock music.
SP: The band gets pretty aggressive on stage. How do you all separate that aggression from your day to day personalities?
AC: Our day-to-day personalities… You saw the guys! There’s like no chicks, no drugs. Like, we don’t rage — well, we do rage; we party hard — but it’s like we’re just normal guys. We’re really soft-spoken nice guys. I mean, it’s cool, because it’s like when we’re on stage, it’s like that’s where we get to let all of that out. I know for me it’s like a really good kind of like a — not anger management because I don’t have anger problems — but it’s like a… I see myself handling situations throughout my day, throughout my weeks, easier because that pent-up anger that I have from anything in my life, I get to let out on stage. So I get to channel anything negative I’ve been feeling through that, and then I’m done and my day’s good again. It’s like a therapy session. It’s kind of rewarding. It’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but they’re both for a positive thing.
SP: Since Of Mice and Men started, you all have been on a very fast track as a band. Does it ever feel overwhelming?
AC: It just doesn’t even feel real. We were just talking about on our first headliner, we played here. And we were just like, “That was so long ago,” and it really wasn’t. It feels like a long time, yet it doesn’t. I mean, it was a long time ago, but it wasn’t. Three years isn’t that long. It’s just really cool to see how far the band’s grown over time. I mean, we’ve just been touring and touring and touring and touring. We just had two and a half months off, and that was the longest break we’ve ever had. It’s a cool feeling to know that we got here just by grinding and grinding and working hard.
SP: When you play shows all over the world, fans come up to you and pour their hearts out and describe how your music has helped them. How do you respond to all of that?
AC: It depends on the situation, depends on the story, I guess. I have people tell me every day that I’ve helped them deal with bullying or loss of a family member or self-harm or anywhere across the board of things you can think of; they’re sick or one of their parents has cancer. And that, to me, is one of the coolest things I get out of doing what we do. I had a guy today at our VIP … and he just goes, “Austin?” and I go, “Yeah?” and he just starts shaking and like crying and gave me a huge hug and then in my ear he just says, “You saved my life, you saved my life.” And like the whole rest of the band was right there, and he was just doing that to me, and then he just like got up after he hugged me and just, like, walked away. That’s what he wanted me to know. You could just tell it took so much for him to kind of admit that. That, to me, is the coolest feeling in the world, and it’s one of the reasons I love what we do so much because of all these different experiences like that. I feel like some people could see it as a burden … but to me it’s something that I really appreciate, and I’m humbled by the fact that I get to be the person that can help them.
SP: You guys just landed the cover for Alternative Press’ Most Anticipated Albums of 2013. Congratulations! In terms of writing material, what inspires your songs?
AC: Life. Hands down. I can’t talk for 30 minutes or I would. Life. Things I go through, things I’ve been through, things that I probably will be going through. I like to write about things that are relatable to people. I mean, I love listening to music about money and gangsters and clubs and hoes, you know, it’s fun, but it’s not something that I want to put out as my art. For our art, as a band, we put out music that people can absorb, that people can feel like they’re really a part of because they’ve gone through the same exact things.
SP: What are you hoping your fans take away from the new material?
AC: I hope that they can relate to it, like I was talking about. I hope they can take something away, after listening to it, that can help them with their day or their week or help them with their life. I think our next album is going to be something that’s really for our fans — much more than anything else we’ve ever written. We’re really looking forward to giving new material for them to kind of feel like was written for them, and they’re gonna hear it, and they know that that’s where my heart was when I wrote it.
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