Of Mice & Men on ‘Defy,’ Pink Floyd + More – Interview

Story by Anne Erickson

Of Mice & Men have crafted a magical album in “Defy,” bringing together big hooks, soaring melodies and heavy atmospheres in one solid set. It’s a collection of songs that truly defies the odds, too. Back in 2016, frontman Austin Carlile left the band to deal with health issues, and instead of finding a new band member, the group forged ahead with bass player Aaron Pauley taking on the lead vocal role.

“I think we turned to music,” drummer Valentino Arteaga told Audio Ink Radio, when asked how the band continued after losing Carlile. “We turned to the only thing that we really know, which is making sense of the madness through music.”

Now that the new album has dropped, Of Mice & Men are gearing up to take those new songs on the road. The band will kick off a length tour tonight (Jan. 31) in Berkeley, California, and continue on the trek through a March 7 gig in San Diego, California. Arteaga spoke with Anne from Audio Ink about the band’s new album, upcoming tour and, of course, that Pink Floyd cover of “Money” that fans are digging.

Anne Erickson: Congratulations on the new album, “Defy!” What are you most proud about when listen to this album front to back?

Valentino Arteaga: I just love the way the the album flows. I’ve actually been listening to it all week, and we’ve been doing signings all weekend, so we’ve been hearing it all day, and it’s been cool hearing it front to back and hearing it as a whole. I think every song is a moment, and it’s really cool to experience each one all over again. I love the album as whole, really.

I like that all of the songs seem to fit well on this album as a whole, unified collection.

Thank you very much! It’s not that we tried to craft it that way, but we wanted to make sure that every song was important to the album and hit us in a way that we felt could also speak to the listener. We wrote more than an album’s worth of material, so we dwindled it down with the help of our producer, Howard Benson. He helped us sculpt what the album needed and looked at it from an outside perspective, because we can get super hyper-critical about our music. I think with this album, we wanted to make sure every song was a pillar and something that would continue to hold up the entire structure.

Tell me something you haven’t told anyone else about the album.

Hmmm! At one point, there was the idea that there was going to be saxophone on it, and that was going to come on a couple of songs. Then we ended up scrapping the idea, but it’s not out of the ballpark.

Of Mice & Men does a great cover of Pink Floyd’s “Money” on the new album. How did that come about?

It was really just to have fun! We finished tracking the album early in the process, because we came into the studio super prepared. The only thing we didn’t know was what songs would be on album. Howard said, “You guys have so much time still. Have you ever thought of doing a cover song?” We’ve done covers before, and we chose to do more current songs, and this time around, we had been listening to Pink Floyd on the way to the studio that day. We were all rocking out and trying to get that vibe, because Pink Floyd is such an epic and creative and dynamic band, and the layers they’re able to produce and at time they were able to do that…it’s inspiration to us as musicians, this day in age, trying to find new sonic pathways.

Publication date: January 31, 2018