For the better part of a decade Bring Me The Horizon were the hallmark for metalcore. The Sheffield five-piece were a beacon of bleeding heart Myspace honesty and unadulterated teen angst.
Amidst a culture of dime-a-dozen Drop B riff-misters, Bring Me always managed to stir controversy and ignite fervent passion. Whether it was dabbling in the chilling world of deathcore or making ground-breaking steps into atmospheric choruses, each record proved to be more experimental and boundary-pushing than the last.
amo, Bring Me The Horizon’s sixth effort is their most ambitious, subversive and triumphant record thus far. It is tenacious with experimentation and emotionally wrought. The world that they have created within amo is expansive, vulnerable and razor-sharp. It is their most realised release to date.
To celebrate the release of amo, we sat down with Jordan Fish to discuss the new record, collaborating with Grimes and the naffness of modern rock music.
amo is by far your most eclectic and far-reaching album to date. How did this stylistic heel-turn come about? Did it feel like a natural progression from That’s The Spirit?
We had quite a lot of time off after the last album so we re-grouped and started writing without really considering too much what we’d done before.
That’s The Spirit for us was our mainstream breakthrough album. It was a rock album. I suppose we really didn’t feel like we needed to make another album with ten big-rock songs. Maybe that shaped the approach slightly.
I guess also we’re more confident and didn’t feel like we needed to prove as much because the last album did quite well and was successful for us in our own way. That allowed us to feel a little bit freer to experiment and filter in more of the things that we’re influenced by.
Watch: Bring Me The Horizon – Mantra
‘MANTRA’ and ‘Wonderful Life’ are probably the two heaviest tracks on amo. Why did you decide to release those first?
‘MANTRA’ was always going to be the first song we released just because it just felt like it was a ‘first song’ track. It had that exciting intro. It had a good balance of all the elements of the band. I think it was rocky and guitary enough to not freak people out. We still have a lot of fans that just want to hear riffs and screaming. So, that one was kind of self-explanatory.
‘Wonderful Life’ wasn’t meant to be a single. We were going to give it away as a free download and then we did this lyric video for it and it kind of looks like a video because it’s got stuff happening in it. Our label was like ‘we really like this song, just wait and see how it goes’. In a sense, it’s kind of an accidental single. It wasn’t meant to be a single.
So, the album boasts a spectacular roster of collaborators. I think the most interesting one was Grimes. What was it like working with her and how did that collaboration come about?
We’ve never actually met her, she just did it in her studio. She just sent us a bunch of stuff and was like ‘here you go’. In terms of working with her, I’m obviously really stoked, but I’ve never even met her so it’s kind of weird, but I think that’s the way a lot of these collaborations happen nowadays anyway.
So we had the song and we wanted a guest on the second verse because it felt like it would be suitable and she was actually our number one target. We had a list of about eight people and were like ‘these are all the people we think would be cool on the track’ and ‘Grimes is our ideal person but she’s not going to do it.’
We knew someone who knew her manager and he got in touch. We were in LA halfway through the recording process and we got a phone call that Grimes loved the track and she wanted to do it. It was like ‘woah’!
Watch: Bring Me The Horizon – nihilist blues ft. Grimes
We were so stoked! For us, stuff like that just doesn’t normally happen. I guess because we’re a rock-metal band she’s not the kind of guest that would normally want to work with us. At least we feel like that. But yeah, she came back and she loved the song. She was really good to work with in terms of she basically sent back loads of stuff and was really collaborative. She’s a really good producer as well so we were so open to get her on it and it just made it feel even cooler for us.
In an older interview with The Guardian you guys said you’d never be the band that sells out arenas. How does it feel knowing you’re about to embark on a headline arena tour on the other side of the world?
Are we going to sell it out though, that’s the question. Probably not! We might have to get some curtains up around the seats.
But it’s cool. It’s really cool. I think it’s a good thing. I think definitely the last album made us a lot bigger in a lot of places. Our audience is really different now.
We just did a UK and Europe tour and we had this photographer out with us. He came back after every show and was like ‘your audience is crazy, it’s so random. It’s young girls, older people, couples, metal guys’. Because the band is so varied we’ve got the most random crowd. I like that.
The fact that we appeal to a broad catalogue now. We can put on a show and it’s going to appeal to everyone. Maybe some people will come for ‘Follow You’ and ‘Drown’, and some people will come for ‘Antivist’ and one of the older ones. It’s cool that everyone will go to the same show and appreciate the whole show even though it’s not all necessarily what they would naturally like.
I think that’s a really cool thing to have such a varied catalogue. I think that’s the reason why we can go to places and play at bigger venues because we’ve still got some fans that have been with the band since the beginning. There are fans that came on board with Sempiternal and there are fans that have just heard us. We see people in the front rows that only sing ‘MANTRA’, which I find really weird. I think it’s a good thing that people still like us, we still feel like we’re growing, which is quite good for a band obviously.
Watch: Bring Me The Horizon – Drown
From what I’ve seen, fans of the scene and metal have been really accepting and excited about the bands’ sonic development. Considering you now lend elements from hip hop, pop and electronic music, have you seen fans of that realm gravitate towards your music?
I guess so. I think nowadays, music fans, especially younger music fans; they don’t tend to stick to a genre as much as people did when I was a teenager.
When I was sixteen or fifteen, I was a rock person and that was my thing. I didn’t listen to hip-hop at all. I didn’t listen to pop music; it was disgusting to me basically. I think nowadays because of the nature of how music is consumed, it’s not quite so genre-based.
It’s all streaming so it’s so much easier for people to listen to different types of music and discover different types of music. Also because of playlisting, playlisting on Spotify can open people’s eyes and ears up to different types of music. For example, if we release ‘MANTRA’ and it gets on to the main pop playlist then we’ll be in there amongst Post Malone and Cardi B. They’re kind of like the charts nowadays.
I think we’re finding a lot more of our fans are people that are fans of us and the 1975 and even actual pop music. It’s a bigger mixture. I think it’s good and I think that’s one of the things that people in rock bands need to be more open to. Not just sticking to their lane but trying to push rock music forward. Not being afraid to experiment and try and incorporate other genres and styles and make it feel fresh. To me, rock music does feel a bit retro in its approach sometimes, especially heavy rock music. It’s so afraid to take any risks.
That’s so interesting. So, I read that recent interview that you did where you said that rock music had turned to shite, which in many ways I agree with.
I didn’t really mean that to come out quite so strong!
I mean, rock music, I just feel like it’s a bit of a pastiche sometimes. You know when you see someone and they’re in a rock band. When we’re at a festival and I see someone in a rock band backstage and they’re wearing loads of rings and jewellery and the leather jacket, I’m just like ‘man, you look so old-school to me’. It looks like a time capsule.
That’s what I feel about music as well sometimes. I still hear things and think ‘people were doing this twenty years ago’. It’s never gone away so it’s not a retro thing. It’s a rock cliché. Some of these bands I guess they’ve been so scared to push themselves outside of that bracket and it just got stuck in time. That’s just something that we don’t relate to.
Bring Me The Horizon are the band that have transcended the boundaries of metalcore perhaps more than any other act. Where do you see yourself heading in the future?
I don’t really know. I think for us, it’s less about being a big band at this stage in our career. We’re more relaxed about it than we used to be. We try not to worry about it too much and just make music that we’re proud of and that we like. We enjoy trying to bend genres and fuse different genres so much that I feel like that’s something that we’re always going to want to do.
I can’t imagine that we’ll ever settle on a sound and that will be our sound forever. At the same time, I don’t really know what our sound is. The new album is such a weird amalgamation of influences. It’s not really a sound that I can put my finger on exactly. Your guess is as good as mine!
amo is out now through Sony.
Bring Me The Horizon will be bringing their First Love tour Australia in April for a slew of arena shows. Dates and ticket information below.
Interview has been condensed for clarity.