By JAYDEE LOK
HOURS before they blew everyone’s minds at the Rock4way finale, the boys of British metalcore band Bring Me The Horizon confessed that they didn’t know much about Malaysia.
“I’m not very good at geography so I don’t even know where we are,” joked frontman Oliver Sykes, 27, during an interview last week at Maya Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
“We don’t know if people are used to metal so we don’t know how they’re going to act at the show,” said lead guitarist Lee Malia, 27. “Are circle pits a normal thing here?”
The answer to that, of course, is yes.
All throughout the night, the crowd moshed and screamed as the bands feasted on their energy to give the Rock4way Festival series the finale it deserved.
After four years of entertaining the underground scene in Malaysia, the Rock4way Festival series had run its course. To make sure they went out with bang, Rock4way 2013 featured Massacre Conspiracy – the only band to have performed at the event every year, Japanese hardcore band Crossfaith, multi-genred British rockers Enter Shikari and of course the headliners, Bring Me The Horizon.
When asked about their show in Singapore the night before, drummer Matt Nicholls, 27, said that the band was pleasantly surprised by the number of people who came to the show.
“We have never been here before so we didn’t know what to expect. To come (to the region) and have a thousand kids at our show is mind blowing, really. We’re chuffed to bits,” he said.
On that note, it’s probably safe to say that their Malaysian show was far from a disappointment. Close to 3,000 people attended Rock4way 2013 to watch the band perform songs from their latest album, Sempiternal, and a couple of their classics, including Diamonds Aren’t Forever and Chelsea Smile.
“We want to play more songs and we haven’t got the time so there’s definitely no room for anything we don’t really want to play,” said Sykes.
Long-time fans of the band sometimes complain that they don’t play more of their older tracks, but Malia likened playing songs they don’t feel anymore to covering songs by other bands.
Sykes added: “We don’t play those songs, despite people wanting us to play them and stuff.
“It’s not that we’re being selfish and we don’t want to give the fans what they want, but a lot of songs are just not relevant to us anymore. We’re not ashamed of the albums we’ve done, it’s more like we feel like we’ve come so far. We’ve been in the band for about ten years now and we’ve got better to songs to offer.”
Sempiternal is testament to that, sounding nothing like any of the band’s previous albums.
“We didn’t really know how to write music when we first started. I think when you’re a young band, you hide behind the speed and the heaviness a lot. As we developed as songwriters, we naturally started doing what we wanted to do,” said Sykes.
In the interview, Sykes took the opportunity to deny speculation that this change of sound was due to the controversial departure of former guitarist Jona Weinhofen, who said on Tumblr that things had become tense between him and other members of the band.
“He had no kind of contribution to the sound. It was always just me and Lee who wrote the main parts of the music until (new keyboardist) Jordan (Fish) stepped in,” he said.
The band’s sound evolved naturally as the members improved as musicians. The riffs and melodies in Sempiternal were so intricate Sykes had to teach himself to actually sing. Prior to the new album, Bring Me The Horizon vocals were mostly just screaming.
“It was a massive struggle,” said Sykes. “I’ve never even tried to sing before – it wasn’t a natural ability or anything. I had to work at it every day. It felt like something that wasn’t even possible at first because I was that useless at singing.”
Interestingly enough, Sykes hadn’t taken vocal lessons ahead of recording Sempiternal. All it took was practice and a little guidance from Fish and within three to four months, Sykes was sounding like a pro.
“It seems mad ‘cos he can sing now. It’s cool ‘cos I don’t think many people have gone from never really singing to being able to sing well,” said Fish, 27.
Throughout the interview, the band seemed less like the egoistic rockstars you’d expect and more like five humble guys who just want to make good music. Nicholls said they were more concerned about how their fans would react to their new sound rather than how many albums they would sell.
“We never really expect much from anything. We just put it out and hope for the best, you know what I mean?”