It’s 2019 and Bring Me The Horizon are about to headline their first festival. Perhaps a baffling thought when you think about the ground the band have covered in the fifteen years since their first ever show. Their most recent album amo, which we described as “a record that pushes and pulls you, whether a hardcore fan or a casual listener, into almost every direction imaginable. At times it’s euphoric synth pop and at others it’s rip-roaring heavy rock - but one thing it never is, is predictable”, has catapulted the band into another realm.
Next month (31 May) the Sheffield natives will headline one night All Points East in Victoria Park, London. Joined by a host of other acts who have been carefully selected by the band themselves, the quintet are preparing to put on a blistering performance that will no doubt be worth the wait. We spoke with co-producer and keyboardist Jordan Fish and bassist Matt Kean about the feat.
Gigwise: All Points East feels like a long overdue headline slot for you as a band, how are you feeling about it?
Matt Kean: Feeling pretty good about it, we’re seeing it as a bit of a challenge, we want to put on the best show we can and I think it’s going to be super exciting for us to show people that we can headline a festival.
Jordan Fish: I think we’ve been doing that sort of show for a while so it doesn’t feel particularly scary for us to be headlining a festival, we know we can do it, so we’re confident but I guess the first one has to come at some point and it’s cool that we can do it on our own terms with bands that we like and the idea of curating the line-up and picking bands that knowingly we like but also bands who were involved in the past history of the band as well seemed like a cool way to do it.
GW: How did you go about picking those bands, did you all agree mutually?
MK: We got together over a bunch of different meetings and put together a list of bands that we wanted
JF: We were all pretty much on the same page with it, obviously our fans traditionally are more rock scene fans, but then a lot of the music that we listen to and are influenced by is a lot more varied so it’s trying to come up with a line-up that feels like it’s going to appeal to someone who likes our music but also a line-up that would appeal to us or people who have a varied taste. Anything that we think is exciting from any genre rather than loading it with rock bands, we’re trying to think of stuff that’s going to work, not necessarily in terms of genre, but in terms of the energy and the vibe.
GW: Is the preparation for this show different to your other festival appearances and live shows?
JF: Yeah definitely, we’ve been thinking about it for a while, the show is going to be completely different to what we’re doing at any other festival and not only in terms of the setlist. We’ve got a much longer setlist than we would get at any other festival, we’ve got two hours which is longer than we’ve ever played before, and it gives us the opportunity to play a much more varied set and do some old stuff that we wouldn’t necessarily do, which is going to be exciting for the fans I think. We’re going to do some songs that we haven’t played for a long time and it allows us to fit in some newer stuff as well, I guess it means we really don’t have to compromise on the set or drop anything, so it’s going to be a bit of a beats for us.
MK: For the production, where it’s our own festival we can do whatever we want, we’re going to make it a pretty big spectacle and pull out all of the stops for that.
GW: How do you go about picking the setlist these days?
MK: At the moment we have the new album that people want to hear for the first time and then there’s the singles and we’re trying to put a bunch of old ones in as well to freshen it up a little bit.
JF: It’s really difficult, we’ve just been doing our set for South America, we’re doing Lollapalooza out there and we’ve got an hour and that has proved quite difficult, but with All Points East there’s going to be something for every one of our fans there. We’re going to do some older stuff just because of the history of the band and we’re probably going to be playing some new songs that we’ve never played before off of the new album and obviously everything in between is going to get a good run too. It’s going to be the most comprehensive set for a Bring Me The Horizon fan that we’ve ever played.
GW: How are you finding merging the older songs with the newer songs in the live show?
MK: It’s quite good because there’s a real mixture in our fans, sometimes when we play the older stuff you get a really big reaction from the crowd
JF: And sometimes it goes down like a lead balloon, it depends where we’re playing.
MK: It can be different but it’s exciting, there’s people who dip in and out as well, so they like the early stuff and the new stuff, the fans are as eclectic as our album is.
JF: I think a lot of Bring Me The Horizon fans like the journey and they like hearing a variety. Also live, it’s different. The new stuff doesn’t sound maybe as different as it does on record live as they tend to be a little heavier and we probably play the old stuff so much tighter and cleaner and that sounds better too, so the whole set seems to make sense for us anyway and the vibe in general is that it doesn’t feel disjointed or anything.
GW: Are you going to go to any of the other All Points East dates?
JF: I’d love to see Bon Iver, he’s one of my favourite artists. I saw him once when he was on the first album in a tiny little room in Brighton at The Great Escape, there was like 300 people there, that was sick.
GW: What did you learn about yourselves whilst you were recording amo?
MK: It was kind of a blur when we were recording it trying to get it done, I guess we learnt that we could work under pressure [laughs]
JF: I guess the main thing would be that the process was looser than I would have traditionally been comfortable with, right up until the end. I generally like to have my ducks in a row before we get in the studio and have the whole thing really mapped out, but at the time we sowed so many seeds when we were writing and did so many things that that wasn’t a possibility really. It was hard to pull together, and the pulling together process came really late on, so going into the studio we’d left a lot more stuff unresolved which normally would have been a major issue for me, but on this one I kind of enjoyed that. It enabled us to really stay creative for the whole process rather than it just becoming a studio grind.
MK: There was a lot more experimenting.
GW: What was the first track that you finished and what was the last?
JF: This was the thing, they weren’t really finished fully until the end, we had ‘sugar, honey, ice & tea’ very early on but we changed it quite a lot in the mixing process. ‘MANTRA’ was probably the first one, but it’s hard to say because they were constantly being tweaked until the very end. ‘In The Dark’ was a different song when we went into the studio, it was a completely different vibe and then we rewrote it and now it’s a whole different song that is the same tempo as the song that was there before. It’s like those painters, sometimes you see paintings and then if you scan it you can see that they’ve had other paintings underneath and they’ve gone over it, it’s like that, expect we’re not Leonardo Da Vinci [laughs].
GW: How meticulous was the process of getting that tracklist in order?
JF: It was probably the hardest thing I would say, doing an album as varied as that then making it still feel like a listening experience and still make it coherent. That’s one of the reasons why we worked right to the end I think, some of the interludes came in helpful for that, enabling us to use them as palette cleansers and move you into a different thing.
MK: I think a lot of people don’t even care about that stuff either nowadays.
JF: But we do, we’re old school.
GW: What would you say are the quintessential elements of a Bring Me The Horizon track?
JF: Oli’s lyrics for me, first and foremost, there’s usually some emotional depth there which is a theme I guess, then a vibe.
MK: I think there is a real energy to them, from back in the day up until now, they all have a similar energy, I think that’s why it does work live. We could do ‘Nihilist Blues’ or one of the songs from the first couple of albums and they all have that energy, I think that’s what really speaks to a lot of people as well.
GW: Music journalists could sit here all day and try to describe the evolution of your sound, but how would you describe it yourself?
MK: Just growth. When we wrote the first few albums when we were young we just wanted to be noisy, it’s like the evolution of a person really, you come out as a teenager and you’re just discovering yourself and you want to shout about everything you know and then as you get older you mellow down a little bit and get influenced by different things and then you become a whole person, and I think now we’ve become a whole band.
GW: Where do you see your sound heading next?
MK: Whenever you do an album you don’t really want to think about the future, the future is us going out and playing these songs as that’s ultimately the pay off from writing an album. The writing is the really stressful part and now is the fun part where you get to go out and play to people and see their reactions.
JF: I think at the moment we’re in a good position where we can look at the whole band’s history and have more of an appreciation for everything the band has done. We spent so long pushing onwards and this album is obviously that as well, but we’re enjoying playing the new songs and some really old songs. So in terms of what we do next it could really be anything and that’s quite exciting. We’re open to whatever and we don’t really feel like we have to answer to anyone either at the moment. We’ve taken a lot of flak for this album from metal fans, and we always have anyway, so at the moment we’re really not worried about anything other than doing shit that we want to do.
GW: What’s the rider looking like these days?
JF: It’s so shit at the moment
MK: We used to have healthy stuff, we normally have a George Foreman grill, most of us are veggie so we’ll have veggie burgers or veggie sausages and for snacks we have normally have nuts and dried mangos and fruit.
JF: It’s a fucking boring rider, we have booze sometimes, prosecco, I think that’s out now.
Bring Me The Horizon play All Points East at Victoria Park in London on 31 May 2019. You can grab tickets for the show here.