Of Mice & Men’s Austin Carlile + Aaron Pauley Talk Band Transition, ‘Restoring Force’ Album + More
It’s been a time of transition for Of Mice & Men, but that’s definitely a good thing. In 2012, the band welcomed bassist Aaron Pauley, who also offers clean vocals on the band’s latest album, ‘Restoring Force.’
Loudwire recently spoke with Pauley and lead vocalist Austin Carlile about the transition, how they worked together on the ‘Restoring Force’ disc and about some of the key songs on the new album. Check out our chat with Of Mice & Men’s Austin Carlile and Aaron Pauley below.
You’ve said that the title ‘Restoring Force’ refers to what happens after a flood. Were there themes that carried over from ‘The Flood’ album?
Austin Carlile: The themes necessarily don’t. We still kept on track of singing about real situations that we have been through. That is what we did with ‘Restoring Force’ is that we made each song about kind of something that we have either personally dealt with or we have known someone who has dealt with that then we wrote about it.
Aaron Pauley: That was what was really important to us because that is how you can really connect with people. That is what people a lot of time connect with in music is finding a similarity, you know, just between yourself and another person.
Your voices work so well together. Austin, can you talk about what it means to have Aaron as a part of your band?
AC: It’s great. I remember going into the studio and we were recording and it didn’t even dawn on us that we actually recording with him until we were like a week or two in. We were like, “Oh wait, we are recording a record together,” because it just didn’t feel like it. It just felt natural and normal, I guess. I don’t know how that is supposed to feel. I have never recorded an album like that before.
So Aaron and I got to sit and literally write with each other from a sentence to finding one word to go. Spinning out 150 bad ideas and then getting one good idea and learning to shoot each other down and learning to — it was a cool experience and it was cool having someone like him on board. For our band to bring that — for us, for Of Mice & Men, he was our restoring force and that was something that we could provide to all of our listeners because of what we have established before he was even around. Then he brought that to us and now we get to bring that to them. It kind of works full circle.
Aaron, can you talk about what it was like to get the chance to work with these guys?
AP: It was great. The band had just welcomed me with open arms. I feel like that is what really made this record as great as it was is that everybody contributed to it. It was great for me too because being the new guy sometime you go into a situation where you don’t know where your place is. I went through that. I went through that in the studio initially when we were first starting to write. I don’t really know how much of myself I can put into this and the band let me throw myself head first into it. I am super grateful.
I loved working with AC because Austin’s always got such brilliant vision for things. Working to be able to say that we want — you know, not to know necessarily that this is how it is going to go but to say we want something that is like anthemic, like you can imagine it in a soccer arena, doing something like that. This guy is great when it comes to the vision and the way things need to feel which is great. Working with him was awesome.
Did you consider how ‘Restoring Force’ would go over in a live setting when you are putting it together?
AC: Absolutely. I mean with every song you do that — we have never been that band that uses really any kind of crazy sounds or loops or instrumentals or orchestras. We have never been that band, so we know whatever is on our record we get to play it live and it going to sound good live. That is a thing we thought about when we were writing entire whole parts. That is something that we are going to continue to do.
You go to a show to see a show. You go to a show to enjoy yourself and to forget the rest of the world for three hours, have a beer with your friends and bang your head and that is what we want to do — music for people to do that to.
At Loudwire we previewed an in-studio video where you were working with producer David Bendeth. Could talk about your experience with him on this record?
AP: He is awesome. He will ask you what you want and he will figure it out even before you know what you want. Then, he will do everything in his power to make sure that you give that. So needless to say you love him sometimes and you hate him other times but this record would be completely different without him. Not because he wrote the whole thing or because of this and that but he would push us and say that there is no such thing as a stupid idea. You can have a really soft song or you can have this in that. That was really important for us because we are in a day and age now where it’s, “Okay, write a record in two weeks and then go and record it in three weeks with a guy who will fix it as you go and do this,” then it is like well, okay, for this we wrote everything and David made sure and he made us do this. We also played the entire record live before we started recording it. He said the feel is everything and the way the record feels is everything.
‘You’re Not Alone’ is one of the standout tracks on the disc. If you want to talk a little bit about that song and how it came together…
AC: It was the first song we put out from the album. It’s a fun, live banger. Watch you will see when we are playing it. I think we are playing it second to last tonight. The crowd gets going. It’s an anthem. It’s fun. It is a lot of fun. The music was something that was a lot slower than we have ever done in any other song like that people. We were like, “Let’s just play with it.”
AP: The working title of that song was ‘Anthem.’ We realized that with our fan base that’s what people come to shows, people would go see Queen back in the day for ‘We Will Rock You’ the (stomps and claps). So you could really feel like you are a part of something. That song is hugely anthematic both just in the way the music is, four on the floor and one twenty. It is just as dance hall as you can get basically. The kids really connect with it because its something that was very important for us to write, you know.
There is always hope, you are not alone. A lot of the time I feel like that’s what people — that is one of the worst things you can experience is feeling alone. It is one thing to feel sad or angry but feeling alone is like, nobody needs to feel alone. Not that people that listen to our music because they can connect with anybody else that listens to our music. That song was hugely important for us. It was a little bit of an oddball to throw out as the first song because it is so different, sort of, than our previous music. But I really do like that song and the crowd loves the song.
On the harder end of the spectrum, there’s ‘Bones Exposed’ …
AC: Yeah, that song goes off live. That is our first — we open the set with that song. That song was written like two years ago in Germany. It was just, that was it. We ended up changing it because it was even longer.
AP: We changed the chorus. We took out a bunch of stuff and rearranged it. But for the majority of that song was written as the first one for the record.
Aaron, how has the band’s fan base embraced you?
AP: For the most part thankfully they embraced me rather quickly and I them. I mean one of the main reasons why I agreed to do Warped Tour and to have a potential future in this band at the time was because I really believed in what the band stood for and still stands for with its fans. That is something that I always championed in my band before. It was just like-minded. Thankfully they like me for the most part. There are still some people that will never like me but … eh.
AC: There is still a lot of people that say otherwise. So, if you don’t like him then you shouldn’t listen to our band. He is the man.
AP: I don’t lose sleep over it. At all.
Our thanks to Of Mice & Men’s Austin Carlile and Aaron Pauley. The band’s ‘Restoring Force’ album is out now and you can purchase it at iTunes and Amazon. Look for the band on the current Vans Warped Tour and on a run of European shows this summer. See their full itinerary here.