Bring Me The Horizon: "It's just party music"
Bring Me The Horizon guitarist Curtis Ward is unhappy right now. It’s because his two bandmates Ollie Sykes and Matt Nicholls are getting to talk to the “hot girl” from PETA2 and all he’s got to comfort him on this late summer’s afternoon is a cold beer and the knowledge that he’s got a lovely girlfriend waiting for him back home in Yorkshire.
Hot girls are as prevalent at Bring Me The Horizon shows as the hardcore-related straight edge culture. With vegetarianism being part of that, it’s not much of a surprise to see the band performing an interview with an animal rights activist organisation.
“We’re not all vegetarians,” says Curtis. “It’s something that’s important for some of us but it’s not something that is really important for the band. It’s just one of those things.”
Bring Me The Horizon are getting used to justifying themselves. Much vilified by many parts of the music community due to their close association with The Scene, their fans are accused of only going to show off their new hairdo rather than as a mark of genuine appreciation for their music.
The fact that frontman Ollie Sykes has become the poster boy for part of this generation of teenagers doesn’t help. That he is selling vast amounts of very skinny t-shirts from his Drop Dead design company shows his business nous.
“The band started and that and I were in college as well but I dropped out,” explains Ollie in his sharp Yorkshire brogue, “I wanted to do something else that I wanted so I decided to start making clothes and it went really well.” He continues, “We know there a lot of kids that are into it for different reasons from the music and that’s shit but it doesn’t matter if you don’t have an image or you do. It’s all down to the music at the end of the day.”
The third thing you notice about Ollie after his youthful appearance and striking hairstyle is the number of tattoos he has acquired. For a young man that claims that image doesn’t matter he has spent an awful amount of time and money acquiring the exact image he needs to sell his band.
“I just got addicted,” Ollie says, matter-of-factly. “Everyone keeps saying I’ll regret it and I probably will but at the moment I’m having the time of my life so I might as well do everything I want to do and worry about it later.”
It’s an inescapably naïve mindset but you get the feeling that there’s nobody in the world in the position to tell Mr Sykes what to do because for the moment, he knows what’s best for him and his band. Despite all accusations about Bring Me The Horizon being perched upon the top of the doomed Scene, what escapes many of their detractors is that their music really isn’t that bad. In fact, for a band comprised of five late-teenagers they make some accomplished, and occasionally very good, extreme metalcore.
After forming in Sheffield in early 2004 they released a record with Leeds-based metal talent spotting label Thirty Days Of Night and this week sees their debut album Count Your Blessings unleashed upon the masses through Visible Noise. The ten tracks generally consist of Norma Jean-style thunderous riffs mixed with some dastardly sludgy doom moments and more breakdowns than your dad’s old Nissan Sunny.
There are some brief hints of variety throughout the record that promise much more in the future. The marvellously epic ending of the even more marvellously titled ‘Tell Slater Not To Wash His Dick’ and the spacious sound of ‘A Lot Like Vegas’, which touches upon what Still Remains have been doing so well for the past couple of years are definitely areas to build upon.
Once you manage to decipher Ollie Sykes harsh screams and growls, you realise the lyrical content also leaves a lot to be desired. There is little meaning behind the majority of the album but there are no excuses being made for that. “My life’s never been that bad so I’ve not got that much to talk about,” Ollie says, shifting in his chair. “It’s a lot about girls or just growing up and it comes from the heart.”
Drummer Matt Nicholls is much more defensive, saying, “It’s better to sing about stuff that you know than to sing about stuff that you don’t have a clue about, like castles and dragons.” It’s a fair point, but there is a lingering sense that it is just a collection of songs with little profound meaning. If there’s nothing there to work with, however, there is little that can be done.
After receiving the Kerrang! award for Best British Newcomer the hype machine has gone through the roof, but according to Ollie they’re “not really thinking about it” and they seem to be perfectly happy with life at the moment.
“Winning that award meant everything to us,” Ollie says with passion. “I feel blessed and just so thankful for everything that’s happened to me. We weren’t even a proper band two years ago and now we’ve got a record out and we just want to tour the world with it.”
Talking of touring, the band is just starting a lengthy tour – their first proper one as headliners – and tempers are already fraying slightly. Playing an exclusive showcase at Gibson’s offices in central London an onstage spat is sadly the most talked about part of the performance. With Ollie and Curtis quite clearly at loggerheads, the crowd is left wondering if the band might be over before they’ve even started.
Luckily, with over 20 dates on the tour left to go, the Halloween show at London’s Mean Fiddler goes off without a hitch. Hopefully any differences are completely worked out because there are just a couple of days break after their headline tour before they travel the country again with Lostprophets.
“I dunno how we’re gonna go down because it’s gonna be a Lostprophets crowd,” says Matt pensively, “I used to watch my dad’s Queen videos and always wanted to be in a band and tour and I’m doing it so I think it’s gonna be great.” Ollie, just as enthusiastically, explains, “We are where they were five years ago. We used to idolise those guys.”
The fact of the matter is that Bring Me The Horizon are still just kids when faced with their idols. This is all too apparent as Matt explains how, upon meeting Wes Borland, Slayer and Meat Loaf, they were treated not as fans but as just another band. While you get the feeling that that sense of awe will never die, you also know that this band has to overcome a hell of a lot more prejudice than most bands because nobody - and I mean nobody - likes The Scene.
After a few moments Ollie looks up again, “All the Scene kids love that extreme death metal stuff but what we do… it’s just party music.”
Count Your Blessings is out now on Visible Noise and Bring Me The Horizon are on tour throughout November.
Main Photo by Tom Barnes
Photo of Ollie Sykes courtesy of Alex West