OF MICE & MEN drummer Valentino Arteaga was interviewed by Kerrang! Radio‘s Johnny Doom backstage at this year’s Download festival in the U.K. You can now watch the chat below.
Speaking about the departure of longtime OF MICE & MEN vocalist Austin Carlile due to his ongoing battle with Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that afflicts the connective tissue holding the body’s cells, organs and tissue together, Arteaga said: “He had to leave the band because of the strain that it was putting on his body. What it comes down to is this is like an entertainment. And it’s very difficult, and for him it was very hard, and he, basically, rocked it till the wheels fell off. In a lot of ways, we use that to inspire us to really… The four of us had to step up, because he always stepped up. And in a lot of ways, it wasn’t about a replacement, it wasn’t about… None of that felt right. We felt like the right thing to do is for OF MICE & MEN to continue and for all of us to step up. And Aaron [Pauley, bass/vocals] has done it so amazingly. Alan‘s [Ashby, guitar] doing vocals now too. I have, like, twelve microphones back there on my kit, and I’m screaming my head off back there too. [Laughs]”
OF MICE & MEN last month surprise-released its second new song, “Back To Me”. Like “Unbreakable”, the new track was recorded with Grammy-nominated producer Howard Benson (IN FLAMES, ALL THAT REMAINS), mixed by Grammy winner Chris Lord-Alge (DEFTONES, MUSE) and mastered by Chris Athens (DRAKE, OZZY OSBOURNE).
“Right now, truth be told, we have over an album’s worth of material written,” Arteaga told Kerrang! Radio. “We’re feeling very inspired out here. We’ve already started on a new song yesterday. Inspiration strikes and it hits, and we kind of, like… It doesn’t matter where we’re at — at an airport or in our bunk on the bus — and so for us, these that we’ve just put out, we wanted to give the audiences at these festivals a demonstration of what the band can do. And, honestly, we just wanted to put them out there. And, unfortunately, in this day and age, it’s hard — and it sounds stupid — but it’s hard for bands to put music — there’s labels, there’s publishing… there’s so much stuff that goes into it. And I won’t bury you with all the stuff, but we’re just happy that we have a label behind us, Rise Records, that believes in our vision and trusts us when we say, ‘Hey, we have some songs that we really need to get recorded. Can we make this happen?’ And sure enough, they put us with freakin’ Howard Benson and Chris Lord-Alge. I don’t know if there’s a bigger dream team in rock and metal. Those people created… Dude, P.O.D., one of my favorite bands from my hometown, Chula Vista, he created those records with them, and in a lot of ways, we’re able to work with people that we never dreamed of doing that with and continue to make music.”
He continued: “Music is our therapy — it’s how we got through this, it’s how OF MICE & MEN has been a band for almost ten years is with the music and how we love and devote ourselves to this. And the fact that we can put out music and work on new music and there’s tons more of all that stuff coming — more shows, more festivals, more music, more everything — and we just feel so fortunate to be able to continue to do that and have such a wonderfully passionate fanbase that’s still growing.”
Carlile originally left OF MICE & MEN in 2010 after his doctor forbade him from touring to undergo heart surgery tied to complications with Marfan Syndrome. He returned in 2011, but his ailments didn’t cease, forcing him to exit the band for the second, and presumably final, time at the end of last year.
Pauley recently told Billboard magazine about pulling double duty for both vocal roles in OF MICE & MEN: “Y’know what? It’s been awesome. It’s been a lot of fun. I’ve been getting a lot of praise for it but at the same time, I feel kind of guilty because it’s not adding too much more to my plate than I had before. But I think everybody stepped up. We knew that we were going to be down a guy. We knew that we had to maintain not just a certain level of sound but a certain level of excitement and crowd interaction, which is hard to do if I’m stuck behind a mic and playing. But everybody stepped up to give a hundred and ten percent and I feel like a lot of the reaction and reception that we’ve been getting back is positive and people are having a great time.”
OF MICE & MEN‘s latest album, “Cold World”, came out in 2016.