Valentino Arteaga says OF MICE & MEN may never escape the "metalcore" tag he and his bandmates were branded with upon their 2009 formation.
Originally the combination of hardcore and metal music, metalcore morphed considerably when bands started incorporating elements of melodic Swedish death metal in the mid-2000s, leading to many metal purists to disown the style. Metalcore's influence has waned in proceeding years due to the onset of the more brutal but also similarly criticized deathcore sound, yet OF MICE & MEN is one of the few remaining metalcore purveyors to generate a solid fan base.
OF MICE & MEN recently released the first song from its partnership with producer Josh Wilbur, "How To Survive", which will also appear on the band's as-yet-untitled next studio album, the second to feature bassist Aaron Pauley as lead vocalist.
In an interview with Tori Kravitz prior to the band's March 17 show at The Ritz Ybor, Arteaga expressed his enthusiasm for working with Wilbur, whose credits include GOJIRA, LAMB OF GOD and SOULFLY. "He's a metalhead," the drummer said. "We went with a metalhead producer because we wanted to make metalhead music.
"In a lot of ways, OF MICE & MEN is a metalcore band," he continued. "We're never going to escape whatever label we are. We really felt like we wanted to go in and make new music that was going to excite as us as the members OF MICE & MEN and fans of OF MICE & MEN and to really make music that from the bottom of our hearts, excited us and in our mind, would get the pits going.
"'How To Survive' is different just in the sense that it's bare-knuckle heavier. 'Defy' was fun in a very colorful way and across the spectrum of what we consider to be heavy music, whether it's emotionally heavy or drop-tuned heavy kind of shit. But, the collection of what we've got coming up, it's really exciting because it's heavy. [Laughs]
"We'll always be a heavy band," he added. "You can always count on us to do stuff like that. We realized we need to be the best and sickest OF MICE & MEN that we can be. Because if we won't do it, who will? We've got to do it."
OF MICE & MEN recently released the official music video for another new song, "Mushroom Cloud".
The band spent much of the fall hunkered down in the studio working on new material with Wilbur.
Last year's "Defy" marked OF MICE & MEN's first full-length release without vocalist Austin Carlile, who left the group 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.