OF MICE & MEN will release its new album, "Defy", on January 19, 2018 via Rise Records. The disc will mark the band's first full-length release without vocalist Austin Carlile, who left OF MICE & MEN 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. Handling lead vocals in the group now is bassist Aaron Pauley.
Asked how he felt when Austin decided that he couldn't be in the band anymore, drummer Valentino Arteaga told Australia's Wall Of Sound: "Crushed. You work so hard to build something with somebody, and nobody wants to admit to limitation. I think for us through the years, we always knew there were some that were out of control, especially with Austin. It's been a little over a year now since he was hospitalized for a month, he canceled a tour and after that month, he sat us down and talked to us about the reality of what he was facing. As much as we were crushed, we also felt a sense of relief knowing that he would be able to truly focus on his health, and listen to his doctors. That was always the number one goal, because this life isn't meant for everybody, and we know that because we've been through so many people in the band. We really respected his decision and his doctors, and it was very important for him to follow that. Our lives changed, and we had to move forward knowing that the band would be different."
According to Arteaga, finding a new person to step into Austin's shoes was never an option. "We didn't want to replace those memories and try to fill them with somebody new," he said. "The most important thing to do was to do everything we could as the remaining unit to carry on the legacy. Now Austin has a different focus, which is great because it's on himself and his health. For us, we're going to continue to focus on the music and everything we've built together."
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.
An OF MICE & MEN documentary called "Unbreakable" was released on October 13. The short film, which was directed by Johann Ramos, follows the band across multiple continents on their tour earlier this year.