MAKE THEM SUFFER (AUS) – Interview – 26/01/2018

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On extreme music, Australia has made itself famous by its enormous quantity of metalcore and deathcore bands. Beyond the well-known PARKWAY DRIVE and THY ART IS MURDER, fans of down-tuned guitars and breakdowns know that this oceanic country means a reliable source of material, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse: THE ALMITY AFFICTION, AVERSIONS CROWN, I SHALL DEVOUR, or the ones we’re speaking about today, MAKE THEM SUFFER. A band that has gone far enough from beign labeled as symphonic deathcore, evolving and incorporating what they want on their music, and as result, Worlds apart stands as their best effort by far, and a great example of how to grow up along with your music. Sean Harmanis, vocalist and band founder, had the amability to talk to us about their newest records, their inspirations or the hard task of labeling your own music. 

Subterráneo Webzine: Let’s start by asking, how did the tour go? I think you’ve just finished the European run after the North American and Australian legs.

Sean: Tour went well! It still blows my mind we actually headlined outside of Australia. And it was cool to be able to bring some aussies with us from our home town Perth on the Europe run to finish off the trifecta. 

Subterráneo Webzine: How many death threats have you received for your latest album…? Just kidding. It’s quite clear that Worlds apart is a huge step forward for the band, and you know what it means, lots of shitstorms, but also compliments. How has the general reaction to your new stuff been?

Sean: Well, people are going to criticise you no matter what you do. If you stay the same they say it’s all the same and if you change they’re mad about that. I’ve honestly heard mostly positive things which is insane given that we changed things up, but at the same time we were never going to let other people’s opinions get in the way of our creative goals.

Subterráneo Webzine: I guess that you have received every possible kind of opinion, from the old followers complaining that you’re not “brutal” enough and from those who really dig your new style. Is there anything in particular that you’ve been listening to during the composition of the album that might have had a strong influence on you?

Sean: Tracing back I seem to remember listening to a lot of MY BLOODY VALENTINE, THE SMITHS, NOTHING, DEFTONES and DEVIN TOWNSEND.

Subterráneo Webzine: Let’s continue with the new songs; for me, it’s your best album by far. In my opinion, your music improved with you deciding to mark some distances from your most brutal material. Neverbloom was OK but it was too dense. Old Souls, for me, was the bridge from that record to the newest one. You know, it wasn’t so heavy, it was a little bit more “relaxed”. But in any case, Worlds apart has been a big departure even though it still sounds like MAKE THEM SUFFER. Was this big change deliberated or just natural?

Sean: The change was very natural. We didn’t really set any parameters of what tropes go into a MAKE THEM SUFFER songs”. We just kind of wrote what sounded cool to us.

Subterráneo Webzine: Thoughout your career you have been labeled as deathcore, I don’t know if you agree with that, but has that cursed tag meant a problem for you guys, trajectory-wise? 

Sean: No, people can call us whatever they want. I don’t mind genre nazis either. We don’t aim to fit into a genre but for some people I think learning to distinguish between one genre and another can improve their ability to analyse and understand music. If you’re serious about music then you should familiarise yourself with as many different genres as possible. We’re definitely a lot of things and deathcore is probably one of them.

Subterráneo Webzine: Now that you’re showing a more melodic style, it has surprised me that your newest keyboardist/clean singer, Booka Nile, has way more presence in this album, something that didn’t happen with her predecessor. We can see it on some keyboard oriented tracks, like “Uncharted”. Why did you decide to give her more space? 

Sean: The vocals were written in service of the songs. It just fit with the instrumentation to include more of Booka. It’s an element we’d been aiming to include more of, yet always struggled finding space for until now I suppose.

Subterráneo Webzine: Worlds Apart is your first work with Rise Records, but previously you were with Roadrunner. How did that come about?

Sean: We’re still with Roadrunner in Australia. We were just unsigned outside of Australia before. I think one of us just sent Rise an email and they were really excited about our songs!

Subterráneo Webzine: I usually don’t ask this kind of questions but since this song means a lot to me, I’d like to ask you about the meaning of “Fireworks”, your first single, and also about that strange video you filmed.

Sean: The “Fireworks” video is about growing up. It’s also about having the strength to move forward, and the power of love. When the kids burn their toys it’s a symbol of them growing up.

Subterráneo Webzine: I would also like to congratulate you for your bravery, few bands are so open about their feelings and failures on theirs songs. I’m referring to “Save yourself”, the song that concludes the album, which seems to have a very personal history behind. I’m not asking you about that story but rather why you decided to take that personal approach to the lyrics.

Sean: Well, I knew it was going to be an emotional song from the first riff I’d heard. When I was sent the full guitar demo I noticed how long the outro was and how much space was there for vocals. It just seemed like the right thing to do and emotionally I was in the right frame of mind at that point to do it.

Subterráneo Webzine: Speaking about the live side of the band, according to Metallum, you have had only one guitar player since 2016, but your music is made for two guitars. Have you hired a second guitar player or have you decided to go with just one?

Sean: Just one for now. We can’t afford another (laughs).

Subterráneo Webzine: While I’m watching your live setlist, it’s quite balanced. Of course the new songs have more presence on each show, but which songs do you feel that the audience loves the most, or at least have a better reaction? In other words: the fan-favourites. 

Sean: Well, “Widower“, “Blood moon” and “Let me in” are always winners. “Uncharted” seems to really go off and so does “Vortex“.

Subterráneo Webzine: How difficult is it for Australian bands to tour? Not only to another countries, but also between cities. There are some big distances between Perth, Brisbane, New Wales, Sydney…

Sean: It’s more difficult for us being from Perth, it’s as hard as touring anywhere else for us though really. There are some pretty crazy drives, driving up North Queensland can give you 20 hour drives from time to time but I think we’re just so used to it now we don’t think about that stuff, it’s just part of the job (laughs). 

Subterráneo Webzine: As always, before we finish, I’d like you to recommend some bands from your country, we don’t mind about genres, just bands worth checking out. And also thanks for the time invested on answering these questions.

Sean: Thanks for having me. HOPE DRONE, WE LOST THE SEA and CURSED EARTH are all rad bands.

Photos 2 and 3 taken from their official Facebook account.

 

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