Interview: Of Mice & Men

Only a year passed between the debut and sophomore albums for Costa Mesa, California-based metalcore outfit Of Mice And Men, but what an eventful year it was. The band lost founders Austin Carlile (vocals) and Jaxin Hall (bass) after 2010's self-titled effort, only to regain Carlile, who brought along with him guitarist Alan Ashby, before recording their latest album.

Did we mention all that happened in a year?

Of Mice and Men released their second album, The Flood, last month on Rise Records and are currently touring with the 2011 Vans Warped Tour. The Flood sees Of Mice And Men paying homage to their influences, as evidenced by the nu-metal bounce that's made its way into the band's sound since their debut.

We caught up with Of Mice And Men on the road to talk about The Flood, the future and if breakdowns will ever replace the guitar solo.

GUITAR WORLD: You guys are out on Warped Tour right now and just put out your new album, The Flood, last month. How have the fans reacted to the new material so far?

ALAN ASHBY: It's been awesome. The new stuff is a lot of fun to play live, heavy, and gets the crowd going.

PHIL MANANSALA: It's crazy, honestly. We put so much hard work and effort into the new stuff and it's great so see kids vibing to it and really enjoying. I wish we played a lot more new stuff, but we have to play some of the old stuff because Austin's back in the band.

Alan, how did you end up hooking up with Austin and eventually joining the band?

ALAN: We had a bunch of mutual friends and honestly, we partied together. Eventually it came to making music for fun, and then it got serious, so when Austin got back together with Of Mice And Men, he brought me. And I'm here. [laughs]So with Austin being back and Alan joining the band, how has it affected the band mentality? Do you feel like a stronger unit now?PHIL: Yeah, I felt like it really helped us to grow in a way that was really needed. Like a family bonding experience. Before, we had a lot of personal issues in the band and we just weren't happy, but now with this lineup, it's probably the happiest we've been and we're definitely going to keep it.Do you think this comes through on the record at all?PHIL: I think it shows what we really wanted to do with our music. All of us are really big fans of nu-metal: Limp Bizkit, Linkin Park, Korn ... So we're starting to move in that direction. Everyone in the band loves it and we tried to display that as much as we could on the new album.There is definitely a sort of nu-metal "bounce" to parts of the record. On that note, who would you count among your biggest influences as guitarists?ALAN: My big guitar hero growing up was Slash. Also I grew up listening to Papa Roach and Linkin Park, so all of those dudes. Wes Borland...PHIL: As a guitar player, definitely Korn, definitely Emmure, Linkin Park. All of us really like that core group of nu-metal bands. On the next album, I think we're going to go super nu-metal with the sound.It sounds like you guys are tuning down a good deal already on The Flood...PHIL: Yeah we're playing in Drop C right now. It's kind of heavy, but on our next album I want to move up to the 7-strings and go to B and A. That's what we plan on doing.Alan are you down for moving to 7-strings as well?ALAN: Hell yeah!What's your main guitar on The Flood?PHIL: The same one used on the first album, a Gibson Les Paul Traditional. Unfortunately I just broke that guitar, so that's kind of heartbreaking, but it's time to try something else.ALAN: We ran that through our producer's [Line 6] Pod Farm and just fucked around with tones on that.What's your live setup like?PHIL: Live I'm using a Framus Cobra into a Mesa 4x12 and Alan is running a Dual-Rectifier with a Mesa 4x12. Both with ESPs.How about your pedalboard?PHIL: I have my Decimator, my DD-7 delay pedal, a Super Shifter and then a tuning pedal.These days, you hear the phrase "the breakdown is the new guitar solo" a lot. Do you think there's some truth to that?PHIL: Yeah, somewhat. It's like a new type of art, but I don't think it's replacing guitar solos because there are still guitar players out there who are rippin' it during breakdowns. But I'm down for breakdowns; I can't hate, I play 'em.ALAN: I don't think a breakdown can ever replace a guitar solo. Music is definitely getting a lot heavier, especially here on Warped Tour, but there's no way you can replace a "November Rain" guitar solo, no way.Are you guys writing on the road at all?ALAN: Oh yeah, I have a pair of M-Audio monitors and my MacBook. I run LogicPro through an M-Box. We have a midi controller so we can lay down some drums...PHIL: Yeah, we're writing every day. We have a couple ideas and some covers we'd like to put out some time.Can you say who the covers might be?PHIL: It's a secret! [laughs] We're doing Linkin Park's "Papercut," actually. It's one of our favorite songs as a band.The new album from Of Mice And Men, The Flood, is out now on Rise Records and the band are currently on the road as part of the 2011 Vans Warped Tour. Head here for the latest tour dates and info.

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Josh Hart

Josh Hart is a former web producer and staff writer for Guitar World and Guitar Aficionado magazines (2010–2012). He has since pursued writing fiction under various pseudonyms while exploring the technical underpinnings of journalism, now serving as a senior software engineer for The Seattle Times.