Back in FRONT 181 (available to buy HERE) we interviewed Oli Sykes and even put him on the cover – the first and only time we’ve ever put a dude on the cover. But just look how fucking cool he looks? Do you have a leopard? NO YOU FUCKING DON’T, DO YOU! (And before anyone gets their knickers in a twist, we borrowed this leopard from a taxidermy museum and has been dead for 70 years.) We interviewed him just as Bring Me The Horizon‘s Sempiternal was released and it’s no exaggeration that it’s still one of our favourite albums of the year. Check out the whole interview with Oli below.
Sempiternal is your first record on a major label, did that affect what you thought you could release?
Definitely not. Being on a major label has smashed any perception I had of it, it’s such a different experience. We were on Visible Noise who did an amazing job but took us as far as we could get, we hit a wall where we couldn’t do the things we wanted to do. Me and my brother made a DVD to put out for our re-release called Lads On Tour but we couldn’t put it out because the label couldn’t afford to get the songs playing in the background of clubs. Now Sony has given us the opportunity to express ourselves artistically. When we joined we said ‘This is what we want to be’. We’re a metal band, that’s a given, but this album’s not a metal album. We don’t want to be perceived as a metal band any more, we don’t want to look like a metal band, we don’t want photoshoots full of blood and flames – we want to look how we want to look and dress how we want to dress.
What was your reaction when the album leaked?
I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t shit but I knew it was coming anyway. I’d made a plan for it happening because I was so sure. Music’s free now, if you don’t want to pay for music then you don’t pay for music. Everyone takes that privilege. As a musician you’ve got to accept that nowadays. You pay to make an album that you don’t get money for, you make money from people liking the album then coming to your shows. And I’m fine with that. When it happened I wanted to spin it in a positive light rather than go ‘Oh fucking hell, let’s cover this up and get it over and done with’. We were just glad people had heard it and were stoked. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, it was cool FRONT liked it, but you never know how the fans are going to react. But when it leaked everyone said it was amazing and that they were going to buy it anyway, so how can you be pissed off when the response is that positive? Who gives a shit about album sales? It makes no difference to me if we get in the charts, all that matters is that we can carry on doing what we’re doing and the fans like what we do.
A lot of the lyrics on Sempiternal are based around faith and religion, are you a religious man?
I’m an atheist, so it’s all about not believing in God. Before this album I was put in a position where I was asked to believe in God to get better, I was in a shitty place and I was asked to put my faith in God. I couldn’t understand that and it made me really angry. Why would I get better from something that doesn’t exist? Why would I put my hopes in a miracle that’s not going to happen? At the end of the day no-one’s going to save you and get you out of your mess, you’ve got to do it yourself. For me it’s very delusional to believe in God because it’s bullshit, it’s the only imaginary friend in the world that you can get away with having and I think kids need to know that. America is so religion-based there’s kids that believe in God and they don’t even know why. And it’s not a harmless belief – it causes wars, people die for it, people kill for it, nations are controlled by it. I wouldn’t push my opinions on anyone, I’m a vegetarian but I don’t think anyone’s wrong for eating meat, but I don’t think anyone’s really addressing the religion issue. Organised religion is shit and should be abolished in the next decade, it’s what will destroy our planet.
As well as religion, you’re angry about a lot of things on the record. In Antivist you drop the C-bomb, which not many bands tend to do…
The song is almost like a stupid answer to a stupid question. The subject matter is dumb people and I’m being an idiot in my response. On the internet you can say whatever the fuck you want without any substance or consequence behind it – there’s people who’ll call me a fucking dickhead on the internet but shake my hand in real life. People can say anything, which is fine, but people can lead double lives now. Some people have a better life on the internet because they can be who they want to be. They’ve taken a nice photo, got the angle right and Photoshopped their face, and on the internet they’re this exotic person but in real life they’re a fat fucking loser sat inside every night eating Doritos. People think they’re something else now. People think they’re fucking activists because they’ve watched a 30 minute video. Everyone’s a hypocrite without realising it, you can’t claim things are wrong and still be a part of the problem, the same way you can’t push vegan beliefs and still eat meat. You can’t talk about Apple destroying the world but tweet it from your iPhone. We all know shit’s bad, but you’ve got to stand for what you say you believe in. You’re not saving the world by posting on the internet.
People don’t just try to save the world on the internet, they get angry and you attract a lot of hate.
I’ve got to the state now where I think if it’s the internet, it’s not real. In the same way I can pick up Heat magazine and go ‘That guy’s a fucking cunt, I hate him’ when I’ve never met him. If I met Robbie Williams in real life I’d shake his hand but I’d still slag him off. People say a lot of shit about our band on the internet but I’ve never had anyone come up to me and say they fucking hate me. In our ten years of being a band it must be in the millions the amount of negative comments I’ve had but I just don’t take it as a real thing.
When you last got your hair cut it trended on Twitter, doesn’t that freak you out?
What? I didn’t know that. I try to stay clear from Facebook and Twitter, I spend enough time on the internet trying to get my work done. I don’t need to spend any time on there as a pastime, I find the internet a scary place to be honest. I’ve got friends who are obsessed, they’ll be driving their car and still checking Facebook. You go out for a meal and everyone’s on their phones. People talk about the internet like it’s a real place. ‘Oh, I saw thingy on Facebook the other day’. It’s not a town, you know? I had to get off there because it made me angry. People just spout the most insane shit like ‘I just cleaned my house today’ – who cares? Who cares that you just ate a piece of toast? People say stuff on Facebook that they don’t even think. You don’t just eat breakfast and say ‘I just ate breakfast’, but for some reason there’s a website of people telling other people stuff that no-one cares about.
As well as a new album you’ve just launched your graphic novel Raised By Raptors. where did that idea come from?
It stemmed from my friend Ben Ashton Bell who’s worked with me a lot on Drop Dead. The cover from the comic was originally a Drop Dead design. When I saw it it looked like something from a comic and I had this idea in my head that just snowballed. I mentioned it to Ben and before I knew it I was in a situation where I was making a comic. Doing the Kickstarter thing meant I had to do it and it’s been really fun.
Why did you choose Kickstarter?
It’s awesome. You tell people your idea and if they like it they’ll put money into it and they get something out of it. It’s not a charity, no-one’s just giving you money. It means you get to grow a fanbase and you can see if the idea’s actually worth doing. I’ve had a couple of people say ‘Oh why don’t you pay for it yourself?’ but why? No-one’s giving me the money, they’re buying a copy of the comic. It’s not a sponsorship. The money only leaves their account if we’ve raised enough money over the 40 days so it’s a really cool thing, and we had so much support which is great. It’s a very time-consuming thing writing a comic and I didn’t want to do it if no-one would be interested when it came out.
Drop Dead has dropped a load of cool stuff lately like skate decks and vinyl toys, where do you go from here?
It’s just great being able to create whatever you want. It’s gone from being a novelty to creating really high quality products. We’re pushing to work with different artists and doing stuff that’s not been done before. The range always reflects what I’m into at the time.
You also own a full-size Jurassic Park arcade machine, that is bonkers!
It got it from eBay for 300 quid. Some guy needed to get rid of it so I had to buy it. It doesn’t fit anywhere but it’s sick. I had an obsession of buying arcade machines, I’ve got two Jurassic Park ones and a pinball machine, Time Crisis, Crazy Taxi, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, a Simpsons arcade game… I’ve got all these machines and I don’t know what to do with them. I’m a nerd for games.
Shadow Moses is taken from Metal Gear Solid, right?
There’s no lyrical relation but we used the same chords and strings from the game, it’s an homage to the game. If anyone from that world heard it they wouldn’t think we were ripping it off. The lead animator from Metal Gear is a big Drop Dead fan and she emailed me because we did a Metal Gear Solid inspired shirt and she showed the artist and he loved it, which was a good job as I didn’t get sued. I didn’t believe her at first so I went and completed the game to find her name in the credits.