Over the last few years, no genre of music has seen such rapid evolvement as metal. Internationally, bands such as Bring Me The Horizon and Deftones have put metal back in the centre of the map as they continue to adapted their sounds to create something, unlike anything that’s been heard before.
Most excitingly, some of the most impressive changes have been coming from our own soil, with Australia now leading the pack in musical development, ultimately starting a new chapter in heavy alternative music.
There’s no better band that encompasses this new chapter than Perth’s Make Them Suffer, a band approaching their ten-year anniversary, all along paving the way of what’s to be expected from a true metal band. Their latest record, Worlds Apart, is a metamorphic transformation for the band who continue to polarise fans with their soaring, angelic musical textures combined with chaotic, head-banging guitar riffs and colossal vocals, creating one of the heaviest and most memorable metal releases of the year.
Music Feeds caught up with Make Them Suffer frontman Sean Hermanis at his home in Perth to chat about the future of Australian metal, his love/hate relationship with touring and the writing process of Worlds Apart.
Music Feeds: Before I start, I just wanted to give you huge congratulations for Worlds Apart. In a lot of ways, this record, in particular, is the next chapter for Make Them Suffer in the fact that a lot has changed internally within the band since your last record Old Souls. I’d be really keen to know what the writing process was like for this record and how it compared to how you worked through things in the past.
Sean Hermanis: I think that given the lineup changes, our guitarist Nick really stepped up to the plate and got really motivated for this record. I suppose he took the sole writing responsibility in terms of the guitar work which is how we started each song that’s on the album. That’s kind of how ‘Ether’ was written, and I think that’s one of our best songs to date.
So essentially how the process started, Nick sent me a files with like 15 riffs in it, all of them with a similar tempo with some of them flowing into each other, and I chopped them up and fit them together in a way that made them into a solid song structure, all while picturing the different vocal passages would unfold in them. Later on, we would talk about the different ways that we could both add in the keys sections with some help from Booka, as this group effort.
We also wrote some songs that were entirely based off a keyboard line, in the past, we would write the skeleton of a song with guitars and drums and just slap keys on top. This time, we wanted to make sure that everything blended in together and that nothing felt like it was just sitting on the top of sections and sticking out.
MF: Ther haves also been a few lineup changes since Old Souls was released so did that change things around for you all when it came to writing Worlds Apart or was it business as usual?
SH: Old Souls was a little bit all over the shop in the sense that we had some songs written by our former bassist Chris, one song from our former guitarist Monty and some songs from our other guitarist Nick rather than having everyone come together to work on the songs to a point that we were all happy with. It felt like each song was that one person’s song and you couldn’t really touch that.
The lineup changes have kind of worked out for the better because everyone’s opinion is taken into consideration and everyone knows their role, which makes it feel a lot more organised. And that’s not to discredit the writing on the previous albums. Chris is a phenomenal songwriter and Monty did a great job. Unfortunately when you start touring up to six months a year, it gets to that point where you have to make quite a few sacrifices at home and people find that that can be quite draining, which isn’t for everyone. We were very supportive of people’s decisions to step down from the band, that’s all gravy. Just overall I feel like it’s worked out for the better in this case.
MF: I know what you mean. In terms of some conversations I’ve had with other bands, I’ve heard that you can develop this real strong love/hate relationship with touring. Obviously, it’s this great and awesome thing to be travelling the world with some of your best friends but I can imagine it’d end up taking a pretty heavy toll on people in the essence of essentially putting your entire life on hold.
SH: It’s a lot harder when you’re in a relationship and all those things that tie you to home. I’m currently not in a relationship so I’m kind of enjoying touring at the moment. I don’t really feel that pressure of getting home. There’s this sort of line that you can cross because from that time you leave to the time you’re back at home you’ve missed out on a lot. I’m at that age now where everyone I went to high school with have gotten full-time jobs. When I get home from tour I’m doing a casual or part time job while all my friends are working 9 to 5 and I ask myself “uhh..who are my friends?” [laughs].
It’s gotten to that point where I feel more at home when I’m on the road. And I mean, we’ve just reached this transition phase where we’re touring more and more months of the year to the point that I spend more time on tour than when I’m actually at home. We’ve only been touring extensively since Old Souls came out in 2015 so it’s been a pretty steep learning curve for us but I think we’re starting to get a knack for it and it’s getting easier every time for sure.
MF: This is also Booka’s first record with Make Them Suffer and she’s done an incredible job. Her voice just adds so much texture and depth to these songs, so she’s been this awesome addition to the band. The clean vocals have always been a huge part to the identity of Make Them Suffer so how was the transition from your former clean vocalist and keyboardist Louisa over to Booka?
SH: It was pretty difficult actually. Booka got thrown in the deep end in the fact that she’d always played a little bit of keyboard and piano and singing, but she’d never had to record anything professionally before. Some of her parts, I’d come up with during that day of recording so there was really some tight timing for her to practice. I think we had this clear understanding in that the way we’d work the clean singing into ‘Ether’ was like this cool path to go down. We came in it with this clear vision so we knew how we wanted it to be. We wanted her vocals to be these airy, soaring and angelic melodies that drifted above everything. There are tracks like ‘Save Yourself’ and ‘The First Movement’ that have more definitive vocal hooks in them, so it’s not just all this soaring stuff, but at the same time that was kind of the unified direction of the album.
MF: One thing that I’ve noticed has been happening over the last few years is that metal bands, in particular, have been shaping their sound to…I guess it kind of sounds like a dirty word, but to make their music more ‘accessible’ to open up their audiences. Bring Me The Horizon is probably the best example of bands that have changed their sound so dramatically. Meanwhile, Make Them Suffer have stayed true to the identity of the band and in my opinion wrote one of the heaviest albums of the year. I just wanted to hear your opinion on how bands have shaped their sounds to gain a bigger audience overall.
SH: I think at the end of the day, it’s all determined by the actual execution. Bring Me
The Horizon would definitely prefer the music that they’d be writing now than to what they once were. They’d prefer to listen to an album like Sempiternal rather than Count Your Blessings. I think the most important thing is that it’s serving the artist, like if you’re changing your sound with the intention to sell out, then that’s probably not a good thing. But too many people just immediately jump to conclusions and just complain, but don’t realise that maybe that’s just how the musician’s taste has changed. Our evolution is just experimenting and having fun. I don’t know if people would think that we’re selling out because this record does have more of an accessible sound because there’s more clean singing.
MF: A few weeks ago you announced the Worlds Apart Europe tour, but I was so stoked to see fellow Perth band Cursed Earth on the bill. I wanted to pick your brain on the current state of local metal music and where you see it going.
SH: At the moment, there’s a kind of genre of music coming out and I think that Australia is leading the charge. I don’t know what you’d even call it, it’s like post-something, like post-the-era-of-metalcore. There are bands like Ocean Grove that are touching on it, Hellions are touching on it and I think we’re touching it in a way and Cursed Earth are one of those bands who are doing it with this awesome Nails influence.
I don’t really know how local shows are going these days, but the ones in Perth, I’ve noticed that the turnouts are dwindling and it feels like your band needs to have this certain sized fan base to really get noticed in Australia and that’s why I feel Australia bands work twice as hard. But that being said, there is this new wave of heavy music that’s coming out and it’s really exciting and I’m really proud to say that Australia is leading that charge.
‘Worlds Apart’ is released Friday, 28th July. The band will head out on their own national headline tour throughout September.