Full Tilt Festival finally went ahead in Melbourne, and we got to witness the return to the stage from Make Them Suffer (our review of their first show back here). It’s obviously been a tumultuous time for the deathcore-come-metalcore outfit who recently announced that keyboardist/vocalist Booka Nile is no longer in the band. Whilst it was strange to see them perform live without Ms Nile, it was a wonderful feeling to see them play live again.
Of course, we weren’t going to let the Perth/Melbourne band leave the festival without escaping the big questions via Wall of Sound Bossman Paul ‘Browny’ Brown and Co-Editor Ricky Aarons backstage after their performance.
Watch all the action below (or read on if you prefer words) where we learn about a couple of potential tours, the changing soundscape of the group and the likely prospect of hearing some heavier music from Make Them Suffer by the end of the year.
After coming off the stage for the first time in over two years, frontman Sean Harmanis said “I’ll be honest, that was pretty rough, I’ve been going to the gym but nothing prepares you for stage fitness, it’s an entirely different type of fitness,” he jests, “but nonetheless, it felt so good up there seeing the crowd, and it feels good to be performing again.”
The band have been geographically spread during COVID which has left challenges for the band. Harmanis moving briefly to Melbourne and on bassist Jaya Jeffery, he shared, “he lives in the country in Perth, he’s three or four hours from Perth, so yeah we’ve all been estranged from one another.”
Full Tilt Melbourne was a bit of a reunion for the band. “This show was more than just playing the show“, he says introspectively. “It was more about getting together and getting that feeling again of being on stage together, hanging out as friends; it’s so good to be able to feel that again, and be like ‘holy sh*t, I’m in a band,” the vocalist laughs.
The show was the first-ever experience for Make Them Suffer to play select songs from their latest effort How To Survive A Funeral (our review here). Harmanis revealed how it felt to play some of these tunes.
“It was weird, I wish we were able to play more, but we played in strange circumstances this time around. We actually got to play some of my favourite songs by a country mile, so I’m very excited to be able to bring more of them into the set, and it feels like a breath of fresh air to be able to play new songs.”
Fortunately, time hasn’t eliminated the emotional connection for the boys on HTSAF. “It was a very important album for us, it was an album where we were able to really express ourselves. It was kind of like airing out our dirty laundry, so it was great to finally be able to play those songs and sing those lyrics which I slaved over during the writing process of the album.”
Now, there are a few questions on the lips of MTS fans, but the biggest one everyone is asking was whether they’ll get a HTSAF Aussie tour outside of the festival circuit.
“Well yeah, we hope so. I mean it’s definitely in the works, we’d like to do that. This year happens to also coincide with the ten year anniversary of Neverbloom, our first album, so we’re trying to figure out a balance of what we’re going to do.
Realistically… we don’t know if we’ll be able to do both, so we might have to pick and choose, and figure out if the right balance is there, which shows we can play, which tours we’re going to do, so it’s all a bit in the air.”
“But I’d definitely say that we will be playing a How To Survive A Funeral album tour before this album cycle comes around.”
At this point in the video interview, you can see Browny and Ricky doing math and counting tours on our fingers with excitement and even offering the band a place to stay in Brisbane if needed. With a lot of the focus on Australian touring, Sean shares his views on the international circuit.
“I think at the moment, it’s just about finding our feet and we’re going to play some markets that we know will be receptive to us,” he says earnestly. “In the past we have had a little more luck in the States and Europe, so that’s on the cards… but we do want to eventually get back out there internationally.”
On the new music front, we’re still reeling from ‘Contraband‘ featuring Spiritbox‘s Courtney LaPlante which pleased fans, to say the least. It was a special song, mostly because it was Make Them Suffer‘s first-ever guest feature! Sean shared why it’s taken this long for them to invite someone into the fold.
“You know, it’s always been a thing with albums where we’ve been a little disorganised, and in Worlds Apart I think I reached out to some people with the potential of them doing guest vocals,” he says with great intentions… “and then it kind of came down to us finishing songs and me finishing my vocal parts,” suggesting time was an issue.
“I think with ‘Contraband’ we had a bit more time and were a bit more organised, and Courtney couldn’t have been a better fit honestly, we were so happy that she wanted to do it after getting to know her on that tour… literally the last tour before COVID hit, and in the future we’d love to do some more features, for sure.”
The diehard fans will know that the heavy vocalist has a softer side, having explored it with Onslow, who released a self-titled EP during lockdowns (our review here). Browny asked so eloquently, “you have this voice that you’ve been hiding under all this demonic prowess, how did it come about?”
Harmanis explained “I think just when you’re in a metal band, it’s nice having some music that you can go back to sit and chill out to. I listen to a lot of grunge bands like Smashing Pumpkins and stuff, so for me it was having another outlet.”
The inspiration for the side-project came at a geographically interesting time for the vocalist. “I was living in Melbourne before COVID hit, lost my job… couldn’t pay rent, I moved back to Perth and moved back in with my mum and I was like ‘alright mum, I’m just going to like chill in your place for like three months and smash out an EP real quick’ and that’s what I did.”
As you do.
Turns out it’s been an itch he’s been trying to scratch for quite a while, and it simply emerged from writing Make Them Suffer melodies. “I’ve also been trying to work on my singing voice. On a lot of Make Them Suffer tracks, when I’d write the melodic parts (the clean sections), with previous members who’d be singing them, I’d sing them out and so I think that when you’re writing something and you’re jamming over the track and singing different melodies, you think ‘that sounds good for my voice'”.
With a tried and tested clean vocal capability, it does beg the question as to whether Harmanis could take on some of these duties moving forward in MTS. “I’m not so sure about that, it’s all so much in the air, we have no idea what’s going on at the moment.” he says either dumbfoundedly or with annoyingly strong media training.
“I think right now our main goal is to have a strong friendship and stay together and get as much writing in the instrumental and screaming vocal as possible. We’re not exactly sure what the next step is in terms of lineup or anything like that.”
Given the focus on new material is purely on the ‘screaming’ and instrumental side, and the Neverbloom anniversary celebration, will they return from their more recent contemporary metalcore style back to their deathcore roots? “Well, I think we’re trying,” Harmanis admits. “I don’t know if it’s going to be ‘deathcore’, but I think we’re trying to get heavier.“
We might even get to hear some more material by the end of 2022. “Before the end of the year, I’m confident.“
Don’t get your expectations too high, we jovially tested whether Harmanis could get as heavy as Will Ramos from Lorna Shore. “I don’t know about that, I can’t make those sounds (laughs). Pretty sure he’s possessed.”
Revisit all the action in our Full Tilt Festival Review and Photo Gallery here
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