Make Them Suffer have made a big statement with their fourth album How To Survive A Funeral. Despite the challenges of a global pandemic this hard working band kept pushing on and the album is out now for fans to enjoy. Hi Fi Way spoke to front man Sean Harmanis about the album and the challenges of releasing an album during a pandemic.
It is bit of a weird time. How is the band been going with navigating their way through this constantly changing situation?
To pack it up in a number of ways, we had to bail on our European tour halfway through, which was very unfortunate for us. We had two weeks left of pretty much sold out shows in the UK. We were out with After the Burial and Trump announced that they were closing the borders within twenty four hours. So they were like, “We need to get home now.” So pretty much overnight, the tour was canned, and we all had to go home. That was a bit unfortunate.
Then as well as that, our album release date was pushed back, because they could not deliver the product on time. It has been tough in a number of ways, but at the same time there has been some positives from it. I think that, maybe more people would check out, for example, the music video for Erase Me, because everyone is at home, in isolation and stuff like that. Especially when that song came out, everyone was on their computers and checking out what’s what on the web. So maybe that is a positive, I do not know. But yeah, we are just doing the best we can to navigate through all these changes.
Did you have a lot of anxious nights or lots of second guessing about even whether now is still the right time to release an album, especially when a lot of albums now are either yet to be confirmed or even pushed back to late this year or early next year?
The main question was whether or not to push it back to July 24. To push it back for, we did not know how long the pandemic was going to go on for. We did not really know anything. There was not enough information at our disposal really to make that an informed decision. So for us, we wanted to release the digital copy at the same time as the streaming options. It made sense for us to have a push back, like a month or something. We felt people would understand that due to the circumstances and most people have been pretty understanding of the situation, which has been nice.
Have you been using the time to keep writing and working on new songs?
Certainly. Nick and I have been sending ideas back and forth. We have been doing a little bit of writing. I have been writing just for my own personal enjoyment as well. I am actually in the studio now doing some stuff and I think now is a great time to be creative. I wrote a lot of songs through the past couple of months, which has been great.
Did you feel any more pressure with album number three more so than the two?
No, we did not really feel much pressure. For us we went into the album recording with basically no expectations or a blueprint of how we wanted the album to sound. We just wrote the songs and did not try and force any specific type of element, which is what came naturally to us. At the end of the day, my personal philosophy is that if I did not enjoy the song writing process, I probably would not still be in this band. To me that is the most important thing. Not necessarily fretting over what someone else was going to think about what we write.
Did you find that you ended up having more ideas than what you need?
We went in with the philosophy that, if you have an idea, there is no such thing as a bad idea. Everyone was encouraged to bring all their suggestions and put them on the table, at like every turn, basically. In that sense, it was a stress-free album in the sense that everyone felt like they were heard. Everyone felt as if their ideas had been taken into consideration, which I think is super important in an album recording.
Sonically, how would you compare album number three with what you have done previously?
This album has a lot of our different elements that we have not actually used on previous records. There is a little bit of experimentation, but in terms of the actual instrumentation, music, and songs, I think melodically it’s a refinement of previous work. It is like an amalgamation of the previous record. Worlds Apart, was quite different for us sonically, but there were some elements that we really loved about it as well. We loved the whole record, but we wanted to take what we felt was the best elements from that record and combine it with the best elements from the previous work. I would say it’s like a refinement of and an amalgamation of all our past work basically.
Were there any challenges or things that didn’t go quite your way during the studio, especially, having that process where you’re starting with a blank canvas?
No. Surprisingly it was very smooth. At no point during the recording process, did we really feel like we were under pressure or under a time limit. Everything came together. We had somewhat of a schedule as to, song X should be done by X day sort of thing. We had no trouble sticking with it and everything fell into place. It was very stress free for me and we did not really have any hiccups. Everyone got on like a house on fire. Usually there is a couple of arguments in the writer’s department. Disagreements about parts in songs but there was basically none of that this record. Our producer worked as a great facilitator of ideas and mediator between the main songwriters in the band.
What was your reaction to when you actually got to play the following weeks back for the first time?
Oh, we were blown away. So stoked! We had been sitting on the demos for quite a while before the mix came back. We did not feel there was a rush to get the mix back because we knew that the album release was not going to be for some months after that. We had been sitting on the record for quite a while and the demos were already ballpark what the mix was going would be like. We were already loving listening to the demo’s, and then we got the mix and it was like, Oh, wow, let’s turn it up to eleven. It is an album that we are all very proud of.
Did anything in particular inspire the album title?
The album title was meant to be a representation of our sound. The word funeral is quite a dark and morbid word or subject but in the sentence, how to survive a funeral, it was meant to be akin to one of those handy survival books, like how to survive an earthquake, how to survive a drive-by. It is taking something quite dark, the dark thing of a funeral and death and turning it into something that is a bit tongue in cheek or a lighthearted joke or praise. That, for us, was a representation of our sound. I think that a lot of what makes Make Them Suffer sound the way we do, is that we will take very dark elements and at the same time with some lighter elements as well. It is always the contrast between the melodies and some very dark moments with heavy riffs and stuff like that. We thought that the album title summarised the band’s sound and the sound of the album.
For the fans, are there plans to be doing some online streaming concerts playing the album start to end?
Well, to be honest, I do not think, amongst the members of the band we have the facilities to do some live stream or live performance, live concert as some of us live on opposite ends of the country. We would not be able to just go to someone’s house and do that. Doing something like that might be difficult. I think more than anything we are excited to get out there and start touring again when we are able to and showing people the album that way. Online stuff is great, and obviously that’s the main format people listen to music these days, but there is no greater feeling than interacting with fans and people who listen to your music at a live show, who understand your music and sing along with whatever we play.
Interview By Rob Lyon