It’s Friday afternoon and I have the pleasure of partaking in a phone interview with Sean Hermanis, the mighty voice of Make Them Suffer. With a slightly tired tone to his voice, Sean informs me that before his day of phone interviews he was up until 3am marathoning TV shows. We share a relatable laugh before launching straight into discussion about his band’s upcoming third studio album, Worlds Apart and their corresponding tour, which includes a string of shows right around Australia.
Sean begins by sharing a little more about the new record, “I think the album title is an accurate description of what the album represents in terms of our discography. With Neverbloom, our first album, it was very heavy, unrelenting with sort of intricate piano passages over the top. And Old Souls was more of a haunted house vibe. With Worlds Apart, we’re going for a completely different theme.” He elaborates on what type of theme by explaining, “It’s got a sort of spacey, beautiful, angelic type of vibe over a lot of the tracks. We’ve incorporated quite a bit more clean singing. But not in a way that’s clean singing metalcore hooks. We’re using it more as a textural element. We’re all really proud of it.”
Going into even further detail about the title and its conception, dropping an interesting bit of information about a certain song that won’t be appearing on the new album.
“Well actually we had a song that we’d written that didn’t make the cut of the album, called ‘Worlds Apart.’ That was about the feeling of being on tour and feeling such a sense of isolation that you can sometimes feel and a disconnect from reality and life at home and people you love. So that’s how that title came about, for that song, and that song didn’t make the cut, unfortunately but we’d already decided that it was a cool title and quite a fitting title in terms of what it represents.”
Remaining a bit longer on the topic of this dropped song that gave the albums its namesake, we discover what plans the band might have to release it in the future, “We’ll see how it goes, that song was leaps and bounds softer than anything we’d done. It’s an idea. We might revisit that song or might make a B-Sides (compilation) somewhere down the line, but not sure at this point.”
Moving on to the striking cover artwork that graces the new albums package, Sean details the thought process the band went through to come to the conclusion that that was what they wanted visually representing their latest record.
“The cover artwork sort of encapsulates the sound of the album. I think it was made in Cinema 4D, which I know absolutely nothing about, but we’d seen a couple of artworks that were in that style and just felt that that style definitely suited everything. The cover is like a little look into the themes and the storyline of the lyrical content. But at the end of the day we just felt that it was a really stunning piece of artwork and really encapsulates the vibe of the music.
Finally bringing the conversation to the exciting news of an Australia-wide tour, I press Sean for information on how many songs we can expect to hear from the new album. His answer us sure to delight any fans who love to hear new material live from their favourite acts.
“Well that’s tricky. We’re doing the American run before the Australian one and we’ll be playing a lot of old songs because we’ve never had the opportunity to play some of our back-catalogue to the American people. Coz we’ve only had like a half hour set, being an opening band or a supporting band. So, we’re doing that and then I think we’ve got two weeks to prepare for the Australian tour. The album would have been out for about a month or two by the time we hit the road in Australia. I think it’s enough time for people to digest the album, it’s one that we’re extremely proud of and one we’re excited to start playing the songs of. It’s so tricky trying to decide which songs are going to make it into the cut of the setlist, I think there’ll be at least 6 new songs that we’ll play live.”
When explaining what they hope to get from the live shows and what they hope to give to audience Sean details the quandaries of playing the same songs over and over and why he is looking forward to playing the new material.
“Being able to bring new songs into the set is exciting for us coz you know, it does get a bit tiresome, playing the same tunes for like 6 or 7 years. I think, the album being quite different from previous stuff, it might change the atmosphere of the live show. I’m not entirely sure what that atmosphere will be at this point in time. I think there are so many breezy melodies in there that are going to instill positive vibes in the room. Especially playing in Australia, I guess that’s where our most core fanbase is, in the sense that these people have seen us tour and grow as a band. Every time the live show gets that little bit better. I think that would be a really cool experience to share with the people that have been along for the ride. I’m really excited to see how the new songs go down live.”
Touching briefly on the perspective fans have on new songs, Sean explains that it’s all about the lens in which you experience the song through, “I think that when people hear a song ang go ‘oh well that’s a bit softer than previous stuff’ then being able to see that song live and the intensity that we might bring, might give people a different appreciation and go ‘well actually that is a really intense song.’” He continues, “People might be able to view songs in different lights when they see the passion we’re gonna put into the live performance”
On the topic of his demanding vocal techniques, Sean was kind of enough to inform us of his backstage habits in preparing his voice to deliver a show, “I don’t do all that much in the way of warm ups. I do a little bit of humming and really quiet growl. But, most of my warm up consists of pacing back and forth and just being in my own head and sort of amping myself up. The vocals come a bit more naturally to me. Generally, I’ve been speaking all day and that’s kind of the best warm up you can do.”
To wrap up the conversation Sean imparted with some great advice for any Australian musicians wanting to make it and break out internationally as Make Them Suffer have done.
“You have to be prepared to work hard and make sacrifices. Touring isn’t for everyone but you have to be all about it. Because that’s the only real way you’re gonna be able to generate income in this current state of the industry. There’s no secret, just write… Good songs. There’s so many bands doing the same thing that it’s kinda hard to differentiate yourself in the market. But, the more you can differentiate yourself, even if the final execution isn’t that great, people are still going to turn their heads you’re way because you are doing something different. That in itself is more admirable, than paying more attention to things like the production. You need to be pushing boundaries and pushing