After losing one significant part of their team, Of Mice & Men are still continuing the legacy of themselves and the music that they’ve untethered. With the now-quartet returning for their third Australian festival appearance at the first ever Download Festival in Melbourne, we had a chat with bassist and now-frontman Aaron Pauley about the band’s oncoming return to the country, their fourth upcoming record “Defy”, and more.

“We are SO, SO PUMPED to come back to Australia” he starts, enthusiastically. “For us, in the past, it’s always been one of our favourite places to play. I feel like, part of the Australian vibe is the ability to just being able to cut loose. So, for us playing rock and metal music, it’s always such a sick place for us to play. We’ve been fortunate enough to have play Download for the first time ever this year, in the UK. It’s such an awesome festival. So, to be a part of that in Australia is just incredible. Soundwave used to be in late February/early March, and it was always beautiful there. I’m from Southern California, so it’s always cool to go back. There’s a very similar vibe.”

With the new lineup of the band, Of Mice & Men have been going all around and doing a number of US and European tours, which have been a big success for the group. Talking to Aaron while they were in Denmark, he announced that they had been paying Scandinavia a visit.

“We’ve been doing an arena tour around Scandinavia, and we started the tour with two home town shows that were fucking massive. Super sick production, and Five Finger Death Punch is super huge out there. Very iconic in the metal community. It’s been a great tour, there’s been a lot of great fans to play for. We’ve seen some of our fans come, but we’re playing for a lot of new faces, as well.”

Due to struggles with Marfans Syndrome, former frontman Austin Carlile was left with the catch 22 of leaving Of Mice & Men. This caused a huge concern for fans of the band, as many expected them to call it quits do to this conundrum. However, that wasn’t the case. With Aaron Pauley being the band’s clean vocalist and bassist, he decided to take Austin’s place, and his role as Of Mice & Men’s full time frontman. And now, according to him, Pauley has felt that this big step that they have taken has shown that Of Mice & Men aren’t giving up any time soon, and want to continue to do this for as long as possible.

“The shows and the fan reception have been great. For us, it was just really important that we kept on the legacy of the band and the songs. Especially, being able to go out on tour and do a bunch of European festivals, and now we’re out on a full tour in Europe after doing a full tour in the US, it’s really cool to reconnect with the fans and see how important the music is. At the end of the day, deciding to continue on the band, it was all about the music and getting it to the fans. So, to be able to do that still is a blessing and very humbling. So, I won’t lie, it’s been fun doing all the vocals!”

Early in November, Of Mice & Men announced the release of their fourth full-length record “Defy”, which will be released in mid-January. With this being the first LP to be released without Carlile, Aaron and co. happen to have really high hopes about the outcome of the album.

“I can’t tell you how much I believe in this record. Doing the record was awesome. Working with Howard Benson, and having Chris Lord-Alge mix it and Ted Jensen and Chris Athens master it, it’s awesome! We got the final approval of all the artwork a week or two ago, so now it’s really, really in the works, so it’s exciting. A lot of the processes that we’ve done with making music in the past, was very collective. Due to the collective nature and being down a person, it definitely felt different. The actual process felt more similar than different, and I think that kinda helped us get the wind under our sails.”

With tracks like Unbreakable, Warzone and Back to Me already exposed to the world, this has given fans a firm idea of what to expect off “Defy”. Aaron then goes on to talk about how the record’s lyrical material correlates with the experiences that he and Of Mice & Men have gone through. He also makes a statement about how change is what has become the main theme of the record, and how the term affects human nature, every day.

“I think our circumstance as a band is not super unique, in regards to the human experience. I think that while it’s unique for our band to look at losing a member of our family and somebody who is very integral to the art that we made, that’s not uncommon in normal life. People are accustomed to loss on a different level and experience it in a different way. Change is the only constant in life. The only thing you can ever count on, is that things will always change. They will change on you when you least expect it, and it will literally flip your life upside down. You can either let change define you, or choose to define yourself through whatever change you’re going through. It’s important to remember that when life is trying to hold you down, you gotta be defiant of that attitude and that mindset. Naming the album “Defy” isn’t necessarily a reflection of the song, but as an overall theme. If everything in life is telling you to quit, it’s time to be defiant!