After getting in touch with frontman and bassist Aaron Pauley about Of Mice & Men’s upcoming tour for the Download Festival and getting some insight on the band’s next full-length record “Defy”, we contacted drummer and co-founder Tino Arteaga, and got a good update on what’s going on for Of Mice & Men. At this current moment, going on their European tour with Five Finger Death Punch and In Flames has been going on as a good lead-up to their visit Australia.

“It’s been going amazing” he says. “To be able to play in front of so many metal-heads every night is really, really awesome. The In Flames and Five Finger Death Punch guys have been nothing but genuinely awesome to us. It’s just a really sick tour for us to be a part of, and we feel honoured to be out here, too. We’ve been playing a lot of new music and it’s been going really well with the audiences, and it’s just been a really good vibe, overall.”

As full-time musicians, Of Mice & Men have always been taking their thing seriously, one gig after the next. With the Download Festival creeping up slowly, and being given the privilege to tour with some of metal and rock’s biggest names has been making them feel as though the best of themselves needs to be displayed every time they rock up onstage.

“We don’t take it lightly. We’re always pumped, and they like and get what we’re doing. So, they trust us when they put us in front of their fans, and we’re thankful for that every night. That’s why we’re always bringing 110%, 150% and 200% to earn our stay and be a main act like KoRn, Five Finger Death Punch and In Flames. It’s really cool to see bands that have been around for so long and learning from them and be around them every day.”

At the same time, while the capacity of an Of Mice & Men show always changes, to see the fans going on a bender in the pit or even in their seats helps keep the spirit of the band alive and well. Not only that, Tino believes that the essence of the show is driven solely by the energy of those that attend an Of Mice & Men show.

“Every audience and every venue kinda adds to a different feeling in a lot of ways. It’s really cool to see 20,000 people in an arena, packed out. We played in Italy the other night, and we had about 6,000 in the crowd. I don’t think it matters if there’s 1,000, or 10,000 in the room. Everyone that’s there is excited for the music and they’re there to kinda escape in this awesome environment where they can be themselves.”

Considering that they were given the opportunity to perform on the main stage of Download, Of Mice & Men are just as blown away as we are about the fact that Download has made its way to Australia, with the festival inviting them to take it on again, down under.

“It’s very surreal, and it was a huge moment for us to take the main stage at Download. It’s something you never think you would say. It almost doesn’t feel real. I had so many friends and family back home tuning into the stream, because it was a really big deal and a huge event. I think it’s so cool that it’s coming to Australia. Australia has always had such an amazing audience every time we’ve come in the past. They absolutely deserve to have some of the best bands in rock and metal come and rock out. For us, to play our very first Download on the main stage, and to come to Australia for Download, it feels like we’ve really done something right. We’re just really excited to be involved with such an iconic festival.”

Looking back on the old Soundwave Festival, which the band were invited to, regularly, Tino knows there was a massive difference when it came to setting up and arriving for the festival. But, at the same time, he finds the whole experience just as exhilarating as the usual American/European tour cycle.

“Usually, we take a tour bus, but out there, there’s a lot of flying from here and there. It’s definitely different, but it’s really cool, at the same time. It is a lot of work and traveling, and a lot of people think it’s all fun and games, and it’s a big holiday. But, there’s a lot of work and traveling and draining tasks for us. It’s really cool for us to get to experience something like that, and we know that our audience and the people that come to these shows make it feel worth it for us.”

While getting Aaron’s thoughts on his new role as Of Mice & Men’s full-time vocalist after Austin Carlile due to his struggle with Marfans Syndrome, Tino, as one of the longtime running members of the band, has felt that the position that Aaron has stepped into the shoes of the frontman has seemed to have worked out well in the eyes of the rest of the band.

“It’s absolutely, the strongest unit for us. For him to step into that role, that’s always been the story for Of Mice & Men. For us, we’ve always been faced with challenges and Aaron really rose to the occasion to offer his vocal abilities to kinda round out our sound. After having worked with other musicians in the band over the time, this is the most excited we’re at, right now. All because, we’ve been able to create some really awesome music. We’re sounding really well with our audience, and in terms of the rhythm section, him and I are more locked in than ever. It’s just really cool to see how we step onto that stage and our little band has somehow been able to do something so amazing, like going on tour with Five Finger Death Punch and to hear the voice that comes out of him and feel all the music that we’re able to deliver is so awesome.”

With the band’s forthcoming full-length “Defy” getting closer to its release date, Tino feels like this is the best form of Of Mice & Men. This is due to them putting themselves in the shoes of being fans of the band, in order to help create the music they feel is them in their element. At the same time, he never knows what’s going to be a hit with the audience that get the chance to hear an Of Mice & Men album. As long as at least one of the songs is speaking to those listening in to the record, that’s basically, what makes it feel so worth it to the band.

“Much like every Of Mice & Men album, we never know what songs are gonna connect. I think a lot of our fans and audience really digest the music. And these songs are about the things that happened to us, and the things that we feel. The audience knows that what we’re saying is coming from the heart and if that can help somebody with something that they’re going through, and that’s really important. It’s a very empowering record. We set out to defy any limitations and to challenge ourselves to really put forth what really is important to Of Mice & Men, and what is exciting us in the music. Songs like Forever YDG’n talks about all the albums and it has a reference to every album and that detractor in your life, and it’s getting through that. Another song that’s really sick is On the Inside. I reckon people are gonna flip out when they hear that breakdown. There’s so many cool music that we were able to use to create with this album. We took a look at the band, our fans and everything and said “We need to be the best Of Mice & Men we can be” and who better to do that than the members of the band? It’s important for us to make sure that we, first and foremost, are fans of the music. That’s kinda how it’s always been, where we feel like the fans of the band. If we’re excited, and we feel like the fans and say that this is some really good shit and we’re honest about that, it really makes sense with the audience, too. Much like every other song on our records, there’s something for everybody, and I think it’s important to make music that can affect people in a positive way through self-reflection.”

Pre-order “Defy” now via iTunes!