MAKE THEM SUFFER New sound worlds apart

Make Them Suffer know the meaning of hard work. For the past nine years, they have gone from strength to strength – taking their evolving deathcore sound from the sweaty pits of underage shows at YMCA HQ Leederville to the touring circuits of broader national and international stages. But their recently released third full length, Worlds Apart, signals a shift. One that sees this Perth born and bred five piece finally finding their ‘sweet spot’. Make Them Suffer play the Rosemount Hotel on September 24. JESSICA WILLOUGHBY chats with frontman Sean Harmanis, as the band hit their first headline US run-of-dates. 

You guys were all nervous about your first headline tour in the States right?

These things really are a leap of faith; you don’t really know what to expect. And it’s been a confidence booster for us. So far, there’s been a really good vibe at the shows. So many of the people that are coming to these shows are telling us stories about how long they’ve been listening to the band for; it’s pretty humbling to hear about it. Just to see, in a small room that’s packed out with 200, that they’ve all been long-term fans. We’re all stoked.

Worlds Apart is a very balanced release, bridging the divide between experimentation and cohesion. How’d this translate in the writing process?

I’d be lying if I said that line up changes didn’t play a role. Giving Nick (McLernon) more of a torch on the guitar work on the album definitely gave it more flair. It also allowed for the keys and effects and everything on top to carry that through. A lot of time also went into it in the studio. Everyone had a clear idea of what they wanted the album to be and what direction we wanted to take it. From putting out Ether, as the single, and seeing the response for that – it gave us the confidence to tackle this album head on. Ether was an experiment for us and our previous album, Old Souls (2015), was the same. We had four different producers on that album. From that, we determined that Forrester Savell (Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus) – who worked the Old Souls track – did the mix we liked the most. So we carried that onto this new album and used him for the entire process.

What was it about Savell’s approach that helped to flesh out your latest release?

The production almost plays a role as the sixth member; it’s its own thing. It’s so warm, organic and open. Particularly for metal, which is quite infamous for compressing everything and having super clicky drums. The production itself actually helps the album to stand out as something that’s unique.

Lyrically, this full length has a storyline that seems to travel into unreal territory. Does it still reflect your personal experiences, like previous releases?

Every album is still based on my own experiences. But the conceptual part of the storyline is just so far-fetched. It’s a very strange one. People haven’t really worked it out yet and I haven’t really disclosed what it is yet. It’s strange for me because of how authentic and personal a lot of the stuff is to me but, at the same time, how otherworldly some of the lyrics are. You never really know if you’re in this world or another.

On a local note, Perth has been getting smashed by media of late due to dwindling attendance at shows and low ticket sales. With the band’s Australian tour looming later this year, do you feel your hometown is getting a bad rap?

We’re able to pull people to shows in Perth now because of the work we put in when people were young. We’ve had some of these fans for the full nine years; they’ve been with us for a long time. It’s because of that groundwork. There’s only a couple of venues in Perth to play; a lot of them seem to be dying. The venues that used to put on the decent metal shows are struggling – but I also think that’s a funding thing. Alcohol laws also play a part.

The attitudes of people have also changed. You don’t really see many people wanting to go out to shows to support a sense of community or a local scene. They just want to go out with their friends to larger shows. That’s really upsetting to me because, without the local community, how are people supposed to grow? People seem to be only visually stimulated. As a local band these days, you have to put out a music video within the first six months of your career. To me, that’s so far-fetched. The standard is set too high, but that’s also the direction that social media is heading. Which only further emphasises that music is becoming less-and-less a platform for guitars and drums, and more a platform for DJs and electronic music. That’s saddening, but I’m not trying to badmouth that genre. That, to me, is the death of authenticity in music. It would be really sad to see the death of the electric guitar.

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