Your thirties are possibly the most interesting of ages, marked by things like relief, newfound stability, sobriety, and family. For metal giants Of Mice and Men it was a time of reflection on the impermanence of life.
Their new three-track EP Timeless, out today, ponders those ideas and questions while the band experienced an influx of instability and uncertainty during 2020, as they all continued through their early thirties. The lead single, “Obsolete” says it all in the title.
“I spent a lot of time in my head,” vocalist/bassist Aaron Pauley tells American Songwriter. “That was actually a song I wrote lyrics for back in February or March, so it was before the lockdown and before there was a lot more of that mirrored experience. But I think there’s a kind of a shared experience overall in the idea that- as you get older, you kind of become more aware of things changing the impermanence of things. And there’s a lot of beauty in that, but at the same time there’s kind of this intrinsic sadness too. So there’s this constant fight between seeing the beauty of things and just being an absolute nihilist about everything.”
However, the title track had somewhat of the opposite perspective as Pauley surrounded himself with creative influence from films like Casablanca, which forced him to see passed his own internal dialogue. The lyrics I would paint you a picture of the sky on fire/ but the colors escape my mind, were a direct correlation to the black and white films Pauley was inspired by. The song written from a slanted lover’s perspective also allowed for some lyrical juxtaposition.
“I like balancing elements,” Pauley said about the title track. “I don’t like going too far in one way or another. But when you’re talking about impermanence, especially with regards to life and with regards to beauty in film and celluloid and things like that I think it has more to do with looking at the beauty, instead of just the sadness”.
The lyrics and viewpoint in “Timeless” also relate to the theme in “Obsolete” with Pauley reflecting once again on growing older and his efforts to enjoy each moment as it happens.
“I think it kind of touches more on what we leave behind in terms of memories that we make with people,” Pauley said. “Those sorts of things are timeless in a way. And they’re also really fragile because you know it’s so fleeting. And I think once you get older, at least for me- I’m in my thirties now, you can kind of can look back on your twenties and see the golden days and also recognize that you’re not in them anymore. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but there is a level of sadness to it. It also makes you keenly aware of when things are good to enjoy them.”
Yielding to more positive perspectives, Of Mice and Men have found some enlightenment from the process of making Timeless, beyond its dark and reflective lyrical themes. The EP featured artwork by famed artist Derek Hess and was completely self-produced and recorded, serving as the debut for their new label SharpTone. The band had previously been signed to Rise Records for their past releases, and they were ready for a change as they entered this new era of life and music. SharpTone allowed the band the creative freedom and carte blanche they sought with the EP. There were no talks of postponing the EP or waiting to record in a traditional studio setting. SharpTone was up for any ideas Of Mice and Men had on the table, including releasing the EP as a simple three tracks recorded from Zoom sessions.
“After doing six albums with Rise, who we love and had a great relationship with, we kind of wanted to try something different,” Pauley said. “Like releasing music in shorter formats. I think it’s just more exclusive, so this idea of doing multiple EP’s and kind of releasing music as we create it and just having this very sort of fluid creative outlet was something that SharpTone was really excited about. And they weren’t just allowing us to do something different but actually aiding and facilitating it.”
With new support from SharpTone and the accomplishment of making an EP remotely, Timeless is the model for a potential new normal for Of Mice and Men. With self-producing tactics and shorter, more frequent releases allowed by remote technology the band can connect more frequently with their fans who have remained loyal over the last decade and prevent any lag in conversation that may occur with the increased production time associated with releasing full-length records.
“The future is bright,” Pauley said. “Technology gives people the tools to explore their creativity, just like how we made this EP. It would have been really hard to do this 10 years ago. I mean Billie Eilish won a Grammy for an album she made in her bedroom. And I think just having that sort of outlet is just another thing to keep us sane during this time.”
The Timeless EP is available for order here.