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INTERVIEW – Valentino Artuega, Of Mice & Men, July 2013

| 12 August 2013 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

Story first published in X-press Magazine’s 24 July 2013 issue – Read it HERE

Full interview:

100% ROCK MAG: Hey Valentino, thanks for your time today – it’s much appreciated.

Tino Artuega: Yeah, no worries man.

100% ROCK MAG: So first of all – where are you calling from today?

Tino Artuega: I am here in sunny Southern California at Huntington Beach – that’s home for us, the Orange County area.

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100% ROCK MAG: You gotta love that then!

Tino Artuega: Oh yeah definitely. We love it.

100% ROCK MAG: Let’s talk about the Aussie tour you have coming up, you’re heading Down Under with Bring Me The Horizon and Crossfaith. Did you meet them on the Soundwave Festival tour earlier this year, or did you know them previously to that?

Tino Artuega: No, we toured together with [BMTH] back in 2009 – that was our first year on the Vans Warped tour – then we saw them again at Soundwave Festival. This will be our first time directly on tour with them, we’re definitely excited [because] we’ve been fans of that band for a really long time and they’ve always been nothing but awesome dudes to us so we’re definitely stoked to be able to hit some venues. It’s a small bill – just them, us and Crossfaith, and wow man, I don’t think Australia’s ready for that tour!!

100% ROCK MAG: [laughs] BMTH of course are from England, and Crossfaith are from Japan, are there cultural hurdles when you tour with foreign acts?

Tino Artuega: Honestly, we took Crossfaith out on our headline tour in the UK last year. We had heard about this band, and we got their album, and we were like, for sure man, these guys have got to be on the tour. And once we saw them, none of them actually speak English too well, so that was definitely interesting – that was the first band we had ever been on tour with that there was somewhat of a language barrier but music and positive vibes definitely broke that barrier. Even if we couldn’t speak Japanese to talk to them – I mean, most of the dudes are able to speak enough English to understand the basics, but it was definitely the first time that we had been on tour with a band that English wasn’t their first language. But there was nothing we had problems with. They’re amazing dudes, and they’re an amazing live band – they’re just the most awesome, awesome dudes and we’re definitely excited to have them on the tour. And we have some touring experience with them so they’re our Japanese homies for sure – we got to get pretty close to them on our tour, we took them under our wing and showed them how to do things [laughs]

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100% ROCK MAG: Like big brothers, huh?

Tino Artuega: Of course!

100% ROCK MAG: Going back to Soundwave earlier this year – touring around the country with Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Garbage, Cypress Hill and all these amazing bands, how was —

Tino Artuega: Oh man, I wish I could go back!

100% ROCK MAG: — Yeah I bet. How was the experience for you?

Tino Artuega: Oh man, it was definitely the best tour that we have ever been a part of. It was the best experience ever, even from the first night before the festival even started – we all got to meet Metallica at their barbecue, that they invited all the bands to! You know, ‘cos nobody is a rock star – we’re all out there ‘cos of the fans, we’re all out there ‘cos we love music, because playing music brought us all together. And it was such an amazing tour to be a part of – to be able to share flights with people like that that you wouldn’t expect to be friends with, and to befriend people that you wouldn’t expect to even meet in your whole life. It was definitely an awesome opportunity and the fact that in the summertime it’s such a beautiful country. I mean, all those flights were awesome and being able to see the country – I mean, we’d love to explore it more, obviously not [only] from the air! So hopefully we’ll be going over there more and seeing more of what the country has to offer ‘cos every time we go it’s just a better experience than the last, so we’re definitely excited.

100% ROCK MAG: With a big festival like Soundwave, when there’s seventy bands travelling around together, and the amazing diversity of styles, is that an opportunity to catch a few bands playing who you hadn’t heard of before and suss out what’s happening around the world musically?

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Tino Artuega: Definitely – we all like to check out new acts and bands that we’ve never heard of, and we all listen to different kinds of music, so big festivals like that are a good way to find new music that you love. We went in particular to see this band Ghost, we had been hearing about them a lot, and we were like, yeah we will definitely have to check them out, and at Soundwave we finally got the chance to catch their set when we weren’t busy being bussed around from press to signings to our set, to the hotel, to the planes, y’know, we finally got a breather after a few days to just enjoy the festival – well, not that we weren’t before, but just to take some time and go grab some tour shirts and go watch some bands. And we checked this band Ghost out and we were like, ‘Man, this is so awesome!’

100% ROCK MAG: Yeah they were excellent!

Tino Artuega: Yeah. It’s great to have the opportunity to experience new music, ‘cos new music is coming out all the time. Festivals are great experiences.

100% ROCK MAG: I did read one interview with you, I think it was in The AU Review last year, and you said you were going to try and “kick it with Lars Ulrich”, so it sounds like you got to do that, which is awesome…

Tino Artuega: [Laughs] Yeah – at the barbecue, that was funny!

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100% ROCK MAG: Is it really helpful as a musician, to hang out with other musicians and swap road stories, and techniques and whatever?

Tino Artuega: Oh, I think so, for sure. Every person you meet on tour has a story that you may not have heard before, and whether… it can be about anything – it doesn’t necessarily have to be about touring, you know, it could be about some life troubles, or anything. It’s definitely nice to be able to – you know, a lot of times when you’re at home, hanging with your friends that don’t tour, you’re like ‘Oh man, I’m just so tired of touring’, y’know, and they’re ‘What are you talking about? You just get on stage and have people scream at you the whole time, You’re living the dream, man, how is that hard?’ So sometimes it takes talking to another musician who is in a similar situation like that, to really understand those kind of things. So when we meet another musician, a lot of the time just befriending them and hearing each other’s stories about anything, or trading licks, it’s just musicians being together, I think musicians really understand that and on the Soundwave tour I know for sure that it was cool being able to meet other musicians that we would never think to be in contact with and just to hang out with them. Y’know – it’s cool.

100% ROCK MAG: Excellent. So you’ve got your third album pretty much ready to come out – is that likely to be released by the end of the year?

Tino Artuega: Um, I’m not sure yet – we don’t have a definitive release date, but as of right now we’re in the studio and working on the album before it shapes into the album – getting all of our ideas together, trimming the fat so to say. There’s a ton of material that’s been written over the past year or so, and we’re trying to find the songs that we feel that really showcase our strengths and give the message that we really want to give. So once all that gets focussed in this process, then we go in and record all that, and that process should take us up until the time when we have to go to Australia. But we don’t have any set deadlines or anything like that, because in the past that’s always been what we’ve had – ‘you guys go into the studio and this is the time you’ve got to do it, then the record’s gonna come out and you’re gonna be on the road, and go, go, go, go, go!! So it’s nice that this time around we have a bit more control over it and we have the time to focus.

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100% ROCK MAG: Your singer Austin has gone on record to say that the new record is likely to be “more rock, or I guess a nu-metal sound”. Can you elaborate a little on that for us?

Tino Artuega: [Laughs] I think the name “nu-metal” changes with every generation, and I feel like the music that Of Mice And Men have put out before is going to be refined and all the things that our fans have loved about us in the past, all that is going to continue, and be showcased on this record, but we can’t put out the same album again: No musician should do that, and I don’t think any musician CAN do that. So there’s always going to be some newer NEW metal influences to it, but it’s gonna stay true to Of Mice And Men – our fans pretty much know what to expect from us so we’re definitely not gonna throw any crazy curve balls! But we’re really working on this album ‘cos we really want to be able to transcend and get to a wider audience, and challenge ourselves to be able to mature as songwriters and musicians and stuff like that. So it’s definitely an exciting time, and by Austin saying “more rock n’ roll and nu-metal”, yeah there’s gonna be rock n’ roll influences – we’re a pretty freakin’ rock n’ roll band, – anybody who’s seen us on stage knows that there’s everything rock n’ roll about our concerts! We’re embodying a lot in this new record and we really can’t wait to show everybody what we’ve been working on.

100% ROCK MAG: The band was named after the John Steinbeck novel Of Mice & Men. Obviously one of the major themes of the book is the inevitability of failure of plans, the disappointment inherent in the American Dream, and so forth. Is that still the attitude of the band or, having got a bit of success now, are you feeling a bit more positive?

Tino Artuega: If you look at the history of Of Mice & Men, getting to this point today has been filled with adversity, and filled with problems that needed to be overcome. That’s something that’s gonna continue – life is full of curve balls. A lot of the time with Of Mice & Men… the quote is “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry”, and these adversities aren’t just to the band itself, it’s to each one of us in the band. There’s been personal hurdles for each one of us to get over, since the time that the band has happened, and no matter how much “success” by whoever’s definition, there might be, we’re doing what we love to do and more people are catching on to that and I feel that – we ALL feel – that it’s because we’re honest. To answer your question, being at the point where the band is now, there are definitely things we have to overcome in order to achieve our dreams, and as we achieve one goal, a new beast emerges, a new thing to tackle, so it always has to do with growing – nothing with meaning comes easy.

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100% ROCK MAG: And sometimes those little speed humps in the road kinda set you off on a path which ends up being just as good if not better than the plans you originally had…

Tino Artuega: Definitely! I mean, we definitely didn’t expect to take our band this far but we definitely wanted it to. We hoped that this many people would care about the music that we write and the message we’re trying to deliver. And now that it’s working and we noticed that we’re doing something right, and something that we’ve always done as individuals and now together as a band, y’know – making music and putting that music out, is definitely awesome.

100% ROCK MAG: How stable is the line-up nowadays? You’ve had people come and go – Austin for one left the band and rejoined… do you consider this to be the “classic” line-up of Of Mice & Men?

Tino Artuega: The line-up now is the strongest line-up that we’ve ever had. It’s the most dedicated, the most passionate. Everybody is building off of each other with this – we’re all really excited to be doing this, we all share the common passion for our goals, everything. The group is finally focussed, and it’s taken some time… and unfortunately it’s kind’ve been in the spotlight, so to say, as far as the internet is concerned and some publications, but all that has brought us to where we are today, which we couldn’t have ever dreamed to be in this position! But the fact that we are here, we definitely want to take advantage of it and work harder than ever!

100% ROCK MAG: They’re giving us the wind-up, so one very quick question for you – if you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording of any album throughout history, which would you choose?

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Tino Artuega: Oh man… I would definitely say – the first one that comes to mind is The Refused. Back when that album, The Shape Of Punk To Come, was released, they were miles – YEARS, ahead of everyone. You pop that CD in now and it sounds just like a recording that was done currently, in 2013, and that was done in the 90’s. So it’s pretty awesome – that is definitely a record that I would like to see how it was made, what went into it. Because creating a record that can still hold up to music that’s being done today, in a genre similar to what’s happening now, that didn’t exist back then – y’know, there wasn’t [anything like that being made then]. That record didn’t have the effect that it did years down the line. Yeah, I’d love the chance to have been a part of that!

100% ROCK MAG: Thanks for your time, I’d better let you go – enjoy the rest of your day off and enjoy the sunshine you lucky bastard!

Tino Artuega: [laughs] Yeah I sure will!


Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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