Interview by Jordan M. ; photo by Pascal Robitaille
Bring Me The Horizon are currently playing massive UK festivals but I managed to catch up with Jona about the concept behind their video for Blessed With A Curse, and his thoughts on Asking Alexandria.
State your name and position in the band.
My name is Jona Weinhofen and I’m lead and rhythm guitarist in BMTH. I am also the resident Australian.
Your video, “Blessed With A Curse” came out a couple months ago. What’s the concept behind it? Why did you decide not to play your instruments in the video?
The concept was thought up by the director of the video, Sindre Moen. Too be honest, we’re still not totally sure what the storyline of the video is but he explained that he wanted it to appear quite abstract and when he described the effects and imagery he wanted to use it sounded to us like it was going to turn out really cool…and it did! Almost every video BMTH has filmed has had some sort of performance base to it and we decided to avoid that on Blessed With a Curse. The song itself has a different vibe to a lot of our other material. It’s less of a ball crushing live song like others, and more of an ambient, epic experience. We felt that scenes of us performing the song wouldn’t translate as well into the video, and we were also pressed for time and performance video takes a long time to capture the right shots.
If you had a chance to shoot a music video without any limits, what kind of video would you make and for what song?
I dont really know what we’d go for! Obviously something stunningly visual with epic qualities but also a flavour of simplicity to it. One video which comes to my mind is Woodkid’s video for the song ‘Iron’. Both the video and song are incredible and so sonically astounding however they’re both so elegantly simple. I think we’d use a limitless video for our song ‘Crucify Me’.
Was there a difference in the writing process since Curtis left the band?
This is difficult for me to answer as I was the member who replaced Curtis and therefore do not know much about the process within the band prior to my joining. From what I’ve been told by the other members, I had more input musically and when it came to structuring and forming the songs. We also left our homes to live in a Manor in Scotland for 2 months. We decided that seclusion would help us focus on the writing process and it did really help. I believe this is something the band had never tried before and it worked so well I’m sure we will try it again in future for our next album.
What song changed the most during the recording process of “There Is A Hell…”?
Crucify Me definitely had the most obvious evolution. When we left the studio in Sweden, the vocals were half finished and a lot of the atmospheric elements just weren’t there. Oli completed the vocals whilst we were in LA for the Vans Warped Tour and then emailed the song to our friend Sonny Moore (aka Skrillex). when we got it back a few weeks later Sonny had cut up the choir part and pitch shifted parts, added programming and also done some vocals of his own and it sounded insane! Then, our friend Lights contributed the female vocals on the outro of the song and it became much more than we ever could have anticipated!
What were some of your music influences and how involved in music were you growing up?
I’ve been a fan of just about every genre of music growing up and I think that is what really helped us to find our sound on this record. When I was very young, I liked a lot of music which my parents played such as INXS and Dire Straits. when I was an early teenager i was really into Hardcore Techno and trance as well as dance remixes of classical music. From there, I moved onto a lot of grunge and nu metal and the band which bridged that gap perfectly for me between metal and electronic genres was the prodigy. Then I discovered hardcore music and its passion and ethics and also enjoyed the sounds of a lot of Swedish metal which was incorporating a lot more melody and also electronics into its music. I first began learning the guitar from age 12 however, at age 14, I changed schools and stopped taking lessons. I have been self taught since that apart from a few lessons back in 2004.
What has been your favorite nation to tour in?
I still prefer to tour Australia. touring and playing music has been the catalyst which allowed me to see a lot of my own country. I don’t think I would have ever had the money or motivation to travel around and see Australia or the rest of the world for that matter had it not been for touring with my bands. I know so much of the country like the back of my hand now that i can navigate almost any city here to an extent. I have also made a lot of great friends and know I have a bed or a couch to sleep on almost anywhere in the world.
Do you prefer to play huge festivals, or the smaller, more intimate venues?
I enjoy the vibe of both sorts of shows. Festivals are more of a challenge, you’re trying to win over a lot of new fans who are there to see other bands and you hope that they will come to see what your band sounds like or performs like. Intimate venues are just awesome. There’s nothing like playing a sold out headline show when you know the entire crowd is there for you and there are fans climbing up on stage and stage diving and singing along so loudly that it almost overpowers your own sound.
Any memorable tour experiences?
Hearing 5000 people chanting our name and singing our lyrics louder than the PA at our headline show at London’s Brixton Academy was mind blowing. We have achieved so much through touring and playing our music that it’s things like that we remember.
Most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you.
I’ve been on stage naked more times than I could count on both hands so it is very difficult to embarrass me. When you tour with a band they become like your family. You’re so close to each other that theres almost nothing you haven’t shared. I’ve seen and heard all of my band mates fight, fart, having sex etc. I guess one of the worst and sort of embarrassing moments was when I had to poo into a bag on the bus while it was driving and I accidentally spilled some out of the bag when I was going to dispose of it. I had to clean it all up and it was horrible. Luckily, it was late at night and there wasn’t really anyone around to witness it. I still told the story the next day!
You had two guest spots on “There Is A Hell…”, Lights on “Crucify Me” and on “The Fox and The Wolf”, Josh Scogin of The Chariot did vocals. How did this come about?
We actually had a few other guests as well. Josh Franceschi of You Me At Six sang clean vocals on “Fuck”, Sonny Moore/Skrillex sang on Visions and did some programming on Crucify Me and KC Blitz did a lot of our midi programming and electronics. We wanted to include some guests to bring out different elements in our music and we decided to use friends who’s talents tied in with the particular vibe we were going for with each song.
What are your most anticipated albums for 2011?
The Prodigy are meant to be releasing a new album soon. also i’m a huge fan of In Flames, especially their most recent album and they’re due to release a new one in June this year just in time for the summer festivals. we’re playing some of them together with In Flames so I’m eager to hear the new album both on disc and live!
Asking Alexandria are originally from the UK. They decided to come over to the USA to start the band, and then work backwards and eventually tour back home in the UK. How do you feel about that? Should bands be starting in their home countries to build a buzz or do you think it was a smart move for the band?
To be honest, I admire what they’ve done. Moving to another country difficult in itself, I know for a fact, I’ve done it twice! The USA might be the ‘land of opportunity’ and it certainly has a lot to offer bands and musicians such as a huge potential fan base and many industry contacts based there however it is also the most difficult scene to ‘crack’. Because the population is so vast there, you have a lot more competition. I started out in Australia where the population is smaller and so while there are less people, there are less bands to compete with and if you’re good enough, it becomes easier to be noticed.