Britain’s fastest-rising heavy rockers Bring Me The Horizon are about to embark on a nine-date UK tour in support of fifth album ‘That’s The Spirit’, where they’ll play to 30,000 fans, trucking about 75,000 kilos of equipment with their 38 crew. NME spent 24 hours in their company, witnessing their vegan catering, crying fans and enormous ‘entertainment cage’.
Frontman Oli Sykes (far right) steps off the band’s giant tour bus outside Vienna’s 3,000 capacity Gasometer venue, closely followed by (left to right) drummer Matt Nicholls, guitarist Lee Malia, bassist Matt 'Vegan' Kean and keyboardist Jordan Fish.
“Working out is one vice we all share,” says Oli, gesturing to the tubs of protein supplement lying around. Normally at this time the band are being put through their paces by personal trainer Tom, but today there’s no workout – the band have just broken their weights.
Lunch is a healthy one; the band request avocados, fruit and vegan meat everywhere they go. Oli, Jordan and Matt follow a vegan diet, but Jordan insists, “We’re not crusaders.” The BMTH rider also used to include “a local porno mag” – these days, that kind of flesh is off the menu too. Jordan seems miffed. “Maybe our manager took it off because he decided it was time to grow up.”
With the soundcheck over, the band head into Vienna for a meet-and-greet at Rattlesnake. The 300-strong queue is largely made up of old-school BMTH fans – tattoos, piercings, dyed hair – but given the poppier sound of new album ‘That’s The Spirit’, the band’s demographic is widening. “Once, you could spot a BMTH fan a mile off,” says Oli. “Now it’s anyone’s guess.”
As the signing gets emotional, the band receive a box of homemade vegan cupcakes. “Can I hug all of you?” one girl asks, waving away tears. “It’s quite typical to hear we saved people’s lives,” Oli says.
Back at the venue, the band’s crew haul their ‘entertainment cage’ – a huge plasma TV, PlayStation and sound system that folds out of a flight case – into the backstage area. The band gather around to play Worms, intended as a more sedate alternative to FIFA. “We had to stop playing that,” says Jordan. “It got a bit too aggressive.”
A final check of the setlist reveals only two songs pre-dating 2013’s ‘Sempiternal’. Are the band renouncing their metalcore past? “There’s people that would like to hear summat off our first album,” Oli admits, “but it’s so far removed from what we do now, it’d just be weird.”
The band emerge from their dressing rooms transformed. Oli’s removed the tattered hoodie he’s had on all day, revealing the curly, jet-black mane beneath. He and Jordan sport sleek vest tops – the rest of the band are in baggy tees.
Showtime. ‘Happy Song’ is an early highlight – its chantable lyrics are splayed across the giant screens.
Old song ‘Chelsea Smile’ prompts Oli to turn ringmaster. “Vienna, we’re gonna have some fun!” he yells. “Sit down. Go on, sit the f**k down!” The crowd obey, before leaping up as one in the ultimate Mexican wave.
Rebel anthem ‘Antivist’ sees Oli orchestrating a room-wide circle pit, roaring “Back the f**k up!” until the central floorspace is entirely exposed. Then at his command, 3,000 people rush to fill the empty space, causing a spinning maelstrom of limbs.
A second encore. Grasping their opportunity, several fans mount the stage to high-five Oli on his left hand, which conveniently bears a ‘HIGH FIVE?’ tattoo. As ‘Drown’ ends, a sea of black confetti immerses the crowd.
“I feel amazing,” says Oli, heading straight for the shower. The rest of the band enthuse about the audience’s handmade signs – ‘Lee Malia is Jesus’ reads one – and the best crowdsurfers they’ve had so far. “We saw one with no legs,” enthuses Jordan. “I don’t know how it was happening but you saw him fly over the top.”
Before they board the bus for an overnight drive to Würzburg, the band discuss their plans for even bigger shows in 2016. Dismissing the idea of returning to Reading & Leeds, Jordan reveals: “We’re hoping to do a big festival that isn’t the kind of thing that we would normally do.” Glastonbury? “We can’t say, obviously,” he smiles.