"We invent, we create, and even though we do all of these awful things, we also do all of these incredible things."
Bring Me The Horizon have shared their brand new single ‘Ludens’, taken from the soundtrack Timefall for the new game Death Stranding. Check it out below along with our exclusive interview with frontman Oli Sykes.
Their first new material since the band’s acclaimed 2019 Number One album ‘amo‘, the track was written to accompany the new Hideo Kojima video game for the PS4. The soundtrack also features offerings from Major Lazer x Khalid, Au/Ra x Alan Walker, The Neighbourhood, Flora Cash, MISSIO and The S.L.P., as well as Chvrches’ track ‘Death Stranding‘ which was shared last month.
A signpost for the future, ‘Ludens’ is yet another bold departure for Bring Me The Horizon.
“It doesn’t sound like anything off ‘amo’, but it doesn’t sound like anything off any of our records,” frontman Oli Sykes told NME. “It hits a different tone. We had to write it in five days. We’ve been talking about this with Sony and Kojima for quite a while. I was really excited because I loved Metal Gear Solid and Kojima is just my favourite developer, he’s a legend. All of the legal shit was going on to the point where we like, ‘This isn’t going to happen’.
“Then we got a call from the manager and he was like, ‘Yeah, it’s happening, but we need it within a week’. We were like, ‘We haven’t written anything yet! Can we have an extension or send them a demo as a placeholder’, and they were like, ‘If you don’t deliver the song on Saturday at 1pm then it won’t get used’.”
Sykes continued: “We were on tour around Eastern Europe at the time, Lee wasn’t there because he’d just had a kid, so it was just me, Jordan and his laptop. I was like, ‘We either try and fail or we just leave it’, because I really wanted to do it. We were like, ‘Oh fuck it, let’s have a go’. We set up a studio in hotel rooms every day and churned this song out. It was fucking mental, to be honest. I didn’t even know where to start. I was like, ‘What the fuck am I going to sing about?’
“I wanted it to be connected to the video game, but I didn’t want to sing directly about that. I looked at Kojima’s whole ethos, went on his website, and as it was loading it came up with this thing that said, ‘We’re not homosapiens, we’re homoludens’. It’s Latin for ‘player’ and it’s all about how he believes that our creativity is our greatest asset and the biggest hope for mankind. It said something along the lines that even if all the flowers die and the world is at an endpoint, there would still be hope if there were humans on the planet because we find ways to adapt.
“We invent, we create, and even though we do all of these awful things, we also do all of these incredible things.”
So what kind of wormhole did you head down once you were inspired by the game?
“I found myself reading about this 16-year-old kid inventing a micro-organism to save the ocean. It made me realise that we can do anything if we put our minds to it. Even with all the damage and destruction, things can heal if we let them.”
Would you call it a political track?
“I don’t want to come across as a hypocrite. Our music has always been about human emotions and the human condition. I’ve never tried to talk about how the world is. I’ve just been thinking about how I can start talking about it. I’m not a politically-charged person. I don’t want to be. I don’t want to talk about politics and I don’t want to sing about politics, but if you’re talking about environmental issues then you can’t talk about one without the other. It just felt like a great way to start talking about that.”
“We need to be our own heroes. We need a new way of looking at things. Greta Thunberg has shown us that.”
So the lyrics are very much dealing with what’s going on right now?
“It uses quotes from the game and stuff, but I’m talking about the bigger picture. We need to be our own heroes. We need a new way of looking at things. Greta Thunberg has shown us that – it’s crazy, but this kid has proven that we can be our own leaders. We don’t need to wait for these other people. It goes through the motions of what’s wrong with the world and what we can do to fix it.”
Sonically, where you say ‘Ludens’ goes after ‘amo’?
“I don’t know. It’s a bit bonkers, still. It’s got a video game feel to it. It made me think of The Matrix, because The Matrix soundtrack was the ultimate soundtrack of my youth. I liked the novelty of making a song for a video game blockbuster. I wanted to ham it up in that respect. It’s got that cyberpunk, post-nu-metal vibe to it. It’s definitely got some stuff that we wouldn’t have done for a regular song. It’s very cinematic.”
Have you guys had any thoughts about your next album?
“We’ve got plans, definitely. ‘Ludens’ will be the first song you hear from the new record. We’re not going to do an album again, maybe ever. We’re thinking about doing shorter records. I don’t want to say we’re going to do something and not live up to it, but the plan is to release multiple records next year.”
“We’re not going to do an album again, maybe ever.”
Are you bored with the album format?
“I’m really proud of ‘amo’, but it was such a fucking ballache to make. We spent a whole fucking year of our lives making that record. Part of me was like, ‘For what? We’re never going to get to play all of those songs’. You have to ration your creativity over all your songs. You write a really cool pop song then you have to write a heavy song to balance out, then you need to think about singles.”
So we’ll see a more regular flow of music from Bring Me The Horizon now then?
“There’s all this shit you need to think about and how it’s going to sit on a 15 track album. I don’t want to do that. When we wrote ‘Ludens’, it was crazy but it was fun. We just had to write one song and it just had to serve the video game. We didn’t have to write the biggest song in the world. I just love to sit and go, ‘Let’s just write a song and not worry about how it needs to be’.”
“There’s always a degree of compromise, but I’d love to write songs that are just the most obscure”
Do you think this will allow you to experiment a lot more?
“I like how our records go from super poppy to heavy then electronic, and next I’d like to make a bunch of records where each of them has a distinct vibe to it. It doesn’t have to be an emotional rollercoaster, you can say ‘I’m pissed off so I’ll listen to this one’ or go for something a little more sombre. There’s always a degree of compromise, but I’d love to write songs that are just the most obscure, electro-y.”
So it’s more about pleasing yourself than keeping everyone happy?
“I know our fanbase won’t be too happy if we go all the way, but if we release a short record that’s straight-up Bring Me The Horizon then another that’s electro, no one is going to give a shit because there’s another coming. It’s not the only record of the next three years, it’s just the record of that season.”
Last month saw the band share the video for ‘In The Dark‘ starring Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker. Speaking to NME about how the track had taken on new meaning, Sykes said he was inspired by a younger generation demanding social and environmental change.