On Broken Wings released their new record "Disintergrator" on 8/19 and we managed to score an interview with guitarist Mike McMillen.
Brian: What do you think of the term “metalcore” to describe your music? Do you consider yourselves a part of the metalcore scene?
Mike: I think we’re metalcore. When we started, that’s just what we called everything. Eighteen Visions, Caliban, Integrity, even Hatebreed. I get that you need to label stuff, but it gets sort of ridiculous. Instead of bands defining themselves it’s almost like they’re defined by all of these obscure sub genres. If you go on Spotify and load up the Deathcore, Djent, and Metalcore playlists, it’s all the same bands. I think metalcore used to mean that the music was metal, but the attitude was more punk rock, from the hardcore scene. Everything just seems like metal to me, but I guess we’re metalcore cause we’re definitely not like oldschool metal dudes or anything. None of us have long hair or wear jean jackets, ha.
Brian: What sorts of music or bands do you guys listen to?
Mike: I listen to all sorts of stuff. For heavy stuff, I’m super into this band Jagged Visions right now. I like Body Bag, and Gator King. On the other end, there’s this band The Birthday Massacre from Canada that is like this 80’s goth synth pop kinda thing and they’re one of my favorite bands I’ve heard in the past several years. I love 80’s synth stuff. All those old John Carpenter soundtracks are my jam. There’s this dude, Gost, who does a really aggressive, heavy, dancy version of that kind of stuff. He’s awesome.
Brian: A similar question, although you may agree it’s not quite the same: what sorts of bands have inspired you guys over the years? Any newer bands that have caught your attention? Any bands you’d like to tour alongside at some point?
Mike: When we started, I think we were looking at a lot of the bands on Trustkill and Ferret. I loved Poison The Well. I still think Eighteen Visions is one of the best bands I’ve ever heard. Curl Up And Die, Daughters, Martyr AD - they were all influences. I already mentioned being into Body Bag, Jagged Visions, and Gator King. I’d play with anyone.
Brian: Overall, what impact do you think you've had on metal and hardcore at large? How have you seen the metalcore/hardcore/post-hardcore/whatever-core scene change over the years? How do you think it’s stayed the same?
Mike: Oh man, I don’t know. It’s tough to say how we influenced other bands. A Day To Remember said in an interview once that we influenced them, and I can kind of hear some of it in their heavier stuff. I think if you compare Code Orange up to our first album there are some similarities in places too. I think it’s awesome. We were never that huge, so I think it’s really cool to see all these bands playing stuff that sounds like what we were doing 13 years ago or saying straight up that we influenced them. What do I think is different? I think bands are smarter about the business side of things now. You almost have to be, since records don’t sell like they used to. You have to be smart about social media and how your band is represented as a brand so that you have staying power. Bands are still working their asses off though, which I don’t think will ever change.
Brian: Most fans consider your first full-length, Some of Us May Never See the World, your magnum opus. In hindsight, it was a pioneering album - it’s hard to think of any comparable band at the time that was as focused on churning up the pit as On Broken Wings and who did it half as well. What do you think of that legacy?
Mike: I’m flattered that people view the record in that way. When we first recorded it we were kind of on the fence - it didn’t sound like all the other bands we were trying to hang with. The recording was more raw and parts of it sounded weird to us compared to the other stuff out there. Now we realize that everything we were questioning is what made that record unique. We have Andrew Schneider to thank for that. He produced Some Of Us May Never See The World and was instrumental in getting that sound.
Brian: Looking back, how do you think On Broken Wings has progressed over the years, both as people and as musicians? How have you changed since Some of Us May Never See the World, and how does your music reflect those changes?
Mike: We’ve grown up. We’re not kids anymore. When we started we had no idea what we were doing. I think that partly lead to how we sounded, but we also handled shit like idiots. Not doing music together for so long really gave us a chance to work on our relationships without having to worry about the band, and I think it strengthened us all individually and as a group. We realize what works with us and what doesn’t, so it’s easier to create together now. Musically, we have more stuff going on to compete with and draw influence from.
Brian: Where do you think Disintegrator falls in your discography? In other words: is Disintegrator a one-off or a true comeback album marking the beginning of a new chapter for On Broken Wings?
Mike: It’s a new chapter. We’re already writing new stuff. I can’t say that we’ll be on the road nearly as much as before, but we’re definitely making more music. No more of this 10 years between records shit.
Brian: We noticed a number of interludes dotting the tracklist on Disintegrator - “The Swamp,” “The Garden,” and “The Box” - and a much more menacing tone when compared to your past work, from the album title itself to the bleak cover art. We were wondering if all this might allude to a concept behind Disintegrator. If so, can you tell us a little about it?
Mike: Everything eventually wastes away. Maybe the messaging is more aggressive than before but our albums have always been about life, death, and
the meaningless of it all. It’s All a Long Goodbye? Some of Us May Never See the World? It’s all the same theme. This is the first time the music and album sequence really reflect that though. If you listen to Disintegrator all the way though, there’s this hint of organicness that eventually erodes away. The interludes have a lot more to say than you might think.
Brian: Relatedly, what sort of themes or ideas do you explore on the new album? What songs are you most excited for people to hear?
Mike: Again, the theme is pretty nihilistic. I’m pumped for people to hear it all the way through, without stopping. I think that it’s our most cohesive record yet.
Make sure to pick up "Disintergrator" which just released on Artery Records!