Shawn O’Brien – Vocals
Thomas Buser – Lead Guitar
Wes Jenkins – Rhythm Guitar
Brandon Lawrance – Bass/Synth
Johnny Bay – Drums/Machine
Having released a sneaky peek of their upcoming album with new track ‘One Up’, vocalist Shawn O’Brien talks about how far bass-maestros Above This have come since debut ‘7L7’…
From what I’ve read about the band, Above This stands for pretty much rising above all the crap life can throw at you – is this sentiment at the heart of the band?
Shawn O’Brien – Above This is of no doubt “a simple band name” it’s short catchy, and easy to understand. You pretty much already have the basics of what we stand for, about standing above tough times in life. But another thing that we try to make our fans understand is that being “Above This” doesn’t just mean saying that whenever something happens you will have the “strength” to pull through… Because let’s be honest a lot of stuff can happen in one’s life that can change your direction completely. So when we say ABOVE THIS, we mean that you have to be mentally strong and physically strong. And always to remember that tomorrow is a new day, and a year from now you will be nowhere where you are right now.
Lyrically therefore I assume you don’t struggle too much for material given the current state of most things…?
Shawn – The lyrics written for Above This are what you can call somewhat “over exaggerated”. Yes, a lot of the words and stories come from my personal experiences, but I tweak them up to make them sound more interesting and fun for the audience to be able to sing along to and keep a positive attitude. My life is great, I love life! But I can write some pretty harsh lyrics for the better of my music and still maintain my personal normal life. I think of it as “going into my own world”.
Was writing your upcoming album (for which I haven’t heard a title yet) quite a different experience to your debut?
Shawn – Yes, heaviness wise the albums will have some similarities, but that is of course “our style”. Expect a lot more technical electro gut busting drops and plenty of memorable punch lines.
I believe the album is expected to be released in the summer – but what can you tell me about it in advance of that?
Shawn – The album is supposed to release early summer. But until then we will be releasing a couple of new songs that you will see on the new album.
Certainly the Youtube video for ‘One Up’, the first song from the album, is pretty epic – is the rest of the album following suit? I assume it’s safe to say you won’t be mellowing too much!
Shawn – All I can say is that after 7L7, you can only go harder and heavier.
One of the main things that people seem to focus on in your music is the bass – does that get frustrating? What are your motivations behind the ‘bring back the bass’ campaign?
Shawn – Mainly with our bass drops we like to make them different and fit perfectly with the music. People tell us that we have created our own genre that they like to call “bassdropcore”. The bass will always be brought by us, and I think that it will be a way for people to identify us from other bands.
As someone based in Norfolk in the UK I couldn’t help but notice this is listed as one of your hometowns on Facebook – is this in the UK or US?
Shawn – Norfolk is located in Virginia, US. I myself live there, and my music partner Thomas lives in Germany.
It also says that Above This are a band representing ‘two countries’ – can you elaborate? How does this impact upon the bands working?
Shawn – It’s a tricky and different process that the scene has definitely not seen yet, but we hope to make our music bigger and introduce the scene to a futuristic band that started from one single guy.
Is there an advantage to not always being in each other’s pockets as such during the writing process?
Shawn – We don’t spend a single penny on our recordings. We work with the equipment we have, and until we get noticed and bigger, progress will come.
You appear to have an interesting array of influences listed so in order to separate fact from fiction who or what is inspiring you?
Shawn – My imagination is the only inspiration that motivates me today. Back in the day I used to look up to other vocalist and guy’s who screamed better than me. But now, I am my own image, and making my fans happy with MY music is all I care about. Other artist’s I do support, but I do not idolize them in anyway, I am my own person.
Whilst I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions as such, is there anything that you particularly want to achieve in the months ahead?
Shawn – Basically we just want to give the fans a fair idea of what the album is going to be like, they know we are coming back heavier and all. But we also want to show them that “heavy” is not the only thing we have going for us.
Or on the flip side are there any habits that you’d like to break?
Shawn – Rushing a song into recording it and finalizing it into two days has always been a habit for us. Mainly because it is fairly easy for us to record our songs. And we feel that we can do so much better if we just took our time and expanded our recording times.
Finally, given the brutal rage that has been come associated with the band, is there anything about yourselves that people may find particularly surprising? Any unconfessed knitting habits or love of daytime soaps?
Shawn – One thing, when you take a look at our members. You will see flat our normal guys that you would NEVER expect to be in a band like this. We hope to prove to people that you don’t have to have long hair and tattoos and tight clothes to be in a band. Anybody can step up to the plate, because those who look “ordinary” are the ones you have to look out for because they are the ones that will sneak up on you in the end.