18 April 2011
When you’re a straight-edge vegan playing guitar in a deathcore band, you’re bound to cop a bit of flack; but sitting beside Jona Weinhofen, things are looking pretty good for the newest member ofBring Me The Horizon.
“We get a lot of shit talk in forums. I’ve had a few people write to me on Twitter,” the 28-year-old South Australian tells me at Shock Records post-Soundwave party. “They say ‘oh your bands shit, you guys look like pussies’. I’m like ‘alright, cool.’”
There Is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret, making its debut at #1 on the ARIA Album Chart, numbers speak louder than words.
“Every day we find out some other cool new piece of news like ‘we’ve hooked this up’ or ‘we’re gonna get this endorsement’ or ‘this person wants to put you on a billboard’. Everything’s going so well for us that it’s like why would we take notice of someone saying we look like shit?” the guitarist lets his laugh break the surface this time.
Since joining the English band in 2009 to replace guitarist Curtis Ward, Weinhofen has brought his raucous live show antics to sold-out BMTH stages around the world. His love for touring was actually one of the deciding factors for the original BMTH members.
“I guess one of the reasons that the old guitarist left was because he wasn’t feeling [the touring life], but that’s where I came in.” Weinhofen was completing his last tour with Bleeding Through when the opportunity arose after an online chat with frontman Oli Sykes.
“He popped up online and we started chatting, I just told him that I’d just quit Bleeding Through and he said ‘that’s weird you should say that 'cause we just kicked Curtis out of our band.’”
If it weren’t for the decision to take on the boy from Oz, the latest opus may not have been so genre crossing. Weinhofen’s 14 years of guitar experience teamed with his production skills in programming certainly coloured their habitual sound of deathcore with progressive digital manipulations, string sections and gospel trebles. Although the record is a far cry from their earlier work, Weinhofen says it wasn’t at all purposeful.
“It’s not something that we were setting out to do, we never sat down at the start of the record writing period and thought let’s write an album that blows everyone’s minds and leaves our mark,” he says “We wanted to please ourselves and hope that everyone else liked it…it wasn’t like lets write a #1 album in Australia or anything like that.”
There was a fair bit of bubble bursting after reports revealed the 3,600 album sales the band gained to get to #1 was the lowest in ARIA history; but Weinhofen is unperturbed in his response, “number one is still number one,” he says.
Along with many of the band’s haters, Weinhofen is also unsure as to why they have been so popular; this is perhaps the only piece of common ground he’ll find with them.
“There are so many other bands that are working just as hard and writing just as good music, and touring just as hard, but I don’t think everyone gets that lucky I guess.
“It could even be down to the fact that a lot of people hate the band which makes the people that love us wanna love us even more. They feel like they’ve gotta stick up for us.”
Weinhofen could very well have been the Australian saving grace for BMTH; since joining the band and helping put together an eclectic album that caters to a range of musical palettes, the cyber-bullying has weakened.
“We seem to be getting a lot of attention from fans from other genres and other scenes now. We’ve even had people that hate us write on forums, ‘check out the new album, I hate the band and they’re shit, but the new album is pretty good.’ That’s the best revenge I think.”
There Is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It. There Is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret is out now through Shock Records.