In the light of Austin Carlile announcing that he is stepping away from the band, I thought I’d share the story of how I came to love the band and what they have done for me during Austin’s time.
When I started high school, I was the typical pop girl, I listened to whatever was on the radio and didn’t think much of it, music had never been an important thing in my home life. I was also the type of girl to just go along with whatever was expected me. Going to a Catholic school as someone who had never believed in God and believed organized religion created more problems than it solved made me angry. Musicians have always discussed music as an escape and a way to feel better, and as I had always enjoyed it I turned towards it as an escape.
However, the lyrics in most of the songs on the radio left me seriously dissatisfied. I didn’t want to listen about the different ways men planned to seduce women or the numerous breakups undergone by a country-turned-pop star. So I began exploring, and while technically the first band I discovered on my quest was Sleeping With Sirens, Of Mice and Men was discovered very quickly. They were actually introduced by a friend who said “I know it’s that scene crap but it’s a cute song trust me”, the song in question was When You Can’t Sleep At Night.
The first album I heard was ‘The Flood’ and I was hooked right away. My favourite songs were and continue to be My Understandings and Let Live. What first drew me to the hardcore genre was the emotion with which it was sung. I was always fascinated with how they were able to scream, and at concerts you can still see me watching the hardcore vocalist the whole time if you watch closely. While reading Austin’s goodbye to his fans I was again reminded of this feeling of awe of the feeling put into the music. Every time he went to scream he was in agony but he continued on anyway, and this brought me back to that lost fifteen year old girl experiencing hearing real passion for the first time in her life. I was drawn to Let Live mainly because for the majority of my life I’ve just wanted to live my own life for me. While the song is more of a break up song than I care to admit, I still loved hearing it for that reason. My favourite line from this album is from the song, Ohioisonfire and it is “but it just might be, out of line” because, as a non-believer in a Catholic school, my questions were frequently out of line and unwelcome. My Understandings is a song that still hits me right in the feels because of the ways people have always commented on how I live in my head (or am “staring at the edge of the world”). I was also quite an unattractive preteen/early teenager so I was desperate for some sort of affection, and the song described how I wanted someone to feel about me.
My favourite album by OM&M is without a doubt ‘Restoring Force’. Something about it just helped me escape the world, and honestly it could be the harsh and almost angry song that opens it, Public Service Announcement. There were so many times when I wished I could blast that song over the school PA system. This album was also a huge help as my mental health issues began to worsen, it’s hard to put into words really but I felt a connection with the lyrics and how it was sung. Bones Exposed stuck with me because I had struggled with self harm, and just a scab-picking habit as well throughout my life. It also struck me in a more psychological way. I despised the therapy sessions I was compelled to do because talking about whatever issues I had made them worse, at least for me, so hearing Austin sing so bitterly about opening his wounds daily and leaving his bones exposed I didn’t feel so much like a lost cause. By the time of the album release, I admired and adored the band and songs about how everyone is broken, imperfect and all made the same made me feel less like a failure for needing the psychological help that I did.
While ‘Cold World’ is still an amazing album, I don’t feel as much of a connection with the whole album. Pain, is the song I connect most with, and before reading Austin’s farewell, I listened to it as being about emotional pain. But after reading about what Austin experiences every day, it is even more meaningful.
While I can’t say I’m a super-fan, I do love Of Mice and Men and can honestly say they have helped me get to where I am today. As much as I will miss Austin, he is doing what he must to preserve his health and I’m very glad to know that. He is still a brilliant musician and a wonderful person and I wish him all the best.
Austin Carlile, you’ll probably never see this, but thank you for all you’ve done.