Q&A: Of Mice and Men’s Austin Carlile On His Heart Condition — “I Feel Pretty Good Most of the Time”

The best laid plans of Austin Carlile and his metalcore band Of Mice and Men may have gone awry more often than not. As the band’s founding member, Carlile had created Of Mice and Men after his departure from Attack Attack. After experiencing heart surgery (compounded by some band drama), Carlile left Of Mice and Men in 2010. Early this year, however, Carlile announced that he was returning to Of Mice and Men as the lead singer. Now made up of Carlile, drummer Valentino Arteaga, guitarist Phil Manansala and Alan Ashby, the band recently added bassist and clean vocalist Aaron Pauley to their lineup.

Of Mice and Men has been on the Warped Tour for three years. How is this tour different and how is it going so far?
It’s been great. It’s been very hot but a lot of fun. This is my second year and the band’s third year. [Of the two I've been on] I enjoy this year’s better just because we’re on the main stage and the crowd’s bigger.

Didn’t you have a health issue in March? Is that affecting the shows at all?
I had a viral infection inside of my heart which I kind of get more often than I’d like, but I’m OK now and everything’s alright. I have to rest a little bit more than the other guys in the crew, and I guess it’s a bittersweet thing to have to rest. I stay out of the heat and make sure I don’t over exert myself. I feel pretty good most of the time.

Being Of Mice and Men’s front man must have been an emotional ride for you…
It’s been a very long ride. It’s been a long three years. From starting it, leaving and joining back with another member, getting rid of various members, doing different things with the management and label, and everything along those lines. It’s been a huge journey but I know you don’t get anything out of nothing. That’s the biggest thing that I tell myself about what happened.

What inspires your songwriting now?
Basically just life. I’ve been through a lot of things that I like to write about and express in my songs. It’s really important to me to write about real stuff that people can relate to. In a way, [my health problems] influence the way I write music. I have different things to write about and ride on.

Who do you love on this year’s Warped Tour?

It’s a really solid lineup: Yellowcard, Everytime I Die, Taking Back Sunday, Breathe Carolina. It’s a very solid tour. And New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday and Yellowcard were three really big [inspirations] for me when I was growing up, so it’s kind of cool to be on tour with them now.

Is there a band you’re playing with now that you watch and think, “Wow, these guys are really something”?
Yeah, I feel like I learn more from up-and-coming bands than ones who have been doing it for five to ten years. But I haven’t seen any new bands so far; this year I’ve been so busy doing press, doing signings, photo shoots and meet and greets, so I haven’t been able to watch one band that’s played before us. Being in a band is not what people think it is; it’s not all fun and games. We were just in California where all my friends came out, and I got to see them for an hour. I’m not complaining, it beats the heck out of a 9 to 5, but it’s a  lot harder of a job than people give it credit for.

Do you get to have any fun though?
There’s still partying, of course. Every once in awhile I’ll have drinks and have fun, hang out.

Talk about your second album, The Flood. Why did you guys decide to re-release it?
We were just going through a lot as a band—the past six months was a crazy journey, so we wanted to finish up a chapter of the band with The Flood. And we were really angry for a while, so we wrote four songs about that [time] which we included in the re-release. These were just songs we wanted to explore. We wanted to close that chapter [for the band], and for the third album we’re opening up a new one.

What are you most proud of right now?
Of Mice and Men, definitely. Everything that happened in the past is a stepping stone to the future. This is exactly where I want to be. I just want my band to have the best time of their lives, and I hope our crowds continually grow. The shows have been immaculate, we’re really stoked.

—Lilledeshan Bose