Of Mice And Men have certainly had some ups and downs in their career, from gigantic tours with Linkin Park and Five Finger Death Punch, to original singer and founder Austin Carlile leaving the band in 2016 due to the rigors of touring while suffering from Marfan syndrome.
However, in 2020 they faced down a new challenge – writing and recording a new set of songs via Zoom.
Despite not having seen each other play their instruments in person for over a year, the band has a new EP, Timeless, coming out this coming Friday February 26th, and all signs point to it being a barn burner of a release.
We caught up with guitarist Phil Manansala to talk about the new EP, his twitch stream and his incredible guitar collection.
Your new EP Timeless has a great buzz going ahead of the release, but was “accidentally” leaked by iTunes – were you guys bummed about the leak or moreso glad to get it out there a little?
TBH, I was upset about the leak because when you have stuff planned for a certain date, then it comes out weeks early, it kinda ruins the roll out. But I can imagine as a fan how exciting it is to get a song early. I still get excited if a song leaks from artists, so I’m caught in the middle, LOL.
For those who haven’t heard it, what should people expect from the EP? Where do you feel it fits into the OM&M catalog?
For the people that haven’t heard it, they can expect us to get heavier and to still utilize AP’s singing. We would be fools if we didn’t do so. I feel like thisEP fits right in where are going after Earth and Sky.
Why an EP right now rather than pushing through to another full length?
We’ve been wanting to do this kind of release for years. Our band is a band that is consistently writing music on and off the road, so we always have ideas. With releasing two albums out of three years, we have put out a lot of music lately and feel like some songs off the album don’t have their time to shine. Just an ‘album’ song and we are tired of that feeling. We want each one of our songs to be able to be heard. So releasing them like this gives each song an opportunity to live a little, compared to an album.
Tell me about some of the things you’ve been doing to get through coronadays, I understand you are/were giving guitar lessons through Let There Be Rock? You’ve also been doing some Twitch streaming? Any other fun stuff?
Yes, I was giving some lessons during my off time, but streaming has been my biggest side hobby during COVID. I ask fans what songs they want to hear and they build my playlist and I go through them and play what they want to hear. That has given me a lot of energy without touring. I also been looking at past memories and pictures to catch up on the last 12 years of touring I’ve done so I’m not mad at the break. Do I wish we were playing shows? Yes, but a break isn’t so bad.
So guitars! You appear to have quite the collection, what’s the newest guitar in there? And the one you’ve had the longest?
GUITARS… I love them so much. Last year, I joined Aristides, a guitar-building team from the Netherlands, and they don’t use any wood. It’s the Resla of modern guitars and great for the environment. I got a custom 6 & 7-string from them last year and will have some new ones in the works this year as well. As for longest guitar I’ve had in the collection? It’s a Gibson SG my sister got for me for my 18th birthday.
What was the biggest get you’ve had so far – a guitar you lusted after for a long period before adding it to the collection?
Buying a Gibson custom shop. Black with a maple neck.
Do you still have any kind of white whale as far as a guitar you’d love to own?
Paul Stanley’s STAR guitar.
You’ve had a couple of really killer Aristides guitars made in the last year, can you tell me some of the specs on there?
060 model, 5 way swithing volume & tone, hip shot hardtail, richlite fretboard, blue luminlay sidedots, o ring knobs. I can’t find the seven, but that’s the 6!
On the amp side, you were an AxeFX user for a spell before going fully to Hughes & Kettner, are you still using that primarily or have you started back towards the dark side?
I’m still using a lot of my H&k stuff at home for recording and streaming. My AxeFX is in storage so I haven’t even used it in a year. Just got a line 6 helix that I really like as well.
As far as the new EP, what’s on there in terms of guitars/amps/pedals?
Guitars — I used my Aristides and amps — I believe we used a JST tones pack but I could be wrong. I send my stems of tracks and AP does the reamping and mixing for the songs.
Looking to the future, past the rona, what do you think touring is going to look like on the short term and the long term once things reopen?
Man, I don’t think touring should happen till next year. I have asthma and am scared to get into a venue packed with people. Not sure how things are going to look, but at the moment, to me, it doesn’t look good. We just have to be patient and see what happens from this.
Finally, for someone who’s not familiar with Of Mice And Men but wanted to learn one of your songs, where should they start? Any licks/riffs/passages that are particularly fun to play or make for a rewarding challenge to pull off?
Yea! I say start with ‘Gravedancer‘ – straight banger! Then play ‘Taste of Regret‘; that song has a lot of triplet picking, a lot of fun to play!