Behind the Cover: Of Mice & Men - Echo

Aaron Pauley and Derek Hess detail the band's expansive and unorthodox artistic endeavor.

In the contemporary state of the music scene, the conventional nature of an album release cycle is well defined. A band announces a new full-length recording with a lead single and accompanying cover illustration on a particular day. From here until release date, the band unveils 2 to 4 more singles as a taste of what to expect, merchandise options, and a tour announcement as a post-release celebration. The record officially releases, the band goes on tour, and the cycle repeats for subsequent full-lengths. It's a tried and true formula utilized by all artists across the industry, yielding ideal results for the most part. For Of Mice & Men, this isn't a structure that allows their work to breathe as intended. Instead, they went another route, one that found them releasing a trio of EPs over the course of this past year that all culminate into one cohesive being titled, Echo.

Echo, which is comprised of the Timeless, Bloom, and Ad Infinitum EPs, is a timeline of the band at different stages, all illustrated by renowned artist Derek Hess (In Flames, Sepultura, Converge, Nine Inch Nails) in an intersectional manner. Musically, it's an electrifying body of work that uplifts as much as it does ground listeners into a state of appreciation. Of Mice & Men's SharpTone Records label debut arrived last week and is every bit intentional to the band's creative ambitions. The lyricism, conceptual undertaking, and visual identity was all brought to life by a collective honed in on the approach. One needs only stream Echo on Spotify or engage with the music videos on YouTube to observe the wonder of how it all coincides with the prowess of Derek Hess and Frankie Nasso becoming one. As you'll see today, the art and the music form one all encompassing collective accessible to all who wish to engage at both a surface level and beyond.

We go Behind the Cover of Echo with frontman Aaron Pauley and Derek Hess to learn of the interconnectedness of the unique release structure that gave life to the band's most trailblazing composition yet:

‘Echo’ is nearly here and with it comes a new chapter in the band's discography, one that I'd argue is among your strongest yet. You of course built up to this through the different EP releases, which diverges from the typical album release cycle. Is it all freeing to handle the release in these terms, where you're not limited to any predetermined structures?

Aaron: Definitely, and I think that along with that comes the creative freedom of knowing that when you’re working on smaller projects, there’s less trepidation about freaking your audience out a little bit by experimenting with sound. There’s a weird perception that when a band releases something that is a little bit different, audiences tend to be like, “Oh, they’ve changed and the band has become this or that.” What we’ve found is that with the EP format, you can blur those creative boundaries a little bit without having that same sort of anxiety from either the creative side and the fan side because they’re seen as smaller projects. I don’t know if it’s because they’re weighed differently in the minds of fans or not, but I’ve definitely found that we’ve been able to push the boundaries on our creativity and also our songwriting, and we’ve probably have been able to get away with more than if it was perceived as a whole album.

derek hess