"We felt inspiration the most from the fact we have been doing this for such a long time, so ultimately we wanted to write an album for us instead of paying attention to what was going on around us - we just set out to make something that felt true to us." - Betraying The Martyrs frontman Aaron Matts.
French metalcore outfit Betraying The Martyrs have had a busy year - between writing and releasing their brand new album 'Rapture', and having to cancel their headline tour after their van went up in flames with all of their personal belongings inside (everyone escaped unharmed), it's been a year of massive highs and crushing lows.
Still, they've come through the other side, with their brand new album to show for it. 'Rapture' marks Betraying The Martys' fourth studio album, and it was released on Friday, September 13. We caught up with frontman Aaron Matts to talk through the past 12 months, what the album represents, and the future.
So between releasing ‘The Resilient’ back in 2017 and the production of ‘Rapture’, what has been inspiring you?
Says Aaron: "Obviously we have been in the game for quite some time now. The longer you're in the scene, the harder it is to be inspired by stuff around you. Maybe it’s an age thing, but we felt inspiration the most from the fact we have been doing this for such a long time, so ultimately we wanted to write an album for us instead of paying attention to what was going on around us - we just set out to make something that felt true to us."
What was it that you ultimately wanted to achieve by writing an album in such a way?
"Well, the main way that we have done things differently is that we rented out a barn in the middle of nowhere in France. It was the first time that we just had each other - we didn’t have any external distractions, so when I was writing lyrics all I had to turn to was my own mind or the other guys in the band. I may write the lyrics, but there are six of us in this band, so if they had something on their mind I asked them to put it across. So they would say ‘I want to do a song about this moment in my life’ or ‘I want us to do a song about this thing that I think is important’ - it really helped me to write about my feelings as well as their feelings it. The album became so personal because of that togetherness. With ‘The Resilient’, there was all of the terrorism that was taking place in France at that time and that ultimately inspired a big chunk of the album as far as subject matter goes. This time we just turned to each other. I’m really happy with how it turned out."
Musically, what was it that you wanted to do then? There are moments that are completely different to anything Betraying The Martyrs have ever done. Where does that stem from?
"I definitely feel like we wanted to concentrate on the atmospheric side of things. What separates us from a lot of other bands is the fact we have an actual piano and synths in there at all times - it’s a permanent part of the band. We really wanted to bring more attention to and focus on that, so when we started doing that it let the whole song breathe. We really tried to concentrate on pulling people in and helping them focus on the overall atmosphere rather than just making it really heavy. I guess that’s why a lot of the songs ended up much slower and with the sound being much more spaced out it helped to pull out some of the darker lyrics that appear on the record."
Where did you personally pull those lyrics from then?
"Being on the road over the course of these nine years that we’ve been doing this, through a couple of them I was in a very difficult headspace. As much as I wanted to talk about that stuff at the time, it’s much harder to talk about those thing when you’re already in that headspace. I’ve experienced a lot of growth over the last few years, and it’s now that I’m out of that headspace it’s much easier to talk about it all. Mental health has become much less of a taboo subject over the last few years, and it feels a lot easier to talk about your problems. I felt like now was the right time to say ‘why not?’, and talk about my experiences in the hope that people will listen to it and maybe see that they aren’t alone in their struggles."
So as a whole concept, what does ‘Rapture’ ultimately represent?
"We really wanted the title to represent just what we had actually put into the album. The rapture was originally seen as a religious concept, the be all and end all of everything, so we viewed this album in the same way. If we are going to do something at this point in our career then we may as well make the ultimate album that we are able to at that time. We put absolutely everything in to it, and it felt like the most natural effort that we could possibly produce. It’s the be all and end all of Betraying The Martyrs right now - it’s everything that we have to offer and we wanted to put it all on the plate. Rapture is a word that really sums out how we are feeling right now."
If you were to go back and speak to the Betraying The Martyrs of 2010, what advice would you give based on the things that you have been through over the years?
"If I was to talk to myself back then, it would be to stop overthinking things. At that moment in time there was so much going on, and so much to take in, and as I said I don’t think I was particularly in a good head space. I would try and tell myself to sit back and enjoy the ride more because this dream doesn’t last forever. As far as music goes, everything that has happened with music has occurred very naturally - I would tell myself to let my musicality evolve in a way that is natural, rather than trying to fit into certain catagories. When you’re younger it’s really easy to be impressionable. You see things coming out and see them working and think ‘oh I’ll give them a try for myself’. I would say to do things that are true to you or natural to you - that’s what we have done on this album, but I wish I had done this sooner rather than trying to fit in with what everybody else is doing or fitting into a certain category."
It’s difficult to talk about this period of the band without mentioning the bus fire that you involved in earlier this year. How did that event, if at all, affect your relationship with this album?
"It didn’t really change anything really, as I said the album came together really naturally - I don’t think anything that happens after that is ever going to really change that. The incident really did put us on our arse but because we have been doing everything so organically we managed to just take it all in our stride - that’s what the album was all about anyway. It’s weird - despite the incident happening after the album was done and dusted, it kind of fits into the narrative in a really strange way. When it happened I was so shocked but I was like ‘fuck it’. Bad shit happens to people everyday. Even on the road, bad shit happens to bands all the time. But like, why wouldn’t it happen to us if it has happened to other people before? I guess it was just our turn. Whatever though - we just took it in, got it out the way, and that’s our bad karma out of the way."
So, who do you feel Betraying The Martyrs are in 2019?
"I think that we have stopped wanting to represent any certain thing right now. It’s not a conscious thing, but I like to think that our whole journey, and especially our sound right now, represents individuality. We just want the music and who we are as people talk for itself. Five years ago I don’t think we would have stuck out as an individual band, yet now we are still here, and we are still doing what’s true to ourselves. I really want that to represent us as a band - be who you are and do what you want to do."
And what do you feel like your role within the band is now compared to what it was in the past?
"Personally, when it comes to my role in the band I still have my finger on the pulse with everything that is happening in the music scene right now. I like to support bands, and I love all of the new bands that are coming out right now. Despite that, I don’t want any of it to influence what I’m doing. I’m really making a conscious effort not to be overly influenced by what’s going on around me - I really want to what I think is right and trying out new vocal styles and personal mindsets that are going to make us unique. When I first moved to France to join the band, I was still relatively young - I was still lacking that sort of figure you have when you have your family around you. That played a big role in me overthinking who I was and who I wanted to be. I spent so many years worrying about it, but becoming comfortable with who I was and what I wanted to do in my every day meant that I was able to put that into our music as well. You only have a certain amount of control over what happens in life, so you’ve just got to get on with it. It’s your journey, and nothing is ever going to change that."
Check out Betraying The Martyrs' brand new album 'Rapture' below: