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Interviews : “It still feels like we’re growing and moving forward” – An Interview With Sean Harmanis (Make Them Suffer)

By on July 30, 2017

Photo Credit: Jared Leibowitz Photography

Make Them Suffer – Sean Harmanis

Almost a decade into their career, Perth extreme outfit Make them Suffer have produced their masterwork. Whilst their sound on their previous releases was extremely well developed and deeply compelling in its own right, they have hit a new level again on their third full-length album, Worlds Apart. They have morphed from a devastating symphonic deathcore band to a just as devastating, but more mature, progressive-tinged and groove-based extreme heavy act. The evolution of their sound may take a little getting used to for some of their more myopic hardcore fans, but for lead vocalist Sean Harmanis, the need for musical growth was far more important.

“I don’t know of one (sound) is better than the other, but I think this is definitely our strongest album to date,” he opens, “and we always want to be changing up our sound and doing something different. I hate it when songwriting becomes formulaic. I think, as a musician and songwriter and all that sort of stuff, it can become more of a chore, more of a job, than fun. You need to be enjoying yourself if you’re going to be pursuing this line of work, and I’m enjoying the music we’re creating.”

He describes the evolution of their sound on the new record as partially a conscious thing and partially just what organically came out of them as they were creating the album. “We knew as we were writing it that it was different, so it was conscious in that sense,” he recalls, “but it wasn’t like something we discussed before, and said ‘we’re going to do something different’, it just came very naturally. The way we looked at the songs and the riffs as we were constructing the songs, our thought processes were a bit different.”

There was less putting of things into a convenient box and pandering to the needs of fans this time around. “Previously we would write something and we would say ‘that doesn’t fall under the MTS banner, that’s not something that all the fans would enjoy’, we would just look at each riff and each part of a song in an analytical sense, and not worry about whether it falls under that umbrella, let’s just ask if it’s a good riff, that was the thought process we had as we tackled the songwriting process.”

Ultimately, the record walks a very skilful balance between still appealing to the vast majority of the band’s existing fans whilst potentially opening up a whole new world for them. Harmanis is both hopeful and confident that this will be the case.

“I hope so, I think so,” he says, “tracks like Dead Plains are almost nods to the EP (their first release Lord of Woe from back in 2010), with the spitfire-fast vocal, the high screams and the super-dirty lows I’m throwing in there. Vortex has a similar type of vibe or character to Lord of Woe, but just with its own flavour, the spacey element that is throughout the album.

“I hope that it will open up doors for new fans and will still be enjoyed by old fans alike.”

Worlds Apart is the result of a rigorous internal process of reckoning and self-examination on the band’s part, and judging by the way the album has turned out and some of the early reactions to it, that process was an extremely successful and fruitful one.

“A lot of the writing process was ideas that came before the riffs and album actually eventuated,” he remembers, “a lot of it came from sitting on the previous album and listening to it, and really deconstructing the sound of what is Make Them Suffer and what we are. What are the elements we want to keep, and what are the elements we want to push in different directions. A lot of it was just conceptualising before going into that process, so that played a huge part for us. Not neccesarily as conversations or things that were discussed, it was just that everyone was feeling the same way, just as individuals.”

By the time you read this, the band will have kicked off an absolutely massive world tour, including comprehensive coverage of mainland Australia and their first ever headlining tour of North America, before heading to Europe for an intense and extensive run. All up, they are playing over 50 dates on three continents by mid November, and Harmanis admits to a small tingle of tension about it all, and especially about the North American run.

“This is our first ever headline run in the U.S.,” he reveals, “I’m a little bit nervous to see how the turnouts go, it’s actually a bit of a leap of faith for us, particularly considering that we’ve only ever been to the States twice before.

“We’re using this opportunity to play a bunch of the older songs for the U.S. market as we’ve only ever been over there with a half hour setlist, so we’ve had to skip playing those older songs. So it’s going to be a fun and super-heavy tour.”

He finds it a little difficult to believe that it is coming up on ten years since the band formed, but feels that they are really only starting to hit their stride as a band now. “Yeah, it’s amazing. I’ve been there for the whole ride, it’s been a hell of a journey,” he says, “but with the shift in sound, and the fact that we’re all doing something that we’re all really excited on, it still feels fresh to me, it still feels like we’re growing and moving forward.

“I’m definitely not sick of it yet, put it that way!”

Make Them Suffer ‘Worlds Apart’ National Tour

Supported by Wage War and Alpha Wolf

Tickets on sale now

Friday, 15th September*
Enigma Bar, Adelaide
Tickets: Moshtix

Saturday, 16th September
Max Watt’s, Melbourne
Tickets: Oztix

Wednesday, 20th September
The Basement, Canberra
Tickets: Oztix

Thursday, 21st September
Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle
Tickets: Ticketbooth

Friday, 22nd September
The Brightside, Brisbane
Tickets: Oztix

Saturday, 23rd September
Oxford Art Factory, Sydney
Tickets: Moshtix

Sunday, 24th September**
Rosemount Hotel, Perth
Tickets: Oztix

* Wage War not appearing
** Alpha Wolf not appearing

About

Rod Whitfield is a Melbourne-based writer and retired musician who has been writing about music since 1995. He has worked for Team Rock, Beat Magazine, themusic.com.au, Heavy Mag, Mixdown, The Metal Forge, Metal Obsession and many others. He has written and published his memoirs of his life and times in the music biz, and also writes books, screenplays, short stories, blogs and more.

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