According to vocalist/bassist Aaron Pauley, Of Mice & Men’s eighth album is one of the California metalcore band’s most personal. “I think it's a more introspective and self-reflective record in a lot of ways,” he tells Apple Music. “The older we get, the more we reflect on things that are more associated with adulthood than youthfulness, so the theme of Tether has to do with the idea of wanting to protect your loved ones from the storms of life but understanding that the best you can do is provide shelter and relief when you can.” Beyond simply getting older as a band and as people, Pauley attributes the album’s introspective theme to the enforced downtime that Of Mice & Men—and everyone—had to endure between 2020 and 2022. “I think a lot of the material wouldn't maybe have been this self-reflective had we not gone through a pandemic,” he says. “Had we been touring, had life been different, I think it would’ve presented different material to write about. Because there was not a lot going on, we wrote about our lives. But if you do that honestly and diligently, you’re going to connect with people.” Below, he discusses a few of the album’s highlights. “Integration” “Lyrically, it’s about wanting to break yourself down and understanding that a low point is a perfect time to build yourself back up. In society, I think we tend to whitewash and sugar-coat how difficult that is. I tend to write lyrics based on what I feel like the music is saying, the emotional context of the music, and this song is taking a lot of musical elements that don't necessarily work together. The opening riff is largely spatial, but it’s syncopated. To me, it musically represents how we have a deep psychological need to organise our chaos.” “Warpaint” “This is a fast and aggressive song. It has this sort of ominous sound that reminds me of the monster from the Predator movie, and this sort of chugging, machine-like pace to it. The song is about how the thing in your life that you're struggling against can feel personified as a monster or a creature hunting you, and how it can be in our nature to acquiesce to those sorts of things. But the more present we can be in our lives, the more we can put up a fight.” “Shiver” “This is one of my favourites on the record. It's sort of a commiseratory song. For people that struggle with anxiety or depression and mental health issues in general, the nighttime is when it tends to get difficult. I think the daytime has enough distractions, but the nighttime's sort of where you're alone with yourself. Lyrically, it’s straightforward: You're not alone. I deal with these things. A lot of our fans deal with these things. A lot of people in general deal with it. And now societally we’re talking more about it.” “Castaway” “This is about how there are people in our lives—or maybe it's us—that tend to distance themselves when they're going through hardships. They tend to deal with stuff on their own. And there are undoubtedly people in their life that wish they could help or do something about it, but they're sort of shut out. The song equates that to somebody being lost at sea, and what you would say if you did get ahold of them, if you were able to make that connection work.” “Tether” “I think this one is probably the most encompassing of all the lyrical themes of the record. It’s the idea that you can’t stop the storms of life from coming, but what you can do is just offer shelter and safe harbour for the people in your life when they’re going through hardships. We felt really strongly about this song, but we knew it wasn’t going to be picked as a single, so we named the record after it in hopes that it would get a little more attention.” “Indigo” “I think this song is in a similar vein to ‘Shiver’ in that it’s deeply rooted in commiserating and connection. It’s sitting down and speaking to a loved one that you see as grieving and dealing with existential questions that arise with loss and growing older and things like that. But I think it's very much rooted in love and wanting to comfort the other person.” “Zephyros” “It’s about not wanting to allow things like fear and doubt and the way that we're programmed to be scared of change and failure and discomfort to stop us from living life—or from leaving the house even. I'm really guilty of that. I like being home. I feel like all the chaotic stuff happens outside. But I think there is a certain amount of understanding that while life has to be lived on its terms, you also don't need to be subservient to fear and doubt. It’s expressing to somebody that you care about that you’re willing to do those things at the cost of comfort, because what good is comfort if it comes at the price of regret?”

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