Sheffield's Bring Me the Horizon discuss life since number one album Amo was released, their Grammy nomination and pinching ideas from fans on YouTube

Oli Sykes letting the crowd sing at Church, Kelham Island (Pic: Tom Sykes, 7Points)
Oli Sykes letting the crowd sing at Church, Kelham Island (Pic: Tom Sykes, 7Points)

Sheffield's Bring Me the Horizon are right at home with who they've become.

Speaking before Sunday's hat-trick of autograph sessions and stripped back gigs at lead singer Oli Sykes' Kelham Island venue, Church, the Grammy-nominated five-piece appeared equally at ease with the fact that recent album Amo polarised listeners, as they did inviting fans into their 'lounge' for an acoustic set.The band sat down in the very room the album was written, to talk about life since it was released on 25th January.

A young fan meets Bring Me the Horizon at their signing session (Pic: Tom Sykes, 7Points)

A young fan meets Bring Me the Horizon at their signing session (Pic: Tom Sykes, 7Points)

Amo might have gone to number one and provoked an outpouring of creativity from music lovers across the world, but it wasn't everyone's cup of tea.

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The backlash, from a section of their fanbase still clinging to the heavier, metal sound of their earlier work, was no surprise to the band themselves.

"I can't speak for us all but I think we were quite prepared for different opinions," said Sykes.

"We knew we were writing a record that would polarise our fans.

"At the same time, because you've been working on it for a year, we get used to it. I remember saying to Jordan 'people are not going to like this record' and he was like 'what are you on about, it's amazing.'

"I know it's amazing, but the people that hear it for the first time will be like 'what the **** is this?' We've had it before with records. It wasn't a surprise in one aspect, what surprised us is how surprised people are that we changed. We change so much anyway, all the time but people are still shocked that we do something different each time."

Jordan Fish, who provides keyboards, vocals, percussion and production, highlighted the contrast between what people say online and what they say face to face.

"I think doing these signings brings it home to you that a lot of people love the change and think it's amazing, tell us to keep doing what we're doing and we don't get so much of that on Twitter," he said.

"When you meet people personally, it's nice to see that side a bit more as well. "

"Some people think this is the greatest thing we've ever made, some people think it's the worst we've ever made, which is really cool that it can generate such a polarity," continued Sykes.

"I guess that's what we were going for, so we knew the risk we were taking.

"As much as we were proud of the record we've made and we all think it's the best thing we've ever done, we still knew that was not how everyone was going to feel when we first brought it out."

Twitter is supposed to be a conversation but it so often descends into a shouting match, where insults fly and hyperbole reigns.

The extreme reactions to Amo, criticism that verged on abuse, hasn't appeared to have ruffled many feathers within the band.

"You just deal with it," said Sykes.

"Not much you can do really," drummer Mat Nicholls' added stoically.

"It's their opinion, everyone's opinion is valid," Sykes went on.

"The only thing I addressed at the start was just don't listen to it once and dismiss it, because all my favourite records are ones that when I first heard them I didn't get them because they were too different for me.

"Once it started to click, they stay with you longer.

"That's the only thing we felt we needed to say, don't dismiss it straight away."

Fish provided anecdotal evidence that, when listeners gave the album a chance, their opinion changed.

"Within about a week we had a mass of people commenting saying the first time I hated it, then I started to like a few tracks and now it's like my favourite thing ever.

"That's quite unusual for people to say that. It's quite extreme, people going from hating it to loving it."

"I knew that was going to happen," Sykes responded.

"I was confident it would, just because you could feel it, it was one of those kind of records.

"No one likes change, as a knee jerk reaction, and then once you get your head round it it's much better than staying the same."

"People have these preconceived idea of what they think they want to hear from you," added Fish.

"It takes a while to lose that and then approach it again."

Amid the social media praise and the grumbles the album provoked, inspiration sprang up.

Fans recorded covers of songs like Medicine and Nihilist Blues, and sent the band versions of Mother Tongue, Sykes' declaration of love for his Brazilian wife, recorded in their native languages.

"I think Lee (Malia, guitarist) said, it must have been a day or two after the album came out, have you seen how many covers of these songs are already out there? He was like, there's people covering songs on guitar and I haven't even figured out how to play them on guitar yet," said the singer.

"That stuff is nuts. It's one of the great things about the internet."

Some of proved useful, too.

"A lot of drum covers," said Fish.

"Sometimes it gives us good ideas. Sometimes, especially with drums, you'll see some mad drummer playing it and we'll be like oh that's kinda good.

"Yeah we should do that," quipped Nicholls.

Bring Me the Horizon cut short their American tour when Sykes ruptured a vocal chord, but by the time they came to meet and greet fans on a UK signing tour, he was in good voice and good spirits.

Hearing from their audience directly what the new songs meant to them, particularly those going through difficult times, has been music to ears of a man who, on Amo, sang about heartbreak, divorce and the turbulent relationship he's had with fans.

"We make this music and it helps us, it helps me, the lyrics," he said.

"The fact that it then helps them, helps me again.

"It's really weird, it's like the best form of therapy ever.

"England isn't as a bad as some countries but we're all quite ashamed to admit when we're feeling low and down.

"The idea of going to therapy, if you go through a breakup, any kind of trauma then you really should go to therapy.

"But most people say no, no I'm fine, I'll get through this.

"For me, I have to go to therapy because I have to write these lyrics, it's my job. I get to almost trick myself to go to therapy, go through this cathartic process and get paid for it, in a sense.

"It's definitely a very special thing. When you're going through a divorce or one of your family members is on death's door, you don't think at that moment one day thousands of people will be screaming the words that I've written about these things.

"You're up on stage and you think ****ing hell, I've got 10,000 people screaming these words. I would never have thought these negative experiences could turn around into something so positive."

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Another unexpected upside to pouring his soul into lyrics was a Grammy nomination in the category of Best Rock Song for MANTRA.

They lost out to St. Vincent at the February ceremony,.

Bassist Matt Kean, who had the least to say for himself in the interview but later gave a brilliantly deadpan performance as host of a Q and A for 200 fans, called it a 'weird' experience.

His bandmates were largely in agreement - Fish the only one not to use the word weird.

"With the Grammys, you don't feel like you deserve it but at the same time I look at other artists and think well why not? Why shouldn't we be in the best rock song category? We've written some good rock songs, we've got every right to be there just like anyone else," he said.

"It's a really cool achievement, but when we were in that list I didn't think ours was the sore thumb, the **** one that scraped through. "I felt like it was a good song.

"We put in the work as well, so it feels like a nice treat at the end of it."

For Malia, it was a proud moment: "It makes you feel like a real band.

"You've always seen the Grammys growing up. For our band to be a Grammy-nominated band, it legitimises what you're doing."

Former Stocksbridge High School student Sykes hadn't considered the possibility until it arose.

"It's weird because my preconception of it was, if you're a Grammy artist that's in your mind when you're writing the album or the song. I guess I was thinking it's like the Oscars, where people make movies for the Oscars, at a certain time or year, they broach a certain topic. In my head the Grammys had a similar thing," he said.

"To be fair we don't know **** all about the Grammys," interjected Fish.

Sykes went on: "When we were sat in this room there was not one second when we thought 'this could be nominated for a Grammy.' "It's just weird, but it doesn't feel like we don't deserve it because we write really great rock songs, so why not."

Minutes before they headed downstairs to meet their adoring public, sign posters, records and someone's pet dog - his coat, not his fur - they touched on the opportunity to host an event in the city that birthed them.

Maltby lad Nicholls said: "I think anything we do in Sheffield is cool, like when we played the Arena, there's a certain vibe to it. It's good, we're from here."

"We get a lot of people coming, even from other places, to Sheffield because they want to be here, where we're from," added Mexborough's Kean.

"People not from Sheffield come to Sheffield to see us."

The quintet trooped down to the bar area and took their seats at a table, shortly before the first of three lots of fans - some beaming, the emotion too much for others - filed past in an orderly fashion, collecting autographs.

The Q and A, an acoustic set and liberal humourous exchanges followed, with daylight streaming through the Church windows, making it more Sunday service than heavy metal gig.

It might have felt a bit early for live music in a bar, but Bring Me the Horizon were right at home.

"This is kind of weird because we wrote our album here, basically do everything here, so it's like doing a signing in your house, in your lounge," said Fish.

"We're always in Church.

"It definitely feels like doing it in our dining room."