‘I’m Not Gonna Lie and Say It Ended Amicably’ : Bring Me the Horizon’s Oli Sykes on ‘NeX GEn’ and Jordan Fish’s Departure

Over 20 years into their career, Bring Me the Horizon keep finding ways to reinvent themselves

Published Time: 03.06.2024 - 17:31:17 Modified Time: 03.06.2024 - 17:31:17

Over 20 years into their career, Bring Me the Horizon keep finding ways to reinvent themselves. On the day before the release of their latest album, “Post Human: NeX GEn,” a social media post by singer Oli Sykes showed him in a maid’s outfit with cat ears, holding a piece of paper that reads: “NEX GEN OUT MIDNIGHT” — fulfilling an inside joke with fans, as Sykes had said on social media if BMTH won their first BRIT Award for Best Alternative/Rock Act, which they did on March 2, then he would bring back the maid outfit he wore years ago.

“NeX GEn” is the band’s seventh studio album and first project without Jordan Fish since 2013’s “Sempiternal.” It follows “Post Human: Survival Horror,” which was released during the pandemic and included some of the band’s heaviest songs in a decade. “It was a very snap decision that I made less than a month ago,” Sykes tells Variety about deciding to release “NeX GEn” as a surprise album.

He and the rest of the band — which also includes bassist Matt Kean and drummer Matt Nichols —started writing “NeX GEn” three years ago, and took longer than anticipated because they’d thought Covid lockdown would last longer than it did. Once it lifted, he found himself busy once again, thrown into headlining festivals like Reading and Leeds. But, with the success of “Survival Horror” and older songs like “Can You Feel My Heart” going viral on TikTok, that prompted him to continue writing. “It felt like the demand for us was just insane,” Sykes says.

However, he wasn’t interested in following the standard album-release formula. “I want to step out of that whole rat race of caring about how well our record does, how much it sells, all that rubbish,” he says. “I feel like we’re slowly falling back into this old-school way of doing things, so I was like, ‘Let’s just drop it.’ (He confirms there will be two more “Post Human” projects that will be released in the future.)

“NeX GEn”’s 16 tracks may be the most diverse of the band’s career, as there are elements of hyperpop, post-hardcore, emo and a resurrection of their early work — metalcore.

“We definitely borrowed from some of our old stuff,” Sykes says. “This record is very much a homage to the music, bands and artists that made me want to be in a band — Glassjaw, Underoath and Rival Schools. Also,” he continues, “I wanted every song to scratch some kind of little itch in your brain that makes you feel like you know the song but you don’t.”

The featured artists on “NeX GEn” include Norwegian pop singer Aurora, rapper Lil Uzi Vert, Spencer Chamberlain and Aaron Gillespie from Underoath and Daryl Palumbo from Glassjaw. Sykes said when looking for artists to collaborate with on the album he wanted to look to the future and include people who he thinks are the “next generation’s icons.”

“Aurora for me, is the future pop star,” Sykes says. “She’s such a good role model for kids because she actually cares about stuff, she’s actually talking about real issues and what’s going on in the world. And she’s just got such an ethereal voice.”

Palumbo’s feature on “AmEN!” along with Uzi was a full circle moment because Sykes says watching Glassjaw perform live inspired him to become a singer. “When I was a kid, they were meant to tour England, but he canceled because he had an illness. I cried so much,” Sykes remembers. “Even my mum said, when I showed her the song, ‘Do you remember how much you were obsessed with this band? You wouldn’t come out of your room when they canceled that tour.'”

Beyond the idea of a concept world, “NeX GEn” is also a vulnerable album for Sykes to express his emotions as he’s been outspoken about his past -

experiences with depression and substance abuse. “The first line on the record is: ‘There’s a place I wanna take you/ But I’m not quite there myself yet.’ Maybe two or three years ago, I was hoping that I would be even in a better place than I am now and I’m not. I’m still working on myself every day. I’m still getting better,” he says.

He also says the band was trying to embrace imperfections in their sound as well. “With ‘Amo’ and That’s the Spirit,’ we were really trying to make the biggest, cleanest, most polished, produced rock album. And over the last few years, I’ve been really bored with that — it’s not impressive anymore.”

“To make something that feels natural and like art is so much more important to me,” he continues. “Even recording on a shitty mic and having sound spill from the headphones, and using the first raw take even if we have to pitch it to fuck because I didn’t sing it very well but it has emotion in it — all these things I’ve felt for a long time. This was the album where I thought, ‘I’m going to actually listen to that part of my brain that keeps saying that, and I’m going to really enforce it this time. I don’t care if it’s a lo-fi MP3.'”

The biggest change for BMTH though, is the absence of Jordan Fish, who left the band in December 2023 after an 11-year run. Fish had a huge influence on evolving the band’s sonics where he served as the keyboardist, percussionist and producer; he also contributed songwriting and backing vocals.

“I owe Jordan a lot for everything he’s taught me, because he helped me learn how to sing. I didn’t know shit about production or anything before I met him,” Sykes says. “I thought it was going to feel like losing a limb when we parted ways with Jordan.”

“When he came into the band, I was just coming out of rehab, and I needed something to throw myself into, something to become addicted to again, and I use music as that escape — I became obsessed,” Sykes continues. “Us coming together, we turned into this creative force that was really sick, but we didn’t wait for anyone, we just did everything. And it became the Oli-and-Jordan show a little bit in terms of the rest of the band didn’t get that much of a look-in.”

When asked how the band’s current dynamic, he replies, “I look back now and realize there was a part of the band missing in some songs, and that really came back once Jordan left, because the band felt like their space was back — suddenly, we started all writing together. I blame myself as much as I think it was anyone’s fault…we had Matt and Lee come back into the studio and actually writing riffs for real and was jamming out live and doing it the way we used to do it. We would have never written those songs if Jordan was still in the band — as bad as that sounds, and that’s not his fault. It’s just what happened. It’s brought us so much closer together. We’ve always been really good friends, like weirdly good friends for a band that’s been going on for as long as we have.”

Sykes says he hasn’t heard from Fish since the album’s release. “I’m not gonna lie and say, ‘Oh, it ended amicably,” he admits. “It’s just like when you break up with someone — it never ends as good.” However, he says he’s open to working with Fish again. “I don’t rule it out, us talking or working together in the future or anything. I can’t speak for him, but from my side, there’s no animosity.”

Most Popular

Must Read

Sign Up for Variety Newsletters

A Variety and iHeartRadio Podcast

More From Our Brands

ad To help keep your account secure, please log-in again. You are no longer onsite at your organization. Please log in. For assistance, contact your corporate administrator.