Bleeding Through – Set Free

Tuesday, 22nd May 2018

Without question, one of the more unique bands to come out of the metalcore/New Wave of American Heavy Metal movement was that of Orange County’s Bleeding Through. Their blend of metalcore was infused with everything from symphonic black metal and melodic death metal to pure hardcore and thrash. Through some ups and downs over the years, the band decided to call it quits a few years ago. But Bleeding Through wasn’t quite done just yet.

Now in 2018, Bleeding Through is back with a new album in the form of Love Will Kill All. An invigorated band has returned, able to reflect on their past while paving their way towards a sustainable future. Love Will Kill All also takes what has always worked best for the band (that adrenaline-pumping visceral edge, for starters) and channeled its essence into something that works in 2018. Stoked for the band’s return, we had a chat with vocalist Brandan Schieppati about the comeback, some of the challenges of their past, as well as his work in building Rise Above Fitness and it’s parallels to heavy metal.

Dead Rhetoric: What made you decide that now was the time to bring Bleeding Through back out?

Brandan Schieppati: To go before that, the reason why we stopped doing it was to do things that set the rest of our lives up so that we were going to live lives that weren’t a fucking mess, and avoid it becoming a ‘when your band’s over, your life’s over’ type of deal. I know that’s not the popular way of thinking but that’s how I think. The reason that we stopped was that people wanted to pursue other career opportunities, start families, and take an adult approach. We did 15 years of touring with Bleeding Through and it had gotten to the point where it was our only source of income and it was a full-time job. It was really tough because we were getting into our mid-30s and people wanted to start families and the dollars and cents weren’t there. The money gets split 8 ways between the band, booking agent, and management, and it’s one of those things where, at the end of the day, it’s not fair. Which puts even more stress on a band like us to keep touring and touring more, which in turn, keeps you away from home…where you can’t be with your family and you can’t make strides in a different direction.

So for us, the opportunities were striking for each of us on a personal level, so we decided that our obligation to Bleeding Through had to end in order for other things to succeed. If we wanted to get back together, then we would. But if we didn’t, if we were perfectly satisfied a few years later, then we would keep it dead. So I was writing some stuff in the studio with my producer – we ghost write for a lot of the popular bands these days – and I wrote a song that felt kind of Bleeding Through-ish, and we kind of finished the song and sent it to everyone in a group text. I asked if they wanted to do a record at the time – no pressure. If everyone was cool with what was going on in their life, then it was all good but everyone responded back with “Let’s fucking do this.” So we decided that now was the time, and I think we picked a pretty good time. It was kind of natural too.

The only thing that was a bit of a negative were people saying things like, “You are only getting back together because of Eighteen Visions, Misery Signals, Walls of Jericho, and all these other bands who were reforming.” I thought that was kind of insulting. Those other bands are cool and all, but Bleeding Through has never been a band that follows anybody. If we were a band that followed people, we would have been a bigger band. Then again, we wouldn’t have been ourselves.

Dead Rhetoric: One of the things I actually wanted to ask about was that period around the time of This is Love, This is Murderous and The Truth, and your thoughts about where the band was moving to. After The Truth, you moved on to Declaration, which I felt was easily your strongest album to date.

Schieppati: I love that record [Declaration]. That’s probably all of our favorite. One of the things that happened, because I’ve gotten that question a lot, like “Why did Atreyu get big and not Bleeding Through?” Or “Why did this band get big and not Bleeding Through?” or “Why did it seem like Bleeding Through get forgotten about later in their career?” And my answer was that when we did The Truth, it was great. We had label support and we had a good A&R person who got us interviews and kept us relevant. It’s all about the team that you have.

It’s not necessarily about the music. I mean, the music gets you in the door, but after that, it’s the team that you have put together. I just don’t think we had the right team. We started having issues with Trustkill Records – they were going bankrupt and they cut their marketing costs, but we were still at a really good level. We played shows and the shows were packed or sold out/close to it. Our fans always came out to our shows. But we never really got the respect, and I hate to equate money with respect, but there would be times when Unearth would get a festival offer and we would be playing right before them and we would make considerably less. I don’t really care about that shit, but that’s just an example. People would always ask me why, and I think our team had weak links that were built around the band and they were supposed to be helping the band to get bigger.

On the other side of that, is there’s a little bit in all of the members of Bleeding Through that didn’t really want to be in a big band. We were fine with where we were at. There’s a difference. I’ve been friends with Avenged Sevenfold forever. I remember when I was working out with Matt [Shadows] the day that they got signed to Warner Brothers and I said to him, “Do you worry about how this is going to look to your fans?” He said, “Fuck it. I want to play fucking arenas!” That’s never come out of my mouth before. I think that mindset in combination with us being good where we were at – that was enough for us. I don’t have any regrets. Maybe I wish we would have had a little more success, but at the same time, success is relative to how the person views it. I view the fact that we had the opportunity to play for 15 years, and come back now and play more shows as being a successful band.

Dead Rhetoric: Yeah, and you can see too in the fanbase; there’s a genuine excitement about you coming back. Some bands burn out and come back, and that excitement from the fans fade as quick as it got there.

Schieppati: I’m stoked. It’s been pretty positive with the response to the comeback. I’m excited. It’s fun to write music again. You get that nervous energy before a show, things like that, and it’s all kind of cool. Without the stresses, like I said before, the reasons we disbanded. We don’t have the same stresses anymore. Going into things, it’s all a bonus. We just want to live in that moment. I feel that towards the end of the band, the last few years, it was hard for us to live in the moment, because stress was everywhere. When you stress out about doing something that you love, you lose sight of why you do that thing.

Dead Rhetoric: So it’s almost like your time away from the band allowed you to gain a sense of perspective about it all.

Schieppati: Totally. I think what it does is it adds a reflection period to your life. You can look back and see that something was really cool. You also look at things and say, “We could have done this better or that better. Or we should have done this differently.” You learn about yourself as you reflect on things. The older you get too, you look at things in a different light. When you are young, you are eager to do whatever the fuck it takes to get to a certain point. When you are older, you get to that level of not giving a fuck that makes everything a little easier to deal with.

Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel like this time around, based on what you’ve said, that this new album is the essence of Bleeding Through in 2018?

Schieppati: I do. People ask what you should take away from this record, and I feel like this record is a culmination of many years of hard work. You can listen to this record and I feel like it tells you a story of our whole journey. But it also has a new flair to it that we can build on if we do another record. Some records leave you with that finality that you are like, “Fuck man, that’s it!” This record, I don’t feel like it leaves you with that.

Dead Rhetoric: One thing that I always associate with Bleeding Through is that there’s this raw and visceral side to it. As you have gotten older, where does the fuel to continue to add to that come from?

Schieppati: I kind of feel like once that feeling is in you, it kind of stays. Bleeding Through has always written music from a dark place. Once it’s in you, it’s in you. You can be as happy as can be, but everyone is in a battle with their own internal stuff. That kind of shines through when you write music. I know that some of the members of the band and myself see creating music as an expression of our pain. You take the things that are inside of you that you see are a roadblock, and you create. That’s how you deal with things.

That’s why people call music therapy. You can lose yourself in its creation, which is awesome because it takes you away from what you are dealing with that day. I feel like, for us, we know how to channel from those spots in our life, which is why the music is still very dark and true to what we did in the beginning.

Dead Rhetoric: What was it like to work with Mick Kinney again and rekindle that relationship?

Schieppati: We have a really good relationship just in general. We are good friends and have written a lot of different projects together. So we get each other. It was really cool to work with him again – a lot of times we don’t even need to use words. We can bounce those ideas off of each other and it naturally turns into what we want it to be. I think that’s a sign of a good producer. He’s also really good at letting you be you. He’s not trying to change the way that you sing or the way that you play, he is just trying to get the best out of what you do.

He’s never like, “Maybe you should do this – change your voice or change your pattern to this.” He’s like, “That’s cool – here’s what you can do to make that a little bit better.” That’s what a good producer is. We have worked with producers in the past that have literally tried to take our songs and do what they want with them. It becomes a battle of you doing what I want to do or vice versa. It’s tough to have that producer battle. But with Kinney, he wants you to do what you want, and he wants to get the best of you. I think that for us, at our age and where we are, is the best thing.

Dead Rhetoric: I know you run Rise Above Fitness as well. Do you feel you’ve learned any outside perspective in taking your role and applying it to the way that you want Bleeding Through to operate?

Schieppati: Definitely – I think you learn a lot about business – the business of creation and music in general. There’s a lot of similarities between the fitness world and music world. One of the similarities is the fact that you constantly have to learn how to grow and expand on your brand. That’s something that musicians have to worry about too. They have to learn how to keep it interesting and grow as musicians. With the fitness world, it’s all about progressing and giving the best products with that progression. I think that’s one of the things that I can take away.

It’s a trend driven world as well, like music. You can either adhere to the trends, or stick to what you do really well and grow on that. What I’ve learned with Rise Above Fitness is patience, and I wish I had that patience with Bleeding Through. I also wish I would have known to stick to your guns when you need to. I think that Bleeding Through sometimes forgot about that. We didn’t have that confidence in ourselves, and I think that in learning from building Rise Above Fitness is that you have to have confidence in what you do. I think we lost that sometimes with Bleeding Through. I think it had to do with some of the people that were working for the band. We felt that they lost confidence in us as well.

Dead Rhetoric: In terms of your own passion for fitness and starting your own gym, where did that stem from?

Schieppati: I started interning in 2007 and became a personal trainer in 2008. I was trying to start a business with my trainer. I had this idea of opening a cool gym that plays cool music, and people like me feel comfortable working out there. It would have a cool training vibe and be balls to the wall, just like Bleeding Through. The business fell through with him, and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I just said that I was going to start my own thing, just like with Bleeding Through. I was playing guitar for Throwdown and Eighteen Visions, and I decided to do my own thing, which was Bleeding Through. So that was kind of how it started.

I wanted to open a gym that had a culture – it was welcoming and it was like family. That’s what I thought music was too for me. I wanted to give people that experience. When I used to go to shows, that’s how I used to feel. When people walk into my gym, that’s how I wanted them to feel. That’s how the concept started. It’s been doing really well, so we are doing a good job [laughs].

Dead Rhetoric: Do you find any parallels in being a personal trainer with being a vocalist on stage?

Schieppati: I think it’s kind of the same. I’ve never really thought about that before. When I go on stage, I want to make people feel welcome in the crowd and have this interaction, almost like this intimate conversation. With training, it’s the same way. You have to get in there and make people feel welcome being there. It’s an intimate thing – getting the best out of them that you possibly can. Really, hyping up the crowd is like hyping up a client on the floor.

Dead Rhetoric: In the years between Bleeding Through you had The Iron Son – is that band continuing or no?

Schieppati: The focus right now is Bleeding Through, but I don’t think The Iron Son will stop. We’ll do another record. We started building our own little fanbase around here, playing shows. It’s fun. I don’t know the direction we will go in, but that’s limitless. I could write a completely different type of record with The Iron Son, and that’s what I might do. We are still going to do it.

Dead Rhetoric: With Bleeding Through, do you feel that there’s some sort of feeling that needs to come across when you put new music out?

Schieppati: I feel like with every record, people have been expecting us to write a rock record. I don’t know why they still think that. People think that The Truth is a rock record. I feel like that record is almost more aggressive than anything we’ve ever done, it’s just put through a different way. People expected us to write a Stone Temple Pilots rip-off [after that], and instead we wrote Declaration. After Declaration, people expected a rock record and we put out the self-titled. It’s the same thing.

I was hearing same thing from people [now]. Its like, is that what you want? Why do you want that? I don’t understand. So for us, it’s about proving people wrong, always. When we have that chip on our shoulder, it’s going to come out the way that it is going to come out, which is consistent with every Bleeding Through record. It’s dark and it’s meaningful.

Dead Rhetoric: It’s funny that you mention that, because when The Truth first came out, I was a little taken aback, but over the years it’s grown on me quite a bit. Have you gotten that type of reaction from fans?

Schieppati: Yeah, it’s funny – it’s one of the most popular records now that people are requesting songs live. When we play those songs live, they are the ones that go off the hardest. It’s one of those things where people are going to bitch about it, but you just have to go out and do what you do and not care. People have negative thoughts about everything. You can’t please everybody, you just do what you do. I think that record – we loved working with Rob Caggiano, but there were a lot of things that happened that made the record turn out how we didn’t want it to sound. I think the songs live translate a lot better, and they are really fucking good live.

Dead Rhetoric: In terms of what’s next, and with the angle you are taking things, are you looking to do larger tours or more what will be convenient for everybody?

Schieppati: It’s going to be a convenience thing. We’ll put together some regional weekends. We are kind of weekend warriors now. But the month-long tours aren’t going to happen, just because of where we all are in our lives. We are going to try to be as active as possible, and play as many shows in as many areas as possible. We are going to do the best we can. I get a lot of messages from people saying, “Come play here” and I can say that we will try our hardest.

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