“Life goes on; social media is not real life. When you play the shows and see what these new songs mean to people and their connection with them, that’s what it’s all about.”
(Pic by Ed Mason)
Architects have been through a lot to become one of the most successful metal bands in the world. From humble beginnings in 2004 with twin brothers, drummer Dan and guitarist Tom Searle, vocalist Matt Johnson, guitarist Tim Hillier-Brook and bassist Tim Lucas, the band released their debut album, Nightmares in 2006.
Known as a mathcore record, the first album from Architects is a chaotic beast that Sputnik Music referenced as “jarring” with its “off beat time signatures” firing at “knockout speed”. Lucas left the band and was replaced by Alex Dean. Johnson, with his visceral vocals, departed from the band a few months after the release of Nightmares, which led to Sam Carter, with much different vocal stylings closer to melodic hardcore and heavy metal, taking his place.
The British metalcore group returned with Ruin (2007) and Hollow Crown in 2009. That year, Architects opened for Parkway Drive and August Burns Red. Those two records remained quite heavy and technical, so the fourth Architects album, The Here And Now, released in January 2011, proved divisive among fans with its more commercial direction. The band followed it up with Daybreaker in 2012, a frenzied effort that contained the melodic sensibilities of The Here And Now and contrasted them with mean riffs. Their sixth album also saw the departure of Hillier-Brook. Josh Middleton from Sylosis stepped in to fill in the role.
In 2014, Architects signed with Epitaph, joining labelmates Every Time I Die and Converge. The signing coincided with their seventh record, Lost Forever // Lost Together, which features one of the band’s most loved singles, Naysayer.
A few months after the band released All Our Gods Have Abandoned Us in 2016, founding member, guitarist and primary songwriter Tom Searle passed away from melanoma skin cancer. Northlane wrote the song Paragon from Mesmer in tribute to Tom.
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Architects released the standalone single, Doomsday, in September 2017, a song Tom was unable to finish before he passed away. The band released the album Holy Hell in November 2018. An album about pain and grief, the reviews were outstanding: AllMusic concluded, “Holy Hell is both a teardown and a rebuild, and while it isn't always an easy listen, there is some hard-won catharsis to be found in its attempt to distill the messiness of grief into four-minute blasts of sonic demolition.”
Their ninth and tenth albums, For Those That Wish To Exist (February 2021) and last year’s The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit debuted at #1 and #8 in Australia, respectively. The two records saw Architects step away from the technical mathcore and metalcore sounds and instead embrace genres like heavy metal, nu-metal, and alt-rock. Vocalist Sam Carter has never sounded better, and Architects sound like they’re braced for radio. And this April and May, Architects will be opening for Metallica in Europe as part of the mammoth M72 World Tour.
“Opening for Metallica is one of those things where, every time you talk about it, you're like, holy shit, that's actually happening,” Carter laughs from his home office, draped in a cardigan and looking relaxed after returning from seven tour dates in Germany. “It’s really surreal,” he continues, “you don’t even dream of playing shows with Metallica because they're so fucking massive. But yeah, we’re really excited.”
Metallica will be playing no-repeat weekends this year, stating that they will perform “2 nights, 2 different sets,” and “2 different opening acts” per weekend. Is that something Architects are looking forward to witnessing? “We’re big fans of Metallica; they’re Josh’s favourite band,” Carter says, hoping that Metallica fans will turn up early and give opening acts the opportunity to perform to a full stadium.
Carter talks about the crazy shows in Germany – “it’s beyond our wildest dreams of what the band could do over there;” it helps that Northlane were opening those shows, too. “I love Northlane so much. We've been friends with them for many years. We took them to Europe on their first European tour, and now to see how far they've come since then is great. I love that band so much. I have so much admiration for them as people and musicians as well.”
Northlane, like Architects, have “softened” their sound – depending on who you ask, anyway. Neither band focus on the technical, mathcore riffs anymore, opting for more memorable melodies, blending clean and screamed vocals, and utilising the best possible production for the metal genre to stand out. It sounds wrong to say that bands “simplify” their songwriting, but that criticism does come up at times. Worse, though, is when so-called Architects fans weaponise Tom Searle’s name to attack the current band members and present sound.
“It’s not something I’d want anyone to feel,” the Follow The Water vocalist begins, describing the difficulty of dealing with those attacks. “It’s just music, you can not like something, you know? There's loads of music and bands that you don’t like their entire discography… there's Paul McCartney records I don't like, and I've got his name tattooed all over me in lyrics and stuff. It's just silly to attack someone for not liking a song or not liking the artistic direction. Life goes on; social media is not real life. When you play the shows and see what these new songs mean to people and their connection with them, that’s what it’s all about.”
At the end of the day, people will criticise bands who release the same album twice or do a complete 180 with their music, whether it’s a band as beloved as Parkway Drive or your local up-and-coming act. “Yeah, you're damned if you do and damned if you don't,” Carter declares. “Just do whatever makes you happy. You’re only here once, so just do you.” And that’s exactly what Architects have done with last year’s The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit and the corresponding tours.
Performing the new Architects songs feels like second nature, Carter says. “Especially when we were young, the first single from the latest record. But every time that riff starts, I’m like, here we go! It’s gonna be a big party here. Tear gas is another fun one, as well,” and so is his favourite song on the new album, a new moral low ground, which features the first-ever guitar solo in an Architects song.
“That must have been Josh’s idea – it’s really fun, especially on tour, watching Josh play that solo,” Carter explains. “I’ve been trying to get him to go to the front of the stage and play it, it’s so not in his character,” he laughs, but it’s a mark of how much Architects have grown in confidence. In recent videos, Carter completely commands audiences, demanding singalongs and mosh pits and silence during the band’s mini acoustic suite.
Since Tom passed away, Architects have picked up the responsibility of primary songwriter, sharing the role amongst five people. “We’re just trying to write better songs as a band and not rest on what we’ve already done,” Carter confirms. “It’s important to keep pushing yourself; I don’t think we’re ever 100% satisfied. I think that’s what keeps us going, because we’re always on that quest to find the perfect chorus or the perfect breakdown or the perfect lyric or whatever. There's always that hunt, and I think you never get there. You just get as close as you can.”
Speaking with Apple Music, Carter said that The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit stems from everything being “fucked” and “bleak” – from the climate crisis, to the political situation in the UK to the carry-on effects of Brexit. “It’s getting harder and harder [to not fall into defeatism],” he opines. “It's a scary, scary situation and place that we find ourselves in.
"But I think you've got to look a bit more local, closer to you, in your friendship groups and communities and what you have around you – those are the places where I feel like you can make a lot of change and impact and things that will make you happy. Because then, you're seeing the good rather than reading about all these horrors that are going on. I try to do good within charities and stuff as well, that are doing such great stuff.”
One of those charities Carter contributes to is Wunderdog Rescue, a UK charity “specialising in rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming of dogs who have disabilities, physical differences and seniors in need of loving homes.” He was a big fan of the organisation’s work with Maggie the Wunderdog, a precious therapy dog who faced horrific abuse before her adoption.
In January 2022, Carter reached out to Wunderdog Rescue and asked to help the dogs. Before he started volunteering, the singer would quietly donate – “They put up a fund for a new wheelchair or something, and I would just buy the wheelchair, not say anything, and I didn’t want any praise or anything.” Architects then released special edition merchandise in honour of Wunderdog Rescue.
There’s a frame in the Carter study that reads, “be the person your dog thinks you are” and that’s something he lives by. “No matter what's going on, you just have to look at your dog and be like, ‘Cool. I've got you and you've got me.’ They don't understand your anxieties or your stress. They are just happy. And they wonder, ‘You want to go for a walk with me?’ They’re just the best.” And that’s how Carter finds the will to go on.
Architects are touring across Australia this month, starting in Adelaide next week before heading to Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. Buy tickets via Live Nation. The Classic Symptoms Of A Broken Spirit is out now; listen to it here.
AUSTRALIAN TOUR 2023
WITH SPECIAL GUESTS COUNTERPARTS & THORNHILL
Friday 17 Feb - AEC Theatre, Adelaide
Saturday 18 Feb - Festival Hall, Melbourne
Sunday 19 Feb - Hordern Pavilion, Sydney
Wednesday 22 Feb - Fortitude Music Hall, Brisbane