Interview – Brandan Schiepatti of Bleeding Through

For all basic purposes, in 2014, Orange County Metalcore pioneers Bleeding Through called it a day and went from world stages to the world of adulting. For fifteen years, the band had plugged away at their unique craft, blending vicious Hardcore, luscious Symphonic Black Metal, and enticing elements of Melodic Death Metal to author a sound that was truly their own. This signature blend would permeate seven albums, ranging from their 2001’s debut Dust to Ashes, to the 2003’s pivotal This Is Love, This Is Murderous, to 2006’s fan-favorite The Truth, to their final release, 2012’s The Great Fire.

Alas, you can not keep a great band down, and regrouped and reinvigorated, Bleeding Through are set to reclaim your ears on May 25, 2018, with their eighth album, the truly killer (pun intended) Love Will Kill All. To prepare for the release, we had the honor of sitting down with Vocalist Brandan Schieppati to talk the adult truth about the band’s departure and subsequent comeback, inspirations behind the new songs, Bleeding Through’s contributions to Metalcore, and more. – For all basic purposes, Bleeding Through came to a close in 2014. Not to say that this is not the best thing to happen to heavy music in 2018, but why resurrect the band now?

Brandan Schieppati – Okay, let me give you the most adult and responsible answer that anybody in a band is ever going to give you. We had this adult shit, and what I mean about adult stuff – we just had things that we wanted to do in the last couple years that we were touring. Marta wanted to try to have kids; Derek was having another kid; Brian just had a kid; people wanted to spend time with their families. For me, I had this opportunity to open my very first gym, Rise Above Fitness, and it was one of those things where I’m like, “Dude, this is something that could set me up and a passion of mine. I have this opportunity, and I have to take it!”

We tried to do both for a little while. What really happened is it was really tough for us to do both, because we’re so ingrained to really grind it out for Bleeding Through, and I think we really needed that moment to stop and get our personal lives together because shit was kind of a mess. I think that after you’re in a band for 15 years and touring around, when you try to adjust to having more of a home life, shit gets messy. It’s an adjustment period. For me, I was married at the time when I decided, “Okay, I’m going to start doing this part-time deal where I’m going to focus on fitness a little bit more.” Being home was an adjustment period, and my ex and I ended up getting a divorce because there were things that were such a mess.

Other people in the band were experiencing things like that too, so it was becoming a little bit harder. We just thought, “You know what? We had such a great run, we have such a great fanbase still – and we love everybody who has ever supported this band – but we need to really pull it together in our personal lives and focus on making our family lives better; focus on our careers; and get rid of the stress of Bleeding Through, having that be our main source of income.” Just stuff like that. We got ourselves in order and everybody’s in a good spot.

I was in my studio writing with my producer, and I wrote a song – I think it was supposed to be for someone else – but I was like, “Man, that kind of sounds like a Bleeding Through song.” So, I recorded more of it and sent it to the band through group text, and I said, “Hey, is it time? Do you guys want to do this again?” Everyone’s like, “Yeah, let’s fucking do it!”

I hate to say that it was economic reasons why we stopped, but it was the sort of thing where Rock-n-Roll doesn’t pay the bills when you get older. I know it’s not a popular reason, but it was becoming a stress. There were eight people relying on the money that Bleeding Through was making; management, the six people in the band, and now there’s kids to feed and there’s mortgages to pay. It gets a little bit gnarlier the older you get and, really, we tried to tour and tour more to make more money, but it ended up making us less money. It was one of those things where we needed to take a step back, because we weren’t enjoying it because of the stress that was going into it.

Prime Directive Records
Indecision Records – Being an adult isn’t very Rock-n-Roll, is it? (Laughs)

Brandan Schieppati – It’s totally not! But you know what? It was something that I feel that most bands should do. I think that bands try to stick together so much, through so much bullshit. Then people start being shady with money, and this happens and that happens. Then the band fucking hates each other, and they’ll never get back together, they’ll never do shows. I want to spread the message of why we did what we did: it was the responsible, adult thing to do. (Laughs)

It could have been finality for us. I remember when we were headed towards our last couple of shows, I said, “You know what? If we decide not to do this, if we take care of what we need to take care of and we’re satisfied, we won’t do this again. But if we get that itch, let’s fucking do it!” Let’s not care if people are negative towards it.

It’s weird for us, because I feel like Bleeding Through was always a band that was hit with a 50/50 – 50 negative, 50 positive. We were one of these bands that you loved or hated, and I kind of expected when we came back people would just be like, “Oh, whatever.” It’s been positive, people are excited. There’s been a couple of negative things, but other than that negativity of being, “Oh, they just want to relive the glory days! They just want to make money. They broke up because they weren’t big anymore.” There’s three things: we didn’t make that much money, we weren’t that big of a band, and there were no “glory days.” So, I don’t understand what the hell you’re talking about! – The band was always very underrated.

Brandan Schieppati – I agree, and I will say that I feel that Bleeding Through never got the respect we deserve. To be completely honest, the reason why is we weren’t “yes” men; we didn’t do everything that our label wanted us to do, we didn’t do everything our manager wanted us to do. We would say “no” to certain things, because we looked at it in terms of, “are we going to look back at that and be like, god, why did we do that for the extra, whatever.” Maybe we’re a little bit thick-headed when it came to that, maybe we’re a little bit too Punk Rock, but, fuck man. I feel that, in terms of when you look at pioneering bands that pioneered the Metalcore genre, I feel like Bleeding Through was a band that got swept under that rug. Then, when people think about it, they’re like, “Oh yeah, Bleeding Through was pretty good!” It’s like, “Well, what the fuck, man? Why are you still listening to As I Lay Dying records and not Bleeding Through records?” – Was there any apprehension whatsoever as to what kind of scene Bleeding Through would be returning to?

Brandan Schieppati – No, and I’ll say that with all sincerity. I don’t really care! I honestly just wanted to write a record with my friends again and if that record would have never come out, it would have never come out. It’s just something that, personally, for me, I wanted to do; I wanted to create music with the people that I have a deep affection for and that’s the people that are in Bleeding Through. We started writing songs and it was for the simple fact of just writing.

What was funny was we wrote these songs and it was like, “Man, this is easier for us, more fun.” We played a couple songs for a couple people close to us, and we said, “What do you think?” They were like, “Fuck, is that Bleeding Through? You guys have to put that out!” I’m like, okay, what if we put it out ourselves? People were like, “No, this record needs a proper push and you should try to approach a couple of labels.” So, the first label I approached was SharpTone and they were digging the record, and we just went from there. – Releasing “Set Me Free” as the first video and single seems like a bit of a statement about where the band’s mindset is at right now, no?

Brandan Schieppati – Yes, it for sure is. There’s two reasons why that is. The song is about the last few years of our band, we felt hostage; we felt disrespected by people that worked for us, bands that toured with us. We just felt like a stepping-stone band and we felt forgotten about. We just felt bleh! We felt like we couldn’t step away from that, we couldn’t get out of that no matter how hard we tried. No matter what bands we took on tour with us, no matter what tours we did, we couldn’t shake it.

This time around, this is what we want to do and we don’t feel so disrespected. It kind of gives us that chip on our shoulder to go out and earn that respect again from the people that may have discounted us for the last five or six years when we were actively touring and playing music. So, we felt like we were kind of prisoners for a while; we could only go so far because the people that were in business with us would only allow us to go so far.

“Set Me Free” is about that. It’s about, “Man, we had to get away, thousands of miles from you guys.” Not literally, but we had to go away for years and that’s what we had to do to kind of set ourselves free from the chains. Then the song, just the way it sounds – ‘cause of the history of Orange County bands where every band starts out heavy and ends up a Rock-n-Roll band – we never did. Every record people expected us to sound like that, and I’m sure people would expect us to sound like that again. So, we just wanted to put forth a song that was like, fuck that, this is who we are!

Trustkill Records
Trustkill Records – It’s a great song to represent a killer album. In fact, let’s talk more about Love Will Kill All, which is due at the end of the month. What was it like for the band going into the studio this time around?

Brandan Schieppati – It was a little bit different, because the studio is owned by a friend of mine. (Laughs) A lawyer of mine. The producer that I worked with is the one that I worked with on all my musical projects, from The Great Fire, the Iron Son record, and a couple of the other records that we’ve done for other people. We just have really good mojo together, and it was kind of relaxed. It was like, “Hey man, I’ve got a couple of hours, can I come by tonight and start recording some stuff?” It was like that, so it was very relaxed which is a lot different from before. Before, it was every day, eight-to-ten-hour days. Not having anybody looking over your shoulder or anybody having any expectations on what it should sound like was just really cool; we had that creative freedom.

At first, we were like, “Let’s try to incorporate other stuff.” Then we started writing, and we were like, “Let’s just be what we are.” That’s good enough for us and I feel like that’s good enough for other people; and if it’s good enough for us and it’s good enough for our fans, that’s all that really matters. So, we came in with that mindset and that’s why, you listen to the record and it starts off the way it does. That was all organic! That was a keyboard part and then I started singing really horribly over it, and I was like, “This is really kind of cool, actually.” Kind of set the record off where people can listen to it and be like, “Oh my god! What is this?” Then, all of a sudden, two minutes in, you’re like, “Holy shit! Okay!” You know what I mean? It’s that really good, kind of epic flow to it. We’re just really excited about it! I felt we got to be creative enough, but still stay within our own realm.

When people ask, “If you could describe the record,” I can just say this is seven other records and fifteen years of touring in one record. I think that if you listen to one record and really see what Bleeding Through is – I feel like you can listen to this record the same as This Is Love, This Is Murderous (2003) or Declaration (2008) or The Truth (2006) and be like, “Okay, this is a definitive record.” I really feel like this record might be the most definitive record that we’ve had. – It is absolutely an awesome record! This time around, where did you turn to for lyrical inspiration and, to ask an admittedly stupid question, is there ever a struggle to stay dark and angry? (Laughs)

Brandan Schieppati – (Laughs) No. Which leads me to my answer to the first one: I’m bipolar and that’s something that I’ve kept a secret my whole career. I was diagnosed early on with social anxiety issues but it was really bipolar. I kept it a secret from my bandmates; I didn’t want anything to kind of step in-front and be a crutch, or anything like that. I decided to kind of come clean toward the end of the career, ‘cause I went through a divorce like I told you before.

It was just a lot of ugliness and a lot of really fucked up times where a lot of the lyrics are about the friends that left me, who I thought were going to have my back through thick and thin because I was going through actual adult drama. They couldn’t, and it left me in a real dark place. So, that’s what a lot of the lyrical content is about. It’s kind of about the past and it’s about how we feel toward the people that used to work with the band, and who we feel disrespected by and taken for granted by. About friends who just sort of let you go.

The record is about what I battle with on a day-to-day basis in my head. Really, I tell people it’s like a Star Wars movie: I’m like Anakin Skywalker and I’m conflicted between going to the Dark Side or staying with The Force. That’s where I kind of get that inspiration, because I truly live it; part of being bipolar is you feel dark and you feel isolated all the time, and it’s a battle to kind of even it out.

On the flipside, sometimes I’m just overly exuberant and that’s even more annoying for me, because I’m overly too much of a maniac. So, it’s really tough and I feel the record is a kind of depiction of what I battle through every day. – Unfortunately, when you suffer from any kind of mental illness, you learn very quickly who your true friends are.

Brandan Schieppati – Absolutely! I’m not going to tell you that I’ve been a saint through those years, but I’ll tell you what, I’m a loyal person. I don’t care what my friends do, I’ll have your back! That wasn’t reciprocated to me and it broke my heart: this record was a way for me to sort of exorcise some of those emotions. – Sadly, people these days have no sense of loyalty. To get back to the album, do you have a favorite song and/or lyric on the album?

Brandan Schieppati – I like “Fade Into the Ash,” “Dead Eyes,” and “Life.” “Life” is one of my favorites just because that song is about Bleeding Through. It very well could be perceived as being a song about a girl or whatever, but it’s about how I was such a mess for certain times in that band because I just couldn’t come clean with what I battled with. I feel like if I just would have opened up, I would have received the support that I could have gotten. That song is about how I choose to live another day for them; I choose life. That seems so simple to say, but people battle with that decision every day. I’m one of them. So, that song is about that battle.

“Fade Into the Ash,” song wise, is the pure Bleeding Through song to let people know what Bleeding Through is, that’s the song. “Dead Eyes” is about people that used to be associated with this band that just didn’t stay loyal. (Laughs) Yeah, it’s just about them. It’s like a Black Metal song with a HIM chorus.

SharpTone Records – On the chance of sounding like an idiot, are there any guest vocals on the album?

Brandan Schieppati – No, there’s not. (Laughs) I had my friend Davey Muise, formerly of the band Vanna, sing backups on a couple songs, and I had a couple people – Chris and Mark Pepe, who worked for Bleeding Through for years – I had them do group vocals with us. Other than that, it’s just me. I had this idea to put a lot of people on the record, but I just decided this is us. I think if people waited five years to hear this record, they don’t want to hear other people. Let’s just give them us!

I didn’t want the fact that I was going to have Matt from Avenged Sevenfold sing on our record as the selling point to the record. That’s not fair to him and that’s not fair to our band! I think that’s what it’s become: bands ask certain members of certain bands to be on the record, then all of a sudden you’ve got a sticker on the front of the record saying, “Featuring guest vocals by blah blah blah,” from a bigger band. It’s just not fair!

I did try other vocal stuff. That’s one cool thing about Mick, he’ll just be like, “Just fucking open it up and we’ll see what you can get!” That’s what he makes it comfortable to do. Ryan sings backups a lot just because his voice is so good, and Marta sings on a song. Other than that, screaming wise, it’s all me. – Is that Marta on “Life?” If so, she has an awesome voice. She has done so much for women in Metal and gets very little credit for being one of the first true female musicians in the genre; she truly paved the way for many women in Metal!

Brandan Schieppati – She’s awesome! You know what? Her story is Bleeding Through to a tee: supremely talented, attractive, really fucking cool, great on-stage, but just didn’t get the respect that she fucking deserved. That’s like how I feel with Bleeding Through: we were good musicians, we gave it 100% on-stage – which bands do not do, especially now – we toured our asses off, we worked our asses off. We were very good to our fans, and we just didn’t get that respect. – Hopefully that will change. Now, the band’s first headliner for Love Will Kill All is June 8th at the Observatory in Santa Ana. What should Cali fans expect from this explosive evening, and can fans in other locations hope for a tour?

Brandan Schieppati – Tours are going to be tough. I’ll get to the tour one first – that’s really hard for us to do because we’re all super busy. For me, I am the busiest person on the fucking planet. We’ll be able to throw weekends together in certain regions, and we’re not going to close it off and be like, “Oh, we’re just going to play New York and Boston.” No, we’ll do a fucking weekend in Louisville, Kentucky, and Indianapolis, Indiana. If they want to book us and we can get a weekend together, let’s do it! So, we’re kind of limited to that. As far as Europe goes, we could go a little longer, just because of festivals. We’re going to try to be as active as we possibly can within reason. As far as a full tour? I don’t think that’s going to happen! I can’t see any of us being able to leave for a month straight.

What people can expect is that Bleeding Through is going to be even better now. I think that we’ve all grown so much, and we don’t take it for granted. We’re going to play like this is our last fucking show every time, because we don’t know what tomorrow brings – we can just have hope for a positive future. So, really, that’s what they can expect to get. We want to add a little bit more theatrics to our show, so that’s something to look forward to, as well. We’re just going to have fun with it!

Trustkill Records
Rise Records – Okay, so to cycle back to something that we very briefly touched on earlier, Bleeding Through is one of a handful of Southern California bands that really kicked-started the Metalcore scene in the early 2000s. As someone that played a key-role in that scene, what are your thoughts on Metalcore in 2018?

Brandan Schieppati – It’s dead! I can tell you honestly that’s a big factor of why we’re coming back. Nobody carried the torch! It doesn’t get the local push, because I don’t think bands focus on local first and I think they need to. Bleeding Through played everywhere in Southern California – you have to do that! I definitely think it’s harder; bands are having to pay to play, this and that. It’s tougher. Bands need to go out there and do the legwork: go out there, go to other shows and flyer your show. That’s what I did! People were like, “Man, you’re flyering your show? This show’s going to have 1500 fucking people at it! Your band has sold 200,000 records.” Yeah, that doesn’t mean the work stops!

There’s a band from here called Vamachara that’s really good, and a band called Iron Curtain. There’s some good bands but I just think, how do I say this? There’s no originality. I see a lot of local bands live and they don’t move around on-stage very much. They always have different members, which means that certain members only are doing it because they want to try to get big quick; and if it doesn’t happen, they quit. I think it’s a little bit different now. – Okay, so wrapping up here, let’s go for something a little random: are there any albums that are coming out soon and/or were recently released that you are really looking forward to hearing?

Brandan Schieppati – Yeah, I just heard the new Dimmu Borgir record, and I am completely gutted. It is, dude, what the fuck happened? I’m so bummed that I almost don’t want to say it, because I know some of the guys in the band. They’re one of my favorite all-time bands and it is just like cut-and-paste slop; it sounds like Black Metal circus music. It’s not aggressive, it sounds like St. Anger (2003) for Black Metal.

On the flipside, my second record, Ihsahn, who is the singer of Emperor, he has his own solo stuff going on and his new record is magical! I don’t know if you smoke weed or whatever, but it is smoke a joint, zone the fuck out, and he will take you to random places in this world. It is so good! Even if you don’t do that, put on your headphones on and zone out to that record. It’s like another step in Black Metal that hasn’t been reached before. It’s just so good, oh my god! It’s a good record and he is the man. I haven’t always been super-stoked on everything that he’s done in his career, but I’ve always thought it was really good, at least. – Okay, last question: CrypticRock covers music, as well as films – particularly Horror and Sci-Fi films. Are you a fan of either genre and, if so, do you have any favorite Horror and/or Sci-Fi films?

Brandan Schieppati – I’ve grown out of Horror stuff. As far as Sci-Fi, as Sci-Fi as I get right now, is probably Stranger Things. I tried to watch the Netflix series called Altered Carbon, but that was a little too Sci-Fi for me. – From either genre, do you have an old school favorite?

Brandan Schieppati – Is 12 Monkeys (1996) considered Sci-Fi? That’s one of my favorites! That movie is sick.

Universal Pictures

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