New Sound Speaks Volumes: An Interview with Volumes Vocalist Mike Barr

2014 was a banner year for the Los Angeles five-piece, Volumes. Three years following their debut album, the metalcore band came back strong with the release of their sophomore record, No Sleep. With a lighter, pop vibe that speaks more like an expansion of their sound rather than a complete reconstruction, No Sleep received largely positive reviews and hit number one on the iTunes Rock and Metal Charts.

Now, they are ringing in the New Year by embarking on numerous tours to promote their latest record. Vocalist Mike Barr took the time to expand on the album’s reception, the upcoming tours, and what else Volumes has in store for their fans.

Your latest album, No Sleep, had some greater pop tendencies than your debut album. How did the band decide to expand on this?

I think during the process of our first album, Via, we wanted to do a lot of stuff like that; take a lot of creative chances and kind of showcase another side, but we were too scared to. We were too scared to really pull the trigger. And on this album we just knew, when the first album Via was done being put out and that whole touring cycle was over, we knew what we were going for with No Sleep. Immediately, we knew we wanted singing, we wanted a little lighter feel to the record. Everyone knows we can tune low and make stuff really heavy, and have that sound. And we’re really good at making aggressive music. But we also wanted to showcase people another side of the band that people wouldn’t normally see, so it was kind of like a natural shift. We knew it was always going to come and it came in this album.

Did these changes affect the recording process?

Yeah it did. We take the recording process very seriously. We like to do it ourselves. For the past few records we were doing everything ourselves, not bringing any producers in, and for No Sleep we wanted a new sound and to kind of expand our horizons. So we linked up with an individual named Brandon Paddock, who’s amazing, and he came in and brought a whole new aspect to the studio. And that was the only real change from wanting that pop-vibe, wanting to lighten up the vibe of the music for this one. But other than that it was pretty straightforward. How we do things, we just added in this producer who challenges us a lot, and that’s what you want in a producer: you want someone who challenges you and tells you that you’re wrong. When you do stuff you’re on your own, and you kind of talk yourself into thinking that things are right and that you can work harder on them and stuff like that. And that’s what he did. He challenged us every step of the way.

That’s awesome! Now, you guys were also recently featured on Punk Goes Pop Vol. 6 singing Drake’s “Hold On (We’re Going Home).” Is this something you’d want to do again?

Definitely! Any opportunity we can get to show other sides of Volumes and other creative sides to the band that we can, we’ll take. And that compilation and the people putting that together are definitely people we want to be around and work with. It’s a great opportunity for bands to market themselves. They have a whole marketing campaign that’s worldwide, and being sold in different outlets. There are a couple bands on there that are used to that, but my band’s not used to that. And so for us to be a part of that is amazing, and I’m sure there’s other bands on there that haven’t had that exposure. And for us coming from an independent label right now, it’s just crazy when you have that momentum all of a sudden, and you’re getting posted up everywhere and getting all of this awesome feedback. We would do it again in a heartbeat.

That really gives you the chance to play around with different musical styles and genres. Are there any specific artists or styles of music the band has been drawing from?

In the beginning we really used to keep our stuff along the lines of a newer version of Meshuggah and early Bulb. For people who don’t know who Bulb is, it’s Misha Mansoor of Periphery, and Bulb is what he called himself starting out, just uploading these little riffs. And we were there for that and we loved Bulb, and it was kind of like Bulb and Meshuggah were the biggest two inspirations. As we were rising in the beginning we kind of realized we can’t really just sound like that, so we incorporated different stuff. And right now, our inspirations come from all types of music. It comes out on No Sleep, there’s a lit bit of hip-hop in there, a little bit of alternative and bossa nova.

We’re really influenced by a really big spectrum of music. We come from really big eclectic backgrounds: classical, hip-hop, rap. You name it, we’ve been exposed to pretty much all types of genres, maybe excluding some real niches. We don’t really like to say, “Hey, this one band is the influence,” because it’s so hard to pinpoint what would be that main influence, because it really does come from so many different types of bands and music. And I know it sounds cliché but it is how that works. It’s simply this: our creative process thrives on taking chances. That’s how we get the best result in the end. There are some things that we’ve failed, some stuff we’ve made horrible, awful. And you just have to go through that and put those songs away and take what’s good from that influence and what you were chancing and make it work. So we don’t really have one influence, it’s kind of a huge, broad spectrum.

Now that No Sleep has been released, Volumes has some tour dates lined up: first with Veil Of Maya, and then right after you’ll be in Europe and the U.K. with Of Mice And Men. What are you anticipating most from each tour?

We’re really close with each of these bands, Veil Of Maya, Upon A Burning Body, that tour, both of those bands we’ve toured with multiple times. Especially Veil Of Maya, we’ve toured with them the most. I mean we’ve been through the best and worst times with that band, kind of just seeing each other’s careers explode. We’re really excited for that tour because we did this tour almost two years ago and that went really well. So it’s kind of like the second coming of that tour and putting these three bands together and it’s like a reunion I guess. All of us are doing really well and we’re excited to get back out there and see the reaction.

You know, when you’ve done a tour, it’s kind of like just getting into those three bands at that time and you kind of share each other’s energy, each other’s fans…I guess not sharing each other’s fans. Not saying like they’re objects, but in the sense of sharing their energy, and you know you meet different people and different band’s fans and supporters and that’s one cool thing about touring. That’s the beauty of it, being exposed to the different groups of kids and having them come up to you and saying like, “Hey, I love Upon A Burning Body but you guys kicked ass tonight and I’ve never heard your band before.” And vice versa for our fans being exposed to Veil Of Maya maybe for the first time, or maybe that haven’t really been into them and this is an opportunity for them to have their perceptions changed.

And Of Mice And Men, I mean let’s just be honest, that’s a powerhouse. We’re really excited to go to Europe with them. I mean we’ve toured with them before and they’ve been really good to us and kind of taken us under their wing in like a weird way. They’re really good to us, and for us to go to Europe with them is huge. We’ve only been there once, and it went well but we’ve definitely been needing to go back, and it’s awesome that we get a chance to go back with a band like Of Mice And Men who’s going to completely destroy it. So we’re really excited to get back out there and go to a couple of new places we haven’t been.


Volumes’ latest album, No Sleep, is out now. You can catch Volumes playing Theatre Of The Living Arts in Philadelphia on Jan. 10, GameChangerWorld in Howell, NJ on Jan. 12, and Marlin Room at Webster Hall in New York on Jan. 13. For more information, visit