Of Mice & Men’s drummer takes a step forward on the band’s third album, tapping into his nu-metal roots and embracing fresh and fierce sounds.
Of Mice & Men has been on a steady upward trajectory in the metalcore world since forming in 2009, and the popularity of its third studio album, Restoring Force, released in January, has the band touring nonstop, selling out venues in the U.S. an Europe months in advance. Valentino Arteaga, who was born in San Diego on Valentine’s Day 1986, first came to music through classical and jazz saxophone studies. This provided a good foundation for him to build on in his early teens, when he discovered the drums and heavier sounds. From 2002 to 2008 Arteaga cut his teeth in Lower Definition, playing drums and booking the band’s tours while still in his teens. In 2009 he connected with vocalist Austin Carlile and bassist Jaxin Hall in time to record Of Mice & Men’s self-titled debut album.
Arteaga cites Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk, Green Day’s Tré Cool, Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham, and Blink-182’s Travis Barker, as well as San Diego–area players like Wuv from P.O.D., as early drumming influences. Joey Jordison of Slipknot was an eye-opener when Arteaga got into harder music, as were players associated with nu metal, a style that has had an increasing influence on OMM’s sound of late. “That’s the music I grew up on,” Valentino says, “and [it features] the kind of drumming that I’ve tried to cultivate in the past few years. It has that heaviness but also a huge amount of groove. It’s not just mechanical, in-your-face metal—it’s got some groove and style to it.”
While previous Of Mice & Men releases involved a good amount of computer-based editing and mixing, with Restoring Force the band members, encouraged by producer David Bendeth, devoted themselves to making a raw, organic rock album. “David stripped all the drums I had written for the album,” Arteaga shares. “He really challenged me to step out of the confines of how we had recorded our last two albums. We tried different drums for different song sections and put a lot more thought into all the sounds. This was a much more natural-feeling record, and we’ve always wanted to do that.”
Arteaga is stoked about what lies ahead for the band. “So far the reception [for Restoring Force] has been unbelievable,” he says, “and we’re on huge festivals we never thought we’d be on. And we feel that we have the material to really rock these crowds and gain new fans.”
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Though he tracked Restoring Force with a double pedal, Arteaga says that he prefers the response of the two Truth acrylic 20×22 kicks in his one-up, two-down touring kit. He recently became a fan of brass snares, and consequently he’s been traveling with 8×14 and 4×14 models. Arteaga uses TRX cymbals and Promark Shira Kashi oak 2B sticks.