Artisan Rock 'N' Roll

Lee Malia from Bring Me the Horizon has quietly become one of Epiphone's most prolific signature artists both for his work with British rock/metal pioneers Bring Me the Horizon and as a member of the Epiphone family. This year alone, Malia has released two custom models--the Ltd. Ed. Lee Malia Explorer Custom Artisan Outfit and the new Ltd. Ed. Lee Malia RD Custom Artisan Outfit. Both feature his favorite Walnut finish and unique "Artisan" inlay along with Lee's now familiar set up of a Gibson USA P-94 single coil and 84T-LM™ humbucker pickup.

Bring Me the Horizon has finally completed a nearly two year long tour in support of their latest album That's the Spirit and though the band is scheduled to start writing new material later this year, Malia tells us they are already thinking about their next move. Bring Me the Horizon formed in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, England in 2004 when Malia met singer Oliver Sykes and drummer Matt Nicholls. The band has since won 6 Kerrang! Awards (including Best Album, Best Single, and Best video) and three from Alternative Press. All that attention hasn't fazed Malia, who is as polite and enthusiastic today as he was in 2014 when he released his first Epiphone signature model, the Ltd. Ed. Les Paul Custom Artisan. Much like Malia, the signature Les Paul Custom Artisan is a totally unique Les Paul that truly stands out in the crowd--not an easy feat considering that Malia's fellow Les Paul signature artists include Tommy Thayer of KISS and Joe Bonamassa. Epiphone.com spoke with Malia from our London showroom about the band's well-deserved break, his new RD Custom, and getting heavy with Deep Purple.

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It's great to speak with you again, Lee. Today you've had a press day in London to celebrate your new RD Custom Artisan Outfit. We've interrupted your vacation!

That's ok. It's been all right. It's been pretty easy.

That's the Spirit was very well received and it seems like the band has been touring non-stop since its release in 2015.

Yeah it's been pretty crazy.

What was the inspiration for the new RD Custom?

Basically since the Les Paul came out, I've been using it on every tour. I've got a bunch of them set up with different tunings. I was thinking I might do another shape in the same finish. And Epiphone said sure, send your ideas and we'll see what we can do. So I sent a couple of shape ideas over and they came right back and said we'd be up for it. They sent me some mock-ups and I loved it. It was amazing. It came about just like that.

Your use of different tunings has become one of the hallmarks of Bring Me the Horizon's sound.

Yeah, over the albums and playing live there's a bunch of different pitches and stuff I've used. Everything from standard tuning to drop D down to A# and down to C. We used to do some songs where the E string was tuned to a G. We've always liked messing about. I find that when you change tunings it gives you a new approach to writing.

When we spoke earlier this year, you thought the band might begin writing new songs this summer.

We haven't started writing yet--we're still having a rest (laughs).

Take us through that process. How does the band work on new material together?

Oli (Sykes) has a studio at his house with a little vocal booth and everything set up. So I take my amp head 'round and a cabinet simulator and plug straight in. It's mainly me, Oli, and Jordan (Fish, keyboards and programming). We just sit there and start trying ideas. It's very simple really--trying different things. However long it takes. And we do that for about four or five months (laughs).

Before you begin those sessions, does the band listen to the last album together and take note of what you'd like to do differently?

I think before you start writing you always have some bold idea of what you should do. And then you start writing and it just changes straight away. Nowadays, we just start and see what happens rather than pick a direction because to be fair, you never really know where it's gonna go anyway. It's never been that simple.

I suppose on the older cds we focused a lot on the songwriting--making better songs and making them catchy and stuff. With the new one, I think we might experiment because we've done the whole verse/chorus/bridge sort of thing on the last two cds. We don't want to get stuck making 3-minute normal sounding songs. Do you know what I mean? So, I think if anything we might experiment more with this next one.

During the tour, were there any songs that the audience responded to that surprised you?

The song "Follow You," because it's super light--not heavy at all. You never know how that's gonna go down live because it's more ballady, I suppose, then anything we've got. It comes across really well because everyone just sings along and it becomes one of the best moments live when everyone is singing. It's like as good as watching everyone going crazy and moshing and stuff. It's good to hear everyone singing along at the same time. Stuff like that is pretty cool to see how it translates from a cd to being in a live situation. It's like being at a rock gig but everyone is singing along.

So you've got some time off now. What have you been listening to and playing around the house with your new Epiphones?

I've been listening to a lot of Deep Purple and Rainbow and stuff. I don't know why. I've gone back to listening to a lot of classic rock because it's what I grew up hearing in the house and stuff. I've been playing a lot of that on guitar, just re-learning the old classics I've always known but didn't bother to learn. To be fair, I've set about learning all of that stuff.

And your Dad raised you on a lot of that music, right?

Yeah, my Dad used to a play a little bit. And my Uncle he played a little bit as well. But they were the only two in the family that I ever really saw play guitar.

He must be glad to hear you working on those songs

Oh yeah, definitely (laughs)! My Dad loves it all. Whenever we hang about we'll put songs on or if we're driving it's always bands like that or Dire Straights and Eagles--just anything with great guitars.

Do you have a sense yet how your new Ltd. Ed. Lee Malia RD Custom Artisan Outfit might work its way into the band's sound?

I've only really played it at home. I feel like live it's definitely going to be a guitar for the heavier stuff. Because it just feels that way when you're playing it. The shape and the look of it. At the moment it sounds good with everything so I've been playing it all the time. I think I'll definitely be using it to write a lot of stuff. I have no idea what's going to come out yet (laughs).