Interview: Every Time I Die

Published in Drum Media (WA) | 10.01.13 | Issue # 320


After a few beers, Every Time I Die vocalist Keith Buckley reveals to Daniel Cribb he’s nervous about the band’s debut at Big Day Out and, to some extent, isn’t really a fan of music.

It’s been just under a year since Every Time I Die released their sixth record, Ex Lives, and for frontman Keith Buckley, it’s been a life changing ten months. The time surrounding its production was filled with an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia for the lyricist, which resulted in countless arguments and an unhappy touring life. Putting everything he had and more into the band, he felt like he was treading water and the band was going nowhere – a feeling only amplified in a lifestyle where personal space is a rare commodity. Once the album was unleashed into the world, Buckley’s head was clear long enough to assess where he was at and make some necessary changes to his outlook.

“Feeling stuck doesn’t really sit well with me, and I start to panic and freak out. At that point in my life, I just felt stuck. I mean, everyone goes through it; I’m just lucky enough to be in a band that I can write about it,” Buckley tells. “Since then I’ve been taking a lot more responsibility for everything that was going on, rather than trying to find people to blame. I think I kind of went inward a little more and just kind of accepted some facts about myself that I never really wanted to accept, and, you know, it’s a process, I feel good about it, it definitely helps me get through touring a lot easier, and I’m not just an angry guy now all the time, and I’m not freaking out and having arguments with anybody or getting into bar room brawls anymore. So it’s nice, and peaceful.”

It’s hard to imagine how the frontman of one of today’s more successful metalcore bands could feel like he was going nowhere. Before Christmas, Every Time I Die played three sold out shows in their hometown of Buffalo, and this year are making their debut at the Big Day Out. At home and on festivals such as the Van’s Warped Tour they’re big fish in a small pond; they’re the ones handing out the wedgies and nipple cripples (as promised in a promotional video for their most recent appearance on the tour). And even though they’re somewhat small fish in a big pond when standing alongside the talent at Big Day Out, the fact they managed to ink their name onto the bill of such a festival is testament to their success.

“Now we’re the freshman. These are all the real professionals that have done stuff like this before, so I guess if I had anything to say to them, it would be, ‘Go easy on us. Go real slow, be gentle’,” he laughs.

“We’re very excited. There are a lot of bands on there I’ve never seen before and, you know, we’ve never played anything like it. I’m nervous… It’s a nervous excitement,” he reveals. But that doesn’t mean they’ll be adjusting their set or treading lightly to accommodate fans of The Killers or Vampire Weekend. “There’s one of two ways to approach it. One is that you play the stuff that’s more, I guess, radio friendly; the stuff that will go over well with a big crowd, stuff that’s not as heavy, maybe a little more singing in it. Or you do the complete opposite and play the most brutal stuff you have, and you leave people walking away remembering your band, being like, ‘What the hell did I just hear? It’s one thirty in the afternoon’. It’s the latter for us; we just crank it up, and I don’t know what to say, if people aren’t into us, they don’t have to watch us.”

And you might imagine the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ set somewhat clashing with the aggression released from Every Time I Die’s, but Buckley has a different point of view. “We’ve definitely had some pretty weird mixtures, but to me, I think it’s weird when we play with all metal bands and all their fans like us, because I don’t think we’re that heavy, and I think the people that listen to ‘real metal’, not metalcore, if they like us it’s kind of weird. I would think that they would think that we’re not heavy enough, so that usually surprises me. Like at Ozzfest, I was surprised that people in Black Label Society T-shirts were coming up and telling us that we had a good set – that was weird to me.”

After returning home from the Big Day Out and smashing out a few headline tours in the US, they’ll be sitting down and flicking through months worth of riffs, lyrics and ideas to work on album number seven. Their writing process somewhat differs from most bands, and it’s easy to see why Buckley became overwhelmed during Ex Lives. “We kind of just let it all build up and then there’s this huge release after the touring cycle ends,” Buckley explains. “We were in and out [of the studio] in like a month,” Buckley recalls of Ex Lives. “I had written all the stuff when I was on the road with The Damned Things, so the [band] hadn’t even heard anything that I had done yet, so we get in the studio and everything’s being played for the first time, and then it just seemed like in the blink of an eye it was over.”

Preparation is everything, and to keep his skills in practice Buckley frequently posts short stories on his blog, and in the past was a contributor for Alternative Press – his profile on their website stating that he “hates music” but “loves movies”. “I’m obviously not going to pretend this band doesn’t give me a bigger audience of people to read the stuff that’s not band related, people only care about me because of the band… I’m busy writing and reading and exercising that mental muscle that is going to have to come into play when we start writing. It’s like training in the off-season, and I’m doing it.

“I love movies because I’m not involved in it, I can watch movies as a fan, you know. I don’t know how movies work, I don’t know the background story, and I don’t know what people are like in real life. With music, I know exactly how it works. I know, for instance, the guy singing this song, well, I talked to him, and it’s not about this and he’s making fun of so and so. It’s harder to be a fan of music when you know how it works.”

Every Time I Die will be playing the following dates:

Friday 18 January – Big Day Out, Sydney NSW
Sunday 20 January – Big Day Out, Gold Coast QLD
Friday 25 January – Big Day Out, Adelaide SA
Saturday 26 January – Big Day Out, Melbourne VIC
Monday 28 January – Big Day Out, Claremont WA

Daniel Cribb

Drum Perth (Jan 10, 2013)