Some bands find challenging themselves is what makes them better. For Every Time I Die, reaching back and working with someone new has been found to make all the difference. Armed with their new album From Parts Unknown, Every Time I Die looks to cement themselves as one the most consistent hardcore bands of today. Punknews interviewer Christopher Barrett sat down with frontman Keith Buckley to talk about tours and dream tours, refining their sound and not disappointing a producer.
So I guess I'll start with a question about a previous tour which was recently with A Day To Remember. I found that to be an interesting pairing. How was the tour and how did the tour come about?
It was a great tour. Weâve played shows with them before, and that included Riot Fest in Toronto two months before that tour. We hung out with them there and we got along with them so well they said we gotta tour together. We all said sure. I mean theyâre one of the biggest bands going right now so we werenât going to pass that up. We figured it wouldnât come as soon as it did because we initially had blocked of January and February to write the record and planned to record in March. So when we got the offer we were a little worried that it would cut into our writing time, but we just said weâll make time for both. So we toured and wrote at the same time. The band treated us well and were so nice to us. Really good dudes.
Were you in the process of recording yet?
No we werenât really recording yet. Our drummer, Legs, is pretty savvy with GarageBand, so he was able to plug Jordan and Andy in to lay down some basic guitar tracks. He programmed drums so he could get a feel for it. We were also able to discuss with him what he liked and what he didnât which we werenât able to do before. This is our second record with Legs, our last record he was kind of shy about being in the band. He mostly aimed to do what we told him in order not to make waves. This time he was able to show up and lets us know what he was capable of which was great.
So you guys are on Warped Tour again. How does Warped Tour differ from other shows you guys play?
On Warped Tour you have to play for people instead of with people. At a venue show for Every Time I Die everyone is involved. I mean everyone. However with Warped Tour you are up there and have to make sure down there is having fun because the stage is so big and there is a barricade. Even so, we try our best to incorporate the crowd as much as possible regardless of the stage we play. As far as Warped Tour goes I feel like itâs the best way to do it because bands like us like to be involved with the crowd.
How do you guys go about interacting with the crowd?
You honestly work with what you got. I honestly donât go on Warped Tour thinking by the end of this tour we should have made X amount of new fans. It really sharpened our teeth playing shows like that because weâre going to come across shows like that at some point. The shows with A Day To Remember were some of the biggest shows we ever played. Playing dates at Warped Tour are kind of shows like that too in the sense that you really have to learn how to put on a show. You have to find ways to do more when you canât directly interact with the crowd.
Things you could do with the crowd are definitely different on Warped Tour.
Very different on Warped Tour. People who watch you at dates on Warped Tour are more willing to do anything you say. Itâs crazy.
It would seem easier to get circle pits going amongst other things.
For sure you could do circle pits, you could do the crawl of death etc. To entertain you gotta be kind of gimmicky, which is weird.
Have you attempted a "Wall of Death?"
Not really. Iâve seen Lamb Of God split the crowd and then have the crowd charge each other, but I donât want to see people really get hurt. So they did the "Wall Of Death" and we did the "Crawl Of Death" where everyone got down on their hands and knees and they slowly crawled towards each other. We do that here and there. I try not to go to much to the well for old tricks but people will see what we have in store.
So I noticed your album cover varied from your past covers. What's they story behind it?
I wanted it to look different than any cover Every Time I Die has done before. So this time there is no pink, there's no logo. Jobby Ford from The Bronx is also a graphic designer who worked on this. So he asked what I wanted and I told him I wanted something nobody would expect. So we started talking about ideas and I brought up the old Queen record that had their faces in the dark on the cover. I figured hey its kind of cheesy, but I donât know a lot of bands that put their faces on the cover of an album anymore. So we went for it and Jobby made it a little trippy.
So what was the idea behind the "Thirst" music video?
So we started with the idea of this whole video of what would be someone going to a show, then going to an actual show. Then we thought we should cut the video in half where we see the people on the way to the show, and then a different song for the show. So then we debated about a few other things and it evolved to a Beavis and Butthead character partying before a show, not making it there and the to be continued is the show they're missing out on, which leads into "Decaying With The Boys." The two guys in the video are our friends from Buffalo. Theyâre great and thatâs not even them acting, that's them in real life.
So From Parts Unknown was recorded by Kurt Ballou at God City. How was working with him and what made you guys choose him this time around?
Weird and yet scary which is good for us. We always wanted to work with him but there always seemed to be time constraints and it never seemed to line up. So when we were asked by the label who we wanted to work with we mentioned Kurt. Now we loved everyone who weâve worked with in the past and never had an issue with a producer ever. We figured we had an opportunity to try new sounds and find new influences it something we felt we needed to do especially considering how long weâve been around now. We didnât want to go back to something we had done before and we wanted to do something completely different, and Kurt provided us with that. We were fortunate that when we suggested him first and foremost that he was available.
So I saw this quote about going to work with Kurt and thought Iâd ask. "Working with Kurt was stressful in the best way, like when your dad comes to watch you play baseball for the first time and you just want to make him proud." Just want you to elaborate on that.
I had never spoken to Kurt before and we had only played a handful of shows with them ever. Its weird because weâve both have been playing hardcore for so fucking long now. Before we went in to record with Kurt I had done an interview and said he scared me. He had never talked to me and I tried to have conversations with him in the past and somehow it never happened. So of course he read that, and the first day of recording I sat down on the couch and nobody else was in the room but me and Kurt and he turns his chair and pulls up towards me. He was in my face and he said "So I scare you?" I tell him that I wasnât sure if he liked me and our band and that we had never talked to each other before. So all the misconceptions were cleared up there, but he did maintain that level of aloofness throughout the recording sessions. I actually thought it was a good thing because you donât want to be the best of friends with someone who is trying to bring terrible things out of you. At times you kind of want to get angry at him and you want him to get angry at you. So it ended up being a good relationship.
So since you werenât close on a personal level he was willing to be upfront with you?
Oh yeah. He was definitely willing to tell me that I was terrible. I mean thatâs how he worked which was a lack of concern for my feelings. It was great though. It definitely got the best out of us.
So I noticed in the past you have mentioned more than once you would love to tour with Converge. Is that any closer to happening?
We talked about it. I would think now more than ever it would happen but itâs not certain. Itâs just one of those things that if it hasnât happened yet it's not supposed to happen. It almost feels like that if it happened now it would be "well that finally happened!" I feel at this point the build up and hype is so extraordinary that it would probably be best if it never does.
Is the dream dead then?
We always wanted it to happen. Itâs like missing someoneâs birthday. After a certain point you canât even say that you missed their birthday anymore. You just have to forget about it completely and act like it never happened. At this point weâve never toured with them, at it just seemed to late to even adjust it anymore. Just gotta let it go.
So where is tour going to take you later this year?
After Warped Tour weâre going to head to Europe. Some UK dates including Reading and Leeds. Weâre planning on doing a quick Canadian tour for 2-3 weeks maybe. After that weâre probably going to head back to Europe and the UK and probably Australia. At this point you probably realize weâre going to be touring like crazy.
Are there any places Every Time I Die has not played yet that should happen?
India. Iâd love to play India. I donât think people have been to Iceland very much, but Iâd love to get to Iceland. Iâd also love to get to play in China. Thereâs still plenty of places Iâd love to play, and weâre fortunate to have crossed a bunch off the list. We got to South Africa last year which was awesome. We also got to Russia which was awesome. We have played South America before and Iâd love to get back there, mostly because I feel like if youâve been around 15 years and went once you have to go back.
So I have to ask. I feel in conversations I have with many people about Every Time I Die they not only bring up Hot Damn, but in a manner that evokes feelings that the other albums donât. I wanted to know what you think.
At the time it was just another hardcore record but then people grow out of the scene, and people realize it just came around at the right time. We didnât intend for it to be anything major and we just looked at it as a record we wrote. We definitely felt it hit a the right time.
Doesnât comparing all subsequent works to Hot Damn seem unfair?
Oh God yeah. It always seems to be the barometer of anything we do. Itâs always asked "Is it more like Hot Damn or less like Hot Damn?" That everyoneâs major concern. Most people feel like itâs the best record weâve ever done. I mean sure at the time we also felt like it was the best thing weâd ever done, but as a band you canât keep playing the same record all of the time. That said, I feel like this record is more like Hot Damn. The way we approached the recording is similar to Hot Damn.
Is it annoying or negative overall that Hot Damn always seems to be brought up?
Honestly, no. I think it would be different if I had given up on music and was just working a 9-5 and people kept coming into my job and asking about Hot Damn then Iâd be like "Leave me the fuck alone. Thatâs not my life anymore." But it is still part of my life and process of what Iâm continually doing. So Iâm really not annoyed at all. I would love for people to replace that with having a better record on top of it. Weâre just going to keep plugging away and hope another one of our records will be just as important.