the AU interview: Keith Buckley of Every Time I Die (New York)

Every Time I Die are set to bringing their famous live shows back to Australia next month and man, have we missed them out this way. With their new album Ex Lives doing excellent things since its release in February, vocalist Keith Buckley can't wait to bring the material, plus the classics, back to the country.

How’s things going with the band currently?

With the band? They’re great! We’ve got time off right now; we got home last week and now we’re taking a little bit of a break before we come to Australia.
Awesome. It’s a bit of a rare thing for me to catch an international band when they’re off the road – generally they’re either driving from one show to another or they’re off in some small European country about to play a gig!
Well, on my time off, two friends and I have had to take a ride six hours one way and six hours the other leaving this morning, so we’re on our way back to Buffalo right now. We’re about three hours from home.

Oh cool! So, I guess now you’re off the road for a bit, can you tell me a bit about how the last bout of touring’s been treating you? I know that you are on the road quite a lot.

Yeah, we are; the last one…we headlined the All Stars Tour for about a month, which was weird, because it wasn’t our tour, it was a branded tour. We just got chosen to headline it. It was a little mini Warped Tour, pretty much. There were 12 bands playing on the same stage all day, one after the other. It started at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon. It doesn’t sound gruelling, but it definitely was! There was no re-entry, so people had to stay in the venue the whole day and you just feel bad for them! They’re just there, basting in their own sweat and you know, you’ve got to try and get them excited again, when they’ve already been excited all day! …It’s work, but it was good. Rewarding.

That’s good! I suppose, doing this sort of festival set up, when you do have people in the same venue for this extended period of time; I mean I’ve done it and it is hard to get pumped up constantly for each band who’s coming up, even if you want to! How do you overcome this, especially if you’re stuck right in the depth of the bill?

I don’t know, it depends; you really got to read the crowd and you’ve really got to gage the vibe of the room. Sometimes it’s better to do what you do and let everyone else feed off of it, but other times you’ve got to pander to it, you know? You’ve just really got to work on it.

It sounds like one of those ‘help me to help you’ situations, almost!

Yeah! You have to convince them that it’s okay, you know?

Getting on to the upcoming trip to Australia you guys have ahead…it’s weird, I’m still getting used to the idea of being in September at the moment, your tour is only really around the corner! Obviously it’s not the first time for you guys, but having being touring the last album elsewhere since its release, what’s exciting you the most about coming back?

Oh yeah! I think it being the first time back since the Big Day Out, I think that we got to play for a lot of new people at the Big Day Out and I’m excited to hopefully take some of them who might want to see us again, and put them in to an actual Every Time I Die show. Where there are no forty foot high stages and barricades and security – where it’s just a club with people jumping off the stage. Filling the room with energy. That’s what I’m mostly excited about.

For as much as you have been on the road with this album, does it feel like it’s been over a year now since its release?

No, it’s crazy. It definitely doesn’t because when the record came out and we discussed the touring cycle, we had phases of different songs that we wanted to work in – we’d set what would work and then shift them out and move other stuff in. It’s like, the songs we’ve played go over so well, we haven’t even gotten to some of them yet! The fact that the touring cycle’s almost over, it’s over right after we get home from Australia pretty much, I don’t know, it’s weird because there are songs that we haven’t even gotten to play yet!

That’s a great position to be in, I guess.

Oh it definitely is; it’s just like, ‘I really want to play two other songs, but there’s nowhere to put them yet’ and then we’ve got to practice them, because it’s been over a year since we recorded them!

I suppose, looking at the album in terms of where it sits in the Everytime I Die body of work, how do you think it represents the band as you were in 2012? Especially considering it had been the first album you’d released since New Junk Aesthetic in 2009, if I’m correct?

It’s my favourite of all of them, to be honest. The recording process was my favourite and the writing process was not my favourite, so that means it was my favourite, because it was really difficult and it took me a lot. I really had to work at it, because I was so busy touring with the band and it just feels like it paid off the most and I really worked hard on the lyrics on it. I don’t know – I love playing the songs off it and I feel that it was the perfect thing to come back with, personally, after going on tour with The Damned Things. To go out on tour with The Damned Things and then to come back with the heaviest Every Time I Die record since our really old stuff when we were super young and more agile…it just feels like a return to form, for me.

Totally! I was talking with Brent from August Burns Red and we were discussing the fickle nature of the metalcore scene and I suppose, this nature can be carried over into a lot of genres as well. In your opinion, how important is it to be presenting new music for the fans to be getting amongst?

It’s so tricky, because I don’t know. I don’t know how important it is, really. I just know that the most important thing is to adapt or die, really. You really just have to adapt. You have to make sure that your adaptation is completely in line with what you mean, you know? With the truth of what your band is. You don’t want to be like, ‘Oh shit, well everyone else is doing this and they’re doing well, so I guess we’ve got to do it as well or else we’re not going to get shows’.

You have to take into consideration the climate of the scene and really weigh it against what you want to accomplish as a band and just hope to god that it falls into place. I think that we’ve been really, really like that it has. There are slight variations where things work better than others; some things don’t work right away, but in three years you’ll look back and go, ‘Holy shit, that was before anyone else even started to do it’! You can’t be afraid to take chances but you can’t hate the other things that are going on; you have to learn to appreciate everything.

Without obviously compromising what you wanted to do as a bunch of musicians too.


Now, I was looking at the venues you’re set to play when you’re out this way and I’m happy to see that these shows are going to be small, intimate affairs, as opposed to the larger theatre venues we do have. Taking the American tour circuit for example, how different is the energy when you’re bringing your music to smaller venues or indeed, smaller towns?

Oh, it’s a world of difference; I can’t speak for anybody else but I know that personally, it’s just the fact that its reciprocated…what you put out, you get back. It feels so much better and it feels so much more personal and meaningful. When you play a huge stage, you put everything out and you hope that you get something back, because there are so many people and it could be outside and you feel really small when you’re outside. When you’re in a club, that’s all there is. It’s just that. One whole world for you at that moment. It’s a way better feeling.

I’ve been at many shows where the band has been quite encouraging of the crowd to be getting amongst it as much as they can, but then you have security and other factors coming in and disrupting that vibe – is this a common occurrence for you guys, or is there a bit of a balance struck?

There is a bit of a balance. If it’s up to us, we don’t have barricades and we don’t have security or anything; we just trust that everyone is going to look out for each other. I mean, I’ve seen more injuries as a result of barricades or security because people fall over or security can’t catch them and you know, if there is no barricade and no security, then there’s just people taking care of people. It just works out so much better that way, I think, but I know it’s hard to get promoters to trust that. They really need to. I just think that, as a community, it works. It’s self-sustaining.

Well, on that note, that’s basically all I had for you! We’re keen as to have you guys back so soon after your last visit. Have an excellent break and we’ll see you soon!

Great! We’ll see you soon!