Having released one of last year’s most acclaimed albums, North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me are about to return to our shores – this time for their first headline tour. On the eve of their highly anticipated second visit, guitarist Paul Waggoner was generous enough to catch up with Killyourstereo.
Could you please state your name and role in the band?
My name is Paul Waggoner and I play guitar.
BTBAM are about to return to Australia for the second time. How are things going with the band at the moment?
Things are great right now. We are at the tail end of our first ever world tour, which started back in early January in the US. We’ve been out on the road and in the skies now for around 3 months so we are looking forward to a little break, but are pumped up to come back to Australia. It is one of our favourite places to play so it’s quite fitting that the last part of this run takes place there.
This is your first headline tour of Australia, what are you most looking forward to about the upcoming tour?
Well, we love the Aussie fans. They were great to us the last time we came supporting Bleeding Through. Aside from that though, we are of course looking forward to the beautiful scenery and weather. Australia is just a great place.
Most BTBAM songs clock in at anywhere between 7-12 minutes. Consequently, do you feel you have to put extra effort in when it comes time to create your setlist? Where the average band may be able to fit 10 songs into their performing time, BTBAM may only be able to fit in around five.
Yes, much planning has to go into creating a setlist. Not so much when we are headlining, but if we are supporting a band and we only have 30 minutes it becomes very challenging. We really just try to approach it with the mentality that we want to give the fans as much music as we can in the allotted time. This doesn’t necessarily mean the most songs, but just the most MUSIC. We just finished a European run supporting Lamb of God and we only had 30 minutes. We just played 2 songs, but the set actually went over very well with the crowds.
When Mastodon was in Australia recently they performed their most recent album (Crack the Skye) live in its entirety from start to finish. Can we expect anything like that from BTBAM on your upcoming tour, a la ‘The Great Misdirect’ in its entirety?
We did that for the ‘Colors’ headlining tour, but I don’t think we will be doing that with this album – especially in territories which we rarely play, such as Australia. We feel like it’s more important to give fans a dose of everything, or at least as much as we can.
Your music is renowned and marked by diversity and experimentation of different musical genres. Moreover, in the past year or two you have released a DVD as well as a covers album a while back. What is next on the musical horizon for BTBAM?
It’s hard to say in terms of specifics. We definitely plan to start writing in August, when we are done with this touring cycle. But I have no idea what is going to come out. Our influences are so vast, there is really no telling what we will come up with. Our goal with each and every album is to continue growing and evolving. We will push ourselves creatively and hopefully come up with something that is very fresh and forward thinking.
Pink Floyd and similar large stadium rock bands are known for their grandiose concerts with a strong emphasis on a ‘lights and sound’ visual component to their performances. Personally, that seems like something BTBAM’s music would be suited to as well. Are there any plans in the foreseeable future to incorporate something of this nature into your performances?
Absolutely. We would love to do an extensive light/video show. Unfortunately, the production budget is just not there yet. We think our show would benefit greatly from a visual aesthetic. It’s just a matter of money, or a lack thereof.
‘Colors’ was such a highly regarded album that contained a high level of musicianship and skill. You have been on record as saying you wanted ‘The Great Misdirect’ to really out do ‘Colors’. Was there much pressure when writing the new album? If so, in what ways?
We always feel pressure when writing new material. But that pressure is completely self-imposed. We are always getting more critical and picky about what we write. That’s always been the nature of this band. There is a constant drive to improve our song writing, and to try and create something that is different from what we’ve done in the past.
Being in a studio with a click track and scratch guitar for hours and hours on end can be a tedious task at times. Moreover, your band is not afraid to dabble in odd time signatures and longer musical passages. Can you fill us in on what the BTBAM recording process is like?
Well, as we are writing songs we are simultaneously doing somewhat of a pre-production. Blake maps out all the click tracks, and we all are very prepared with our individual responsibilities. I think it is extremely important for bands like us to come into the studio well prepared. Our budget is relatively small, and if we tried to record our music without having it pretty much nailed down beforehand, we’d be in the studio forever. So basically we go in, and Blake lays down the drums. We don’t do any scratch guitars because Blake just plays straight to the click track. Then we lay down guitars and bass. Once the basics are done, we start adding lead guitars and vocals and then any extra textural stuff that we deem necessary. It’s really a very relaxed environment because we’ve done so much legwork in the rehearsal space.
You have had the opportunity to tour with many different bands from different genres. Are there any particular bands that stand out, that you have really enjoyed touring with?
You are going to think I’m trying to avoid this question, but in all honesty we have really gotten along with all the bands we’ve toured with. It would be hard to pick favourites because there are so many. We are about to do some Japan dates with our friends in The Red Chord. They are a great band to tour with. We did one of our first tours ever with them, so we feel like we’ve grown up together in a way. We love touring with them. But there are really so many bands that we love hitting the road with. Perhaps the greatest thrill of being in a band, besides playing music for the fans, is becoming friends with people that share the same passion of making music.
As mentioned a few questions back, you guys released a cover album in 2006 (entitled ‘The Anatomy Of’). As a curveball, if you had to pick one of the two artists/performers from each pairing listed below to cover – who would it be?
Rush or Led Zeppelin?
Slayer or Anthrax?
Meshuggah or The Dillinger Escape Plan?
Lady Gaga or Pink?
What are BTBAM’s plans for the rest of the year?
Tour until August, then start writing and maybe record by the end of the year.
Any final words?
We love Australia and can’t wait to get down there and play some shows for our Aussie friends. Please come hang with us!!!
Thanks for the interview.