"I want to be dead with my friends" screams Keith Buckley to open up the new Every Time I Die record ‘Ex-Lives,’ the band’s sixth in what has become a long running, successful career. This sentence suits the front man who has led his band through a relentless touring and partying schedule, building their ever-growing fan base the old fashioned way, by being one with the people and being good, down-to-earth dudes. Kill Your Stereo had a chat with Buckley about the new record and anything else that popped up…
Hey Keith, what’s going on with you?
We just got to the venue in Knoxville, we got two days left on the Terror, Stray From the Path and Former Thieves tour but Terror is not allowed to play tonight because last time they were here they incited a riot, and the promoter won’t let them play tonight so they have a show somewhere else.
It’s pretty weird, especially because it seriously happened like, four years ago.
How has the tour been going so far?
Unbelievable, everyone is really feeling pretty positively about the whole thing, the clubs are awesome, the kids that come out are complete ape shit so it’s great.
So you guys must be pretty excited about the new record just coming out, the first thing I wanted to talk about was the image on the front cover, which is amazing, what was your reaction like when you first saw it, did you just think “this is perfect”?
We knew it was perfect but we didn’t realise it was going to be the album cover. It got sent to us by the photographer from a summit in Toronto in Canada and the fact that it wasn’t photo-shopped is fucking sweet so we tried to get like, high resolution images, blown up and framed and make them into shirts but then we were in the studio and Dog, our friend and the guy that shoots our DVDs and stuff was like, "Why don’t you just make that the cover and that’s it with no words?" and we were just like "Yeah, alright, we’ll do that." But I have no idea who this kid is, he hasn’t like, come forward or anything. I’m beginning to think that maybe he wasn’t a fan and he just got the shirt from a Salvation Army or something and just needed a shirt that he could get bloody if it happened at the riot.
That would make it even more awesome!
Before hearing the record I had a few friends tell me they thought it was quite different but when I listened I didn’t think it was that much of a departure from the usual ETID sound, where does it sit amongst the other records from you point of view?
I think that it’s as if right after ‘Hot Damn’ we, within two years, got fifteen years of touring experience and writing experience and then recorded that record after ‘Hot Damn.’ You know what I mean? It’s not something we haven’t done before, but we just have more experience now and it’s still as angry and as fast as it used to be but I think that right after ‘Gutter Phenomenon’ things started slowing down a little bit and we stayed in a comfort zone, so this sounds like going back to us just trying to shake things up a little bit.
Last time you were in Adelaide you played Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space for the first time, and it went off, probably one of the best songs of the set, how have the rest of the new tracks been received live?
It’s cool, once we played that live somebody put a video online as people want to do, and people knew that first line immediately because it’s all you can make out, but the more tours we played it on the more people were catching onto the words and singing along but now the album is out, people know it and its awesome. We’re still playing around with new songs and getting the line-up, at the moment it’s that one and Typical Miracle that we play live as well as Holy Book Of Dilemma and people are catching on, it’s cool.
I noticed on the record you have changed some things up vocally, it seems like you are singing a bit more?
You think so? People keep saying that but I don’t think so, I feel like I’m singing less than most Every Time I Die records.
Really? Maybe there are just sections where you sing for longer, so it seems like there is more singing?
Exactly, I think that might be it, it might just be like, longer parts that you can get used to before they’re done. Every one wanted to hate the next ETID record if they didn’t like The Damned Things, thinking there’s gonna be too much singing or it’s too rock but people don’t realise that even if I didn’t do The Damned Things there is still singing in ETID records, it’s not like I was just in this different band so let me bring it back to my old band and see if people like it, I’ve always been singing so people can’t use that as a reason to not like it.
Are you saying that ETID fans had a negative reaction to The Damned Things?
Ummmm no, not at all from what I know but I was very cautious to stay off the internet (laughs), we’re talking about hardcore kids here, they are very fickle and very territorial, if they like a band, they have to like it and nobody else can like it, so if I was doing something that was maybe on a different scale or a different plain for more people and new people then I know that people who like ETID would be like "Fuck that, fuck that."
I can see a little bit of a relation between The Damned Things record and the new ETID record though, not heaps, but it seems like you may have taken some influence or experience from it to put into the new one?
Yeah, especially lyrically, I think that whole experience inspired me to write sixteen songs worth of lyrics and fourteen made the record. It was definitely something new for me and it’s good because if that hadn’t happened I would have written another record about partying (laughs), I would have made another record about hanging out with your friends and everything’s cool and you’re on the road and you kinda miss home but you love the road, but with that I was going through a lot of shit, stuff I had never gone through before that definitely came into play and for the lyrics of the ETID record.
So will there be another Damned Things record?
I don’t know. I have no idea, there are no plans. It took us four years to even get into the same room together so I’m absolutely not ruling it out as I would love to but I know that everyone has got fucking crazy schedules and once they are home they like to be home because they are never home, so we’ll see. I would like it, I would definitely be into it.
So I’ve enjoyed some of the pieces and rants you have written for various publications, is that something you will continue to do?
Oh yeah (laughs), well I love complaining so (more laughs) there will always be something to complain about. Plus it’s a different kind of writing, obviously there are no parameters of music that I have to follow so I love doing it. I’m not necessarily always going to publish it in a major thing or website but it will probably turn up somewhere eventually.
We should probably talk more about the new record although I’m conscious that you have probably answered the same kind of questions about it a lot lately.
(laughs) Ohhh yeah.
So just give us a summary, what can you tell us about ‘Ex Lives’?
I think this is the only record that doesn’t have a guest vocalist on it. That doesn’t seem like a big deal but it is for me. I always asked people to do guest vocals because I was very unsure of myself, know what I mean? It was kinda like, the song needs something, I’m not doing the song justice, so I was very uncertain so I wanted people to add their thing but I feel like I could man the ship this time. I feel like it was really solid musically, I think they did a really great job with it and I was proud of what I had written so I didn’t feel the need for any, help I guess (laughs).
I never saw it as help, I just figured you liked working with other artists and enjoyed having them be a part of your project.
Oh yeah, absolutely we did! I mean, working with Dallas Green was one of the coolest things I’ve done. He is a friend of mine but seeing him in the studio he’s like a different person. So seeing the way people are in the studio, Daryl Palumbo was another, I loved working with him because in the studio he’s just a genius.
I am a huge Glassjaw fan, working with him would have been amazing.
Oh yeah, for sure! It absolutely was, and I’m was thankful for that but this time, I mean, I’ve worked with everyone I’d like to, obviously there are some people like Tom Waits that I’d love to work with, but as far as my contemporaries go I think I’ve worked with every vocalist that I either grew up with or still admire.
Do you get a lot of offers for you to be the guest? I know you did that thing with gym Class Heroes that was pretty cool.
Yeah that was cool, I’d love to do more but nobody asks me.
(Laughs) Yeah I don’t know why nobody asks me!? What am I doing wrong? Maybe I should put an ad in Craig’s List "looking for vocal guest work."
Would you say that ETID is at the highest level of "fame" that you have ever experienced? I ask this because something happened on the net a while ago that I found quite weird, a section of an interview with you defending Sonny Moore, or Skrillex, went a little bit viral. Are you aware of that kind of thing happening now? It’s a little bit crazy.
It’s very crazy, it’s insane. I don’t know why that segment even out of the whole interview? I didn’t see it but I really feel like if that is going to start happening to me and to us, you really can’t pay any attention to it. I knew that it had made a message board but so many people were saying to me that this clip is now everywhere, I didn’t watch it, I just remember defending the kid because he’s a talented dude and people just hate him because he’s successful you know? I think reading back and seeing people feedback will make me question my gut instinct.
Yeah I wouldn’t recommend you do that.
It is interesting though that you guys answering a simple question in an interview can have a reaction like that, does that change the way you guys operate on a day to day basis?
No, definitely not. When I know that something is going to cause some contention I don’t check the internet. I attend to what I need to attend to and I don’t get sidetracked by all these little minutias. Once you start doing that and once you start managing the way that you answer questions or the way that you look in public or the things that you say or the things that you do you completely lose yourself everything is just a reaction. I think that the reason we have been a band for this long and that kids have been cool with us is because we have honestly just been ourselves, we have done everything that we have done without any attention to the internet or any attention to the fads. In order to keep doing what we’re doing we just have to keep that attitude, it’s easy for me because I hate the internet anyway so the less I have to look at it the better.
So will you guys be coming back out to Australia any time soon?
Yeah for sure, it will definitely be on this record cycle for sure we just don’t have anything planned after Warped Tour right now, it will probably be after Summer some time, hopefully spring. We’re on this tour for two more days, then we start another tour right after that which goes for about a month, then we got to Europe and go to Russia for two days which will be cool, then we do Warped tour, then that’s it so hopefully Fall we will start getting back over there.
It seems like you guys are forever on tour.
Yeah that’s all we do. I seriously don’t know what to do when I’m at home, I mean, I love it but it’s like "Okay, I have to pay for all of this alcohol… (laughs) …get me back on the road, this is bullshit."
Is that the same for every member of the band? Is everyone keen to just be constantly out on the road?
Yeah, and I think that you can tell by our revolving door of bass players that when people can’t handle it that’s why they quit. I really feel like if you weren’t in this band from the beginning when the mood and vibe was set that we are going to do whatever we have to do to succeed at this, which means touring like crazy and doing stupid tours, tours that are so far away from home that you can’t even make a phone call for like three weeks, that once that first bass player left it was just gonna get worse and worse because we would be going longer and the new bass players that came in would be fresh and they wouldn’t adapt to how crazy we were about touring.
How long can you do it for though?
We can’t go on forever obviously, I’m well aware of that but I think that there is a lot of time where I think I’m so old but I’m thirty-two, that’s not even mid-life yet. I really think I have a good few years left in me but it’s cool because the dynamic of the music scene has changed so much. When I first started the band when I was seventeen I thought I was obviously not going to be screaming in a bar at a club when I’m twenty-five, I’m gonna have kids and a house by then but no, that is shit, the age goes back and back a little more. It’s cool because the kids are getting older too, people that come to our shows are my age and we’re not playing to thirteen year old girls like a lot of these bands are so it’s good. If someone said "Hey, you’re going to start playing to thirteen year old girls, those are going to be the people that buy your records but they are going to make you famous" I’d be like "Fuck it, I’m out."