Every Time I Die are one of the good guys in the heavy music scene. A great sound to go with an equally great attitude. With ‘Ex Lives’ now eight months into the listener’s psyche, the Buffalo heavy-hitters are gearing up to return to Australia for January’s Big Day Out. KYS recently caught up with frontman Keith Buckley to discuss music, Larry David moments and how they want to play at your party.
Hey Keith, how’s it going?
Good, how you doing man?
Yeah, not too bad thanks.
You just got back from Europe I believe?
Yeah, we were there about a week ago. Yeah, we got home last Sunday, so we’ve been home a little over a week.
And what do you in that small bit of time? I know you’ve the US tour starting in a few days. Do you get up to much in your spare time?
Well, I bought the new Call of Duty: Black Ops [game] because I was like it’s perfect because I can play for a week or a week and a half. Then I didn’t start on it right away and then after like three days passed of playing it, I’m not even going to bother right now because it’s just going to take up too much of my time and I’ve just been busy winter proofing my house and taking care of home stuff. So, that’s about it, that’s all you can really do in that time.
Yeah absolutely, fair enough.
I’ve been scratching my head a bit at how fast the year has gone. How has 2012 been for Every Time I Die?
It has been extremely busy, I mean, you would think as time goes on we’d slow down and listen to the nagging of our bones (laughs) and not tour so much. But it’s actually been really, really, really busy. After the [new] record came out we haven’t really stopped touring yet. I don’t know? It’s business as usual. A lot of people think it’s the sixth record, we’re probably just going to do a few weeks here and there, but, no, it’s still full steam ahead. It’s been productive and the reception has been awesome and there’s no reason to slow down when you have this much steam.
And when you say it has been a busy year, does it get any easier over time with how hectic it can be being in a band?
I think it’s like a bell curve; it’s always a struggle until you hit the point where you just absolutely know exactly what to do and how to do it. And, you know, you cope perfectly and everything around you is just copacetic and everything is great. But then, like I said, as time goes on it starts to feel like ok, well I don’t think I can successfully spend seven nights in a row on a hotel floor anymore (laughs). You kind of need a little bit more, then it gets harder to come by. It’s always a challenge, it will never be easy. It’s one of those things that weeds out a lot of the bands, how much they are willing to put into it. How much they are willing to suffer for their art.
Obviously, ‘Ex Lives’ came out earlier in the year. Having eight months of playing the songs live and listening to it quite a bit, do you start to view an album differently over time?
Yeah, usually. But to be honest, not this one. I think it’s because we didn’t really sit back and think about this one too much. I know that might sound unprofessional and hurried, but I think it was just more off the cuff and more instinct shown than the other stuff. So when you go back and listen to it, you’re not thinking, “oh man, I should’ve spent a little more time on that.” Second guessing was never part of the equation. It just kind of takes you back. It’s almost very nostalgic to listen to it and remember what you were going through at the time and you remember the recording process and the writing process. And it’s weird because I feel it has a longer shelf life because of how little we paid attention to what we were doing and just kind of went with it, it just feels more human. So, it’s not as laminated or produced or layered, it just feels a little more, well not a little more, it feels a lot more natural. When we go back and play it there’s still a connection to songs that records tend to lose over time.
When you say it felt natural, from my perspective I thought it sounded like the most comfortable album you’ve made. As a line-up, you felt really settled when I was listening to it. Is that a fair statement?
Yeah, I think because there was something about it. I can’t even speak for everyone else, but I know from my approach was kind of to do a 180 and instead of trying all this weird progressive stuff like we’ve been trying all throughout. Just say what can I do and what I like doing? And then just do it. It’s settled in that way yeah, but it’s not like “eh, it’s the least I can do.” It’s not like comfortable settled, but it’s sort of like I am confident in what I can do and I really want to do it this time.
You’re coming back for the Big Day Out, which I’m pretty excited for. You’ve done Soundwave before, you’ve done the club shows while you’re down here. Big Day Out is a bit more eclectic. What was the decision to play that festival?
The offer (laughs).
There was no decision. It was just we got asked, so we did it. A bunch of our friends bands have done it and said how incredible it was, the Bronx have done it. It just comes with such high regard and with the mixture of bands that are on it, so a chance to get to play with people like that is pretty sweet. It’s very few and far between that we get to find new experiences and new bands to play with after being in it this long. So to do a whole new festival with a bunch of new bands we’ve never seen or played with is something you’ve got to jump at.
I was going to ask about that, a lot of people affectionately call the Big Day Out, the ‘Big Day Off’ because there’s such a period of time between the shows. Was there anything in particular you wanted to get up to, in terms of perhaps seeing bands you wouldn’t normally get to see?
The thing is, it’s really fucking expensive to keep yourself entertained in Australia on your days off (laughs).
We did it last time with Soundwave, we had days off and I was freaking out because I just didn’t have any money to do anything. I guess if you’re like the Chilli Peppers or The Killers and have a nice little cushion there, you can do whatever you want and you know, go swim with sharks. I’m probably going to be scrounging for cigarettes and hoping people buy me drinks at some local pub.
That’s not a bad way to go.
I guess not (laughs). Once I actually heard myself say it, it didn’t sound so bad (laughs).
I remember a few years back I used to really enjoy reading the guest columns you used to do for Alternative Press and I remember there was one particular article you wrote about an experience at Warped Tour and a band, that you didn’t name, but suffice to say you weren’t really keen on their style and what they were about. Do you have any particular feelings, whether good or bad, today about music that is sparking your interest or perhaps something you really don’t like about it?
It was so consuming, it really was. I totally stand behind what I said and I definitely felt that way at the time, but looking back at how much time was spent wasted in negativity. I kind of feel I missed out on a lot of sweet stuff because I was paying so much attention to crap I hated so that I’d have something to complain about. It’s 95% pure garbage out there, but I mean, I just really think if I can focus on what I like and what I can connect with and kind of empathise with, it just proves to be a lot more productive than seeking out things that I hate just so I have things to write about. There’s two or three bands on the festival that I’m not a hug fan of, but so what, there’s plenty that I am. So I think just being able to be around and have those options is great – I don’t have to be around that terrible music all the time. On Warped Tour, there were actually days when I had to be around awful music and I think that’s where that stems from because I didn’t really have a choice on the matter for so long. I don’t know? Things change, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf here and look at things a little more positively.
That’s the thing, in terms of thinking about it in a positive manner, I’ve never been in a band and haven’t toured, so I don’t have that perspective, but when you’re actually on the road and interacting with other bands, does it make you cynical at times seeing this type of stuff?
I mean definitely. It’s what I’ve based a career around…being cynical about everything (laughs).
It is easy to do. It is so easy to get into the vibe of “I hate everything.” But, I don’t know? It’s actually proving a challenge to be positive and I enjoy challenging myself, and trying to stop bitching all the time about certain bands. That’s my new obstacle that I’m trying to overcome and it is fun because it’s challenging, but the cynicism was just so easy to fall back into because, like I said, terrible music and disingenuous music it’s everywhere so it’s very easy to fall in with them.
What’s something still on the Every Time I Die bucket list? Something you still want to achieve as a band?
Hmmm, let me think, let me think. It’s funny; it’s usually like watching grass grow you just never notice the changes. It used to be I just wanted to make a music video, then it was like I just want to tour on a bus and now it feels like we’ve done so much, it’s just like places to visit to be honest. Awards really don’t matter. I would love to go to South Africa and I actually just got an email that we might be going there (laughs).
I mean, man, I don’t know? I can’t really think of anything, I’m not wanting for anything at the moment. It’s a great spot to be in. I want to have a nice vacation on days off in between the Big Day Out festival (laughs). I would actually love to swim with sharks if possible because I see all my friends do that and I’ve never got to do that.
I know also, when we were talking just before about your Alternative Press column, you had a little statement about your own ‘Larry David moment’. Have you had any Larry David moments of interest recently?
Oh my god, yeah. It was just on one of the flights actually. There were two seats against each side of the airplane and three seats in the middle and I insist of an aisle seat because I get really claustrophobic and I don’t like asking people to move if I have to go to the bathroom. It’s always a plane, it’s always a plane (laughs).
So, I got on the plane and I see this lady and she is pregnant and she also has a baby on her lap and she is in my seat. And I’m like “you’re in my seat”, and she is like “I have to sit on the outside I’m pregnant.” And I’m like, “no” (laughs) …I’m not being stuck between the wall and you with a baby on your lap and she’s like “I have to, I’m pregnant. “ She was getting really indignant about it and making a scene and I’m like, “oh my God, ok I guess I’m going to sit here.” And I sat against the window and luckily I feel asleep but the baby that was on her lap when the people came put down the meals, the kid picked up a knife and started poking me in the back with while I was asleep until he woke me up and I was like freaking out. (laughs).
I asked the stewardess to get me moved and they couldn’t move me and I was like, “I’ll pay for a first class seat, I don’t care.” And, there was nothing in first class, the whole flight was fully booked and I was sweating and turning bright red and making a scene. That was definitely it…that was my last one.
Fair enough, I can definitely picture Larry David being in a similar situation.
How can you let a pregnant women and holding a baby in one seat – that is three people in one seat essentially. How can they let people do that? I don’t get it. Sorry (laughs).
It’s all good.
That’s the argument I was having with the stewardess.
I think I’ll back you in on that one.
On the Big Day Out, obviously there have been a lot of bands announcing sideshows. But, I noticed there hasn’t been one for Every Time I Die yet, is there any plans to do any sideshows while you’re down here?
We always love to, [but] I think this one might just be by the seat of our pants. I know that we’ve been talking to some of the other bands that are trying to look into doing them. It all depends on who is doing what and in what city. A lot of people won’t do it if a lot of the bigger bands are doing the sideshows, so who knows. But, we’re the kind of band that if someone offers us their basement we’ll show up and play, so we’ll let people know that is for real. Because we aren’t very good at taking days off, we tend to always fill them with something that is music related, so if we’re getting too anxious we’ll definitely take to the internet and see if there is a house party we can play or something.
I’ll have to put my thinking cap on with that because I reckon there’d be quite a few people that would gladly offer their house for that.
Hey, let’s try it. Let’s give it a whirl and see what happens.
And, in terms of 2012 are there any albums you’ve really been digging?
I mean the new Deftones is absolutely blowing me away. ‘Diamond Eyes’ was always my favourite but this is making a quick, quick run at the heels of ‘Diamond Eyes’ for me. There’s been a bunch. The new Converge is one of the best. It just feels like this has been a great year, if the world is going to end it feels like everyone went out on a really good note for their records this year, I love it! So yeah, the new Converge, the new Deftones, the new Chariot is great, which is aweseome because that’s who our next tour is with and their album is incredible. That’s been about it.
I’d agree with all those they’d be high on my list as well.
And, I know you’re a bit of a film buff too. Have there been any films that have been catching your interest recently?
I saw the movie Looper with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, the hype around that was just devastating so I don’t know if I enjoyed at much as I thought I would because everything said it was the greatest movie, it was the new Matrix. I don’t know, I don’t think I liked it as much.
I’ve actually just been caught on Netflix. I’ve just been watching a lot of old, crummy 80’s and 90’s movies a lot. I just watched Reality Bites last night for the first time ever and I watched Singles the other night. I don’t know? I’ve just been on a really weird alternative music kick. I’ve been reminiscing with Empire Records and Reality Bites and Singles.
I remember a few back now, I saw you guys at the Corner Hotel in Melbourne when you were playing with Norma Jean and you are always one to have fun when you playing live. And you had a drinking game where the fan in front had to skull his beer while Andy was playing his riff and if he didn’t finish in time he got dragged to the back.
(laughs) Yeah. We might have to bring that back, it has actually been awhile. I think that tour was actually the last time we ever did that. We’ll see, if we do any sideshows we’ll have to bring that game off the shelf.
Because I was going say, Big Day Out fans, there might be a few people there that might not be familiar with Every Time I Die in the past, so it might be good to endear yourself in that way.
(laughs) Yeah, I think that might be endearing? I think if we did that it might turn some people on. I know especially in Melbourne, it seems like one of the bigger drinking cities I’ve ever been to. Hopefully they will like it, we’ll see if we can all drink together.
I’d probably agree, we enjoy a good beer.
Yeah, you definitely do. That’s good, I respect that.
And just before I let you go, are there any final words you’d like to pass onto the Killyourstereo readers?
When we come back just keep in mind that we are very, very uncomfortable on huge stages (laughs). So the more people get involved the better it is for us. And if you’re throwing a party let us know and we’ll show up.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us today.
And, I’d definitely be keen to play some basement while you’re down here in Australia. I’d definitely be all for that.
Awesome, well, let us know if you guys come across anything because we would love to.
Excellent. Well, thanks a lot for your time and have a good rest of the day Keith.
Awesome man, take care.