Everything has a beginning and an end.
For Sydney’s Buried In Verona, their genesis came in 2007 as the band formed out of high school and released their debut album ‘Circle the Dead in 2008 via Riot Entertainment. This debut was then followed up by 2010’s ‘Saturday Night Sever’. It’s this second record that helped the metalcore band gain national attention as well as online traction via MySpace and is often considered to be the band’s best work. While it is a solid album, far from their best I must argue, it had steep competition with its terrific follow-up, ‘Notorious’.
‘Notorious’ dropped in 2012 via UNFD and debuted on the charts at #20, and contains some of their best songs – from ‘The Descent‘, ‘Lion Heart‘, ‘Couldn’t Give 34 Fucks‘ to ‘Finders Keepers‘. The record was even nominated for a “Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album” award at the 2012 ARIA Music Awards, but it sadly lost out to DZ Deathrays album, ‘Bloodstreams’. I personally saw a hefty amount of those ‘Notorious’ songs live when the band supported The Amity Affliction, Architects, and The Ghost Inside on tour in late 2012 (what a show) and it was the by far the strongest I had seen BIV perform.
This was indeed the band’s glory days. However, the momentum soon wavered.
I think this was in part due to their next record, and perhaps their most contentious release; 2014’s ‘Faceless‘. Despite the highly debatable quality of the record, it reached #15 on the ARIA Charts; the band’s highest chart spot to date. At the time, my brother and fellow Killyourstereo.com writer, Matty Sievers tore into ‘Faceless‘ in his review for being just that – faceless. I could only agree with my sibling; this was a huge misstep. The next time I saw the band live was a headlining show in Melbourne, around the time of that record’s release, and the crowd sizes, as well as their interaction and responses when compared to their prior years, was now noticeably lacking. The engine was running out of steam it seemed. While I do recall the group maintaining a strong live sound and set, it all felt…unfulling as their hype and audience interest was dying away.
However, for those left cold by their fourth album, faith was restored just a year later with 2015’s stellar ‘Vultures Above, Lions Below’. It was an epic, vastly consistent record that was born out of their own personal struggles and the band’s inner turmoil. It showed the quintet keeping their heads above both the financial and emotional waters.
Their fifth outing was a truly strong return to form, as I put it in my initial write-up, and while it saw a returning audience and listener interest by debuting at #17 it was only within 12 months that UNFD would announce via social media that notorious BIV were tapping out. Which brings us to the now, mid-October of 2016, where the band is now two shows into their final run as I speak with Buried In Verona’s Brett Anderson for perhaps the last time.
To no one’s surprise, being in a band can be incredibly fun and life-affirming, but it can be a strange beast and it can definitely be immensely taxing. From writing music, playing shows, touring, business management, and of course doing press, among many, many others things. Which makes this last batch of press the weirder when you consider that frontman Brett Anderson, who’s been a member since day one, has been discussing Buried In Verona’s demise at length as of late. In fact, in our recent interview with The Dillinger Escape Plan’s Greg Puciato, who are also bowing out, Puciato likened it to talking about a divorce that was yet to happen yet everyone and their damn dog wanted to know about it.
“Yeah, it’s like a planned ending”, agrees Anderson. “When you start a band, there’s obviously a massive risk in the music industry that it’s not gonna work out; that you won’t live off it. But there is a hope that when you do end it, it’s your own choice. But it is slightly bizarre and it’s definitely bittersweet; as this is the last press I’ll ever do for Buried In Verona. You know, I actually really enjoy doing press and it’s kind of shit to see it go, but it’s all part of it for us right now.”
Likewise, talking about a huge part of your life that’s soon coming to an end can be a tough topic for anyone to discuss and it obviously generates a wide array of emotions. All of which will come to a head as the band wraps up the remaining shows scheduled in BIV’s tour schedule, of which a final page is now being closed on.
“You know, it’s always exciting to get on the road again, to hang out with your mates and to play music. But talking about how this will be the last time these songs are played live, it really makes your heart sink”, the singer states, but with the slightest hint of a smile to his voice that says he intends to go out on a high note.
As many will recollect, there was a point where the Sydney outfit carried one of the bigger names on the UNFD roster, but they were soon overtaken by fellow roster mates In Hearts Wake, Northlane, and of course, The Amity Affliction, all of whom surged past them in both sales and popularity. As callous as that may sound, it’s nothing but simple fact and the band will be the first to admit that crowd did dwindle between the ‘Notorious’ and ‘Faceless’ period and that the writing may have been on the walls for a while.
“I do think that UNFD felt it coming. We obviously liaised with them quite regularly, but emails and interest soon dwindled from our side and I think that’s the natural progression from when you think that something might end.”
Of course, the Australian label would never have signed up the band if they didn’t at least give some form of shit about the group and their music. They weren’t the only ones either, as that earlier chart success proves. Even four years into the band’s career, they had a growing fan base and had plenty of opportunities presented to them, many of which they took like any sane band would have. Again, the hey-day of the band was here, and songs liked ‘Four Years‘ showed their determination.
While ‘Vultures Above, Lions Below’ indeed saw a return to their musical strengths and their popularity, looking back to a year ago, I can’t help but feel that it really was one of their best records. Anderson thinks so as well, but that sadly comes with a small caveat.
“It’s a double-edged sword. I am happy that we’re going out on what I felt is our best record, and it was the epitome of what Buried In Verona wanted to do; a mixture of heavy, soft, and the emotional. But it’s disappointing to go out on our best one as if we had pushed harder and increased our touring schedule, we may have gotten back to being a decent sized band like we were in the Notorious days”, states Anderson. “But life catches up with you, and your priorities change along the way. So you must make a decision to end it or go make another record. This time, I had nothing left in me for Buried In Verona.”
Which is perhaps for the best, as if you have nothing left to give, you may find yourself simply acting and perpetuating something that you aren’t fully invested in. Whether that be a relationship, your day job, or a band that you can no longer fully care for or love, it can only make for a recipe for resentful disaster down the line. This is something Anderson and his band mates wanted to nip in the bud now and end the band on their own terms; not years down the line when they may hate their music, their jobs and potentially one another.
“That’s just it! That’s especially true now, as I don’t have time to pretend I enjoy something anymore. We’ve always been like this; putting 100% into the music and the shows and it’s gotten to the point where we didn’t want to continue just to end up like that”, he asserts.
Now, as the artwork for the Last Leg Up tour suggests, punters will be seeing all sides of the band’s discography, from the big singles to some deeper, rarer cuts, with these shows also being the longest sets that the band will have ever played. Furthermore, as this is the final tour, one thing the band has spoken so much about over the past couple months was the debt incurred over the years. No one knows it best (or worst?) then the band themselves. It’s something that Anderson can’t help but dwell on, even now with just four shows left on their calendar. He hopes that with the band’s end comes the end of financial worry.
“It’s the best thing that could come out of this tour apart from the fact that we get to play one final time. This is for us and for the fans. But one that thing that could come out of this tour is that we can get rid of that debt completely, and not have to chip into our savings to pay off the band. Which would be pretty dreadful”, laments the singer.
He continues, “Having one final tour, having the time of our lives, and then coming back to reality and having not enough funds to pay it off. It would leave a bitter taste in all of our mouths; that after all of this hard work and the last memory is us digging into our savings to pay off a debt for a band that’s dead. But fingers crossed we can kill two birds with one stone. That’s the one thing about Buried In Verona ending is that soon we won’t have to think about this crushing debt. It affected us all on a deep and very personal level.”
Fan or not, I think that any sympathetic person out there could wish the band the very best in erasing that debt and finally being at peace with the band as they lower it into the proverbial ground. Well, that’s just me at least.
However, if we step out of the musical spectrum for a second, Anderson himself owns a construction company, of which he’s grown into the role over the years. But as for him and the rest of the band, the end of Buried In Verona marks the point that their personal lives can once again reclaim top priority.
“Everyone’s going to try and get their personal lives up to where they want them to be. Our personal lives have taken the back seat for almost nine years now and it greatly affected our relationships. So we’re all going to enjoy the fact we no longer have to go anywhere, that there’s no pressure to write something and for the first time in a long time we can do what we want.”
That time is fast approaching as the final show of the tour and subsequently, the band’s career is locked in for Saturday, November 5th at Melbourne’s Max Watts. While the band is ready to lay everything to rest and shift their respective life focuses, the conflicting emotions felt by the band members will become truly palpable on this tour, especially come their final set just off the Swanson Street and down the stairs of Max Watts.
“As it will be the last show, I know that emotions are going to be running high. It’ll be the final time that we leave 100% of ourselves on the stage. The last couple songs in Melbourne are going to be pretty rough. I don’t even know how I’ll keep it together, honestly”.
Stepping away from the touring circuit and the work and experiences enthused within Buried In Verona is a hard pill for the vocalist to swallow, but one that must be downed regardless. But for all of the bullshit, it is a lifestyle he will miss.
“Playing live is extremely hard to not do for me. I can’t really imagine myself not playing live shows or not having a tour to look forward to. The side project I have, which I suppose is now my main band, Don’t Die Like I Did, we’ve just finished up an EP of originals. I really hope that that can become my new live outlet as I don’t want to stop touring music; I’d be too lost without it.”
With the aforementioned Don’t Die Like I Did, consisting of Anderson and Ursula Kurasik, their name is a famous quote from Northern Irish pro footballer, George Best. With a moniker like that, I’d forgive you for thinking that it was a rather on the nose nod to the singer’s attitudes towards Buried In Verona, which wasn’t really the case. However, now the association is definitely apt for the band as they stand in their 11th hour.
“The name is just a famous quote but it does tie into Buried In Verona somewhat. There were a lot of things that we shouldn’t have done and people that we shouldn’t have trusted, and so on. The actual name does sound kinda negative, but the message is really positive. It’s a warning. We wanted a dark name with a positive spin to remind people that shit can get pretty messy sometimes and that depression can lead you into many different places.”
As our phone call winds down towards its natural conclusion, I ask Brett if there is anything that he would like to end the interview on. For the front man, it is but a simple and deeply heartfelt thank you to the fans and listeners over the years.
“Whether you have supported us for one album or for five albums, whether you came to a show or bought some merch and listened to our music, I can only extend a massive thank you. It is only thanks to you that I got to live out my dream and that I got to do some absolutely amazing things in my life.”
The band has toured Australia countless times, and now there is just one final lap to run; with no secret record coming and no reunion plans. So whether or not you were a MySpace era hardcore kid who sweated ‘Circle The Dead‘ & ‘Saturday Night Sever‘ back “in the day”, or you entered in at the UNFD period with ‘Notorious‘ and onwards, this tour is for you. However, most importantly, it is also for the band themselves as they close their coffin and move on with their lives.
Farewell Buried In Verona.
Friday, October 21st – Triffid, Brisbane Lic/AA
Saturday, October 22nd – Factory Theatre, Sydney Lic/AA
Friday, November 4th – Uni Bar, Adelaide Lic/AA
Saturday, November 5th – Max Watts, Melbourne 18+