Between The Buried And Me interview: 'Our new record is our most ambitious yet'
Between The Buried And Me are one of the most forward-thinking metal bands around, juggling distorted riffs with experimental flourishes and melodic majesty.
The North Carolina quintet are due to release their seventh full-length album ‘Coma Ecliptic’ on July 10 and it sees the group delve into prog - and songwriting - more than ever, channelling a rock opera vibe.
Pressparty caught up with singer and keyboard player Tommy Rogers to talk the new record, the risk of alienating metal fans and touring.
Did you feel a lot pressure coming off the back of the really well received album 'The Parallax II'?
"I wouldn’t say a lot. I think everybody has that natural pressure - you always want to top yourself, or at least do as well as the one before it. I think when you’ve been a band this long, you sometimes worry ‘sh*t, can we still write?’. But the second we started working on this record, we knew it was going to go well, and it really did. The writing process was very gratifying - it went very smoothly and looking back on it, I’m very happy with the outcome."
Did you going into the writing process with any preconceived ideas of what the sound would be like?
"No, we never do really. We generally figure out when we want to start writing and then we just start writing on our own. Then we try to meet up with each other and take it from there, and see what kind of vibes we’re doing. Instantly, when we started writing this record, we kind of knew it was a little different. But it still felt like us, and once we really started to put it together, it felt right for us. We’ve never been a kind of band to really force any kind of sound."
You’ve previously said it was both extremely rewarding but also frightening?
"I’d say the recording as all rewarding. By the time we hit the studio, we’re 100% ready. We actually record our album ourselves before we do it in the studio. So all of the hard work and the tweaking and the frustration and getting the end product is already done. The studio was phenomenal, as always. The writing - I really enjoyed it, it was one of my favourite writing sessions. It was very hard, very different.
"For me, because the music was different for us, I tried to approach things a lot differently. I tried to look at parts of music with a different ear to see if I could try to write some different things over it. For me, there were a lot of moments of doubt - was my voice up to par with the musical writing, and was it working well? I was putting a lot of pressure on myself. There were times where I had a lot of self-doubt, but once we got to the point where we got into the studio, I knew all the frustration and self-doubt was for a reason. I’m glad I pushed myself to where I did. I enjoyed it, looking back at it."
I can sense an overlap between your last solo record ‘Modern Noise’ and this one, in places.
"The solo stuff teaches me so much about my voice, because it is a stray away from metal. I think it overlaps. With the last one, I really started to understand my voice more, which is important for the band."
There’s not much screaming on this album - are you worried you might alienate some of your more metal fans?
"I don’t think so - it’s still an aggressive album. I think people kind of blow that out of context. If you listen to the record, a lot of music doesn’t call for screaming. I’m not going to write screaming just cause I feel like I have to. As a vocalist, I write what’s best for the song. But who knows - the next record might be really heavy, you never know. It’s how we’re feeling at the moment."
Is this album your most progressive?
"It’s a tough thing to judge by yourself and kind of a weird word to define something by. I feel like it’s our most ambitious record yet. But I think it’s our most focused record. In a way, we even have some more simple song structures, for us. But it’s got our sound. It sounds like Between The Buried And Me. But I think you can understand what we’re doing on a first or second listen, or rather than having to listen to it over and over.
Do you think then that this might make you bigger so to speak? Or are you not bothered by that?
"I have no idea - that’s out of our control. We’ve just go to do our thing. Hopefully we’ll get bigger. Every year should hopefully be bigger than the last, but we’ll see. We have a great fanbase, very loyal, and everyone seems very excited for the record and I’m looking forward to having everyone hear it."
Is there one aspect of the record you’re most proud of?
"Outside of the music and everything, I’m really proud of the production, and the whole package. The art and production…I really enjoy that part of it. The production is phenomenal. I enjoy all of our records, but there’s so much clarity in the mix - there's all the tones. It’s exactly what we want. All the little nuances we do you can really hear on this record, and I think in the past a lot of that has been lost.
You're touring the UK in September - what can fans expect?
"We'll play a few new songs, yeah. But there will be a mix of everything."
The band has been going since 2000. As you get older, does touring become more of a drag?
"I think it’s different for everybody. For me personally, yeah, it does. But it is part of the job. I think as you get older, you have more serious relationships and families and all that, and it’s hard to be away all the time and miss things."
So is life on the road for Between The Buried And Me quite a bit different now than ten years ago?
"Not a whole lot. We’ve always been pretty mellow on the road. We just hang out - we’re friends. We’ve always been like that. The only difference now is that sometimes we go on a bus rather than a van, and someone drives us, rather than us driving ourselves, which is nice.
"We get more sleep now than we used to. Which is important. Our newer music…we need the sleep."
Watch the video for Between The Buried And Me's 'The Coma Machine' below:
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