Between The Buried And Me: The Future Is Now
Currently trekking around Australia with his band of merry, tech-metal men, Tommy Rogers gives us the low down on Between The Buried And Me’s most recent conceptual opus, The Parallax II: Future Sequence.
Hey man, how are you?
I’m good thanks mate, just battling through your standard technical problems type situation, but we’ll get there.
Now if I’ve got this right you guys are in Seattle, heading up to Canada yeah?
Yes we are.
And you’re of course playing The Parallax II in its entirety, so how’s the response been?
It’s been great man; it’s honestly one of the best tours we’ve ever done. We did wait a while after the record was released to do a tour where we’d play the whole thing and I think it was a smart move because you know, everybody’s familiar with the material and the response has been really, really good every night. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate the record.
How do you view a tour like this? Is it a celebration of a particular piece of work, or is it something you feel compelled to do these days to break the standard touring model up a little bit?
With a record like this it was always intended for it to be played from front to back, we were prepared to do that when we started to write the record. We did that with Colors, you know, certain records it makes sense to do it like that and this just happens to be one of them.
I was going to say that playing a record from start to finish isn’t a new concept for the band, you of course had the tour and accompanying DVD for Colors, but how much preparation goes into something like this?
Not as much as you would think really [laughs]. There’s a lot of preparation on a personal level, we just all get really prepared by ourselves before we meet up and I think that takes the most time. We all get ready with all the material and then we practised for something like three or four days before the tour and then that was that. I guess most of the time is spent at home making sure we can actually play our parts.
I guess that really speaks to the level of musicianship of your bandmates then, because I know I was positive you’d spent weeks perfecting a set like this…
[Laughs] We’re very lucky man, as far as our line-up goes. We all have a great work ethic and we’re all on the same page, not only when writing but in preparing for a tour as well. Everything runs smoothly and works really well for us.
Are you looking at putting together a live DVD for this release in the same way you did for Colors?
We’ve been talking about it. We’re in the process of figuring that out right now. We’ve been trying to think of a way that isn’t just your standard DVD, you know? Nowadays if you want to see us play you can just jump online and find any song we’ve ever written getting played live, so I feel the curiosity of the live show is gone now thanks to online media, so for me, we’re trying to think of a way to present the record and still give the fans a live feel without it being your typical live show. So that’s where we’re at with that, but hopefully we can do something like that because I do feel the record calls for that kind of visual accompaniment. Plus I think our fans are the kinds of listeners who want to see that more in-depth and personal approach to the music, so we’ll see.
Given The Parallax II is your longest and most ambitious release to date, did you encounter any teething problems in trying to string it all together in one hit?
I think when we wrote the record – and this applies to every record we write – we always prefer the live scenario, because ultimately, we’re a touring band and we’ve always played most of our songs live. So we always want to write something we can present in a live format, so it’s always in the back of our minds. With this tour you’re right, it’s a long set, it’s definitely a work out every night, and I know that for me personally, I’ve never had such a toll put on my vocals before, you know, playing an hour and a half every night can wear on you. For me personally there’s been a lot of preparation, taking it easy during the day, that type of thing.
A lot of bands are doing this now, except they’re selecting seminal records from their back catalogue and giving them the live treatment. Is that something you ever see the band doing, perhaps giving Alaska or The Silent Circus a similar kind of tour and DVD package?
We’ve definitely talked about it, it’s not something we’d be opposed to doing. I don’t think we’d ever do a whole tour. I mean, we did Colors in London a couple of years ago just out of the blue, so I guess if someone inspires us to do something then we’ll do it for sure, but there’s no plans at the moment.
I know you said you always intended to play The Parallax II from end to end (from the moment you started writing it) but did any of that hinge on the response it got and whether or not it warranted a full tour?
Probably [laughs]. The tour has been something we’ve really enjoyed doing but it’s not something we’d look at doing every record cycle. For The Great Misdirect we only did a few shows where we did the whole record but as a musician, when you write new material, we’ve always been the kind of band who writes a whole album and not just songs, so being able to take that album and present it live is really fun for us.
Like I said earlier, a lot of bands doing a similar thing are usually cashing in on their “classic” release, whereas you guys clearly believe in your current work and what you’re doing right here, right now…
Yeah, I mean, you have to be proud of your current work. Obviously there’s a time and place where sometimes you have to be honest with yourself and accept that people enjoy your older material more. In our minds we’re still writing our best material and hopefully that’ll continue. Of course there’s going to be people that prefer our earlier records more, but for now we do things like this and it works really well and our fans get excited, so we’ll keep doing it.
Well you guys seem very fortunate to have a fan base that’s actually willing to grow with you and invest in the band, so it makes something like this far more feasible.
Totally. Being fortunate enough to try new things and take our music in different directions and have such a big group of people support that is amazing.
It’s been over 12 months since you released the record, your fans loved it, critics loved it, so how are you feeling about it as a piece of work now? Have your feelings towards the album changed at all and how do you view it compared to the rest of the Between The Buried And Me catalogue?
I can’t believe it’s been a year already, I didn’t even know that [laughs]. I feel just as passionate about it as I did the day we finished recording it. For me, it’s a record that’s very near and dear to my heart. I had a son right around when we were recording and there’s a lot of things on that record that kind of… there’s some lyrical themes and sounds that involve him, so I think this record will always have a special place for me and not to mention I think it’s the most enjoyable record we’ve done. When I listen back to it I feel it flows really well, it’s long and dynamic but it never gets boring. Now, playing it live, it reiterates the fact that it’s a great record. I’m definitely my own worst critic but I’m incredibly proud of it a year later.
A lot of the reviews commented on the fact that even though it was your longest record – and as usual there was a lot going on – the songs had a sense of cohesion and flow that wasn’t present on your previous records.Is that something you guys sat down and consciously worked towards when writing for it, or was it just a natural place for your songwriting to go after more than 10 years in the band?
I think it’s a little bit of both. A lot of that happens very naturally with us. When we do take on a project like this you understand it’s going to be long and there’s a lot going on, so you need to find that middle ground where it’s not just in your face for over an hour. It needs dynamics and its peaks and we need to be able to take you on a little ride. That’s something we work on, especially with our transitions and our flow within our songs, that’s something we pay a lot of attention to, which was a hugely time consuming part of the writing process.
The EP that preceded Future Sequence – the Hypersleep Dialogues – was more akin to the Between The Buried And Me of old. You’d obviously planned to cover this particular concept across two releases, but was the intention to have the EP there to ease listeners into the ideas on the full length, or again, when you guys write for a release is it more of an organic thing versus pre-planned direction?
We always wanted to do a concept record, the first real one that we’d done, and at that point it was right when we signed up with Metal Blade and we hadn’t done a whole lot for a while, so it was a way of keeping people excited for the future. We wrote and recorded that EP really quickly so it was a way of being like, ‘Hey, we’re here, get excited” just to keep ourselves out there really.
The pair of discs were your first releases under Metal Blade since leaving Victory. Did that change much for you guys or is it at the point where a label’s a label and things just roll out as normal?
Yeah I mean, as far as how we work and the business in the band, nothing really changes. We’ve always played by our own rules. As far as labels they just help get our music to the right people and I think they’ve done a good job of that.
The band has quite the prolific release history, so should we assume you’ve already begun writing for your next record?
It’s always in the back of our mind but we haven’t started and won’t for a little while. When we write we go full force, we never really dabble, we devote all our time to that. So as of now we’re just focused on touring.
What about on the solo front, anything new in the works?
Yeah, I’ve been writing a lot and slowly getting songs together. I’m actually going to use our Australian tour as a big writing platform, so hopefully I get a lot done while we’re down here. Plus, I’m working on a small indie movie, which is keeping me busy too, so hopefully I can release that next year as well. Definitely itching to start working on some new Between The Buried And Me stuff though!
Catch Between The Buried And Me and The Contortionist on tour this month at the dates below!
Between The Buried And Me / The Contortionist Tour Dates
Fri Nov 15th – The Zoo, Brisbane (18+)
With Datura Curse and The Eternal
Sat Nov 16th – The Metro Theatre, Sydney (18+)
Sun Nov 17th – The Basement, Canberra (18+)
Tue Nov 19th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
Thu Nov 21st – UniBar, Adelaide
Fri Nov 22nd – Amplifier Bar, Perth (18+)