Buried In Verona: (Saturday Night) Severed Ties
In this day and age, there is no denying that money has become a necessary evil. The unfortunate truth is that the commodity is an essential salvation, compulsory for survival and beyond desired by people of all walks of life. Its power has the ability to make or break human lives in a capacity of immeasurable volume, and this authority only seems to expand with time. Sydney metalcore troopers Buried In Verona understand the burden of financial dependence arguably better than any other band in Australia. Regrettably, their battle with the dependent reserve has been a failing one for the better part of nine years’ service to heavy music, and as vocalist Brett Anderson explains, there was constantly more than one party to blame:
“With Buried In Verona, it has just always been financial issues,” he says. “In the Notorious era, we were a naïve band growing in popularity very rapidly and playing headline shows to large audiences; it felt like we were on the verge of being the next big thing in Australia. We trusted some people and made some decisions in faith of their word, that, to this day, has just fucked us. There’s no other way to put it. I mean, it’s a business, and when someone fucks up taking care of the business – whether with the tax man or whatever – it only gets worse when someone is trying to get in touch with you about it but they can’t for a long period of time.”
He continues: “I have had accountants ring me, saying they had been trying to contact me for years, and I have no idea who these people are who or who has been dealing with them. Naturally, these phone calls are attached with a bill.”
Whilst Brett’s response is fuelled by bitterness at the failure of believing in the “wrong” people, it must be noted – and as was mentioned – that there was a high point for the quintet during their acclaimed third record, Notorious. As Anderson elaborates, the “highs” the five-piece experienced were instances of glory and showed promise of a brightly coloured future, but it was not to be.
“At one moment, we would be elated and experiencing the best moments in our lives with a huge weight lifted off our shoulders – because we paid the last part of a significant debt that can hurt us. As a result, the next tour we may have had planned, we could use the ‘profit’ money directly for the band and grow it as it should be prioritised. But everything we earned from every tour ended up going to the government, or someone else, and you can only reset so many times, y’know?”
The conundrum reminded this writer of a rather comical quotation from famed author and poet Richard Armour, who once said, “That money talks, I’ll not deny, I heard it once: it said, ‘Goodbye’.” A very applicable statement to BIV, but also people worldwide; the strain in the band’s case, however, cuts even deeper.
“When playing live is your absolute passion, but there are fifty other things outweighing it
and those aspects are drilling into your head every single day, it’s extremely hard to get
motivated to do anything.”
“Because Buried In Verona was a passion and a love – not a job – it’s way harder to deal with. If you stuff up at your day job and you lose a client or contract, it’s very aggravating, but it’s a completely different ballgame when it’s something you love – the little songs you have are your babies, and they generate emotions when you play them live that you relive over and over. It’s so entwined in everything about you and your passion: music is still a business, but it hurts a lot more and defeats you emotionally.”
Defeat is what has finally trumped (pun intended) the New South Welshmen, but BIV are not going down without a fight. The retirement has called for a farewell tour, and one which the quintet want to commit to the happiness of their fans and their own.
“We have songs from Saturday Night Sever, a lot from Notorious, a couple from Faceless and a few new ones,” Anderson says; “I feel like it’s a solid mix of most people’s favourite songs. That’s what we have to do: it’s the last time they are going to see us, so we might as well play the tracks they want to hear – the more popular ones, if you will – so we can satisfy our fans. There’s no point in making my favourite setlist; it’s for us to say goodbye and thank you, and for them to enjoy one more time.”
Currently nearing the halfway point of the tour, the boys have had to prepare meticulously in numerous ways to hang up their instruments with the knowledge that they indeed perform to their absolute maximum in every way possible.
“It was another weird experience and emotional journey, putting together a setlist and committing so much energy to getting the songs absolutely right – especially the older ones that we haven’t played for years; it was a massive undertaking to something that we aren’t going to do anymore, if that makes sense? I guess the other side to it is that I want to get these songs sounding as best as we can, for everyone that supported us though all of these years. I wouldn’t want to go out there and be the guy who doesn’t give a flying fuck – I would hate to be that. We’ve had a hard time and a rough trot in this band, but I don’t want to be bitter and make it a chore. Everything about this is conflicting and very bizarre.”
What isn’t as well know about BIV is that their final album – released in 2015 and a swan-song to the outfit themselves – was a record that almost never came to be. Their fourth album, Faceless, was in fact such a tumultuous experience that this departure almost occurred years before the current planned one.
“I think we all felt like that in the Faceless period – it was just a trainwreck of a time,” Anderson muses. “We didn’t like each other; we didn’t like where we were, and we didn’t like the record we made. Everything was negative, so we all thought for a good amount of time that it was going to be our last record and we wouldn’t tour again. We weren’t even going to do a farewell tour – it was just going to be done. We were so disheartened and over dealing with all the shit. When playing live is your absolute passion, but there are fifty other things outweighing it and those aspects are drilling into your head every single day, it’s extremely hard to get motivated to do anything.”
“The generosity of some people – especially around Australia – that are willing to help you out, give you a lift or let you crash for the night… It’s insane.”
So what brought out the reconciliation?
“We had a good break from each other and touring for a while,” Anderson says. “We re-evaluated who we were, and what we wanted to do, then when we came back and had a chat over some beers, we discovered that everyone was rather keen to carry on. We had been writing some music apart from each other, too, and we already had a collection of songs to a degree. It was pretty quickly established that once we had decided that we were going to be no more, we all missed it really badly. That prompted the decision to have one more go. That’s part of the reason for the title for the last record – Vultures Above, Lions Below – which even now, I see as our best record. In a way, it’s nice going out on an album I am proudest of, but it’s also sad because there’s the ‘what if’ factor. What if we really pushed this, instead of letting it go?”
The essential question becomes rather obvious, but painful to admit for all parties involved: Why now?
“When we released it, and the numbers were looking rather solid, we were actually getting a bit of a head-start again… But more crap came up from behind the scenes. That really was the last nail in the coffin. We couldn’t do it, and it was so done. We agreed that it was best to finish while we were ahead so we don’t have a bitter taste in our mouths about Buried In Verona. We figured that no matter how much further we progress, we will be brought down by something else. It’s a bit of a shame, and I’m going to miss it like crazy, but when it begins to affect your personal lives and it eats away at you as people, it’s not healthy. Tours are great fun, but there is a lot of time off tour as well.”
When all is said and done, the most important thing Buried In Verona can do is reflect with a happy demeanour. With incredible shows in Europe, ARIA chart success, and even positive outcomes from challenges both major and minor in their earlier days, when discussing these memories Brett is ecstatic with vibrancy in his remembrances. However, what he and his bandmates cherish most are the countless friends they have made along the way.
“It’s what forms you as a musician and a person,” he says. “It’s such a big part of your life, and the little things that happen become so vital in a weird way. I’ve met so many interesting people who turn out to be amazing lifelong friends, just because I went on a tour or stayed at someone’s house. The generosity of some people – especially around Australia – that are willing to help you out, give you a lift or let you crash for the night… It’s insane. You don’t know them, and neither you nor they owe you anything, but they can see that you’re struggling so they go out of their way to help you. It builds a relationship that lasts. I still visit friends in each state that I’ve met on the road, every time I’m there – it’s such an awesome characteristic of being a touring musician.”
In reality, the truth is that money cannot buy happiness.
Buried In Verona / Capture The Crown / Foxblood / Arkive
Friday November 4th – Uni Bar, Adelaide (AA)
Saturday November 5th – Max Watts, Melbourne (18+)