Every Time I Die: Lower Than Low
Every Time I Die are certifiable Gods in the alternative scene, and they’ve attracted a cult following primarily for their ability to beautifully weigh down their brutal honesty with an intense heaviness. On their new album aow Teens, they continue to raise the bar – we sat down with frontman Keith Buckley to chat about the now-acclaimed effort and their upcoming trip Down Under.
Let’s talk about the new album, Low Teens. Where’d the title come from?
We recorded the album in Buffalo in January – obviously it’s not like your January, in Buffalo it’s pretty cold. It was a term that the weatherman used. They said that the temperature was going to be in the ‘low teens’ for the rest of the week: it was just kind of a phrase that jumped out at us. It stuck with us. I think that it will come into its own once this record’s, out and people find a way to incorporate it into the lyrics and it’ll develop its own meaning. Unfortunately, the origin of it is pretty unexciting.
Like a typical Every Time I Die album, it’s pure chaos. Do you deliberately try and make albums that are so in your face?
Yes! I don’t think we’re keen to lay back and let that may be to our detriment, but I think we’re always at full throttle. I know that I don’t usually leave a lot of space for the music to do a lot of the speaking. I feel like I cram way too many lyrics in there [laughs]. This album was nice because the music was so fast and heavy and aggressive, so we kind of just laid back a bit to let the music go. I feel that the vocals have a nice relationship with the music on this one.
You mentioned lyrics there – what inspires you when writing for Every Time I Die?
Pretty much just where I’m at in that moment. I feel like I try to avoid sweeping generalisations, and I don’t really try to write anything that I feel is going to stand the test of time or speak to hundreds of thousands of people at once. I typically just try to go over what I’m going through. This one was pretty personal, and it was definitely the most honest [record we’ve made]. It was a pretty specific set of circumstances I was dealing with, so that made me a little afraid. I had the thought that I was writing about something specific – that no-one else had the same experience with – so I don’t know if people will be able to relate to the lyrics. But, I think the things that were happening were very human, and anybody that has had human experiences will, hopefully, appreciate it.
Last year you got a new drummer in Daniel [Davison, formerly of Norma Jean and Underoath]. What did he bring to the new record?
Surprisingly, riffs. He actually wrote some guitar riffs for the record, which was a complete… [It was] outer left field – we’ve never had a drummer do that before. He was so precise and he really, really put himself into everything he did on this record, and didn’t get frustrated and didn’t want anything less than perfect. That was really nice to see. It’s a different style from our last drummer [Ryan Leger], who knew what he wanted and just wanted to capture a feeling, whereas Daniel is very… It was almost like the parts had a very specific plan for the drums, and he wouldn’t stop until he got that right.
“As much as we write and record, the only reason that we’ve been around as long as we have is because we’ve been playing shows.”
How did you come to choose Daniel to be in the band?
It was really serendipitous. Our last drummer told us he was going to be leaving at the beginning of a tour, so we started talking about it, and we knew that we had to figure something out. I’d be lying if part of me didn’t think, “Maybe this is it. Maybe we should wrap it up.” I didn’t know what kind of drummer we would need to keep moving forward. The idea arose that it had to be someone better than our last drummer. It couldn’t be a lateral step. It had to be someone that was better than he was, and we all kind of came to the conclusion that the only person – the only one where all the Venn diagrams mashed up perfectly – was Daniel Davison. He was like our dream pick, but we didn’t know if it was going to work. We hadn’t talked to him in a while, and nobody knew what he was up to. We actually played in Chicago, and he came to a show – he asked us what was going on, and we were just like, “Holy shit, do you wanna play for our band?” He said, “Yeah, let me think about it.” He got back to us a few days later and said yes. It couldn’t have been more of the stars aligning. It was just perfect.
You guys worked with Will Putney on this album. How did that come about?
We heard the work that he did with Body Count [for their 2014 album *Manslaughter]. We were like, “Whoever did that record – we need to get that guy” [laughs]. We used Kurt [Ballou, of Converge] last time, and if it couldn’t be Kurt this time, it had to be someone that is influential – someone who knew exactly what he was doing and had a lot to offer. So when Will threw his hat in the ring… It seemed like he was really hungry for it when we talked to him. It was also a first because he was a fan of the band, which was crazy, because we’ve never recorded with anybody who actually liked the band [laughs]. Usually, they get to know and like us by working with us, but he had been a fan of the band growing up. He knew what people needed to hear more of in an Every Time I Die record, so he just turned those parts up and focused on the things that we do best. He really got the best out of us. It was a perfect match.
Let’s move onto the Australian tour dates next year. You’re playing shows with letlive. and Counterparts.
I’m very excited for those shows. I think Counterparts is the band that we’ve done the most tours with. letlive. is one of those bands that, when you watch them, you know you have to step your own show up. It’ll make for a really good show.
I’ve been to an Every Time I Die show and the clip for “The Coin Has A Say” pretty much sums it up perfectly. Was that the idea?
Yeah, absolutely. I feel that that video really captures the vibe of the shows. We’re so much a live band, and our shows are everything. As much as we write and record, the only reason that we’ve been around as long as we have is because we’ve been playing shows. We really put everything we have into the shows. We don’t have production; we don’t have crazy lighting or stage props – it’s just that we want people to go fuckin’ bananas, and we want the people there to become as much a part of the show as we are. We really wanted that to come across in the video.
I noticed you guys have played in Australia almost every year since 2005. What do you love most about the country?
It’s one of those things. I don’t know what we’ve done to be so lucky, and I don’t wanna look a gift horse in the mouth. I’m so appreciative – we’re all so appreciative – that people still want us to come back and keep doing what we’re doing. I don’t really know what we’ve done. I don’t know what makes you guys like us so much and keep asking us to come back. It’s one of those things where it’s so perfect, and every time we go there, I’m like, “Okay, this was lightning in a bottle and there’s no way this could ever happen again,” and then the next time we come back it’s even better, and I’m like, “Fuck!” Every time we go it gets better and better. People are lucky if they get to Australia once, and we seem to go every record cycle and the shows get crazier. It’s a beautiful relationship, and I just hope it never changes.
KEEP READING: Page 1 | 2
Every Time I Die / letlive. / Counterparts
Sunday January 8th – The Lab, Brisbane (AA)
Monday January 9th – The Triffid, Brisbane (18+)
Tuesday January 10th – Metro Theatre, Sydney (AA)
Wednesday January 11th – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
Thursday January 12th – Arrow On Swanston, Melbourne (AA)
Friday January 13th – UNIFY Gathering, Tawrin Lower (18+)
Sunday January 15th – Fowlers Live, Adelaide (AA)
Monday January 16th – Amplifier Bar, Perth (18+)