If you threw on Killswitch Engage’s seminal record Alive Or Just Breathing, and snuck a Bury Tomorrow track into the playlist, there’s a strong chance you wouldn’t notice.
That’s in no way a quip at the band however, as the Southern UK quartet have stuck to their guns and honed their brand of quality metalcore meticulously over the years, resulting in a consistent and enjoyable catalogue topped off by their recently released 4th LP Cannibal.
Indeed, talking to frontman Daniel Winter Bates, there’s a strong sense of groundedness from the band, who went from club shows to theaters around Europe and the mainstages of some of the biggest festivals in the world on their last album cycle.
“Weirdly Black Flame ended a mission statement. We set ourselves goals all the time, last time we spoke I said we wanted to play to more people and try and take things up a notch…and…tick!” he says excitedly.
“Black Flame did more for us than any other record that we’ve done before it, it galvanised our fanbase, especially in Europe, and created less of a disparity for us in terms of venues. We ended last year playing the same size venues as we do in the UK. So that record was a thank you to the fans for the 11 years prior, for the love they gave to us, and I feel we really put our money where our mouth is when it comes to being a supportive band.”
As far as ‘plans’ go, Bury Tomorrow stuck to their game and achieved incredible results, which meant that it was only natural to try and open things up thematically for their next chapter.
“Rather than thinking ‘where are we going to be in 10 years?’, it was more like ‘who are we, where are we at now?’…Can we have a full disbanding of ‘rockstarism’? To be more vulnerable and really open ourselves up to more people?” ponders Daniel.
If the lyrics on Cannibal are anything to go by, the answer to the above is that Bury Tomorrow are brutally honest when it comes to things like mental health and self-talk.
It’s not surprising, given the mental health ‘safe spaces’ facilitated by Daniel in the past when the band have been on the road, but on Cannibal, the subject turn explicitly to his own experiences.
“I could write a tweet after this interview and say ‘ let’s talk about mental health, it’s really important that we talk about mental health’, and then go and not talk about it whatsoever – there’s a lot of virtue hunting going on, especially at this moment now,” he says.
“You’re not a messiah because you wrote a good album.”
“I’ve said we should have more of a discussion around mental health in the past, but I’ve never actually said ‘this is how I feel.’
“I had a pretty bad eating disorder when I was younger off the back of being assaulted with a knuckleduster when I was 16 because somebody thought I was gay, which movied into anxiety and despression, and that’s stuff I probably won’t be able to shake. I actively went there because I wanted to actually break down the first barrier that a lot of people have with talking about this themselves.
“I bring it all up here because I wanna get rid of that sudden intake of breath when people go [gasps] ‘oh my God’ – I want to focus instead on talking about how the person opening up feels. So I want to just skip that conversation, and just use my platform via my lyrics. If you like this band, or know me, you’ll hear those lyrics – or read them, because I scream for a living.”
It’s clear from talking to Daniel that above all else he values honesty and being real with people when you have a platform; something that he notes doesn’t come easily to a lot of musicians.
“Some bands have a lot to answer for in terms of not being scummy human beings, and just realising that they wouldn’t be where they are without their fans…It would be awkward if influencers or bands had no fans. That would make it really awkward seeing some of the stuff they post or the way that they carry on backstage.
“I know some of the biggest bands in the UK that don’t give a crap about their fans, they don’t feel anything when fans try to thank them for what their music has done. They actually call them ‘punishers’ or ‘annoying fans’. It’s like, bro they are the only reason you get to do what you do.
“There’s so much of this ethereal attitude in music, but by pure proxy that’s complete bollocks, because if you didn’t have fans to connect with it then it would be absolutely nothing. You’re not a messiah because you wrote a good album. You’re just someone that likes metal and you’re really lucky to be able to do it.”
Thankfully, Bury Tomorrow has both the resources to create great music, and the humility to recognise that it’s only possible due to the people supporting them. That alone is reason enough to crank Cannibal ASAP.