Interviews : Between the Buried and Me

Between the Buried and Me : Metal Arsonists
Between the Buried and Me
With Will
Interviewed by

Will, if you don't mind, let's go back a bit and begin with the break-up of Prayer for Cleansing. The Rain in Endless Fall remains one of the definitive works in metalcore. It also seemed like the band was finally getting some much-deserved coverage. What exactly happened that made the band decide to call it quits?

There were plenty of reasons for that band spliting up, both having to do with individual personalities and with the musical side of things. that's about as far into it as i want to go out of respect for the guys in that band.

Did Between the Buried and Me form right after the break-up or were there thoughts of forming some sort of a side project before the split?

We formed right after the break up.

Other than the three of you [Paul - guitars, Tommy - vocals, and Will - drums] how easy or difficult was it finding other members to fit into the puzzle?

It was a difficult task. there are plenty of talented people around this area, but we had to find two dudes that were good players, commited band mates and cool friends. it's a lot to ask from someone, so we were lucky to find nick and jason.

What was it about Nick and Jason from Azazel that made you decide about those two guys. Did the Tribunal Records camaraderie have anything to do with it?

The tribunal thing had nothing to do with it. they are both very good players, and we thought they would mesh well with us both personally and musically.

How did you guys hook up with Lifeforce Records? It would seem that even before the band released an album, it already had almost a super-group status, considering that it contains members of such well-known bands like Prayer for Cleansing, Azazel and Undying. Was Tribunal Records interested at all, or were there some other options that you wanted to explore?

We sent our demo out to a bunch of different labels, but no one really got back to us with a solid answer. eventually, stefan from lifeforce emailed us after recieving a demo from a friend and offered to do our full length. i'm so glad we decided to go with him. lifeforce has been honest with us since day one and has carried out all of their promises. i don't know if tribunal was interested or not, but we certainly did the right thing by going with lifeforce.

As I've previously mentioned, Prayer for Cleansing remains such an influential band, that it would seem like quite a few people would expect you to continue with the same style. While there are still occasional moments that reminisce of PFC [black metal riffing on More of Myself to Kill and guitar work in the latter parts of Use as a Weapon], Between the Buried and Me is a whole different beast. Was there any deliberation or specific goals about the kind of music to write, or did everything come naturally when the five of you started jamming together?

We just tried to take what we'd learned by writing those prayer songs and apply it to some more mature material. we don't really think too much when we're writing riffs... they just kind of come out. we start thinking when it comes time to link all of the riffs together and make a song. it gets hard sometimes, since we try to combine a lot of different types of music, but it is worth the effort. i'm glad that you realize the difference between this band and prayer. you'd be suprised at how many people don't.

I still have a difficult time trying to describe what Between the Buried and Me sounds like. If I could, I would just say "metal," but it would sound incomplete; at one moment, there are traces of Breeding the Spawn - Suffocation meets the intricacy of Dillinger Escape Plan, meets emotion and hard-hitting mosh breaks of This Day Forward. How would you describe the style of Between the Buried and Me?

I'd say that we are a blend of a few different types of metal and hardcore. i can't really classify us either. not that we are beyond classification or anything like that... it's just that the music has too many different textures.

The band cites a variety of metal bands as influences: Arcturus, Dimmu Borgir, and Death, to name a few. Yet, the majority of your fanbase are, for the most part, hardcore kids who are more apprehensive when it comes to accepting straight-up metal bands, screaming "metal" when a metal band plays, while when the Darkest Hour hits the stage, there are still respected by the "hardcore" crowd. Do you see the scene become more open-minded when it comes to accepting metal, or do you think there is still the severe syndrome of double standard when it comes to accepting metal kids playing metal or hardcore kids playing metal?

Hardcore fans have definitely opened their minds to more metal music over the years, but there is still an imaginary line that you can't cross. unfortunately, that line seems to be drawn at image. take a look at darkest hour. if they all wore black tight jeans and high tops, no one would give a crap about them. the fact that they present themselves as a hardcore band gives something for the every day hardcore kid to relate to, so they are accepted in the scene even though their music is nothing but metal. the same goes for the metal scene, however. if you put darkest hour up in front of an all metal crowd, they wouldn't go over too well due to their image. that's just he way it goes. although the music is similar, the metal and hardcore scenes don't mix too well.

OK, let's move on to the music. I am very impressed with your clean vocals on More of Myself to Kill, Aspirations, and Naked by the Computer. They act as complete mood setters, with incredible hooks that not only lyrically and stylistically "move" the listener, but also fit the music perfectly, adding a new dimension to the brutal approach the band emphasizes on the majority of the tracks.

Thank you very much. that's exactly what we try to do with the clean vocal sections. they seem to give our songs more dynamic contrast... making the heavy parts even heavier.

Your progression as a drummer is also noticed. While it was fast and tight on The Rain in Endless Fall, the beats were of simpler nature. Now, there is a greater variety in your drumming: you play in almost a death metal style, yet still retain the groove in the slower moments.

Thanks again. haha. i don't know... i try to draw my musical influence from sources outside of metal music. i definitely listen to metal drummers to stay up to date, but i get bored listening to the same double bass and blast beats all day long. that style of drumming is very respectable, but i'd much rather play something a little more musical.

On The Rain in Endless Fall, one of the major holdbacks [for me personally] was the thin production. On the contrary, the production on this album is perfect. It is clean but also crisp at the same time. Were you unhappy with the "old" production, that made you change things this time around, or was it the bigger budget, or both?

We just found a producer that knows how to record heavy music. the prayer record sucked, and we were always aware of that, but we didn't know who else to go to on such a fixed budget. jamie king is an amazing producer that works for reasonable cash. he made the btbam record sound as good as possible.

Do you think that The Rain in Endless Fall would have sounded better if it was recorded differently?

It would make the same thin compositions sound a little thicker, but that's about it.

The lyrics on the album are much darker and just plain raw at some points. They are less poetic compared to Prayer for Cleansing. The poetic edge is taken over by the raw nature of the topics touched. Arsonist is a great example, but since that song is perfectly explained in the booklet, I want to know more about Naked by the Computer. Does it deal with rape?

I honestly don't know the nature of that song because i did not write it. i know it deals with the life of a girl tormented by her family and childhood, but i'm not sure what else. paul is the author of those lyrics, and he's the only one who will really be able to tell you what they mean.

If you don't mind, what are some other big issues that the band addresses in its music?

The issues adressed in our lyrics stem mostly from personal views and struggles. most of the songs are very ambiguous and hard to understand, so i don't really know what they all mean. tommy, paul and jason wrote the lyrics on this record, and they are all willing to explain their motivation.

While the majority of lyrics are dark and menacing, on a lot of occasions, the final message is of positive nature. Just like you sing in Aspirations, "We can all make things change, there is a better way." Do you think it's important to leave some hope for the listener, or do you think the world is too fucked up to do anything about it?

I personally think that we all need to have hope. if all you do is complain about things and believe that there is no hope of things improving, you are surely going to lead a miserable life. that just seems pointless to me. none of us are going to change the world, but we can atleast change our selves.

If I remember correctly, the straight-edge ideology has always been relevant to at least a few members of PFC. How do you feel about straight-edge as a movement now? Do you think that it is slowly dying out, as a lot of the kids who were into it are no longer SxE, because it lost the popularity it had in the early and mid 1990s, or do you perceive it as "weeding out" the weak (these people were not "strong" enough to be straight-edge to start with)?

Straight edge is just as big as it used to be in some areas of the world, and dead in others. it's interesting to see the kids at shows when we tour. some shows will be filled with x'ed up hands and sxe tshirts, and other's barely show a trace of straight edge life. it just depends on where you live, i guess. straight edge still means a lot to me, and it always will, but i don't harbor hard feelings against someone who decides to change their life. i don't have agree with their decision, but bieng a jerk about it is counter productive. btbam is not a straight edge band, and we enjoy sharing our music with anyone who wants to listen.

All right, who is doing the Bruce Dickinson-like singing on Aspirations? How did that come about? That moment is certainly great. While this record showcases an already impressive, skillful young band, that part just puts a smile on my face. It by no means sounds ludicrous, but it has a certain appeal, like it still sounds [somewhat] serious, but it's just fun.

I did those vocals, and i'm glad you find them fitting to the song. we were kind of half joking half serious, but i think they fit the part well. power metal rules.

What does everyone do outside the band? Are any of you guys still in college?

I'm still working on my undergrad degree and jason is going to graduate school. everyone works when we are at home.

What are your interests outside of music?

Painting, skateboarding, making furniture.. all sorts of stuff. i'm constantly busy.

What's in your CD player right now?

Nickel creek's newest album (they are a neo - blue grass band... absolutely amazing.), ben fold's "rocking the suburbs", and day of suffering "the eternal jihad". sorry, i only have a three disc changer.

Are there any bands that you have been really impressed with lately?

North Carolina is pumping out some seriously good music as of late. hopesfall (the new cd is incredible), undying, code seven, beloved, bloodjinn, and many other bands are making me proud to be from this place.

What's in the future for Between the Buried and Me?

Paul is growing dread locks, tommy and nick are getting married, jason is becoming a waiter, and i'm going to jail for unpaid utilities bills. other that that... we're going to write more music and tour in july.

Thanks man! That's it for me. Last words are yours.

Thanks for the interview. everyone check our site for tour dates... see you on the road.