With their eclectic melange of crunchy guitars, Southern rock roots, booze and sarcasm, Ferret Records stalwart Every Time I Die might be the kind of hardcore band that could make you want to crack a joke while poisoning someone. Now, after releasing their fifth album The Big Dirty in September, ETID is taking on nationwide headlining duties with the seventh annual Take Action Tour, including a stop in Portland next Monday. The Vanguard recently caught up with the band’s frontman Keith Buckley by phone, and he gladly espoused on the band’s music, drunken karaoke and the transcendent influence of Southern rock.
With their eclectic melange of crunchy guitars, Southern rock roots, booze and sarcasm, Ferret Records stalwart Every Time I Die might be the kind of hardcore band that could make you want to crack a joke while poisoning someone.
Now, after releasing their fifth album The Big Dirty in September, ETID is taking on nationwide headlining duties with the seventh annual Take Action Tour, including a stop in Portland next Monday. The Vanguard recently caught up with the band’s frontman Keith Buckley by phone, and he gladly espoused on the band’s music, drunken karaoke and the transcendent influence of Southern rock.
So, you’ve been on a different tour before you head off to Take Action, right? Yeah, we’re out with Killswitch Engage, Dillinger Escape Plan and Parkway Drive, it’s been going on for about a month. Today [Feb. 5] is the last show.
So, what’s a typical night like on the road with your band? God, uh … if I could remember I’d tell you, but unfortunately, these last few nights have been … [laughing]. I got kicked out of a bar, I got kicked off of Killswitch’s bus–just a lot of me getting annoyingly drunk and getting kicked out of places. And a lot of karaoke.
What do you like to sing? My go-to song is “Carol’s Whispers” by George Michael. But sometimes I do Bonnie Tyler’s song “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” That’s a very taxing song, not easy to do.
How often are you drunk when you’re on stage? Karaoke is 100 percent all the time. I wouldn’t dare do it any other way.
What about when you play shows? I don’t know. It all depends on what time we’re playing, how I’m feeling that day. If my voice isn’t up to par, then I won’t do it. It just all depends. So, 98 percent of the time.
So how long is the Take Action tour? Actually, it’s kind of long. I think it’s like 40 days. And that will go everywhere. But at least we’re not doing it in a van. The one we’re on right now, we’re doing it in a van, so it’s been really fuckin’ hard.
Do you usually tour in a bus or a van? No, no we usually tour in a van. But yeah, for real long tours where we know it’s gonna get uncomfortable or in the summertime when it’s going to be real hot we’ll do buses, but we’re mainly a van band.
I remember reading about a wreck you guys had a couple years ago. Yeah, it still hasn’t cured us. You’d think it would, but it didn’t. It probably should have.
So how do you come up with your lyrics? I don’t know! That’s a great question. I just kind of take down random notes once in a while, while I’m on tour, and then get home, just kind of get a feeling for the song and the kind of vibe it dictates… sometimes I piece together old notes that I have or sometimes it comes out of something completely new, but I can’t just write anywhere at anytime. I definitely have to be in the right zone for it.
Do you usually write the lyrics before the music is done? No. No, never. It’s always after.
Your lyrics have a definite sense of irony and sarcasm, but they also have a very serious, cynical edge. Where’s the balance come fromThere’s definitely times where one will outweigh the other or it’s not exactly balanced, but it’s not formulaic by any means. It really just kind of writes itself through me. So I want to make sure that after it’s done, it’s not too much of one or the other. I don’t want to get lumped in with death metal bands whose lyrics are completely depressing and morbid, so I try to kind of counter balance that with some humor here and there. Luckily, it’s worked for me.
Have you ever come across any other bands that sound like you guys? That sound like us? I know lyrically, I admire bands like Converge or American Nightmare. I definitely appreciate people who I feel have a lot in common with me lyrically. But that’s obviously just going to happen in music, the same way there’s going to be bands that have the same feel. But it’s a small world and you’re going to see bands that have the same experiences.
What are your musical inspirations for ETID? A lot of old Southern rock. Pantera, Black Sabbath, Stones–stuff like that. I think that’s coming out more and more as we go on. I started off basically with us being influenced by what was directly around us, which at the time was Dillinger Escape Plan, Converge, other hardcore bands. But then we started reaching back a little further and going to the stuff we had grown up liking.
How do you feel you fit into the scene?I think pretty well. I think we squeeze in nicely. Every tour is basically a different scene. Either you get along with the bands you’re immediately around or you don’t, and the only way to find out if you don’t get along with certain bands is by scouring the Internet to see who’s shit talking you, and that’s definitely not something I do with my free time. I think the shows are still good. Ten years later we’re still playing some really good shows with really big bands, and I think we’ve carved a niche for ourselves.
How do you keep the band from sounding like everyone else? I think there’s a lot of cliches and pretenses that go along with this scene–I think that if we put our ear to the trash we pick up on we wouldn’t be able to help but be influenced by it. The way to stay fresh is once you get off tour just clear your head of all that and just listen to what you like listening to. Like the other night, I hadn’t listened to my iPod the whole time we were on tour, and I listened to the new Radiohead.
You guys are from Buffalo, N.Y. Why all the Southern rock influences? I blame my uncle, who lives in the country [laughs]. Growing up, whenever we’d go over to his house parties and stuff they were always playing Creedence Clearwater Revival or John Cougar Mellencamp. My father got me into Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin, and obviously that’s not Southern, but that’s just that rock aspect, something we were raised on. But the Southern rock–Neil Young and stuff like that–I’m going to blame my uncle for that one. Because they liked to drink and have bonfires and that was their theme music.
Your new album, The Big Dirty, is a bit of a departure from your last album, Gutter Phenomenon…See, that was the thing. I think that our last record was too much of a departure. With The Big Dirty we actually wanted to kind of go back toward what we had been doing before the last record. You know, make it heavy, less melodic. We still obviously have some melodies, but we did not make that the focus. We’re trying to go back to being a heavy band that plays aggressive music.
How do you think your sound has developed over the years?I just think that it’s gotten more, well, dirty. It was a concerted effort to make sure that we didn’t go with the current trends in music, with the solos and everybody waving the ’80s metal flag like so many bands are doing right now. I just think we got in touch with the actual feel of rock music, and even a little blues, which is great.