Interview conducted by Carcassbomb
Between The Buried And Me have been a huge part of my music rotation since they first endeared themselves to me with Colors in 2007, a progressive metal masterpiece by many peoples admissions. Since then I have eagerly followed their musical journey as they refined their sound and experimented with different themes. I love a themed album and Between The Buried And Me are masters of exactly that, so I’m stoked to announce that not only are they coming to Australia for an east coast tour, but they’re doing so with an ambitious themed double set. Tickets for the shows (Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne) can be purchased here through their official website.
Thu, FEB 27 -Factory Theatre, Sydney.
Fri, FEB 28 -The Triffid, Brisbane.
Sat, FEB 29 – The Corner Larder, Melbourne.
This interview is a once in a lifetime opportunity for me as these guys have been in my Top 5 musicians for as long as I can recall. It was particularly exciting to discuss the artwork of Colors which leads to a connection with another favorite band of mine, Fear Before The March Of Flames (The Always Open Mouth is essential post hardcore). We also discuss the Australian tour, Australian music and Tommy’s solo project Thomas Giles.
Hey Tommy, thanks for talking to Noob Heavy about the upcoming Between The Buried And Me Australian East Coast tour. I’m a long-time fan and know that shows like this in Australia are quite rare, what are you most looking forward to about coming here?
We’ve always just loved Australia in general, for one thing it will be warm – it will be in the middle of Summer when it’s our Winter. I live in California so it’s not that much different, as far as weather goes. But yeah, we’ve always had a lot of love from our fans in Australia and I’m glad we’re doing a special set for these few shows. We did an ‘Evening with’ thing in Europe a couple of months ago and it was really good. It made us realise there was a good bond between the fans and us, it was really just a special vibe every night. So yeah I’m looking forward to that in another country.
Concept is a big part of the band, with even this live tour having an “intimate” concept to it involving two sets. What’s the journey of these shows and what sort of album selection can we expect to see on these setlists?
Well we’re basically playing music from almost all our albums. The main focus for us was to create two sets that had really good flow, that almost felt like albums themselves. We try to do that anyway, but with these sets, because it’s so long and we’re the only band, we really wanted to make sure that we could play this much music and it kept the crowd intrigued, it kept us excited, just feels like a good night all around. So that was our primary focus. And we wanted to dive into some songs that we normally don’t play, from eras we don’t normally play from. You know, from our first few records there’s stuff. But yeah, it’s pretty much our entire catalogue. And it’s done in a kind of way where you see our evolution, yet it all fits together. It kind of shows that we have changed quite a bit, but they can still live in the same space with one another.
Two sets is an ambitious performance, have you done similar or other unique performances in the past?
Yeah, we just did that in Europe. We were pretty nervous going into it because we have never done a set like this on a tour. We did two sets once for our Colors DVD years ago but that was just a one-off show. So, you know, we put all of the energy into it and thrashed our bodies and that was it, we got to go home. But with this, we’re doing a tour, we’ve already committed to it, and we have to make sure that physically we can do it, mentally that it works – this amount of length works for our fans and for us. It was surprisingly just really wonderful and I feel good about it now – I’m not nervous about it anymore. But at the time we were confirming Australia, we were confirming the Europe tour, and we still didn’t know how this was going to work. Because at that point we hadn’t really got the set together. It worked out nicely and I’m glad we’re doing it more. Because it could have been really bad, we could have gone to Europe and it went over like a lead balloon, and that was that. But yeah, it was great.
The sound of the band has matured over close to two decades of writing, recording and touring. What kind of changes or progressions have there been in the live performances since the early 00s?
I mean hopefully I think we’ve gotten better. Just like anything you get better at your own thing, working in a group, being in front of crowds. I think we’re really good at adapting, be it playing really big venues, small places. Not being really prepared at times and still being able to pull it off – I think we can definitely pull things off that we used to not be able to. There’s a lot of things that I think when you do this as long as we have you kind of grow and get better at it.
You are responsible for both vocals and keys in the band. How does this dual role affect the creative process? Do you find one often writes the other?
It’s different for every album. I’m not the sole writer. For instance, Dan writes a lot of keyboards and guitar, I write a lot of guitar, you know, Paul, Dustie, Blake, we’re all really hands on with the writing process. Vocals I tend to do last, so I wait till we have songs done and I can get an idea of the vibe in general that a song has, and I can make sure lyrics fit nicely within that headspace and go from there. But it’s changed a lot over the years. I try to mix things up and write differently for certain records, and keep myself fresh and keep me on my toes. It’s all part of the job, I don’t really separate anything, for me it’s just writing – if it’s a guitar or electronic part or keyboards or vocals.
You also make music as a solo artist. Do you have plans for writing music for that project while legging it around the eastern coast of Australia?
I write a lot on the road and hopefully I’ll write some stuff while in Australia. I vividly remember writing some stuff off modern noise while in a hotel in Australia. So hopefully that happens again, hopefully I’ll have the time and energy to do it. Because when I’m home I like to be a full-time dad and family takes up a lot of my time. I have a lot of free time on the road so I like to spend that time being productive and writing.
What are your favourite Australian bands or musicians?
I’m really into the psychedelic scene over there, like King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Murlocs – that whole world I kind of recently dove into and there’s a lot of really cool bands. We’re really good friends with Plini and those guys, Karnivool‘s a great band that’s always done really interesting stuff. The Presets, I love The Presets, cool electronic group. Yeah, I’ve always kind of been drawn to Australian music.
I’m obsessed with album art and feature it prominently on this site. I’ve always wanted to ask: What is the cover art process for the BTBAM and more specifically, what inspired the architecture choice for Colors?
Most of the art is between me and whoever we get to do the art. I don’t do any art but always try to work a lot with the artist. I like to see what their opinion and first initial idea is first. Normally the process is me sending them all the lyrics and documents explaining what the lyrics mean, the overall vibe the album has for me, images that stand out in the album, descriptive words, themes etc. And from there I see what their ideas are and we go from there. And that’s how it’s pretty much been since day one, sort of. I started heavily getting involved I guess with Colors, that was with a guy named Brandon Proff, who used to be in Fear Before the March of Flames. He started creating some preliminary concepts – he initially started doing the architecture thing and we rolled with it. There wasn’t a whole lot of modifications, I think that was the fourth draft or so. But I still have all of the old versions of it, which is kind of cool to look back at. But it’s sort of been a cult album cover since which is cool.
What are some albums you listen to the most when you’re on tour?
It constantly changes. I’m a big music fan still and I’m constantly checking out what’s coming out every week. It really depends on the mood – sometimes I’m really into aggressive music, sometimes I just want to listen to Chet Baker. Today I listened to The Fragile by Nine Inch Nails while walking around. It really changes.
Thanks for the interview, I look forward to seeing the Brisbane show myself. Is there anything you’d like to add about these shows?
Hopefully a lot of people come out and these sets will be as special for them as it is for us. We’ve been playing Australia a long time now so I’m glad we’re doing this ‘Evening with‘ thing over there.
There’s a lot of good music to explore in this article for BTBAM fans. Fear Before The March Of Flames and Thomas Giles are both exceptional projects. Tickets for these shows are available, I’d recommend getting in quick.