By Matthew Clewley
Earlier last week I had the absolute pleasure of talking to Tommy Rogers, the vocalist for Between The Buried and Me. They have a new record called Coma Eclipetic, which is going to be released in the upcoming month. This will be their seventh album, three years after their previous album The Parallax II: Future Sequence was released. After speaking to Tommy about the progress and the distinctive differences of Coma Eclipetic, he speaks with great confidence.
“I think it’s our most focused record. It’s our most melodic record. When I listen to this record in sequence with our discography, I feel like it’s our next step for us. I’d hate to say it’s more mature because that’s so cliché, but to me it does. We really focused a lot on songwriting. We’re really fully understanding how to write songs and what works really well for us. It feels a lot more focused, it flows really well and it’s one of our best records. I’m proud of what we done.”
“I think we work well together, and I hope our music sounds really cohesive. We’ve just learned to really write well and we know our strengths and weaknesses, we really push each other to do the best we can individually. I mean yeah, it’s fun and we really like writing together which I think a lot of bands aren’t like that. We all have distinctive styles, like you said we are all very different in what we listen to, but I think in writing we all have our own form of writing.”
Between The Buried And Me‘s songwriting has always been something that has intrigued me and something I’ve always admired in the band. However, during the three-year gap between the albums I previously mentioned, I was interested in the songwriting and the differences from the band to their other projects.
“As far as it goes it’s a totally different beast. The solo stuff (under the name Giles) is so stripped down I can write a song in a couple of hours, which is impossible for Between The Buried And Me. It’s an elaborate process for us. They’re both very different in their own way, but they are very rewarding. I wouldn’t change how I write with either.”
“When we write we don’t think of genres. I don’t consider us more than an aggressive band that experiments. I think genres are silly. We grew up playing in the hardcore scene and we played in metal bands when we were younger. When we write we never talk about genre, we write what’s natural and that’s what the essence is of our band since day one. When I look back at every record it fits us perfectly for what mindset we were at that moment and how we are writing. We never set out to be any kind of band. We want to be true to ourselves and write music that excites us, that’s been our goal. We are fans of heavy music.”
They signed to Metal Blade in 2011 and since then they have matured musically as well as made even more friends from across the world.
“It’s been really great. Metal Blade have been very supportive. They are 100% behind any idea we have. We have artistic freedom and they don’t hear anything until the record is done. They have a lot of faith in us and they know we are gonna work hard and do well. They support us in every decision.”
The three-year gap may sound like a wonderful holiday but with touring and songwriting, it’s still an enjoyable job.
“After a record comes out you’re touring a lot. Most of that time was touring. There were some projects in between I have written on the road whilst with the band for my solo stuff and Dan has had a few projects, but we never mix and match. We’ve never had time where someone is working on something whilst Between The Buried and Me have been writing. That’s never happened. There’s a lot of work that goes into our music so everybody has to be 100% focused when that is going on. I’d say we took off 8 or 9 months to write and set up the record.”
There are plenty of genres and styles of rock and metal that Between The Buried And Me use to mold together and make it their sound. As I was interviewing the vocalist, I asked Tommy about his impressive vocal range and how he’s developed it over the years.
“Over the years you really learn. Just like playing the guitar you get better at what you do when you learn a new song or every time you write something you learn more about yourself and where to go with yourself. I think that is the key to cross the board no matter what instrument you play. After every time the band writes we grow as individuals and we learn from each other and hopefully we’re getting better at our craft. For me as a vocalist I learn something every time I work on anything and definitely after every album I grow to be more comfortable with my voice and eventually you learn how your voice works. Doing my solo stuff really helped with that as it wasn’t metal, and with solo work I approached it differently than I do with the band and helped me learn even more with my voice and gave me more confidence with my vocals.”
With different styles there comes varieties of influence not only on the music, but also vocally too.
“To many people, influence is such a tough subject. I mean, everything can be an influence. I’ve grown up listening to music everyday and all types of singers and bands influence me. I mean, yeah, I love Pink Floyd, but I was never the kind of singer that wanted to be this or that. I learned as much as I can from my voice, my goal was not to emulate anyone. I grew up as a huge Mike Patton fan if you can tell from my vocals, and Phil from Pantera was a big influence of mine on how I approach my vocals. It ranges from Freddie Mercury to Thom Yorke, there’s so many people, but I think as a vocalist I never think about other vocalists when I am writing, I just write what comes naturally to me and what works best for what my voice is up for.”
“Since day one we’ve always been a metal band that isn’t afraid to try anything if it makes sense for the song. We’re always experimenting. It’s fun for us. It’s not fun to write the same thing over and over. I think we’ve shown that’s the way we feel.”
A couple of things that I have learnt from Between The Buried and Me is that they tour with all kinds of bands and it’s very hard to imagine them not getting along with anyone. When I asked if there were any on tour mishaps, the answer wasn’t surprising. “We’ve never had a disaster with other bands. I mean some bands you don’t get as close with as others, but that’s natural in any relationship. We’ve never had any issue or we have never been mistreated. With Dream Theater for instance, that was one of the biggest tours we’ve ever done, they were phenomenal, their crew were phenomenal, but yeah, I can’t think of an instance where any band have been a bunch of assholes.”
A few bands as well as Dream Theater popped into my mind when I was checking lists of bands Between The Buried And Me have been on the road with. Horse The Band are known for their unique music as well as their Earth tour, and Between The Buried And Me had the pleasure of joining them.
“The cool thing about us is that we’ve toured with many different bands. We have so many different kinds of styles and we realise we work with almost all of them in some way or another. Back when we toured with Horse The Band, we toured with absolutely anybody and those guys are absolute maniacs! They are great people and hilarious people, some of the funniest people I’ve ever met. They are a wild bunch that’s for sure. We’ve done everything from Dragonforce to Stretch Arm Strong to Terror. We’ve toured with everybody. Over the years it’s been cool to see our form of music that has worked with different bands.”
Animals As Leaders and Between The Buried And Me have been touring together for years, and the fact that they’re on the road together again will bring smiles to a lot of faces.
“Yeah it’s cool. We took them on their first tour ever. We’ve known those guys forever. When we first started their drummer was in a band called Animosity which we toured with a lot and Tosin (Abasi) was in a band back in the day called Reflux and we toured with them too, so yeah, they’re old friends of ours so it would be good to share the stage again.”
Would both bands ever collaborate?
“No, we’ve never really talked about it. I mean, it could be cool, but we just do our own things.”
Tommy has collaborated with a few bands that he’s made friends with, however, Devin Townsend seems to be the man of the moment as Tommy featured on his eleven minute epic Planet Of The Apes. “That’s the one. Devin, I’ve been listening to him since he was a teenager and when he came back from hiatus his first tour back was with us, which was very flattering. We became very good friends and he’s a great human being and a great musician. That was definitely the one I’m most proud of as far as collaborations go.”
This band seems to be crashing through gates and breaking boundaries creatively and physically through songwriting and touring. Tommy is unsure on a live album at this moment, but would like to play gigs in South America. There is a firm chance they will tour Australia just like they did with their last album, but there is no current mention of this. They will be playing dates in the US and also across Europe.
Coma Ecileptic is out now through Metal Blade/Rocket in Australia.