Between The Buried and Me, Chinwag, by Ben Spencer

Between The Buried and Me, Dan Briggs (Bass Guitarist), @ Shepherds Bush Empire

So it’s been quite a wild ride for North Carolina Metallers Between The Buried and Me. Since their formation, almost ten years ago now, they have continued to raise the bar with each album attaining an even higher standard of musicianship as well as appearing in the UK over the years as support slots whilst playing a few of their own head line shows at smaller venues.
Fast forward to present and they are now at the top of their game, with recently being signed to Metal Blade Records, finishing off a two part concept album and headlining at Shepherds Bush Empire (their biggest venue to date). I catch up with Bass Guitarist Dan Briggs before the show to learn more.

1. So you guys have played London several times over the years, venues like Islington Academy (supporting Darkest Hour back in 2006) an some headline shows at Camden Underworld, how does it feel to be playing a venue like Shepherds Bush Empire, you guys excited?

Dan: Its Awesome! I’ve known about this venue because I own a couple of DVDs I’ve watched probably hundreds of times since I was in College. One of them is Opeth Lamentations where they played all of Damnation and Deliverance albums here and the King Crimson DVD Construction of Light, so to me when I saw it pop up on our tour dates I was so excited. I felt like I had already been there in a way from watching and studying those DVDs. We’re totally psyched.

2. What has the Parallax tour been like so far?

Dan: Its been good man, Europe has always been a bit of an adventure for us but it went pretty well for us this time around and the new stuff has gone down pretty well in the venues we played and we got to hang out with fans after the shows which was great. And there’s been a really good reaction from the record so far.

3. Given the fact that this is your first concept record, how satisfied are you with the overall story spanning from both the Parallax part 1 & 2?

Dan: I’m super psyched on it (smiles) , the music, the lyrics, the visuals your able to get out of it. The video we were able to do, everything feels better. It was really important with us with the second half of the Parallax to really portray very clearly what was happening in the story. And I think the music and the lyrics went together super well and I think the music video and art work really helped out.

I mean concept records are generally my favourite records. I could list 10 of my favourite albums and at least 8 of them would be concept records. For me that’s the ultimate level of a record, something where the music, lyrics and artwork are all connected.

4. On the subject of your music video, ‘Astral Body’ was done really well, who shot it and do you feel that this could lead to further music videos being released on either this record or subsequent releases?

Dan: Oh we’d love too man, but its just a question of who is going to front the bill for it. It was actually done by our Drummer’s brother and he’s incredible with computer CGI and computer animation. And he would love to do the whole record so we could pull off some cool video thing live, that would be just astronomical but there’s no way we’d be able t afford that (laughs).

5. I noticed on The Parallax Part 2 a lot of the songs feature some pretty catchy choruses, which is rare for you guys to put in your music, I was wondering if this was a conscious decision or did this just happen naturally?

Dan: It just happened naturally in the music I guess and what ever way Tommy decides to adapt melodies to the music it seemed like more of the music lent itself towards Tommy singing more over it. Which is nice I think its just the natural next step for us to go on. It really comes down to what ever we’re feeling at the time and what feels most natural.
6. The instrumentation in the album goes down some interesting avenues: Xylophones, synths, Tuba’s, acoustic guitars and flutes, I was wondering is there any instrument that you guys feel wouldn’t work with your style or do you feel it that anything could be thrown into the mix and make it suit your style?

Dan: It just depends (pauses and looks up to the ceiling), either that stuff is written with instruments in mind or your listening to it and your like ‘oh we should put sitar in there or flutes etc’ with us we don’t force anything, anything in our music its all just natural to us. I mean over the years we’ve got a lot better but its really about understanding our music and our writing process and knowing when things are going to work and when their not going to work and also what‘s best for the song. I think that was really central to this album, finding the core of the song and finding what really was important to it. It was awesome to be able to use our extra instrumentation friends on this album, that was very cool.

7. In the past your songs have had some interesting links across records, such as in ‘Autodidact’ from Alaska there was a reference to ‘Mordecai’ from The Silent Circus and’ Swim to The Moon’ from The Great Misdirect was a sequel to ‘Sun of Nothing’ off your Colors record. Do you think that there is anything from this album that may crop up in the future?

Dan: Probably, yeah I mean we don’t really have much input into the lyrics except for Tommy. Not for any reason, its just that’s his world and half the time we don’t even know the connections that are made. But with the story of The Parallax that was something that more of us were involved in and he did a really good job of adapting the broader ideas of what we had into a sensible way of story telling and making it so people would be able to get something more out of it.  
8. What has it been like being signed to Metal Blade records? How different has the experience been from being previously signed to Victory?

Dan: Well its got more of worldwide presence which is cool, I don’t think any of our Victory releases were available in Europe and they were quite hard to get hold of over here in the UK. To us its nice to have that stability and security. Overseas, whether its here, Japan or Australia you’d have fans come up to you and say ‘the show was fun but I can’t find your records anywhere‘, its so defeating. Obviously the internet makes it more easier to get your music. But its nice to know we have people working for us in all this different countries, its great!

9. Over the past ten years you guys have been through many changes with line-ups and labels etc I was wondering if whether or not the prospect of shooting a documentary style DVD of your story as a band has ever appealed to you guys?

Dan: (Pauses) Erm not really. We’re pretty fucking boring and obviously from like the old days there is obviously good stories to tell. But so many of our fan base aren’t even familiar with that. Anything pre-Colors most people don’t even know, maybe they’ll know ‘Selkies’ from Alaska or ‘Mordecai’ off The Silent Circus but that’s usually as far as it goes. To most of our fans they discovered the band with Colors, which to us that’s fine because that’s as far back as we can go in our music and still be very interested in it and still have a connection to it. Anything before Colors doesn’t feel the same I mean Alaska was this Line-up but it doesn’t feel like the same mind set as what we have now.

10. What does the future have in store from Between The Buried and Me?

Dan: Well we’re finishing off here, this is our last date on the UK/ European Tour. Then we fly off to Fun Fun Fun Festival in Austin and then Japan, Australia and New Zealand to close off this year. Then we’re back in the States in February next year when we’re doing a support tour and then I think we’re finally doing a head line tour in the States where we’ll be playing the whole record and then I think we will be planning on coming back over to the UK to play the whole record as well.

Kind of sucks that we have to wait for the fall to play the whole record because the whole time your in the studio your completely immersed in the music and your like ‘God lets go out there and do this!’ (slaps hand on his lap enthusiastically) and then its like ‘…oh we got to wait’. I just hope that by that time people will know it by the time we play it. If people don’t know it by the next fall then we’re screwed (laughs).

With that in mind I head back downstairs to check out the opening band of the evening.