Man, I have interviewed Every Time I Die so many times. I never would have guessed how many times I’ve done it before going through this archive, but it’s a lot. I guess it makes sense, really – they were touring a lot, and they were churning out records. They have to be one of the most scarily consistent bands in heavy music. They have a sound that’s theirs, but they’ve never gotten samey or stale across their career. Here, we’re talking about Ex Lives, which remains one of my favourite albums of theirs. The interview isn’t too bad either, considering I was still figuring out a lot about feature writing in these first few years.
When you’re after a good time in the field of rock, punk, hardcore or metal, it’s rare that you’ll go past EVERY TIME I DIE. With a discography and list of achievements as long as your arm, the band have finally dropped their new album Ex-Lives after a nearly three-year wait…and, just quietly, it might just be their best work yet. Vocalist KEITH BUCKLEY got on the line with Australian Hysteria Magazine to shoot the shit and discuss the making of this stellar record.
“The Sabres won!” exclaims Keith Buckley as cheers erupt from the bar which he is standing out the front of. Ever the professional, Buckley has moved away from the noise in order to speak to Australian Hysteria Magazine. He may have missed the final moments of his beloved Buffalo Sabres taking out a huge NHL victory, but it doesn’t seem to concern him that greatly. After all, he is bursting with excitement to talk about Ex-Lives, the sixth studio album from his band Every Time I Die and his return to the ETID fold after going on tour with hair-metal supergroup The Damned Things.
Buckley spent most of 2011 working as a double agent of sorts, hitting the road with TDT in support of their debut, Ironiclast; as well as working on Ex-Lives in his time off. Both bands were on the line-up for the Soundwave Revolution festival in September of 2011, but fate was not kind to the festival and it ended up folding before a single stage had even been set up.
Thankfully, both ETID and TDT toured, the former doing a handful of headlining shows and the latter joining the consolation-prize Counter-Revolution line-up. “The fact that I can say that Van Halen screwed up my year is actually kind of awesome,” says Keith with a big laugh. “That said, them cancelling actually worked out for the best for us. The Damned Things got to come out and play, which was awesome, and all the shows I got to play were really, really fun.”
New songs were premiered on that tour – including the pulverising first single “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” – but Ex-Lives had not reached completion at the time of the September tours. Regardless, Buckley was hugely enthusiastic about the album and its sound: speaking to AHM at the time, he emphasised that Ex-Lives was “not just another Every Time I Die record” and that the material was “honestly some of the best stuff we’ve written.” Even with the album finished, however, Keith is still as excited about the record as he was back then.
“We’ve been sitting on it for months, which is crazy,” he says. “We’ve had time to really build up some hype for it and put out the video [for “Underwater Bimbos”] and stuff like that, so it’s kind of like we’ve gone into training to generate interest for this record before we tour it. We’re very excited. I still love it just as much as I did when we were recording it, and it’s crazy to me that we’ve been sitting on it for so long. Normally, when we’re done with a record, it’s straight out so we don’t have to worry about it leaking.”
Naturally, this perceived break from tradition leads the discussion to the topic of album leaks. Both Ironiclast and the band’s previous record, 2009’s New Junk Aesthetic, leaked online prior to the official release date, and so Buckley is questioned as to what a leak means to both him and to the band.
“It honestly depends on how close it is to the release date – because, sometimes, it can actually help a lot,” he responds. “When you get to the point when you’re worrying about record sales… I mean, that’s not the kind of band that we are. We’re not Katy Perry. We’re not Rihanna. We’re just a hardcore band – record sales don’t really justify anything for us. We still go on tour and play to kids who know the words to our songs – whether they downloaded it or bought it, they’re still coming out to the shows to hear the songs live. That’s kind of the point, huh?”
Talk then returns to Ex-Lives – a record which, for what it’s worth, sounds as though it will absolutely thrive in the live environment. With breakneck drums, howled vocals and punishing guitars left, right and centre, it’s an album that expands to new horizons for the band without losing sight of what made them an excellent band to begin with. The album, tellingly, was very rawly recorded, and presented quite a different style of recording process for Buckley in comparison to New Junk Aesthetic. “I was working on the vocals with everyone else in the band watching me while it happened, which is something I’d never done before,” he says.
“Normally, I’d do vocals for the song and then hear the band’s critiques of it later on when they came down. I’d take their comments on board and then go back in without them and do it again. This time around, though, I was doing the takes with all of them watching behind me, which was really weird. I was making all of my mistakes right in front of them. It’s weird, because a lot of people seem to think that if you’re going to perform in front of an audience, that you must not be that self-conscious. But I am. Extremely. Doing that was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. They’d never heard me make those mistakes before. It was good, though – I’m very open to input from the others, and I’m not a diva. It’s a band. It’s a democracy.”
With Ex-Lives finally ready to go, Every Time I Die are finally preparing for a full-scale tour, starting in North America and quickly moving onto the rest of the world. Quizzed on a potential Australian tour, however, and Keith is somewhat hesitant. “Oh, man, I really don’t know,” he says with a laugh. “Honestly, with so much going on I really don’t know when we’ll be able to get back down there. At a stretch, we’re gonna aim for November and see how that goes.” It might be awhile off yet, but do yourself a favour while you’re playing the waiting game and go give Ex-Lives a spin. There’s a very strong chance you’ll like what you hear.