INTERVIEW: Keith Buckley (USA), September 2011

Got to have a cheeky double-dip in this interview, as I was speaking with the devilishly handsome Keith Buckley about both the impending Every Time I Die record as well as his side-project at the time, The Damned Things. It was a good time to be a fan of Keith in Australia, as he toured both at the same time as a part of that whole Counter-Revolution clusterfuck. He’s a great interviewee and a lovely guy. ETID just came through town last month and they crushed, as per usual. I also got to speak to Keith again when Ex-Lives came out, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

– DJY, February 2015

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In the last eighteen months or so, Keith Buckley has been leading a double life – for the first time in his career, he’s lent his voice-box to two different bands. On one side of the coin, he’s been hard at work with Every Time I Die, the southern-fried hardcore rockers of which he is a founding member, working on a follow-up to their highly-acclaimed fifth album New Junk Aesthetic. “We are in the studio at this very moment,” Buckley himself confirms over the line from California. “This is my last interview, and then I have to go and record the vocals.” The as-yet-untitled record is projected for a late 2011/early 2012 release, and Buckley is already considerably enthusiastic about the sound of it.

“This is our first record with our new drummer,” he comments. Founding member Mike Novak left the group in 2009, and has since been replaced by new skin-pounder Ryan Leger. Buckley goes on about the energy of the new material – “It’s got so much more energy than our previous records – we’re really excited about it!” Interestingly enough, however, he’s reluctant to give the usual spiel about how it’s “the best record I’ve ever worked on.” It’s nothing personal – it’s just how many musicians like to drum up interest about the new material. So where does Buckley stand? Does he honestly feel the new record is going to be their best?

“The thing is,” he replies, “is that it’s not just another Every Time I Die record. Our old drummer was with us from day one. Everything you’ve ever heard of us being recorded, that’s been the rhythm section. So this is a completely new drumming style – it’s a new sound; it’s a new energy. So, when we’re looking at everything that we’ve ever done and then comparing it to the way we sound now? This is definitely some of the best stuff we’ve written. And it’s all thanks to our new drummer – he’s made us see it all in such a new way.”

Of course, let’s not forget about what else Buckley has been up to in this aforementioned double life. Teaming up with some unlikely pals from thrash metallers Anthrax and pop-punk stadium-fillers Fall Out Boy, Buckley spent most of 2010 and a part of 2011 fronting The Damned Things. The supergroup was a passion project for the five members to make some good-time rock & roll with a hair-metal and hard-rock edge to it. After three or four years in the pipeline – “You know what it’s like with our schedules,” says Buckley – the band finally released their debut album, Ironiclast, in December of last year. Although Keith maintains that he’s “not the type to get too finnicky in the studio,” it was notably different when it came to recording Ironiclast.

“I was singing,” explains Buckley, who had never previously done “clean” vocals on a record before, “and I wasn’t fully aware of what I was capable of with my voice. I was finding out things that I could and couldn’t do, just experimenting with them. It was a challenge, because I wasn’t comfortable. It wasn’t like I had to invent a willingness to do it – I didn’t have to pretend that I like rock music. It was just something that I’ve always liked but have never had a chance to do. I was pushing myself physically with what I was doing with my voice, but it was never like I didn’t like the musical style – I just had to take a different approach to it.”

It should be pointed out at this stage that it was never going to be a case of Buckley leaving his band in favour of The Damned Things – although that didn’t stop a myriad of worried fans approaching Keith while he toured Ironiclast. “Everyone worries about it,” he says, “because nobody every thinks to ask outright. I have never, ever said that I wanted to tone down Every Time I Die. I never said I wanted to leave or anything like that, y’know? It was just another opportunity to write and make music, which is what I like doing. So I did it!”

A simple enough reason, certainly. But here comes the challenge – for the first time ever, Buckley will be bringing both aspects of his double life on tour at the same time. “Yep,” says Keith with a laugh, “I’m gonna be workin’ two shifts in Australia.” While both bands were scheduled to be a part of the doomed Soundwave Revolution, both The Damned Things and Every Time I Die will still get their chance to perform in the country; the former as a part f the Counter-Revolution festivals and the latter doing their own set of headlining club shows. “It’s gonna be quite different to what I’m used to,” Keith says of performing with both bands. “Normally, I just get set into the one style and run with it – but this time I’ll be going between the two. I’m not sure how it’s all going to turn out, but I sure can’t wait to find out!” Likewise, buddy.

INTERVIEW: Panic! At the Disco (USA), September 2011

You know what? I interviewed a teen crush from one of my favourite bands ever. If had a freak accident the day after submitting this article that meant I could never do a feature article again for whatever reason, I would be 100% okay with that. And yeah, I mean what I said – maybe it was purely contextual, but I will always love P!ATD unconditionally. This was a thrill for me – I remember I had to use my sister’s office at uni in order to do the interview; and then dash out to the ABC Illawarra studios to record an interview with Tom Tilley from Hack on triple j. Yeah, he was interviewing me! Felt pretty damn important that day, I’ll tell you what. In-demand DJY! HA.

– DJY, October 2014

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A lot has changed for Las Vegas pop chameleons Panic! At The Disco since the last time they visited Australia – so much so, that vocalist/guitarist/keyboardist Brendon Urie can scarcely remember how long it has been since they visited. “Oh man,” he says as he begins to rack his brain, “It’s got to have been at least four years – or close to four years or something like that. Too long, anyways!” In that time, the band has gone under a complete transformation – they’ve reinstated the exclamation mark (infuriating Last.FM scrobblers worldwide); lost two of their members in founding guitarist Ryan Ross & bassist Jon Walker and bounced back into the spotlight this year with their third studio album, Vices and Virtues. It’s quite a bit to take in – although Urie, speaking to FasterLouder from Los Angeles, seems to have handled the whole ordeal like a true professional.

“After the split,” he muses, “for the last to years we’ve been touring with Dallon [Weekes, bass] and Ian [Crawford, guitar]. We wanted to make sure that we had people that we genuinely got along with, and not just people that we’d hire for our live shows. We wanted to make it feel more like a band – and, more and more every day, it kind of does. They’re just such talented dudes, and we get along so well. It’s kind of all worked out – we’re really fortunate, that’s for sure.”

Although Weekes and Crawford have settled into the live fold of P!ATD, it’s worth mentioning that Vices and Virtues was recorded entirely by just Urie and drummer Spencer Smith, Urie’s childhood best friend and another founding member of the group back in 2004. Urie maintains that creating the album just as a two-piece was simply something that the pair had to do – a “reclamation” of the band after the schism created with Ross and Walker’s departure (both of whom went on to form the jangle-pop band The Young Veins). It was certainly a challenge for the band, particularly for Urie, when it came to writing the album’s lyrics; something he had never attempted prior to the departure of main writer Ross.

“It was something that I knew I had to pick up responsibility for,” says Brendon. “I spent basically all of my spare time writing lyrics, and figuring out different ways to convey a message. Musically, though, Spencer and I have been writing together for seven years. The only difference this time around was the necessity of having more ideas for songs. You couldn’t just come in with a thirty-second idea – you had to come in with a two-minute idea. There wasn’t four people to work through these ideas with anymore, it was just the two of us. We had to just show a little more initiative and find out exactly what it was that we wanted out of this record.”

In accordance with their previous releases, P!ATD took yet another dynamic shift in sound from the album prior. Vices and Virtues makes a return to some of the more electronic leanings of their 2005 debut A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, yet have not completely abandoned the more restrained mature pop that was found on 2008’s Pretty. Odd. In a way, Vices can be seen as bridging the proverbial gap between the two records – and it’s very much intentional on behalf of the group itself. Urie points out that there are songs – or, at least, ideas for songs – that stem from songwriting sessions for both Fever and Pretty. When queried as to the idea or song that has been around for the longest, he interestingly points towards the album’s opening track and lead single, The Ballad of Mona Lisa.

“One of us had written down this 45-second idea, maybe eight months after the first record came out,” recalls Urie. “A lot of what came from those sessions is really different to the way that we write now – but, in a way, that’s what made the record what it was. The mix of the old and newer stuff on there really reflected where we were at the time, and where we wanted to go with it.”

Urie, Smith, Crawford and Weekes will all be in Australia this week to headline the Counter-Revolution festivals across the nation – and Urie in particular is hugely enthusiastic about bringing the new P!ATD to Australia for the first time. “We were so bummed when the festival got cancelled,” he says, alluding to the original Soundwave Revolution. “But now we’ve been given this second chance, we’re all so excited to be coming back to Australia and playing for all of you guys.” He also gives a message to fans to expect a bit of classic rock to be thrown into the set. “Lately, on tour we’ve been covering Carry On Wayward Son by Kansas,” he notes. “It’s such a fun song to play, and it’s a great one for everyone to sing along to.” Lay your weary heads to rest, Panic! fans, and don’t you cry no more – they’re back, and hopefully better than ever for all attending the Counter-Revolution.