InterviewsDecember 3, 200818,850 views

Between The Buried And Me interview

By Drew Ailes
Between The Buried And Me INTERVIEW

Where are you guys at right now?

Well, we're home right now. We're gearing up for a DVD release that we're going to be filming, so we're home preparing for that.

Are you doing it there in North Carolina?

No, actually. We're going to film it in Nashville, Tennessee. It's just going to be a live show and then we'll throw some other footage and behind the scenes stuff, I guess. Whatever we can think of, really. We had talked to the label about it a little bit over the last year, but it wasn't really something we were dying to do or anything. But I guess when the opportunity came up, we were like, "alright, guess we'll give it a shot." I don't know, we'll see how it goes.

I know for Colors, you guys decided to bypass doing music videos and whatnot. Was there anything in particular that was set in your mind where you decided to do the DVD?

Well, as far as videos and stuff go, we're definitely kind of an anti-video band. We'd have to edit our songs down and I don't really think videos help a band like us. We're only going to sell X number of records, so it doesn't matter if we have videos out there or not. So it's just kind of a waste of money. DVD is something that a fan can grab on to a little more and get to know the band a little better, maybe. They can pay however much money and see a full concert. It's kind of more intimate, I guess, as opposed to a video which is just a three minute show-off of what kind of money you have and crazy effects. [laughing] Most video directors want to do really cheesy stuff and we're just not into it.

Standing in the middle of a field with flowers, while a boy and girl walk by, crying.

Yeah, yeah. Stuff like that that doesn't really...I mean, we've done videos in the past and it's been kind of a goofy experience. "Now you've gotta put blood on your hands, like you're shredding your hands apart when you're playing guitar..." It's just like, no, not our style.

Is there any way you can drop to your knees at this part and scream at the sky?

[laughing] Exactly. Maybe ten years ago we would've done something like that, but when you start coming up on thirty years old, you don't want to do stuff like that. With the DVD, we're kind of producing it ourselves, so we can do whatever we want to do and anything we do for comical value will be on our own terms. More of a true representation of the band that we are.

You guys just came off the European tour with Dillinger and Meshuggah, right?

Yeah, it was about three weeks. It seemed like an eternity we were over there.

I'd imagine having Meshuggah over there would be enough to draw large crowds overseas, but did you find there were a lot of people coming out strictly for you?

Um, yeah. It was our first time over in Europe so we had pretty low expectations. But it was awesome. A lot of people were into it and it went way better than we thought it would go. It was real good, man.

You guys have done a tours with a lot of bands that, for lack of a better way to put it, aren't on such a grand scale as bands like Dream Theatre and Opeth. Did you feel like you really belonged on that tour, or were some of the tours you did with smaller bands where you stuck out, did you feel more at home?

We were definitely sort of the odd band out on that tour in terms of...I mean, Opeth is a heavy band, but, as far as song structures and stuff I think they're more digestible than we are. We were kind of the "crazy" band on tour, if you can imagine that. But it was still good. The crowd response was awesome and we had fans there. People that were exposed to us for the first time seemed into it. Obviously, the older Dream Theater crowd, they're kind of like Slayer fans, but for the most part it was really cool. The most awkward thing about it was that a lot of the venues were all seating - no standing room at all. It was theaters. The people in the front rows were the people who bought the VIP tickets, so those people are there to see Dream Theatre.

Did you have any people from other bands showing up to those tours that you really didn't expect to see?

Some of the Lamb of God guys came out for the Richmond show. Who else came, I don't even know. There were definitely people out at the shows but I really didn't pay much attention. Just random dudes from other bands. My mind is going blank right now. [laughing] I can't think of anybody, but yeah, older Dream Theater dudes.

You came from Prayer For Cleansing, a band that experienced a limited but notable amount of success. Now you're playing with some of the biggest bands in heavy and also progressive. Besides the obvious things of crowd sizes, how does the tour change? Do you have to be a lot more organized and regimented?

All that stuff. If we do a headlining tour, it's so laid back. We just sort of show up and do whatever. We sound check for fifteen minutes and that's that. The show takes care of itself. When you do the bigger tours, it's much more regimented, especially when you have things like catering. Dinner is at a specific time. It's like being at camp. The headlining band sound-checks for three hours, and then you get up there and get a five minute line-check. There's so many people involved at that point as far as production managers and this and that. It's a whole different ballgame. The first time we ever did something like that, it was really a culture shock for us. Coming from Prayer For Cleansing and just playing hardcore shows predominantly for my whole career, it's a totally different thing. For us, I think we prefer more low-key and laid back, in an intimate setting where you don't have to deal know. I think on that Progressive Nation tour, there were sixty or seventy people. It was absurd. There were people I didn't even meet and we were on the road for a month. I was seeing new people every day and like, "I wonder who that guy was."

Did you ever run into an incident where someone told you that you played a good set, then shrugged it off as a random kid, only to realize they were on the crew?

[laughing] No, actually, no one ever told us "good set," other than maybe the guys in the other band.

Right, I read Mike Portnoy saying that Colors was one of his favorite albums of the last few years.

Yeah! That's how we got on the tour. He's been a fan of the band for a while, which is weird, because all of us grew up listening to Dream Theater. They've been sort of our idols for a long time. He was really into us and all of those guys are super cool and down-to-earth dudes. He would watch our set and everything. Super cool guy, man. But yeah, they'd say good set or whatever. But the guys on the crew...I don't think they even listened to any of the bands. For them, it's just a job, you know? They're out there trying to make sure the show runs smooth. They could care less about the music.

Right, they probably just got off a Hannah Montana tour or Sixx A.M. or something.

[laughing] Yeah, yeah.

You guys have a lot of longer songs like "White Walls" that your fans really love. How do you make the decision, having a limited set on bigger tours, as to what songs you're going to play? Do you feel alright about that? I've read that was one of the reasons you guys didn't enjoy Ozzfest.

Well, it's tough. We get a half-hour set and we want to play mostly new material, and those songs are really long. On the Dream Theater tour, we played two songs.

Which ones?

Uh...uh...shit. "Ants in the Sky" and then whatever song is after that on the fuckin' record, man. I can't think. I don't know. Whatever, it was two songs.

I've always been curious - when you guys sit down and write a song, how the hell do you determine what part goes where? I read that "Ants in the Sky" was the first song you wrote for the new record and you worked backwards and up to it.

Yeah, pretty much. I mean, that was the first song we wrote and I wrote the first half of it, I guess. Our bass player had some ideas and stuff, so we kind of would start with simple ideas, or we'll write passages and go from there. We built that song up and then it just ended up being brutally long. We were just like, "god damn, this is a fifteen minute song." So we figured we might as well make the entire record like one continuous piece of music. We started with "Ants in the Sky" and went from there to the end of the album, and then went back to the beginning and wrote to it.

Does anyone ever step in and say, "wait a minute, guys, this song is eleven minutes long."


You've all always been on the same page?

Yeah, especially now. In the past we did sort of limit ourselves, saying things were too long. As we've gotten older and doesn't matter. We can do what we want. It's not like it's going to effect our livelihood if we write long songs. With Colors, we just sort of went for it. We've always been a band that's never really cared what people thought about us or anything, so we just did whatever we wanted. We had no concern for the consequences or anything. Everybody's on the same page. We all just wanted to push the envelope on that album and just do crazy shit. We didn't care.

What would it take for someone to step in and say...has anyone ever said that something might be too challenging or over-extending yourselves with the progressive elements you've been getting into? Have you ever tried to back away from specific things or has it always been, "fuck it, we're writing what we want"?

Yeah, that's what it was. We've never really made the conscious decision to not do something. We've always just wanted to do it all. We all came from the hardcore scene, I guess, and those are our roots so I think we'll always have that raw and aggressive sound. But we also all grew up on cheesy metal bands and Dream Theater, and all this stuff. We've always wanted to have that element of progressive music. We're always wanting to push it. We're always going to have breakdowns and fast parts, and noodly passages and wankery. It's really just a product of all of our influences and that's kind of where we are as a band. It's always an open book for us. We just love music and we wouldn't be doing it if we didn't love it. Our whole thing is that we want to progress and get better as musicians and songwriters. We're always wanting to challenge ourselves as well as the listener. The next record, I'm sure there will be even more weird stuff and who knows what direction it'll take. Who knows what we'll do.

Having gotten to the point where you're at, how does the business end of things change for the band? Have you hired any additional help, and how do you make the decision to branch out?

Man, from the business end of things, not much has changed. It's not like we're getting rich playing fifteen minute long metal songs or anything. Nothing's really changed. We've got a sound guy, a tour manager, and a merch dude. That's how we roll. We usually tour in a van, but occasionally we'll do a bus. But the way gas prices go, we'll probably just roll in a van for the majority of our time as a band. We just kind of keep it real. We've never had a manager and I don't think we plan on having a manager in the future. We just do everything ourselves, from A to Z. We have a booking agent, but we're very involved in what tours we go on. Everything is done ourselves. We handle all the money, all the expenses...everything. Anything you can name, we do it. And that's how we kind of like it. We have that kind of hardcore ethic, I guess. We don't like to put something we've worked so hard at into somebody else's hands. We do it all, man. Even on these big tours, some of the bigger bands were always kind of surprised by how involved we are. We don't have people set up our gear for us and shit like that. We set up our own stuff, tune our own guitars, change our own strings...

Is that something you think you'll always stick to?

Um, yeah. Unless things change a whole lot. We're older guys and we sort of depend on this to pay our bills and stuff. When you start hiring all of these people to give you a better image, I just think it's kind of pointless. You're just taking food off your own table. We just can't afford to pay all these people.

You're not going to get ahead of yourselves, basically.

Definitely. We see being in a band as a blue-collar job. You go out there, you load your shit in, you play the show, you load your shit out, and you play the next show. The days of being a rock-star are pretty much over, unless you're selling millions of records.

Do you guys have health insurance?

[laughing] Yeah, we all do. I think our bassist actually doesn't have health insurance, but I'm trying to convince him to at least get that. I had to learn the hard way that health insurance is a necessity.

Absolutely. What happened?

Man, I got some shit in my eye one time, man. I was sleeping on somebody's floor. We were on tour and sleeping on somebody's floor and something got into my eye and literally scratched my cornea off. It was one of the most painful things.

Did you wake up screaming?

I woke up and my eye was all tearing-up and shit. I was like, "what the hell happened, man." I thought maybe there was something in it and I thought it maybe was just something in it, but I didn't know how serious it was. We had a show that night and my eyeball was beet-red. I had to go to the doctor multiple times and there was nothing they could really do to fix it. They didn't really know what happened. It had come out at some point, but it had already done the damage. They looked at my eye and said, "yeah, you don't really have a cornea anymore. It's scratched off." I was like, "oh, christ." My eye was constantly tearing for a month. It cost me like, $2,000, for nothing. Just to have them look at it. I decided to get health insurance after that.

You're lucky that was only a $2,000 mistake. There was a guy I knew who was out on a tour that I was on. He just came up to me and pulled down the side of his pants and showed me his hip and said, "dude, I think I got bit by a spider or something." I was like, "yeah, looks like it. Just watch it and if it gets worse, think about doing something." Three days later he's like, "I think it's getting worse," and he shows it to me and it's gotten pretty big and fucked up. He comes up to me the next day and he's all dizzy and he shows it to me, where we all tell him to go to the doctor. Turned out that he had MRSA, which is a type of staph infection. He had to be in the hospital for a few days and I think it cost some shit like $15,000.

That's crazy, dude.

Yeah, that's the price of a pretty nice car.

I know, man. Part of me was boycotting health insurance for a few years, because I was like, "fuck it, man, it's such a racket and so much bullshit," but unfortunately when you realize how expensive everything is, you have to break down and get it. Maybe one day we'll get the universal health care like every other first-world country in the world. For now, I guess I gotta pay my monthly bill so they can take care of me.

You guys are undoubtedly the most unique act signed to Victory Records, which is a label that a lot of different people have a lot of different opinions about. Aside from the simple things like distribution and having your name on the website, how has being with Victory shaped your success?

I mean, it is what it is. I think sometimes people get the wrong idea about record labels. It's not like it used to be because obviously CD sales aren't good, so it's not like they just throw money. It doesn't matter who you're signed to unless it's a major label. Nobody just throws money at bands anymore. Victory's been cool in the sense where they've always let us do our own thing. They've never tried to limit us on what we could or couldn't do, creatively. We produce our own records - they don't put us in a studio with some high dollar producer who is going to fuck with our songs and shit. In that sense, they're cool, but in a sense our relationship is kind of limited. For lack of a better way to put it, we don't really need them. We're self-sufficient on the road. They do their thing and we do ours. They try to sell the record and do ads in magazines, and we go and play shows. We kind of have our own job. It's cool, we've never really butted heads with them. I'll say that. Who knows what the future holds, but like you said, we're kind of a weird band for that label. As weird as we are for them, I think they've done a pretty good job with us. I'm not going to say it's been perfect or anything. I think a lot of bands sign these record deals with labels and they think that all of a sudden they're taken care of for life. The bottom line is, if you're going to play heavy music, you've got to work your ass off. It doesn't matter who you're signed to; you're not going to get a million dollars from your record label. It's easy for people to talk about labels, but until you're really in the relationship...that's the only time you really have insight into it. It's kind of a hard thing. There are things that we would love to have done differently, but you live and learn, I guess. Bottom line is you just have to work hard and tour. That's what we try to do. Labels are there to make money, and unfortunately, there's not a whole lot of money to go around these days.

Completely and unnecessarily switching topics, as a dude in a progressive metal band, what do you think about jam bands, Paul?

Jam bands?

Yeah, jam bands.

I think it's cool, man. That's idea. That's what I want to be doing when I'm 60. Just jamming. I bought an Allman Brothers DVD recently.

That's Allman Brothers. I'm talking about bands with names like Disco Biscuits.

Oh, Phish and Widespread Panic? Shit like that?


I'm not into it. I'm not a fan of those particular bands, but I'm all for it. The concept is cool. You get there and just jam out. That's like, every musicians dream when they first start playing guitar. They just want to jam. They just want to make noise. I'm into it, but I'm more of a fan of the classic rock jam bands like The Allman Brothers, Kansas, Yes...that kind of stuff. But uh, yeah, I'm all for the concept. I'm just not a fan of those particular groups.

Alright. So I wanted to ask you, and a lot of people wanted me to ask: why did you do that cover CD?

Well, it was the label's idea - first of all. They approached us about it and we thought it'd be cool. We were like, "yeah, that'd be cool, we'll show our fans what we grew up on and what our influences are."

Don't get me wrong. It wasn't a disaster. I mean, Lambgoat said it was a disaster, but -

They say everything's a disaster. Unless it's an obscure death metal band, or like, a doom band or something.

Lambgoat is a disaster qualifying other things as a disaster.

[laughing] We knew a lot of people weren't going to like it. We chose some pretty weird stuff. But, you know, overall it went pretty well. It was more just us wanting was kind of like, "okay, our label is going to pay for us to do this record where we just get to play a bunch of our favorite songs," so yeah, we'll do that shit. It was really cool for a couple of reasons. For one, we were able to show what we were influenced by over the years, and also, it's a really cool way to study older recordings and really see how bands like that got that sound. It taught us a lot about recording, I think, and the importance of layering. A lot of those older bands, they had a much more organic sound, as opposed to modern production where everything is super slick and there's no noise. Everything is really tight. Back then, it wasn't like that. It was totally a good learning experience. We learned a bunch about all recording, layering, and textures. It was a cool experience all the way around for us. Contrary to popular belief, it did not even count as part of our Victory contract, so we did not do it to get out of our contract. It was totally off the books and it was done just to do it. That was it.

Yeah, I recall when that was announced everyone was like, "Ohhh! Between The Buried And Me must be pretty anxious to get off Victory..."

Yeah, yeah. [laughing] That's always the case. It kind of goes back to what we said earlier. People who are sort of outside of the loop who don't really know how it works, they always speculate on the band and label relationships and it's rarely accurate. But no, it didn't count on our contract and it was basically done for fun. We had a good time doing it, so that's really all we care about.

Do you ever wish you were doing anything else?

Nah, man. I don't even know what I would do if I had to do something else. This is all I've ever really wanted to do and I'm doing it on a small scale, but still, it's sort of a dream come true. I get to travel around, make music, and write songs. It's fucking awesome, man. If I die poor and lonely, then I won't regret a thing because this is what I want to do. I don't think I'll ever want to do anything else. If I do something else, it's still going to be music related. Producing or something like that - something involving musical creativity right now.

What do you do if one day, your just hands explode?

[laughing] What would be my recourse after that?

Yeah, how do you recover?

I don't know. I don't know what I would do. I would probably just kill myself. That's a good question, man. I should insure these puppies.

What was that...oh, that one episode of Metalocalypse where Skwisgaar has his hands encased in glass.

I don't think I've seen that one. Great show, by the way.

I'm pretty proud that I actually got to interview Brendon Small once.

Yeah, I know. I read that. Believe it or not, I go to the Goat once and again. I don't go to the board because I don't want to be humiliated because someone is going to talk shit on us. I used to in my younger days, but it's devolved and it's just all-out murder there now. I do go to the Goat though to check out the news. I hang out.

That's what I get from everyone, saying they love the site but hate the board.

I don't go to the board, man. Occasionally, I'll open it just to see what's going on, but I'll read the first few topics and I'm like, "oh god, I've gotta get out of here."

Yeah, it's just a thread about a limbless girl blowing a cow or something.

[laughing] It gets brutal there, man. I've read some brutal, brutal comments on that site.

I think Colors actually set the record as to how many comments could fit on one review.

Oh yeah, yeah. It was nuts, man. Outrageous.

So who are the bands you'd like people to keep their eyes open for?

I'm probably the wrong guy to ask for this. All I listen to is bluegrass and classic rock.

Let it rip.

Well, lets see. I'm a fan of a guy named Chris Thile. He was in this pop/bluegrass band called Nickel Creek. Fuckin' unbelievable mandolin player. So if anybody likes some shredding mandolin, they should check that guy out. He's awesome.

Two people will be thrilled.

[laughing] Yeah. Let me try to think of some heavy stuff we're, everybody already knows the band's we're into. Porcupine Tree, Pain of Salvation, Dream Theater and all those fuckin' prog bands. I'll tell them to check out this band called Allman Brothers. They've been around for a while but they haven't...

Black metal?

Nah, they're kind of like...the foundation of black metal. Emerged in the sixties, I think. Really killer band. Gregg Allman - used to be married to this woman named Cher...they had a kid who started this incredible metal band called Deadsy.

Are you kidding?

Yeah, you didn't know that was their son?

No - what the fuck? Crazy.

Yep, the main dude in Deadsy, which is highly disappointing. He must be disappointed beyond belief in his son.

Who knows, maybe he funded all of Deadsy. Maybe he really believed in it and he was going to be Jakob Dylan. Not that that guy achieved great success, but whatever.

He had a few hits, though.

[the rest of the conversation trails off into a discussion of awful bands and Raleigh, North Carolina]


Post Comment
sacralplexus_ 12/3/2008 3:06:33 PM

shit band

GloryHoleDeathStomp_ 12/3/2008 3:06:44 PM

BTBAM has done no wrong so far. f*ck all the haters!

lolmallcore_ 12/3/2008 3:14:06 PM

lol what kind of awful bands related to raleigh NC did you guys talk about? the influx of alesana wannabees? haha

HAHAHAHA_ 12/3/2008 3:31:19 PM


anonymous 12/3/2008 4:19:45 PM

I still love this band, f*ck the haters.

arty_mcfarty_ 12/3/2008 4:36:03 PM

no one does these interviews like drew i must say and this band consistently puts out good albums

xbumpx_ 12/3/2008 4:50:02 PM

listened to self-titled 2 days ago. rules. silent circus, top 10 cd's ever alaska, sick music colors, super prog im sure they'd be pumped to know that btbam got me IN to dream theater & liquid tension seriously though, play ad a dglgmut live plz

truthsayer_ 12/3/2008 5:05:35 PM

Excellent band, excellent interview.

ion_stasi_ 12/3/2008 5:11:54 PM

This interview was awesome. Great read. Hilarious dude, love the band even more now. Love Paul even more. gay says what? lol @ asking what he would do if his hands blew up: "I don't know what I would do. I would probably just kill myself. That's a good question, man. I should insure these puppies."

anonymous 12/3/2008 6:21:06 PM

Band's not my thing, but seems like a nice dude.

Funky_Buttlovin_ 12/3/2008 7:44:13 PM

awesome band, TLNR

lolraleigh_ 12/3/2008 8:48:37 PM

lol @ raleigh and bad bands. The only decent bands that played there are/were BTBAM ripoff bands or BTBAM Jr.'s as we like to call them: Glass Casket, Seneca, Called To Arms, Knives Exchanging hands. After that its cliche breakdown bands and screamo bands. pretty bad when your best bands are just imitating BTBAM

falling_down_ 12/3/2008 8:51:28 PM


Machen_ 12/3/2008 9:05:23 PM

"Let it rip. Well, lets see. I'm a fan of a guy named Chris Thile. He was in this pop/bluegrass band called Nickel Creek. f*ckin' unbelievable mandolin player. So if anybody likes some shredding mandolin, they should check that guy out. He's awesome. Two people will be thrilled." I am one of these two people. He truly shreds. Awesome

Antikrist_ 12/3/2008 9:44:07 PM

Still love this band. Met them back in August, some of the nicest guys I've met.

Gary_ 12/3/2008 11:59:04 PM

Nice to see I'm not the only metal fan that loves country music. When I heard that part in Ants of the Sky, I almost crapped my pants of happiness. Can't wait to see what their next record will be like.

pet_ 12/4/2008 12:01:25 AM

cool interview, man

Chad Fjerstad_ 12/4/2008 12:29:17 AM

Deadsy f*cking rules.

TheDecrepit_ 12/4/2008 1:09:49 AM

great band, great guitarist

jim_dangle_ 12/4/2008 1:34:26 AM

great dudes, great music, awful interview

anonymous 12/4/2008 2:10:39 AM

surprisingly decent review.

Tara Alesia_ 12/4/2008 4:16:18 AM

Great band, great interview.

xbetterthanyoux_ 12/4/2008 9:08:22 AM

I saw them earlier this year and it was an amazing show.

sonnet_ 12/4/2008 9:13:42 AM

they are a band that everyone loves to hate on but I'm proud of these NC boys. Although S/T is still my favorite, I have immensely enjoyed every album they have put out and have always loved the fact that they don't try too hard to be something they are not or to please anyone else. Good dudes, Good music, Good Interview. (PS Go Pack!)

ion_stasi_ 12/4/2008 9:34:12 AM

Hey Paul, If ever something happens to your hands, you could always try the SaeboFlex!

rocky_ 12/4/2008 11:01:27 AM

hy's pablo taking off his clothes for the king of those who know?

anonymous 12/4/2008 2:22:03 PM

They need to smoke more opium

waste_of_space_ 12/5/2008 7:40:06 AM

nice interview. interviewer is a gay for thinking universal is workable or even a good thing.

drewcifer_ 12/5/2008 9:29:13 AM

actually, paul said that. it was posted in bold in error. so i guess you just called him a "gay"

nocareever_ 12/5/2008 1:28:43 PM

Deadsy was SO sick. "I got the key key to Gramercy Paaark."

joshquell_ 12/7/2008 8:54:00 PM

awesome interview, and i'm super-stoked to see the amount of success these cats have garnered. it's amazing to watch a band go from local NC hardcore (prayer) to international heroes. well done.

cumbubble_ 12/8/2008 1:21:24 PM

f*ck all of u

pumpgasinhell_ 12/9/2008 2:18:03 AM

Best Band out right now. Definitely the best group of MUSICIANS (that means all of em) I've seen in a really long time. I always knew they werre good but until I saw the DVD i was just blown the f*ck away. Only band I've ever seen who has never f*cked up live. everytime. KEEP IT COMIN!!!

carnilex_ 12/10/2008 11:09:13 AM

Best band EVER. You ignorant kids should eat shit. sorry that YOUR shit band sucks and isn't going anywhere. "Lets all listen to regurgitated death metal riffs that any dumb f*ck can play when you tune in A." BTBAM is the most rich source of talent in modern music and should be praised as gods for eternity.

cantfakethepunk_ 1/20/2009 5:16:47 PM

i love to suck c-ck

RogerKlotz_ 1/31/2009 12:19:25 AM

these guys rule

anonymous 1/4/2010 1:16:35 PM

lol @ raleigh and bad bands. The only decent bands that played there are/were BTBAM ripoff bands or BTBAM Jr.'s as we like to call them: Glass Casket. posted by lolraleigh () on 12/3/2008 8:48:37 PM Glass Casket is a BTBAM Jr. or ripoff band! Thats funny, considering half of BTBAM is in that f*cking band. f*cking idiot!

Steve_Haize_ 8/14/2010 2:28:14 PM

@carinfex is right and its Dream TheatER