Okay, so to say that 2005 was a good year for Buffalo, New York natives Every Time I Die would be a serious understatement. The fact of the matter is that during the past year this quintet of solid musicians has seen more madness then they might have even wanted. In the short time since their last record (a 2003 Ferret Music release entitled Hot Damn!) ETID have become somewhat of a pestering and steadfast blip on most rock radars. 2005 saw the band release their third Ferret Music disc Gutter Phenomenon, tour like insane, and at one point even come precariously close to dieing. Fortunately for all of us, when the band hit Toronto at the beginning of March, I managed to catch up with guitarist Jordan Buckley and shed light on some of these stories. On the band’s tour bus, and amidst a clutter of people hacking away at Sony PS2’s Guitar Hero, Jordan and I shut a door and threw around some Q and A pertaining to the group’s latest album, their near fatal van crash, and plenty of other cool topics.
Your latest album, Gutter Phenomenon, was released in late August 2005. How do you personally feel about the album when compared to your previous work? Jordan: I feel the same way about every album. I think it’s better than the one before. I have a strong feeling that you can’t put out a record until you hate the last one you did because you have to make it better. You can’t keep putting out the same record, it has to be better than the last thing you did. You have to find out what sucks, you have to stop doing what sucks... you’ve gotta find out what you’re doing right, and you’ve gotta do more of that.
Alright. Now this release has been getting a lot of great reviews. Revolver magazine, for example, has even labelled Gutter Phenomenon as 2005’s album of the year – I’m sure you’ve already heard that a million times. Tell me when you found out, and how exactly this made you guys all feel. Jordan: Somebody called us – somebody with the label, somebody on the publishing team, somebody in our management. I don’t know. But it’s funny you ask, because I really 100% am not kidding when I say I refused to believe it until I saw it. When they were like “album of the year”, I thought they meant like... “Oh yeah, everybody who works on the Revolver staff did their Top 10 and you guys made somebody’s Top 10.” They like to exaggerate to us, you know what I mean? So when they were like, “Yeah. Revolver. Album of the Year.” I was like... “Well, what? Did one of the editors call you and say he kinda liked it?” But when I opened it up, I saw Every Time I Die at number one, and then a two after that and a three and a four... I was like, “this is legitimate.” And it’s great. It’s really great. It’s like... I just knew it was that good. I knew it was that good and it’s not like, “I hope people like it,” it’s more... I just knew it was gonna happen. I didn’t think it was gonna be album of the year, but I knew somebody out there had to realize what a great record it was.
Excellent. What’d you guys do differently when writing and recording this last album, and why do you think there’s been such an escalation in media attention for Every Time I Die? Jordan: We kind of just got more mature and more realistic with what we’re doing. We kinda said, “We quit our jobs and we quit college to do this, and we’re going to be playing these songs every day just about, y’know, on a stage... so let’s write songs that we’re never gonna get sick of playing.” Songs that aren’t just gonna follow a trend of what’s going on right now, y’know? It’s kinda how the band started. We followed a trend. It was a big, noisy, chaotic, aggressive thing going on with bands like Coalus and Dead Guy, and we wanted to fit in and do that and no big deal. But we’re looking at the big picture now. This isn’t just get in our car, drive to the venue, and play one show on a Friday night and then go to work on Saturday. This is what we’re going to be doing every single day so we might as well make sure we love doing it.
Very true, very true. Gutter Phenomenon is such an awesome disc, full of raw, gritty and yet smooth, hard rock sounds. Where do you guys draw your musical motivations, and how do you create your own unique, modern rock sound? Jordan: We kinda just blend off each other. I swear to God. I don’t sit down with a Led Zeppelin CD and say, “I want to write a riff that sounds like this.” It just comes out, and if it sucks we ditch it, if it’s cool we keep it, and it just so happens that it does get a lot more comparisons to a classic rock feel or a southern rock feel. It’s real coincidence that we do listen to a lot of that, but as far as inspiration goes, we just inspire each other. It’s cheesy to say, but that’s true.
No, that makes total sense. So why’d you guys call this disc Gutter Phenomenon. Are there any themes or lessons which you tried to convey with this album? Jordan: Keith thought of the name because it was a term given to rock and roll in the fifties. No one thought it was gonna last, everybody thought it was just this rock and roll thing. Like, “what is this? It’s just for losers. It’s not gonna last.” But at the same time, it was saving lives and it was becoming peoples’ lives and it wasn’t going anywhere. It stuck around forever and, y’know, maybe it appealed to the lowest of the low, but so be it.
It might be way too soon to tell, but do you guys have any news at all pertaining to a next album? Jordan: We’re gonna have it out by next summer. I mean, we try to do a new CD every two years. It’s standard, not only because we don’t want the kids to wait, but because we don’t wanna wait either. We like keeping our shows fresh and we like playing songs that we don’t have to fake it, you know what I mean? We never want to look at a set list and be like, “Oh, this song? I hate playing this song.” I wanna look at a set list and be excited about playing every single song on it.
Yeah. Apparently you guys are big fans of PS2’s Guitar Hero. Jordan: Yep! [laughing]
Gimme some details about how you became addicted to the game that all rock and metal bands seem to be playing now. Jordan: It basically started... we were touring, and we were in a van, and we were touring with Story of the Year and From First to Last, and From First to Last had it on their bus and I was afraid to play it because it just looked hard and everybody that played, they were already experts on it because – whatever, it’s just easier if you’ve got a bus, all you do is play video games. So I secretly sat down, perfected it... we all did. We had like a week or two off, every single person went out and bought it, and this tour we all showed up and everybody’s amazing at it. It’s obvious that like, that’s what we did during our two weeks off. It’s just so fun man. We’re just all about having a good time, whether it’s on stage, off stage, on the bus, at home.... And y’know what? A fucking video game that lets you shred Pantera and Ozzy Osborne songs is definitely our idea of fun.
Totally. So other than shredding through video games, what else do you guys do to wind down at the end of a hard day? Jordan: I like to have a drink or two, but I cut down on that. It was getting a little out of control. Two of the guys in the band don’t even drink at all. We just riff off each other man. We’re just so, so eye-to-eye with our sense of humour that we can just sit in an empty room and entertain ourselves for hours. But I mean it’s... you wake up, we’ve got a great crew that makes it so that we don’t even need to touch our equipment. We don’t need to load the trailer, unload the trailer, set up our equipment... all we need to do now is just play on stage and do interviews and all that crap, and it makes for a lot of free time, but it’s nice. You, whatever, get up, I take a cab to the gym. Me and the bass player work out. Video games. Fuckin... just hanging out, meeting new people, it’s really a job that I will never take for granted. I get to see amazing people and hang out with amazing people every day, and that’s enough for me man.
Totally. It’s nice to see now more bands that are taking the music life seriously as opposed to partying their asses off. For example, you’re getting on stage, you’re doing the rock and roll thing, but you’re hitting up the gym and whatnot. What’s, y’know… what’s the deal? Jordan: Yeah, like I said I don’t wanna get overwhelmed, I don’t wanna be this whole... I just don’t wanna be cliché. I don’t wanna be fucking girls and doing drugs and passing out on stage and not being able to finish a song kinda cliché rock band. I don’t know, I think I just got a nice breath of fresh air recently where I just kinda realized how happy being in this band makes me, and I don’t wanna do anything to fuck that up.
It’s really nice to see the jock and the hard rock finally coming together. Jordan: Yeah exactly! [laughing] I’d say if you’re having fun and it makes you happy, just do it man – as long as you’re not fucking anybody else up.
Definitely. I know you’ve probably discussed this a thousand times before as well, but I have to ask… your van flipped over this past year. Gimme some details and thoughts on that ordeal. Jordan: Basically I was driving, our van and our trailer were not agreeing on what they wanted to happen. Our trailer had about 1000 lbs too much equipment in it, and we were going through some wind-y, windy Wyoming roads, hit some ice, and the van wanted to stay on the road. The trailer did not. And uh, the trailer won the argument. It pulled us off, and we were going sideways and I’m like, “Okay. I think we’re gonna stop. I think we’re gonna stop.” And then we just flipped over. Yeah man, we’re lucky to be alive. If that was near a hill or a ditch or a guard rail or another car, who knows what would’ve happened. But it was just a flat, wind-y, windy, icy little stretch and... it was weird, I got this weird, weird, WEIRD vibe. This feeling, as I was upside-down, that everything was fine. That no one was hurt. And I was right. And I don’t know why I got that, because normally I should’ve been fucking losing my mind, hoping that I didn’t just kill six people, but at first I was like, “Fuck. We’re probably gonna miss tomorrow’s show.”
For the love of the music eh? Alright so you guys managed to replace the old van permanently, and so did that experience alter anything about the way you guys tour, play, or even live? Jordan: Maybe it was the van accident that really changed my outlook on life, I don’t know what it was. You just pointed it out, but I’ve made this turn-around for just realizing that there’s really nothing much to complain about right now for me, I mean other than political fucking world issues, you can freak out about that. But yeah, I mean everybody just kinda came away from that being like, “we’re lucky to be alive.” And yeah, it’s cheesy but everybody came out of that accident pretty stoked on life. I mean, after, obviously at first we were kinda like, “Fuck. Why are we fucking doing this?” but then you hit the stage and you play a fuckin’ packed show in front of a thousand sweaty kids and it’s like, “Oh yeah. This is why we’re doing this.”
You mentioned on your site a huge pending tour that you’ll take part in with, for example, From First to Last. Can you give us any details? Jordan: Oh yeah. Warped Tour.
So the mystery is not that mysterious. Jordan: Not that mysterious, no. Yeah... we’ve gotta announce that soon, we just didn’t how to do it. We wanted to make a big deal out of it, but....
Just do it spontaneously. Jordan: Yeah, just be like, “PS – we’re on Warped Tour.” Yeah, that’s it. Warped Tour – we’re excited. Well Helmet’s on it, I know... I heard a rumour that Foo Fighters were doing like two weeks of it, like I said, we’re good friends with From First to Last. They’re on it. Thursday – really old friends of ours. It should be fun, should be fun. We’ve never done it before. We’ve done Ozzfest, we’ve done Sounds of the Underground, but we’ve never done a full Warped Tour, so we’re completing the tri-fecta of heavy music with this.
Alright, just a couple more and then I’ll get out of your hair. Speaking of touring… how’s this tour been going so far? Jordan: Fantastic!
Are you having a good time with the other bands? Jordan: Perfect tour for us. We love this tour. I’m not gonna say who, but we got asked to do a couple of other tours, kind of branching out into the more radio-friendly area where bands are selling five times more records than we are. From a business point of view, maybe it’d be fun to hit those kids up because we haven’t hit them up yet but, we’re just so stoked on having fun in this band that if it means... we’d rather play to a thousand kids a night than sell a thousand records a night, y’know? So we’re playing crazy, sweaty, kids in black t-shirts and they love us and we love them.
This tour, The Truth Tour, ends just as April begins. What do you guys have planned for after this tour? Jordan: We’re filming a video at the very end of this tour, then we have April off. We do Bamboozlefest in May, we do 10 days in the U.K. with It Dies Today, and then in June, Warped Tour starts. Warped Tour’s like two solid months. So yeah, we’ve got a busy couple of months, and we like it that way.