Latest release: The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues (Metal Blade)

For their first release on Metal Blade, North Carolina’s uber-prog quintet Between the Buried and Me have delivered The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, a half-hour EP that sees the band exploring their cerebro-tech metal world even deeper than ever before. At the conclusion of their latest tour with Job for a Cowboy and The Ocean, Loud caught up with singer Tommy Rogers to discuss their new release, working with Muse/Tool producer David Bottrill, Rogers’ solo effort Pulse (issued under the name Tommy Giles) and when they’ll be Down Under next.
Q: First of all, how has the tour been going?
A: It’s been really good. We just got finished two… three days ago and it was a really good start of the record cycle, that’s for sure. Shows were good, crowds were great, bands were awesome and we couldn’t have asked for a better tour.

Q: I read that you’ve been playing the new EP in its entirety as part of the set. Is that right?

A: Yes.

Q: And it’s a precursor to the album, that’s going to be along the same lines.

A: We’ll see. [long pause] The EP for sure is an introduction to what the whole concept is about, and what’s going on. We look forward to telling the story. This whole process has been really different for us. We’ve never done a full concept, and making two records at once has been exciting for the fact that we are leaving people hanging and not knowing what’s going on. That’s honestly fun and we look to what we’re gonna do next. We played a new EP and as always it’s good to play the new stuff live for the fans. The crowds really seemed to dig it, so that’s very important for us that the songs translate well into the live setting. We couldn’t be happier.

Q: So when the album’s done, are you then going to do the whole thing live, both the album and the EP?

A: I don’t know. We haven’t really talked about it. We’ll probably play… that would be cool. I would probably say… maybe. I think it would be neat, to be able to do something like that. It all depends on the tours, and if it makes sense. The problem is, the more music we write the harder it is to determine sets, because the songs are so damn long.

Q: Sometimes it must be difficult to fit a lot of songs in when you’re opening for somebody else.

A: Yeah, it can be!

Q: What was it like working with David Bottrill?

A: It was cool, man. It was nice to have somebody kinda new with the group, and he has a lot of amazing work under his belt. He’s from a different world, and it was kinda cool to mix what we do with what he does. I think it turned out great and it was nice to be in a different environment and be somewhere totally new and far away from our normal lives. To 100% focus on the record, and nothing else.

Q: How does the song writing process work in your band, because there’s so much going on there that it must take some time for it to come together?

A: Yeah, definitely. It’s a huge process, it always has been. I think one of the advantages we have, over other bands, is we all write and we all bring something to the table. Normally… obviously each song is [written differently]. Normally, we all write a lot on our own, and after we have a good idea with what each of us is trying to do, we get up and start collaborating and picking out one song at a time and start building the record. When we do write we record at the same time as well. It’s a long process. We record it and analyse it and change it, basically get it so it’s exactly what we want it to be. And after a long period of time, a record develops

Q: So what the concept behind The Hypersleep Dialogues?

A: It’s basically two men, living separate lives and separate journeys that are slowly colliding onto each other. They’re in two really different timeframes and totally different planets, and they’re both making decisions that affect their lives, and the lives of the human race in the end. And most of the record deals with them contemplating the decisions they’ve made and destiny, and being by themselves and being completely alone and how your mind can play tricks on you when you’re completely isolated from other human beings. Something that I’ve touched on a lot over the years is the idea of living in your dreams, and there’s a lot of dream connections between the two characters… it’s pretty much an introduction to their lives and what they do, and what they’re about to do. I look forward to elaborating on it a bit more. At the moment it is just an introduction, and it’s pretty vague. But at the same time, I kinda enjoy that, because people don’t know what’s going on.

Q: You do seem to be getting positive reviews for the EP, but I did read that someone thought the music was great, but the concept is too cerebral and isn’t going to connect with a lot of people. You must get that criticism quite a lot.

A: Sometimes yeah. I think nowdays, unfortunately not a lot of people read lyrics. It’s cool to get any kind of feedback at all, that people are looking into what we’re trying to say. I think the thing with our fans is that we’re not always predictable with our music or lyrics. We do get that criticism sometimes, but I think it’s expected. I think our fans… they’re excited that they don’t always know what’s next, what we’re gonna sing about. There is a human quality that you’re always worried about when people don’t connect with the story. But I think there’s a lot of similarities between what these characters are going through, even myself and people we all know, are dealing with similar things, just on a different scale. I think that brings human nature into the story. That was a big goal of mine, because I didn’t want to treat a story or record that I didn’t want to relate to at all. When I get on stage and perform these songs, I wanna be able to connect with them and have meaning, rather than just doing it because I feel I have to do it. Obviously with some people it’s not gonna translate as well, but that’s the same with anything.

Q: Unpredictability is one of those aspects that we can expect from your band. You never really know going in to a record what it’s going to turn out like.

A: Definitely. I think it’s fun for the fans, and I think it’s fun for us. When we go in to write a record, we don’t always know what’s going to happen. It’s always fun to let us see what we’re gonna come up with, what kinda stuff we’re gonna come up with. I think if we didn’t do it that way, it would get stale and boring for us and the listeners.

Q: You did (the solo album) Pulse record too, which is very different from Between the Buried and Me. What sort of reaction have you had from that?

A: It’s been great! It was one of those things that, when I did it, I didn’t know what to expect at all. Because it is so different from what the band is. People seem to really enjoy it, and I feel people really appreciate how personal it is, and people can really relate to it. It was a fun record to do. I really enjoyed it and it was out of my comfort zone for sure. Which I think is a good thing, and I’m really glad that I went through with it. It was something that I had on the backburner for a few years and I wasn’t sure if I would ever stomach getting it ready and getting it out. And I’m very happy and I’m really stoked with the feedback. It’s been wonderful so far.

Q: And it was a very conscious decision for you to release it under a different name, to separate it from the band?

A: Definitely. I think a lot of bands and people in bands, when they release their solo project it just sounds like a different version of the band they’re in. I really wanted to disconnect myself in my writing style. I’ve written just Between the Buried and Me for years and years, and I wanted to truly separate myself from that and create songs that are simple and based off vocal melodies and taking one simple idea and creating a song behind it. I’ve never really done that, and it was liberating and it was cool. To view song writing in a totally different manner to one I’ve been used to for many years.

Q: So when are we going to see Between the Buried and Me in Australia again?
A: Hopefully soon man. We wanted to go this year, but it didn’t pan out. I’d be very surprised if we didn’t get out there in the first half of next year, at some point. We’re aching to get back there for sure.

Q: Will the album be out by then, or will that take a while?

A: I don’t know! We’re going to hopefully start writing it in the next few months. It honestly takes us a while, and we don’t want to rush anything. It might go really fast, it might go really slow. It’s too early to tell. But I would say in the next year or two, for sure.