American metal /hardcore/ southern rock crew Every Time I Die have trekked throughout Australia on a variety of touring packages in the past, establishing a rabid following and reputation for frenetic live shows. However, they will seek to expand their horizons – and their fan base – as part of the annual Big Day Out juggernaut. Guitarist Jordan Buckley tells Loud that they’re up for the challenge.
Q: You’re headed back to Australia for the Big Day Out. Obviously you’ve played other festivals here, but this must be a unique proposition for the band.
A: That’s what kids on the internet keep telling me; they’re very confused as to why we’re playing it. I don’t really know what to tell them; I just know that they asked us, we said yes and we’re very happy. But I look at the lineup and I guess I understand why people would kinda raise an eyebrow. But the Big Day Out is huge and doesn’t really bring to mind anything but what I’m assuming is just an awesome, outdoor Australian music festival.
Q: It’s always been a diverse bill and heavy music has always played a role there.
A: I think it’s just like, there’s kids who like stage-diving in sweaty venues in Australia that I think we’re bumming out by not playing club shows. But hey, I’ve got no complaints, man. If someone wants me to play anywhere with anybody, we’ll give it the green light. In Australia we’ve only done one festival and that was Soundwave; I think it was 2008, maybe? That’s it, but it was awesome and in the States we’ve done like four Warped Tours, we’ve done an Ozzfest and in the UK we just did a bunch of festivals. So we’re not amateurs when it comes to sweating it out in the sun.
Q: The festival often gets nicknamed the “Big Day Off” due to the amount of time between shows as well.
A: It seems like a vacation; there’s so many days off. It’s a show and then like five days off. It’s gonna be very nice; we’re gonna have to keep busy somehow (laughs). If we’re gonna have five days off in between shows I’m glad it’s in Australia. I love it there. The aquariums, the beaches, the weather; it’s definitely better than having a day off in the middle of the winter in fucking Nebraska (laughs). I can’t wait; I love it there and I’m looking forward to it.
Q: Your first tour here was with Parkway Drive as support, who have obviously exploded since then.
A: Yeah, I was just talking about that with another interviewer. It is extremely crazy to think that our first time in Australia, they opened for us and now they’re just absolutely massive. We’ve done a handful of tours with them. We did Warped Tour with them, we toured Australia with them once, we did a club tour with them and a good friend of mine is part of their road crew. So yeah, I always look out for those guys.
Q: Good to hear. Who are you keen to see at the festival?
A: (Pauses) I’ll check out the Chili Peppers, I was a huge Chili Peppers fan in my early teens. I’ve never seen The Killers; I’m assuming that they’re awesome. Childish Gambino I’ll watch for sure. I’ll just like to go around and watch everybody. And Against Me! is on it too, that’s gonna be awesome.
Q: You have a diverse sound, which likely works in your favour at any festival.
A: I am really looking forward to it. It’s probably one of the most diverse bills we’ve ever been on, so I am thrilled, I’m excited. I honestly can’t wait. It seems like we’ve been there in Australia, it seems like about once a year for like the past six years, or almost that regularly. It’s a nice little routine we got there, I love it.
Q: What is it about the band that you think Australian audiences really seem to respond to?
A: I don’t know; we’ve been all over the world, so it’s kinda just like par for the course, you know? Kids like to run around and act like idiots when we play. That’s fine with us; it’s kinda why we started the band in the first place.
Q: Your sound draws from a number of different styles of music. When you first formed the band, did you have a particular “vision” for what you wanted to sound like, or did it just evolve naturally?
A: It’s funny you ask this; I was just talking about this with another interviewer. It seems like we still want to do now what we started the band to do in 1998. We just kinda wanted to make loud, aggressive music that people could go bananas to it. It was always about a live setting; we never like, ‘I want to get this vibe on a CD, and I want to fill this’. It was always about, ‘let’s do whatever we need to do to get invited to clubs and make people jump off the stage, fling their arms around and act like animals’. That just kinda progressed to cool festivals like the ones we’re doing now. But we just always took a musical approach to what music could best help the live show. I definitely write with a live show in mind. It was that way with the first CD and it’s that way with this last CD.
Q: That’s a different approach to many bands, who will say they’re trying to capture what they do live on record. Every Time I Die turn that process on its head. Should more bands write with the “live factor” in mind?
A: Yeah, exactly, it’s the other way around. But I wouldn’t like to give rules for what other bands should do. Other bands should just do whatever they feel they need to do. I just know that there’s been a couple of things that worked for us and I don’t even know if they would work for other people. I just know that we, I hate to repeat myself, but we’re very live show based. We like to make sure that people… Because again, that’s something that’s not going to be able to be downloaded, that’s not gonna be… You can make a CD and then people could get it for free, or you can make a video and people can sit on their chair and watch it. But unless you’re at a show, at a concert, at a festival, you’re not going to get it any other way. Those moments that have changed everyone in the band’s lives; we just wanted to have that power, and be able to pay it forward. Our lives have been changed by live music, so we kind of know it’s possible to do that every single night that we’re on tour.
Q: Does it ever run through your mind when you play that, ‘tonight could be the first ever show for someone in the audience, or the last show they ever see’. Does that enter into your thinking, that you can make that kind of impression on people?
A: Yeah, it does come into my mind. I feel like a jerk if I don’t give it my all. And it’s not fair that you make that decision, you know? I never say, ‘oh man, I don’t really feel like going out there tonight. I’ll just play some songs, take it easy, let’s get this over with’. Maybe I’m sick or jetlagged. On the last tour, I got like this 24-hour bug and the show was great, but I still was mad at myself, because I felt bad that a room full of people had to watch me not physically be able to give 100 per cent. I don’t want that person to go tell their friends, ‘oh, they kind looked a little out of it’ or something like that. Maybe this is in my head and all my paranoia, but I would hate for that to happen, ever.
Q: You mentioned the live show being the one thing fans can’t download. I ask many bands this but am always interested in their take on it – where do you see the future of the music industry headed?
A: It’s changed so much and nobody really has put their finger on it, on how to stop the bleeding as far as bands being able to afford to do it. We never were a band that got royalty cheques in the mail; we never sold “x” amount of records and then said, ‘oh, cool, maybe we should, we can take a couple of months off now’. It was always, get in the van, play shows and it’s just, you just have to adapt. Right now kids are all about social media and free CDs, so cool, use that to your advantage. Use that to get kids to your shows. Get them to like your band, and get them to tell their friends to come to the next show. I’d rather have a packed venue, or a packed crowd, like a big crowd to play in front of, than a number of CDs that I can brag about selling.
Q: Given the style of music you play it wasn’t like multi-platinum certifications were ever really in your sights anyway (laughs).
A: Right, right. You just don’t know and it kinda gets to the point where you don’t even really know what the point of thinking about it is. I get asked a lot actually in interviews, like, ‘if free downloading and pirating didn’t exist, do you ever think about what kind of life you’d have? How many records do you think you would have sold? Do you think you would be living in your own mansion?’ People just ask me this stuff and like, I don’t really know. I mean, maybe; I guess it makes sense (laughs). That’s why bands in the 80s and 90s were rich, because people had to buy their CDs. But what’s the point of thinking about that now? It’s obsolete. You just have to adapt and move on, enjoy what you’re doing and that’s kinda what we always did. We kinda got our start before MySpace even came around, so we have this very hard work ethic. When we started, if you wanted to be heard, you had to go to people’s cities and play for them. Now, bands are a little lazy and they’re just like, ‘I’m gonna upload this song, upload this video and then it’ll be huge’. So we came around, we started when the melting pot had all the right ingredients, you know? We got the hard work ethic; we got the respect for touring, the respect for an energetic live show. If we came around a couple of years later, who knows if everything would have been different, for the worse?
Q: Does it concern you that five, ten years down the line there could be a whole generation of bands who don’t have that “melting pot” sensibility you referred to?
A: I don’t really concern myself with what other bands are up to. I hope my friends’ bands are doing well, and I get excited when my friends’ bands are doing well. But if young bands can’t survive because they can’t, they think that they’re entitled to things that just aren’t realistic, then that’s too bad for them. I guess we’re just grateful for what we have instead of being scared of what could have been.
Q: You only need to see the band live to realise the effect you’ve had on people too.
A: Yeah, I encourage anyone who hasn’t seen us live to come and see us. I really don’t get many complaints from the people that do. Our live show kind of gets the point across that we’re trying to make. It can be a dangerous one I guess; these kids go above and beyond. I know if I was one of these kids I wouldn’t be smashed up front for an hour in a sweaty club. But they are, and they’re the reason that we still do what we do. You can’t say no when you have fans that awesome, you know?
Q: Any famous last words?
Every Time I Die plays the Big Day Out festival in January.