Between The Buried And Me's Drummer Dishes On Music, Food, Basketball, Stage Stories, Devin Townsend, And More
In support of the new album, "The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues," Between the Buried and Me has been tearing up venues across the country for the last month with fellow bands Job For A Cowboy and The Ocean, as well as Cephalic Carnage for part of the tour. My first experience of meeting the band was behind the venue of Rocketown in Nashville, TN, where several of the guys were lifting weights, jumping rope, and stretching out as if the bus area was a gym. Just like with their music, the guys keep themselves busy and moving when they’re on tour. You can read my show report and see photos from the show shortly in the newly-relaunched MetalUnderground.com Photo Gallery.
Nashville is a BTBAM crowd, as the band knows after shooting a live CD/DVD at a show in Nashville. Before their exhilarating performance on the night of May 13th, which was a Friday the 13th (although the band seemed to have good luck,) BTBAM drummer Blake Richardson checked in with MetalUnderground.com for an interview on the tour bus, which had been well-toured.
Frank Serafine (Progressivity_In_All): How has the current tour been going? This is the 2nd to the last stop. Tomorrow is Asheville, NC.
Blake Richardson: Yeah. Tomorrow’s the last show. It’s been a month-long tour, but it’s been great. The turn outs are way better than we originally expected. We knew it was going to be a really good package. It’s been great. There are really cool bands, and a super diverse lineup. You have The Ocean, which is kind of like more mellow melodic stuff with hints of chaotic stuff in there, and then Job [For A Cowboy]’s real technical death metal stuff, and then you’ve got us. The package really covers all bases.
FS: Yeah, you’re kind of the black sheep. People don’t know what to pin you down as.
BR: I don’t even know! I don’t. Yeah, if you could pin it down to something, I guess you could say progressive metal, but I don’t know.
FS: That’s a big balloon term. How has opening with the new material from "The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues" gone over?
BR: We’ve been playing that right at the beginning of the set. We wanted to go ahead and get it out there. We’ve toured a bunch off of "The Great Misdirect" and "Colors" and pretty much played everything off those records. We just wanted to basically play something fresh and not kill ourselves after playing those old songs so many times. It’s cool, too, that it came out at a good time a couple weeks before we started the tour. You can tell it’s a little too fresh on some people’s ears, but kids kind of got to get a good grasp of it before we started the tour.
The first time you hear a BTBAM song, it’s just kind of like, "What just happened there?" It’s a lot of stuff to take in, a lot of riffs.
FS: I actually got one request for a question that basically just said, "How the F do you guys remember what comes next?"
BR: (laughs) Yeah, I don’t know. I really don’t know. Your motor memory sort of takes over and eventually, after playing the songs a lot, you get a good grasp of what’s going on. I feel like your mind can really only take so much. When we started practicing these new songs, and we tried to play some older ones, my mind had kind of flushed some stuff out. We’ve played those hundreds of times, but it’s just so weird how motor memory can only remember certain things. If you practice it, you’ll eventually get it down.
FS: Of course, drummers are used to that, dividing your mind in four ways anyway. So what has been the craziest crowd on this tour so far?
BR: I’d say Dallas was pretty crazy. Toronto was pretty gnarly. Dallas was funny.
FS: Very hot, too, I’d imagine.
BR: Very hot. Tons of stage diving. Drunk people falling all over the stage. Wildness. Texas doesn’t mess around.
FS: On this tour, have you noticed any weird tour habits the other bands have?
BR: Nothing weird, but to give JFAC credit, they’ve kind of made me not be a lazy bum on this tour. The Job guys pretty much work out every day. They’ve been trying to get me involved in the mix, which is nice, because I get sort of bored during the day and it gives me something to do. It is kind of weird, when people come in right before doors and see 6-7 guys throwing these huge kettle bells around, they’re thinking, "Am I coming here to see a show or what’s going on here?"
FS: So that’s pretty much your pre-show ritual.
BR: Pre, definitely. We’re too tired by the end of the day to even try and mess around with that.
FS: You guys have toured in support of 7 records now. What is a band that you haven’t toured with that you still would like to tour with?
BR: That’s tough. We’ve pretty much covered almost all of them. I would probably love to tour with this band, Pain of Salvation.
FS: From Sweden.
BR: Yeah, great band. We’ve actually tried to mention doing something with them over here, but I know they don’t really like to venture over to the states too often. I was really stoked when I heard they were going to be on that Dream Theater tour and then some things happened and they couldn’t make it, so that sucks. I still want to see that band. That’s definitely one of them. Then there’s shit like Nine Inch Nails or Muse or someone like that would be really cool, but those are way out of our league. (laughs)
FS: Are there any new side projects going on for the BTBAM guys?
BR: Nothing new. I might mess around with some stuff when I get home, but nothing really solid. Tommy got his solo project that he’s been messing around with. Dan’s got his other band, Orbs, and me and Dustie might mess around with some new Glass Casket stuff if we’re not too bored.
FS: With "The Parallax," how was this time in the studio compared to the last albums? You guys used a new producer, David Bottrill, instead of Jamie King.
BR: Yeah, we did it with Dave Bottrill this time. He expressed some interest after hearing the last two records. He’s got a great catalogue. The Silverchair stuff – when I heard him do that stuff, I was like "That’s great!" He’s done some Dream Theater stuff, Muse, King Crimson… Very diverse catalogue.
We said yes, it would be awesome. We did all the tracking in Toronto in about 10 days I think. (laughs) We finished up mixing down in Winston-Salem with Jamie [King] and it came out great. I think the collaboration of those two sets of ears made it awesome. The drums are the best-sounding drums I think we’ve had on a CD and the guitars came out great. It was a good combo.
FS: Take us through a typical songwriting process for BTBAM – where does it start?
BR: It’s usually Dan, Dustie, Paul, or Tommy will have a riff or section that they’ve come up with. No one in the band writes a whole entire song and we say, "OK, let’s record that." It’s usually that guys will come up with chunks or riffs and we’ll piece them together and try and make it fit to try and not make it too completely random. We want to have it to where it flows very nicely.
It’s more just solving a puzzle by taking the pieces you have and trying to make a decent song out of it. That’s why we have such long songs. Tommy will write a section that’s about a minute and a half. Dan will write some crazy off-time thing that’s another two minutes. Then Dustie will have something that’s another couple minutes. By the end of it, it’s 3-5 different things and it’s 15 minutes long! (laughs)
FS: That’s a nice summation of your music, "3-5 different things and it’s 15 minutes long." Talking numbers, what are some of your favorite metal records from the last 5 years?
BR: Modern metal? That’s tough. I don’t listen to too much metal. I’d say probably that last Job For A Cowboy "Ruination" record a whole lot. That record was cool because I had never really heard them too much before that. We played with them a few times and then they just went straight death metal. I’ll totally back that, 100%. And then I got to hear Devin Townsend’s new record, "Deconstruction." I’ve been listening to that a lot. I don’t know if it’s come out yet, but it’s awesome. I’m a sucker for anything that guy does. It’s great stuff, some of my favorite shit for sure.
FS: He could probably write a song about a cat licking itself and it’d sound amazing.
BR: (laughs) Oh yeah! One of the songs on the new record is about cheeseburgers and it’s the most epic song on the album. He’s a total trip. Those are two big ones, for sure. I can’t think of other metal that I’ve listened to.
FS: What about the last 25 years?
BR: Aw jeez, man. You’re getting for real… Got into metal from? I’d say [Metallica's] "Master of Puppets" was one of the first heavy records I got and then "Ride the Lightning." Through them, I got into Pantera. I got "Vulgar Display of Power," "Great Southern Trendkill," and… It was that progression. Metallica to Pantera. Then I slowly got into underground metal like Undying was one of the first smaller bands that I got into. Then I got into Prayer for Cleansing, which Tommy and Paul played in. That opened up a whole new world of underground metal bands for me.
FS: What’s the craziest stage story you have from playing live?
BR: That’s tough shit… (laughs) I know there was something that happened on this tour… I think this kid in Dallas was stage-diving and crowd-surfing. A typical kid will come up and get on stage and go "Yeah!" and jump off, but this kid crowd-surfs and lands on stage and tried to crowd-surf back out. Then he comes back and lands on Dustie’s pedal-board. We got video of it the other day. It’s so hilarious, because the kid’s so excited and he lands on Dustie’s pedal-board and you see Dustie’s hand just shove the shit out of him back into the crowd! (laughs) The kid’s still all excited, like "Yeah! That was awesome!" It’s like, "No, dude! (laughs) He’s pissed at you. You just messed up all his stuff!" (laughs)
FS: You really can’t control that kind of thing.
BR: No, you really can’t. That’s what makes it funny.
FS: Where are your favorite food stops on tour?
BR: Usually when we’re in Orange County (CA) area, we always hit up this Vegan place called Veggie Grill. They’ve got great sandwiches. Anywhere in southern California, really. There’s Santana’s Burritos in San Diego – it’s the best burrito I’ve ever had in my entire life. Those are some good stops, for sure. There’s that burger place, Vortex, in Atlanta. I didn’t end up going yesterday, but it was on Man Vs. Food and they have this grilled cheeseburger where the two buns are grilled cheese sandwiches. Our driver said, "Dude, it’s the most amazing thing you’ll ever eat in your entire life." I’m going to make that on my next stop.
FS: That’s brutal. Are there any underground bands you’d like to see that are on your radar that you’d like to see break out?
BR: The band, "The Contortionist," is doing pretty cool stuff. We actually played with them in Pittsburgh on this tour. They had a canceled show or something. They’re doing some really cool stuff. They’re very talented guys. They seem really young, so you can tell they can probably do a lot of growing, musically, but I think they’re at a great starting-off point. That’s about it.
FS: Any Do’s or Don’ts for bands trying to make it?
BR: Play music that YOU like. Don’t throw in a part in a song just because it’s popular right now. The only way you’re really going to be happy playing what you’re playing is if it’s stuff you genuinely enjoy. There are a lot of bands out there that are just trying to get that paycheck and trying to do stuff just because they know it’s popular. I think that’s a lose situation every time. The best way to go about it is play music that you enjoy playing.
FS: Listeners would probably say BTBAM have always done what they’ve liked to do.
BR: Yeah, it’s more about impressing ourselves rather than impressing other people. There still are bands out there that do that and worry so much. You have to worry to an extent about what your fans want to hear, but at the same time, you’ve got to really trust yourself when you’re writing songs. You’ve got to know that they’re probably going to like it no matter what – If you, yourself, enjoy it, then your fans are going to enjoy it.
FS: What’s a hobby of yours on tour?
BR: Now it’s probably the workout routine. I’ve been doing that pretty much every day. That’s about it. We’ve been lucky to have a TV on tour, so we’ve been watching the NBA playoffs every day.
FS: Who are you going for right now?
BR: Chicago Bulls.
FS: Yeah, I was rooting for the San Antonio Spurs before they got killed.
BR: I’m a Spurs guy too. I’d love to see the Bulls take it, though. I think it’d be awesome if it was the Dallas [Mavericks] and the Bulls in the finals. I like Dallas, too, so that’s kind of a tough call. I’m just so stoked that the Lakers aren’t in it. Our driver’s a big Lakers fan, but he’s a real Lakers fan, not like a fake Lakers fan just because it’s cool to be. But yeah, Bulls all the way.
FS: Thanks for taking some time for the interview.
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