Welcome to Perfection

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My top album of 2005 was the sophomore effort, Alaska from North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me. Formed by members of short lived metalcore legends Prayer for Cleansing Tommy Rogers and Paul Waggoner and joined on Alaska by Glass Casket members Dusty Waring and Blake Richardson, gives Between the Buried and Me an arguably all star line up and it showed. The album defies categorization and oozes brilliance from every jagged riff, clean segue and introspective jam. So when given the chance to see the band along with The Red Chord and A Life Once lost on an Ozzfest off date at a local dive bar, Mojo’s in Columbia, MO, I jumped at the chance, and at the chance to visit with vocalist Tommy Rogers….

You just released the cover album, The Anatomy of…., a brave move on your part considering the diversity of cover choices. What has the response been like to The Anatomy of…. and do you have any other covers tucked away?
It’s been really good. A lot better than we expected honestly. Especially considering we did some different songs, especially for a band of our genre. Those songs were the final choices, we had a bunch we wanted to do but we could not do them all. It was a fun experience and really helps younger fans to hear bands they might otherwise not hear. We really chose songs that weren’t typical metal cover songs and songs we really loved.

The title, The Anatomy of…., is that indicating that these songs and bands are direct influences on the sound that makes up between the Buried and Me or just songs you guys like and wanted to record?
It’s a bit of both. A majority of the bands we covered are bands we grew up on and some are just songs we liked too.

Let’s move on to Ozzfest. How is that going for you so far? How is the crowd compared to a 100 person venue like this?
It’s awesome. It’s totally different to anything we’ve ever done and it’s kind of like a summer vacation for us. The average crowd is like 4-6 thousand people-it’s unreal.

What do you think about the stigma that seems to come with playing Ozzfest and that some regard it as a ‘Nu metal’ tour or a ‘sellout’ tour? Were you offered a slot on Sounds of the Underground also?
I don’t know. You’ve got to always expect that. We are comfortable enough as a band and comfortable enough with our fans to not let it bother us. We know that we are level headed enough to not sell out. We will always make the music we want to no matter what tours we go on. We were actually offered to do Ozzfest and Sounds of the Underground, but our label wanted us to do Ozzfest.

Do you prefer the larger 6,000+ crowd venues or intimate little clubs like this?
Ozzfest is cool but it’s nice to get back into the clubs. You have much more of a personal connection with the fans whereas as Ozzfest there’s a big barrier and you are so far away from the fans.

Are you doing all your Ozzfest off dates with The Red Chord and A Life Once Lost?
Actually this is the only off date we are doing with those guys, the rest of our off dates are with Dragonforce.

Dragonforce? The power metal band? How’s is that going? That has to be an odd mix of fans with teenage ninja moshers and Dungeon dwelling power metal fans…
Actually it’s going awesome. It’s definitely a mixed crowd that seem to regard each other warily. At first the power metal guys see us as short haired kids making noise, but once we start playing they seem to dig us. It’s all about respect with fans-they just need to watch out for each other. We are just happy with a diverse crowd.

Let’s revisit your Victory Records debut, Alaksa and the development from The Silent Circus along with the addition of the guys from Glass Casket and how they helped shape the album
In the past, me and Paul did most of the song writing but Alaska was the first record we wrote as a 5-piece-every body wrote and it shows. We all had our own style of writing-it’s more diverse.

Was there ever a concern that Glass Casket and BTBAM would eventually just sound too similar with the member crossover and they would take ideas from BTBAM and take them back to Glass Casket?
Not really, they are much more death metal, whereas we try to incorporate so much more into our music. It’s just cool writing with each other as we all know no matter what we write we are not afraid to bring it to the rest on the band, we make that clear. Bring anything and anything to the table.

Recently, a lady friend of mine who I introduced to your music commented on how cool it was that you go so easily from the ‘screaming noise’, as she called it, to the clean, acoustics and clean singing. Do you ever plan out the shifts and tempo changes or do they occur naturally?
It happens naturally. When we write we never plan out how a song should sound. Like, right now we are starting to write for the next album, we are just writing seeing what happens and taking a lot of the winter off to write.

Has Victory had any input in your sound and style or are you free to do whatever you please?
No, they don’t interfere at all with how we sound or write and that’s a big thing for me. They don’t bother us with deadlines or creative interference. We are obviously going to experiment a lot and Victory leaves us alone with the writing aspect.

Speaking of experimenting, are you going to always be a ‘heavy’ band or will your experimentation take you down the more accessible commercial path of say Cave In or Hopesfall?
No, we will always be a heavy band. We will never lose that aspect. We are a metal band.

Good, but that being said, I’ve always thought your approach to music would be interesting if delivered in maybe a purely acoustic or ‘unplugged’ setting. Ever thought about something like that?
Yeah-maybe a limited edition EP or a couple of special acoustic only live sets, maybe play some of the covers or something seeing as we don’t play any of the covers except Sepultura’s ‘Territory’ live.

So no live rendition of Queen’s ‘Bicycle’? Why did you chose that song and not the obvious choice, “Bohemian Rhapsody’ or is that too cliched?
No-I’m afraid not. ‘Territory’ is the only cover song we rehearsed. The other we just went into the studio and did. As far as ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, yeah your right, it’s a bit cliched and it’s been done so many times by so many other bands. Also, you need like 8 people to play that song. We thought ‘Bicycle’ was unique and different.

I want to talk a little bit about Prayer For Cleansing, a band some call the forefathers of modern metalcore. Was the purpose of the break up and the formation of BTBAM to distance yourself from PFC and metalcore?
When Prayer was over we wanted to not just be labeled as metalcore, we wanted to try all these different things and not just be labeled as metalcore alone. I don’t think we could have done that on PFC.

What drove the brief reunion and recording of the The Tragedy EP?
We had a song (‘When the Sun Kisses the Morning’), that we really liked but never recorded. We all lived near each other and were still friends so it was easy to do. Plus we got to do a over song then too! (‘Salvation’ by the Cranberries).

With such an interest in non metal covers, are you one of those guys that does not listen to metal at all?
Somewhat. When you are on tour all the time you hear metal all night, every night. Still, I’m a huge metal fan, for example I really like the recent records from the guys we are playing with tonight, The Red Chord and A Life Once Lost. I’m also a big black metal fan, I really like the new Ihsahn record a lot, but I was a bit disappointed with he new Satyricon record.

So can we expect a black metal side project from you in the future?
I’d love to do a really fast, brutal black metal record, just really fast like Dark Funeral or Setherial. I love that stuff. There’s a lot of projects I’d love to do, I just don’t have the time.

So in closing, how do you improve on Alaska? Can you even top it?Dark Side of The Moon to do. And this line up is capable of doing it. With Alaska although the new guys help write, they had only been in the band for 3 months, so for this new album, we are all far more comfortable with each other and how we write together. We are not going to be rushed though. I think a lot of metal bands just throw out an album from label pressure. We are not going to do that. I’m really excited and anxious to write.

Let’s say theoretically, you are offered a ‘big’ major label record contract like say, Mastodon. Would you take it?
I don’t know. There are pros and cons to being on a major. For example it can be a downfall of a band. If you sell 10,000 records on an indie label-that’s big time-you are doing well. If you are on a major and don’t sell 200,000 records you are nothing to them-you are a tax write off and they drop you. For example, we are good friends with Cave In, and their major label experience killed them, they were miserable, and now they on Hydra Head they are happy again and writing what they want to write. We don’t ever want money to get in the way of what we are doing. We just want to make the music we love.

[Victory Records]
[Between the Buried and Me]


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