Every Time I Die's Keith Buckley on Poison the Well: "They Were a Little Bit Ahead of Their Time"

When Every Time I Die hit the national scene with Last Night in Town in 2001, they forged a sound that, at that point, had not really been considered by hardcore and metal fans. The band played aggressive music built on a foundation of classic rock that was grown in the pre-internet isolation of Buffalo, New York, and eventually developed into a band that spawned an entire sub-genre of imitators.

Now on its sixth full length release, Every Time I Die has witnessed countless trends come and go in hardcore and metal while remaining true to the riff-rocking intensity that put them on the map. Their most recent release, Ex Lives, displays a band that has captured the soundtrack to the thoughts of that guy we all know that drinks just a tad too much and gets stuck in the emotional chasm between having a good time and wanting to crush someones skull for no particular reason.

In anticipation for tonight's show at Grand Central, we spoke with lead singer, Keith Buckley, on influences, why Ex Lives is his favorite ETID record, and the sorely missed Miami hardcore titan that was Poison the Well.

New Times: Every record has been an evolution for the band, but you guys still managed to steer clear of making a more commercialized rock 'n' roll album. Has it crossed your minds, and how have you avoided it?
Keith Buckley: I don't think we really have it in us to just do a radio rock record. I think that, while some bands do it really well, there needs to be a level of intensity to it. We write a record and we go "OK, now let's put in some really crazy aggressive part" kind of the stuff that just comes naturally, and to do it any other way would be disingenuous. Maybe when we're 65 years old, a rock record will come out because we won't be that intense anymore, but as of now, I don't see that happening.

When Last Night In Town came out, your peers were making a lot of shitty metalcore. What influenced the entirely untrendy thread of rock 'n' roll in the band's sound?
I don't know, it was never really a conscience decision. I think that we were well aware of the fact that there was a lot of metalcore going on and, not only did we not like it, but we just didn't know how to do it and it was never a part of our upbringing and it was never something that we really listened to, so it wasn't an influence on us at all.

I think that Last Night In Town was just kind of very -- I always hate using the word -- but, very organic. It just kind of the only thing we knew how to do, and we're not the kind of people that are ever going to be like, "Oh, this band's doing this and it seems to be working really well, so let's do what they're doing."

Could you attribute any of that to the isolation bubble of Buffalo as well?
Yeah, it kind of does! We're very isolated and, before the internet, we never really got a lot of influence from other cities. We're way away from NYC, the nearest big city is Toronto and that's still like three hours away. You kind of come up figuring yourself out, but, I think it leads to a lot more genuine kind of people.

What rock bands did influence you guys?
It was definitely all parental: Our only outlet for new music was through our parents and our parents listened to a lot of Pink Floyd and a lot of Led Zeppelin. My dad is a guitar player, so it was always like, a lot of Eric Clapton.

Once we figured out where our record store was and that we could start buying our own stuff, it became a lot of Pantera, Metallica, not so much for me, but I know the other dudes in the band listened to Guns N' Roses.

It was heavy metal, but like, a grooved heavy metal. I think that's what Pantera was, and once I found that liked stuff like Pantera, it led to Faith No More and Rage Against the Machine -- which might not sound like it has anything to do with Pantera, but it definitely has the kind of groove element to it, which was definitely a huge influence on me.

You've said that the most recent Every Time I Die album, Ex Lives, is your favorite ETID record, and while everybody says their most recent record is their favorite, can you offer any insight into why this one is yours?
I think because since Hot Damn, it was the first time that I wrote a record that like, something really new and big happened in my life. I wrote it while I was on tour with the Damned Things and that whole experience was something I'd never gone through before. So, being away from Every Time I Die and touring with another band just gave me a new outlook on a bunch of the things, it was different because the prior 3 or 4 records I was just writing because it was time to write a record and I was sitting around at home in Buffalo, but, before this one came out I had so much more experience to go off again, and I think it was a lot more intense.

When was the last time you came to South Florida with either band?
We played there on Warped Tour and it was really, really rainy. But, actually, the one thing I remember about Miami is we played there with Poison the Well when Last Night in Town came out, I remember they shipped it to the show in Miami. That was a pretty big day for us that I won't forget!

It's funny that you mention PTW because their last two albums were not too far removed from what Every Time I Die does, in that while Poison the Well was coming from a much darker place, they fused more rock and roots based stuff with a heavy sound.
That band was incredible, and just looking at their progression through the records, the last two still stand up, and I wish they were still around because they were great.

I felt like a lot of people didn't really get those last two PTW albums either.
They were a little bit ahead of their time and I don't think people knew what to do with them. They put out those albums and people were like, "Wait, this isn't just like, mosh from front to back?" I don't think people were ready to think about music at that point.

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David Von Bader