dan briggsBetween the Buried and Me bassist Dan Briggs currently holds the record for MetalSucks interviews at a healthy 3… which averages out to once a year in the history of this site. It’s no coincidence that we always end up talking to Dan over the rest of his equally talented band mates; the dude’s extremely passionate about his band and has a lot to say about the intricacies of their complex music.

Shortly after the release of their latest opus The Great Misdirect, I spoke with Dan by phone about the new record, how it compares to Colors, how it was written, BTBAM’s upcoming boner-factory tour with Cynic and Devin Townsend, and the band’s pending exit from Victory Records. Our chat, after the jump.

Where are you at the moment? Are you on the Veil of Maya tour or has that not started yet?

That starts on Saturday. I’m at my house in Greensboro, North Carolina right now. I’m just chillaxing. I was just playing some guitar and messing around. We played our CD release show on Saturday, so we’re all at home or squeezing in one last vacation trip before we head out on Saturday or whatever.

Yeah. How does it feel to have the new record out finally?

It feels really good. I feel like we sat on this record longer than we had any other record. I’m not sure if that’s actually true or if it just seems that way because it came out later than our last records have usually. I feel that we were on the same schedule for Alaska and Colors, and this one came out a little bit later. We pretty much had it all done – recorded, mastered and everything in July. We’ve just been sitting around frantically waiting for it to come out. It’s great that it came out. We played the whole record on Saturday. Some of the songs have pretty different vibes than I’m used to having in the Between the Buried and Me set live, but it was cool. It was a good, different feel.

dan briggsAre you guys planning on playing the whole thing on any of the tours you have coming up or was that just a one time thing?

Nah. We just wanted to do that for the release party and make that the focus. We intentionally didn’t write it as Colors was [written]. I think the album has a good flow, but it’s not really something that we feel like that we can pick apart a song without presenting it as the whole thing. I know when we first started touring on Colors, we were just so jazzed on it that we had to present it as the whole thing. It had to feel like one piece. That’s kind of the reason behind doing that for the Colors tour. It was a lot of fun, but not only was this record not written like that but this would be our fifth record. I feel that when we get the opportunity to do a headlining tour that it would be nice to play a lot of different stuff. You can’t really do that when you’re playing an hour long record.

Right. Of course. You said that it was written a little differently. It still has 3 songs that are pushing the 11, 12, and 17 minute mark. Obviously this is not a record full of hit-and-run pop songs.

[Laughter] Colors was written with the intent of it being a conceptual musical piece. We didn’t have that feeling with The Great Misdirect. We actually wrote the album in order, but that was just by chance on how that worked out. As far as the actual songs go, we’re definitely are on the same wavelength as we were with Colors as far as trying out a lot of new musical ideas and really pushing ourselves in terms of conventional thinking for song arrangements. I feel like this album has some of the most structured Between the Buried and Me songs, and [those songs] just happened to be 10 or 11 minutes. It’s just how it happened. As far as actual writing, it was along the same line as Colors.

How do you guys write? I think we spoke right around this time on the Colors record, and you said it was mostly you getting together with one of the guitar players and jamming on riffs and then bringing it to the rest of the band. Was it the same with this record?

A lot of Colors was Paul and I starting ideas and getting a basic outline together. Then we would get together with everyone else – getting Tommy’s riffs and sitting in with Blake and arranging stuff and then getting Dustie into the mix. This record started that same way with “Mirrors” and “Obfuscation.” Paul just happened to come in with “Mirrors” and the beginning of “Obfuscation.” He actually thought of that as one song. We were like “no, that’s 2.” He came with the very beginnings of “Obfuscation.” Once it got to the practice room, I got all excited and we just pumped that song out in a week or so. Then we flushed it out over the next few months. It started the same. I feel that the process will always probably start that way with Paul starting something and getting to me and then taking it from there. All the other songs started with ideas from different people. “Disease, Injury, Madness” started with an idea that Dustie had. “Fossil Genera” started with an idea that Tommy had. Paul wrote “Desert of Song” and “Swim to the Moon” started with a bunch of nonsense that I had. It’s really still the same formula with 2, 3 or 4 of us working at a time writing and arranging stuff and then everyone throwing in here and there. It’s nice working in smaller numbers in whatever arrangement it is, whether it’s me, Tommy and Paul or me, Paul, Blake and Dustie. It’s nice bouncing ideas off of less people than 5 people. Sometimes you need to get something down and then be able to have everyone listen and throw in ideas.

Between The Buried And Me - The Great MisdirectColors was a really widely loved record. Did you feel pressure to top that or did you kind of roll and do whatever felt natural?

There was no pressure. We’re all extremely proud of Colors. It’s a favorite record of mine. I get really excited whenever we play songs from it still. I’m really proud of it. It was a huge jump for us at that point from where we were musically. I think after finishing that record, I remember being in the studio and listening back and feeling really excited about it but feeling like I had ideas for parts or things of how it could be better and how we could do it the next time around.

Some of the earlier stuff that I started writing right when we got out of the studio was stuff for “Swim to the Moon” which is the last song on The Great Misdirect. I kind of had the idea of writing a song that really felt like it was a 3 part suite all in one. It was kind of like a really long, old progressive rock song, something like Yes would have done. A 20 minute long track that takes you on a journey that has all these different feels and moods and stuff. As soon as we were done with Colors we all had these new ideas and actual riffs and theoretical ideas like “it would be cool to write a 3 part song.” It’s not actually split up into 3 parts, but it is when you listen to it. After finishing this record, we all have ideas of what we want to do next time. I think that’s what makes Between the Buried and Me really exciting for us is that we’re never content and we’re always trying to progress and move forward as players and composers. Hopefully we’ll never do something from here that’s boring or seems kind of regurgitated or whatever.

Touring wise, you just did one with Bodom?

We did Bodom last fall. We just got off a tour with In Flames.

Sorry, I had my Scandinavian melodeath bands confused.

[Laughter] They’re all one in the same.

I did remember 3 Inches of Blood was on that tour. So you did that tour and now you’re going with Veil of Maya. After that you’re doing the coolest tour in the history of ever with Devin Townsend and Cynic and Scale the Summit. How did that lineup come together?

That’s a 3 month long little tour. It’ll be pretty intense.

Are you guys at the point now where you get to put that stuff together or did that come through agents, managers or whatever?

We knew that we were going to do our for real big headliner in January, so we wanted to do something small beforehand. I feel like we didn’t really have a second to think about it before our manager was like “hey how do you guys feel about Cynic and Devin Townsend on your headliner?” We’re like that would be awesome, that would be great. It’s kind of exciting because we just started working with this management group. This was our testing the waters. It was like “let’s see if these guys really get what we’re all about or are they going to try and pair us with the hot metalcore bands or whoever.” I don’t even know what’s popular in those regards right now. For them to come out and really put together a package that is very us and really makes sense and is something that we’re excited to be a part of, says a lot about them in terms of really understanding us. We have our manager to thank for that.

dan briggsAre any of the bands, Cynic or Devin Townsend, big influences for you guys the way say Dream Theater was when they took you out last year or 2 years ago?

Yeah. For certain members. I know Devin Townsend has been a favorite of Tommy’s for many years. Pretty much every record, he always talks to Devin about trying to do vocal production with him in Vancouver, but it’s always a bit more of a hassle than we really could afford to put into it. We did Ozzfest with Strapping Young Lad so we got to know Devin a little bit on that by sharing a hatred of Ozzfest on that tour. It brought us together, and I’m sure we’ll wind up rehashing some of that on this tour. Cynic, as far as being an intricate metal band, it’s definitely a huge influence. We’re really excited. I was really excited to hear in the last couple of years that they were getting back together and recording new music. Their stuff is awesome. I’m really looking forward to hanging out with them.

Have you heard Scale the Summit yet?

Yeah. Travis, their guitar player, was in Into the Moat for a little bit when they toured with us about 4 years ago. We met Travis back then, and he started Scale the Summit maybe a year after that — I’m not sure. So we’ve pretty much heard them and known of them from Travis playing early demos and whatnot. We pretty much have known them their whole career. We’re excited for them to be a part of it too. It’s going to be a good time with a lot of crazy musicians on the tour. We’re going to have to be very well-practiced seeing as how we’re headlining the tour.

It seems like you guys are really forging into your own career here. You’re really kind of going off your own separate way and are really successful at it. That’s pretty awesome. How does it feel to finally be out from under the shackles of whatever genre constraints metal might strap upon you, and at the same time, to be coming up on the end of your contract with Victory?

That was kind of the overall theme and inspiration for the Colors record because we’re just coming off of that Ozzfest tour, and it was just the absolute low point of this band. I think it was the only time we were on tour and it had been pretty miserable and uninspired. People were basically like “this is metalcore, enjoy it.” We just felt like outsiders and were like “is this really like where we fit in?” That really just fueled the Colors record. It was such an easy album to make because we really felt like we had a lot to prove and a lot of things to say musically. We came out and did that, had a great year and a half run of touring on that, and got some really incredible tours both here and overseas.

It’s really nice that we’ve been accepted for doing our own thing. We haven’t had to dumb anything down. If anything, we’ve gotten more outrageous and a little bit more ridiculous with each release. It seems like people are kind of into that and latch onto that. They accept us for being creative individuals and really pushing ourselves. That’s incredible. We’re really thankful. When we were releasing Colors, we were so excited about it, but there was that waiting period before it came out where we were just like “people are either going to be into this or they’re going to hate it.” We didn’t care because we were super excited about it. Luckily it worked out for the best. It really opened up a whole new door for us. We’re on that path now, and it’s great. We’re loving it.

What about the way that being on the label that you’re on has affected that? Did that affect the writing of both Colors and The Great Misdirect at all seeing as you’re coming up on the end of your deal with Victory?

No. It didn’t factor into it at all. We put as much into this record, if not more, than we have in any other record. We lost as much sleep writing it as we did Colors and pulled as many long nights. It was a lot of work. But being near the end of our contract with Victory didn’t play into it at all.

Any thoughts about what might be next for you guys post-Victory?

No. We’re just really excited that the album is out now, and we’re focused on all these tours we have coming up. Once 2010 starts, it’s going to be really abrupt and wild up until about April. We’ll have some time to think and settle down before the summer starts up. We’re not so worried about that right now. We’re just going to let The Great Misdirect do its thing. In the meantime, we’re going to be on tour and at home playing around with new ideas and trying to figure out what we want to tackle next musically. I feel like the business stuff is nothing to lose sleep over. That’s the stuff we built a team [for] where we have really great people working with us. When it comes time to figure out what the next step is, we have a lot of great help that will be guiding and helping us in the right direction. All we have to worry about is writing music and playing live and being creative and happy. That’s about it.


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