“The whole winter, the temperature was in the low teens. Utterly freezing,” says Every Time I Die’s frontman Keith Buckley regarding the months that yielded their eighth full-length album, prior to stepping out on stage at this year’s 2000 Trees Festival in the UK. Such is the price you pay for living in Buffalo, NY. Granted, the weather seems like a rather mundane topic for the normally acerbic and irreverent vocalist, but even the most acid-tongued hardcore band must have their weather chat on point when playing a British festival, right? But Buckley and his cohorts Jordan Buckley (guitar), Andy Williams (guitar), Daniel Davison (drums), and Steve Micciche (bass) aren’t so hard up for pathos at this point that they’re grumbling about the temperature outside.
If anything, Low Teens (released some three years ago now) remains their most poignant and impassioned album in a career full of sardonic illuminations and pit-inciting fervour.
The icy backdrop of Buffalo underscores a winter of dramatic change. Most notably, the band were on tour in Toronto when Keith received a phone call that his wife was in the hospital with a life-threatening pregnancy complication. It was a harrowing night as Buckley left the tour and raced home to overwhelming uncertainty. “I was facing death, not in a symbolic sort of ‘cyclical change’ metaphor but literally,” says Buckley with his token literary-minded self-awareness. “If I lost my wife, I would have to raise my daughter for her. If I lost my daughter, my wife and I would be forced to try and cope. But if I lost them both my life would end and I would see to it. Once I knew that in my heart it became the only certainty I had, and that was a relief.”
Both wife and daughter survived the ordeal, but the moment of crisis had a lasting impact on Buckley and an inevitable role in shaping the lyrical scope of Low Teens. “It was abject helplessness, and that entirely new feeling opened up a lot of questions about place and purpose. I honestly don't think that's too far off from the lyrical content of our other songs but anyone that saw the news knows the source this time. They know that this is a response to a very specific event and not just a dude shoehorning an existential crisis into his routine for some interesting imagery.” When Buckley yells “untimely ripped into this world, I was born again as a girl” in the searing ring-the-alarm track “Petal”, there is no metaphor, no thinly veiled allegory. The birth of his daughter literally saved his life.
Lyrical motifs aside, other big changes were afoot during that Buffalo winter. From a sonic standpoint, the most crucial development was writing with new drummer Daniel Davison. Fans of Every Time I Die’s caustic combination of savage metallic hardcore and pentatonic riff-laden classic rock were not be disappointed by thrash attacks and Southern-boogie breakdowns at 2000 Trees Festival...
This story is an excerpt from our new magazine MMM #001, available to read now.