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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Paul Waggoner Between The Buried And Me - Interview
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Progressive metal giants Between The Buried And Me have been pretty prolific in their 15 year career with a number of highly challenging albums that have helped steer progressive metal into different directions. Earlier this month the band released their latest effort "Coma Ecliptic", an engaging concept album that has a story that weaves through the different lives of a man searching for the perfect life. While concept albums are not new to the band, this latest set of songs is quite epic much like a film that takes you through a journey and one that continues the band's musical evolution. Guitarist Paul Waggoner chats to us about the new album during their tour in North America.



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Andrew: So how's things with the band at the moment?

Paul: Oh they're great! We're on tour right now, we are in Salt Lake City, Utah and having a good time. It's been a great tour so far.

Andrew: So you have a new album which came out earlier in the month, have you been playing many songs from that yet?

Paul: Yeah this tour we are playing 3 of the new tracks and mixing in some old stuff as well. But yeah we're playing 3 new songs, the 3 new songs that we released prior to the album release. So we're playing "Memory Palace", "The Coma Machine" and "Famine Wolf".

Andrew: How are they going over with the crowd live?

Paul: Really well actually! You never know how the new material is going to translate live especially when not everybody has had time to digest the new album yet. But all that being considered, they've really gone over well, it seems like people are excited to hear the new stuff and they're responding well to it.

Andrew: Is that something that you ever think about when you sit and write and record songs, about how they will play out live?

Paul: That's always like an after thought. I think when we write music we just try to get into that headspace of creating music and figuring out what sounds the best in terms of the actual song. And in terms of how it translates live, we don't really think about that until after we've recorded the album. Then we go back and analyze the songs and figure out how we can present those in a live setting. Usually we get pretty lucky and it works out pretty good and we're able to pull it off but it's definitely a challenge sometimes.

Andrew: Yeah because your music is quite complex and technical so I guess one of the most difficult things is to figure out how to make it work live.

Paul: Yeah exactly! Some of the stuff is technically challenging to play, some of the stuff requires that we maybe find some different guitar tones that we hadn't had to do in the past. There's all kinds of different things that you have to do to try and create the same sonic experience live as it is on the album so yeah, it is kind of difficult at times but it's a fun challenge and if anything else, we're usually up for the challenge. It's actually kind of fun to do.

Andrew: With the new album "Coma Ecliptic", what kind of responses have you been getting from the fans so far and also how do you feel about the songs now that they have been out for a little while?

Paul: Well the response so far has been really awesome! The music is probably a slight departure from what we've been known for in the past I guess, it's sort of the next evolution of our sound. We weren't really sure what people would think about it but so far the response has been overwhelmingly positive and we're certainly proud of it. We love the songs, it's my favorite record that we've done so far so yeah we're really proud of it. We're happy with how the album sounds, we're happy with the songs and we're really enjoying getting the feedback from the fans now that it's out. Like I said, most people seem to be pretty into it so we're pretty stoked about that.

Andrew: Now the album is a concept album about a man that is stuck in a coma from what I have read. Can you tell me a little bit about what the concept is about and what inspired you guys to actually write this album about that kind of idea?

Paul: Well that was something that we knew pretty much right from the get-go when we started writing the album, that we wanted to do another concept album. So we basically gave Tommy (Giles Rogers, Jr., vocals) free range to come up with a story and flush it out in whatever way he wanted to and so he had this idea of writing a story of a man who wilfully goes into a coma to travel through past lives to determine which life was his favorite, or which life he wanted to exist in. That's kind of the story I suppose, we just let Tommy run with it. It was his idea, his concept and I thought he did a really cool job of lyricising the story with the music and reflecting the dynamics of the music. The story sounds like the music if that makes any sense, I feel like the story fits the music and vice versa so we're really happy with how it came out.

Andrew: It kind of reminds me of a film score or something, it has that epic sort of feel of a big movie. Is that something that you were trying to go for as well, something big and grand?

Paul: I don't know if it was intentional to sound like that, I think we just try to write music that has lots of different dynamics sonically. We like to have high's and lows, peaks and valleys so to speak and that's just kind of the way we write music so naturally once we finished writing all the music, it did kind of have that vibe of being like a film score or something just because it did have all these emotional high's and lows with the music and with the lyrics as well. So I wouldn't say it was intentional but I'm glad that it came out that way, that's pretty cool!

Andrew: With the music industry as it is now with people downloading songs and all that, do you feel that this album would be ruined if the songs were separated? Like this is the kind of album that people should listen from start to finish?

Paul: Well when we write it we intend it to be listened to from start to finish but we're also mindful of the fact that we live in a society where people like to stream songs and not necessarily listen to the whole album. I think each song kind of stands on it's own but at the end of the day, we would prefer it to be listened from start to finish. That's how we wrote the album and that's how we intended it to be heard but again, on this particular tour we're playing 3 different songs, we're not playing the whole album on this tour. So yeah I think the songs do hold up on their own.

Andrew: Is that something that you have done before? Playing an album in it's entirety?

Paul: Yeah we did that with "Colors" and "The Parallax" as well and even "The Great Misdirect" and we'll do it with this album too when the time is right, maybe early next year or something. But that's absolutely something we want to do, we want to eventually present the album live in the same way that it's heard on the record. That's important to us and maybe have some sort of visual element as well, live. So yeah, like I said earlier, we wrote the album in order and we wrote it as one big piece basically so yeah we will definitely be playing it live that way at some point.

Andrew: OK cool. So what's the touring schedule like for this album? Obviously you will be touring around the world and hopefully coming down to Australia again?

Paul: Absolutely! We hope to come down to Australia in 2016, it's one of our favorite places to go obviously, Australia and Japan. We love coming to the other side of the world for sure, especially to escape the North American winter!

Andrew: Haha!

Paul: Right now we're with Animals As Leaders and The Contortionist and after this tour we gear up for another tour in the fall and winter with Enslaved and a couple of other bands. And yeah we will just keep on going I guess, into next year and probably be touring on this album for the forseeable future.

Andrew: OK cool well hopefully we will get to see you here next year then!

Paul: You defnitely will, yeah.

Andrew: You guys have been down here a couple of times and the fans always appreciate it when you make the long trek over here.

Paul: Oh yeah it's really a pleasure to come down there so hopefully we will be down there very soon.

Andrew: Thanks for your time, it's been a pleasure and good luck on the tour!

Paul: Thank you so much!

Catch Between The Buried And Me on tour now in North America.

07/31 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
08/01 Grand Rapids, MI The Intersection
08/02 Bloomington, IL The Castle Theatre
08/04 London, ON London Music Hall
08/05 Montreal, QC Club Soda
08/06 Buffalo, NY The Town Ballroom
08/07 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE
08/08 Norfolk, VA The NorVa
08/09 Wilmington, NC Ziggys by the Sea
08/11 Clifton Park, NY Upstate Concert Hall
08/12 Providence, RI Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel
08/13 Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom
08/14 Winston-Salem, NC Ziggys
08/15 Nashville, TN Marathon Music Works

Interview by Andrew "Schizodeluxe" Massie on July 28th 2015