There's not a whole lot about Between the Buried and Me that's easily
definable, other than that they're not easily definable.
The North Carolina-based quintet
has been simultaneously splitting and spinning heads for 10 years with its
charismatic brand of progressive metal. Their sixth full-length, last year's The
Great Misdirect, is their most mercurial
yet, transmogrifying from canyons of quiescence to a pummeling roar. Its title
refers to the human brain and its many remaining mysteries. Keyboardist and
vocalist Tommy Rogers crafted multiple songs inspired by the brain.
"It's something that's
fascinated me over the last few years," he said during a recent phone
interview, answering between sips of coffee in a Baltimore bookstore cafe.
"It's not an entire concept, but I definitely wrote a lot of stories for this
record. When I listened to the music, the first thing that popped in my mind
were stories because there's so many dynamics and ups and downs."
Given the depth of the band's
compositions, such a big idea doesn't seem unusual. But Rogers says they've
never done anything this comprehensive before.
"We've always talked about doing
a concept record, but it's one of those things I don't want to force," he says.
"They can become cheesy very easily. I want to make sure, if we ever decide to
do that, that it's a strong story or message."
Between the Buried and Me's
previous release, Colors, was crafted as
a single, continuous piece of music, but without a lyrical thread. Rogers is in
charge of the lyrics, the element that always comes last.
"A big thing for me is not
forcing it," he says. "I hate to write when I'm not inspired, to write just for
the sake of writing. There will be moments when I just feel the need to write,
and it flows out. I'll write for a few hours constantly and not look at it for
a day or two."
They do the same with their
music, recording everything they come up with, then correcting as needed before
entering a studio.
"We're definitely very nit-picky
and it takes forever to write and get everything done," Rogers says. "But it's
comfortable for us and makes us release music we're a hundred percent proud
The band has thus far confounded
music critics. So much so that facetious descriptions by the band like "new
wave polka grunge" and "adult contemporary progressive death metal" have been
taken seriously by some.
"Nowadays, especially with heavy
music, there's such a need to categorize everybody," says Rogers. "For a band
like us, it's hard. And we get asked that a lot."
Disclosing that their name is
derived from a Counting Crows song further muddies the waters.
"That's what we wanted to create
with the band – something unique and interesting," says Rogers of the
name. "We definitely thought it was open to interpretation.
"We've always been huge fans of
music. We definitely don't discriminate as far as genres go."
That shows in their other work.
Bassist Dan Briggs is part of an experimental music project called Orbs. Rogers
hopes to issue a solo effort of slower, rock-based music this year. He's also
in the early stages of writing a black metal record.
Between the Buried and Me may
love to push boundaries, but they also take seriously their pedigree as a metal
"I don't see us as being a band
that won't ever stop being heavy," says Rogers. "We're in a good spot where
we're an intense band but have the freedom to try a lot of new things. A lot of
bands don't have that freedom because they've kind of pigeonholed themselves.
We've let the world know that everything we do we're going to try new things
and have fun."
Promotional video for "Obfuscation" (from The Great Misdirect):