By Daniel Hill
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The road never ends for Every Time I Die. Frontman Keith Buckley and his brother, Jordan (who plays guitar and did the artwork for the band's latest album, 2009's New Junk Aesthetic), took time off to attend their grandmother's funeral and then hopped right back on tour. (The day after the funeral, Keith and his bandmates were in Lubbock, Texas, ready to play that night's show with Trap Them and Howl.) These days the band is doing its last bit of support for Aesthetic before beginning the process of writing its next record in January.
"Every two years, that's what we do, we write in January," Buckley says via phone. "But people are starting to get riffs together here and there; you can see the makings of the writing process starting."
New Junk Aesthetic is still available as a plain ol' CD, but a deluxe edition comes with the band's latest release, Shit Happens: The Series? DVD. The video compiles short clips the band originally released on Vans.com, along with a bunch of supplemental material. Shot by Doug Spangenberg, whom Buckley describes as "kinda like the sixth member of the band," the webisodes include on-tour high jinks in various countries and van breakdowns. The original plan was to create a reality-TV series of sorts, but when that fell through, Buckley says, "we had all this stuff already edited and in show format, so we decided to put 'em out for free on vans.com and then compile them at the end and add a bunch of stuff that people hadn't seen yet and just put it out on a DVD." (The bonus material includes footage shot by the band members themselves and a music video for the song "After One Quarter of a Revolution.")
Lately, every band seems to be releasing videos, writing in-studio blogs or updating their Twitter accounts every hour on the hour. But if the pressure of having to maintain a social-media profile gets in the way of actually being creative and making good music, Buckley hasn't noticed. "It's just kind of a facet you have to adopt or you're gonna get left behind," he says. "I mean, what can frustrate a band these days is how quickly people stop paying attention. It's good to establish yourself in other avenues of media. That's why it's cool to us that Jordan [Buckley] does our artwork, because it adds another [layer] — you want people to collect things, and people want to collect things, be it music or art or Twitter followers. So you've gotta give 'em something they'll want to hold onto."
He's not worried that the band's outspokenness — they recently got in some trouble for impersonating other celebrities on Twitter — will cost them fans, either. "I can't really micromanage like that; it would drive me insane," Buckley says. "That's treating everyone like a girlfriend, and it's impossible to do. You can't rub everyone's back; you've just gotta do what you do, and if they like you, they like you."
Very soon, Buckley will start dividing his time between Every Time I Die and a new project, the Damned Things, featuring Scott Ian and Rob Caggiano of Anthrax and Joe Trohman and Andy Hurley of Fall Out Boy. Unlike the complex, aggressive metalcore of ETID, the Damned Things' music is melodic hard rock, closer in spirit to the strip-club anthems of Hinder. This has enabled Buckley to lighten up when writing lyrics, something he's happy about.
"Listening to [ETID's music] and writing lyrics to it is a very stressful thing," he admits. "Most aggressive music is. You're stressed out listening to it; I'm definitely stressed out when I'm writing it. That's good, I like being under pressure, but I think the Damned Things is more like, Let's just have fun with it and not worry too much about what people are going to think or how the process goes. Here's a melody, cool. Here's a harmony, cool. Let's see how this sounds. Every Time I Die is a lot of coming to terms with the things I write about and facing a lot of demons, but Damned Things isn't like that. Damned Things is just having fun and being honest."