Every Time I Die
Every Time I Die have never been an easy act to categorize and that’s one of the key reasons why the band’s fans have never turned their back on this innovative act’s unique brand of music. While the band started out in the late ’90s hardcore scene, over the past decade they’ve continued to evolve and push the boundaries of heavy music, a process that’s culminating with their sixth full-length Ex Lives. Recorded by Joe Barresi (Tool, Queens Of The Stone Age) Ex Lives sees the band—vocalist Keith Buckley, guitarists Jordan Buckley and Andy Williams, drummer Ryan Leger—coming together to create the most forward-thinking album of their career.
“Everything about this record was new,” Keith explains. “Normally I’m in a comfort zone when I write lyrics because I’m just holed up in my apartment but this time I was finding little corners of clubs in Europe with [side-project] the Damned Things trying to squeeze in a couple of hours of writing and I think that process really affected the way this album came together.”
Keith adds that although Every Time I Die’s party vibe has been well-documented in the past, Ex Lives saw the band approaching the album from a more serious perspective. “There’s no song like ‘We’rewolf’ on this album,” Keith explains. “I was pretty angry when we were writing these songs which isn’t a good spot for a human being but is good if you’re a guy singing in a band,” he continues with a laugh. “I was just really angry and disappointed with a lot of things in my life at the time and I think that definitely comes through on a lot of these songs; I was wondering if it was all karma because I was a horrible person in a past life and that’s where the album title came from.”
From the syncopated chaos of the opening salvo “Underwater Bimbos From Outer Space” to the progressive mosh anthem “A Wild, Shameless Plain” and relentless metal riffage of “The Low Road Has No Exits,” Ex Lives sees Every Time I Die further tempering their aggression while also implementing new instrumentation such as banjo (see the sinister intro of “Partying Is Such Sweet Sorrow”) and, yes, flute (see the end of “Indian Giver”) in order to recontextualize exactly what it means to be a heavy band, which is something that has endeared them to fans for thirteen years.
“I don’t think us doing anything different is a surprise to Every Time I Die fans because one of the main reasons why a lot of people have stuck by us for so long is because they know they can expect the unexpected with each release,” Keith explains, adding that if you listen close enough you’ll take note of plenty of sonic subtleties on Ex Lives. “There are a lot of little weird things that I think people will start noticing more as they listen to the album,” he elaborates. “I’d never added any keyboard or synthesizer elements to an Every Time I Die song before so it was a really cool opportunity to expand the sound on this disc.”
Similarly Ex Lives also sees Keith pushing his limits on songs like “I Suck (Blood),” which proves how versatile the band’s vocalist has become whether he’s cathartically screaming or crooning an upper register melody. “On albums like [2007’s] The Big Dirty no one heard my vocals until the album was totally done but on this one everyone had their input on what I was doing vocally and they could give me suggestions to improve them,” Keith says, adding that this disc was more collaborative for the band. “I think I was also more energetic because I was nervous to sing in front of everyone.”
It’s impossible to deny that in an increasingly stagnant musical climate Every Time I Die are still pushing the limits of their own sound—and Ex Lives is aural evidence that after over a decade together they’re anything but complacent. “I had to prove myself 100 percent from the beginning like I did when we put out our first record to show the other guys in Every Time I Die as well as myself that I could do this and I couldn’t be happier with the end result,” Keith summarizes when asked to describe Ex Lives. “This feels like a new band in a way… it’s just its own thing and that feels really, really good.”