Photo credit : Juan Pardo

Tommy Rogers(Between the Buried and Me) : ‘To me it feels like it’s been the best reaction we’ve ever had from an album’

Grammy Award nominated progressive metallers Between The Buried And Me released their highly anticipated new album, ‘Colors II’ on august 20th via Sumerian Records.

Between The Buried and Me built their influential 2007 album, “Colors”, on an unwavering commitment to artistic integrity. They’ve only fortified that commitment on its 2021 sequel, “Colors II” [Sumerian Records]. The circumstances surrounding both records bear key similarities, yet the North Carolina quintet—Tommy Rogers [lead vocals, keyboards], Paul Waggoner [lead and rhythm guitar, backing and lead vocals], Dustie Waring [rhythm and lead guitar], Blake Richardson [drums], and Dan Briggs [bass, keyboards]—o nce again stretch the boundaries of their signature sound and heavy music at large.

Photo credit : Juan Pardo

With nearly 20 years of hard-earned experience behind them, Between The Buried And Me have seen enormous success and gathered huge critical acclaim. Their fourth offering “Colors” represented the first in a series of high watermarks. It graced numerous tastemaker lists, including KERRANG!’s “The 21 Best U.S. Metalcore Albums of All Time”, Prog Magazine’s “The 100 Greatest Prog Albums of All Time,” ThoughtCo’s “Essential Progressive Metal Albums,” and Loudwire’s “Top 25 Progressive Metal Albums of All Time” and “Top 100 Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Albums of the 21st Century.” In its wake, 2015’s ‘Coma Ecliptic’ opened at #12 on the Billboard Top 200 and received a perfect rating from The Guardian. During 2018, they unleashed the two-part ‘Automata I’ and ‘Automata II’ to further acclaim and a Grammy Nomination. Along the way, the group toured with everyone from Mastodon and Coheed and Cambria to Lamb of God and Devin Townsend in addition to selling out headline shows around the globe. The band are also one of the only musical acts to have a rare species of prehistoric Starfish, discovered in 2018, named after them. The Amphilimna intersepultosetme (the literal Latin translation of their name) lived 67 million years ago in South Carolina.

For that reason, we talked a little about new album, tour and the band with their frontman and vocalist Tommy Rogers!

HM : The band celebrated its 20th anniversary last year. How does it feel to know that you are in your third decade?

Tommy : Man, I’ve never really thought of it the third decade honestly. It’s crazy. I think, as everyone says, time kind of goes by quickly. But, I don’t know, we have a lot of great memories, and it still feels very fresh to me, I think we are still in a phase where we’re excited as musicians and we keep pushing each other with every album and we’re not bored yet with that. I think until that happens we’ll still be very interested in finding out what the next step is. So yeah, I think overall, we’re very humbled to still be here, cause we’ve seen bands come and go and, I don’t know, it’s inspiring, I think, just that fact in itself kind of helped us really get in gear for our last record, and write “Colors 2”.

HM : Initially, you released albums every two years, and the last couple every three. How hard is it to maintain continuity?

Tommy : It all really depends on touring circle. I think that anybody in a band knows you go through, you know, album cycles and touring cycles and, I don’t know, I think it just depends on how the momentum is on the touring and, like, if people are still coming out, if you feel like you need to get back in the studio in order to hopefully build up more hype and create better tours in future, there’s a lot of things that are involved that go along with that, but, we don’t really think of it like that, we just kind of go – we’ve never been a band that kind of plans out 5-10 years in advance. We just kind of go through cycles. If we’re in the middle of writing an album – we’re just focusing on that, and then once that’s done it’s time to tour, and right now we’re on a touring cycle, so we just released this album, and we don’t know how long the touring cycle’s gonna last, and you kind of just get that feeling, “Ok, I thing we’ve done enough, I don’t think anybody wants us to come back around for a little while”, or you’re getting the ich to write, so it really depends on that, so we don’t honestly think too much about that.

HM : How do you feel about the audience’s reaction to the album so far?

Tommy : It’s been overwhelming. To me it feels like it’s been the best reaction we’ve ever had from an album. People are just so very excited about it, I think people were hesitant. You know, we kind of put it out there, it is “Colors 2” and I think people didn’t think that was gonna work. But as I’ve said in interviews, I think once we started working on it, and really diving into it, we knew it would work, and to have the fans kind of confirm that, so far at least, it makes us feel good, it’s been great. We’ve been done for a long time, so it’s good to finally have it out, ‘cause for us it kind of feels like an old record.

HM : It seems like you didn’t accidentally name the album “Colors II”, but that it’s really a kind of successor to the album “Colors”, both musically and lyrically?

Tommy : It’s more about our mentality as musicians more than anything. We were in a place where we just felt like we had to put it all on a table and just really, really push ourselves harder than we have in a very long time, and really show the world that we’re still here, and that we’re still writing interesting music and that’s kind of where we were with “Colors 1”. We tried to really get into that mindset that we were in back then, and I think that was more of our focus, than, really – we didn’t like go back and listen to “Colors 1” and try to just recreate another version of that, we wanted this one to be us now and we wanted to kind of tie in these little things here and there musically and lyrically, that kind of bring it all together, that’s something we’ve gotten really good at over the years. It’s conceptualizing our music, and it was the way to create this concept where – Traditionally, a concept on an album is like a story, but for us we wanted to be more like, you know, as a band conceptually, as albums, almost like a real-life concept in a way because it was all about how we’re feeling, and how we wanted to write and kind of connecting those two feelings.

HM: The song “Bad Habits” is somewhat reminiscent of King Crimson, and we know you’re a fan of them. Is the song perhaps a homage to King Crimson?

Tommy : I don’t think it’s a homage. I think influences are one of those things that just come out in writing. I mean, Dan [Briggs], for instance, I think he wrote a lot of “Bad Habits”. He’s like the prog guy, he loves all the old prog rock and, you know, we all do, but, I think in his writing it shines a little more, and I think what gives us an edge over a lot of bands that kind of do that sort of thing is, you know, you may have something that might sound in the vein of another band, but once we all kind of put our own spice on it, it becomes something totally different. It becomes BTBAM, and I think that is what’s interesting about our sound, once we personally do what we do with our instrument, it kind of takes a life of its own and becomes just something that sound like BTBAM. We’ve never been a band that’s like, “Hey, we want to pay homage to another band”, or, “We don’t listen to music”, and try to write music like that. I think just sometimes things come out naturally. I mean, a lot of music’s out there, and we listen to a lot of it, and we love a lot of that, so I think that stuff inevitably is gonna happen here and there.

HM : You write great clean parts and growl parts, does that mean you listen to a lot of different music in private?

Tommy : Yeah, I mean, I don’t discriminate against music. To me, it’s just music, I’m not trying to stay within genres, or anything, you know, just whatever excites me at the time, or something I can come back to. There’s certain music that I need at certain times, like – either I’m sad on tour ‘cause I miss my family, there is certain music that I put on to kind of help with that. It’s not really about trying to stay true to a certain genre or something personally. I love so much different stuff. And with vocals, it’s my job to kind of – the landscape is the music, and I’m supposed to complement that and make it become something else and make it more intense, or more melodic, or prettier, or whatever the part calls for. So, I’m not really thinking of terms of growling or singing or doing clean stuff, it’s just whatever pops in my head and feels right for that song part.

HM : And where do you get the influence for the lyrics, considering that similarities in the themes of the lyrics can be noticed in a couple of songs?

Tommy : Honestly, influence for lyrics come from anything, it’s just things that pop in my head. This album, especially, I kind of wrote it as a journal – I just went out and wrote without too much intention on where the lyrics are gonna go in the album, I just wanted to write a lot, which I haven’t done in years. Some stories kinda came out of it. The album is kind of a hosh posh of just different ideas and themes because I have written so conceptually over the years and some things transformed into little stories within the album. There were some moments where I felt like it needed to kinda have callback to something I was maybe talking about or reminiscing of how I was feeling about something on “Colors 1”.

HM : This is the 3rd time you make the second part of the album, you’ve done it so far with the Automata and Parallax albums where you made Parallax 2 and Automata 2 – what’s next, something new or maybe Great Misdirect 2 or Coma Ecliptic 2?

Tommy : I’ve no idea. For me, it’s really only “Parallax” and this. The “Automata” ones, we wrote as one piece of music. That was more of just how we released the music, we didn’t write it in two parts at all. We’ve always liked stories and creating these huge beasts of an album. [For] Me personally, I don’t think really think “Coma Ecliptic 2” or “Great Misdirect 2” make sense. But I don’t know, we’ll see what the future holds, but I doubt that’ll be anything that happens.

HM : You are now on the tour across USA, do you have a plan for a European tour next year?

Tommy : We’re trying to figure it all out right now, I actually had a call today with our agent. Who knows man, everything is so up in the air right now, so we’re all just trying to figure out our options and, you know, we have a new record out, so we obviously want to bring some new music over there, and get back over there, it’s been too long.

HM : In the end, I would like to wish you good luck with your new album and tour!

Tommy : Thank you! Thank you for the interview, and hopefully we see you in Europe!