It’s undeniable that certain pockets of the metal and heavy music community are subject to a horde of elitist fans, unhappy with any band that even slightly sits outside the borders of what they feel should be classified as “real metal”. Such criticisms and attacks seem to draw towards some bands more than others, and it’d be ignorant to say that Southampton’s Bury Tomorrow haven’t been subject to such pig-headed viewpoints from the metal community throughout their now over decade long career.
However, off the back of their 2016 LP ‘Earthbound’, the metal troupe have managed to flip a middle finger to the haters, pulling in their highest charting and best selling record to date, landing tour slots with some of the biggest names in the game today, securing a guest vocal spot from Jamie Jasta of Hatebreed, and are now currently on what is the band’s biggest headline tour run of their careers thus far.
Whilst at the Manchester date of their stint, we caught up with their frontman Dani Winter-Bates to talk all about the record, the fuck you message of the song ‘301’, his opinion on climate change and the direction in which the world seems to be heading, plans for a 10 year anniversary tour for their debut ‘Portraits’, and a progress report with where they’re at in putting together album number five.
DP!: We’re about halfway through your biggest UK and European headline tour to date. How’s it been going?
D: It’s been insane. Like, absolutely insane. We’ve just got back from Europe and played the first date of the UK leg in Birmingham last night. We sold out every German date that we played, which is crazy, and Birmingham yesterday was absolutely insane as well. I don’t know when it became a thing that we’d play in front of 1,000 people and it was kind of the norm.
DP!: It’s incredible to think you’ve shifted that many tickets.
D: Yeah, especially in this kind of market, you know? Where money is just not an expendable thing, but people want to come to shows. The fact that this many people are still coming is great. Live music is thriving really, especially in metal music.
DP!: You dropped your fourth album ‘Earthbound’ just over a year ago now, which has turned out to be your best charting and selling album to date too. How happy are you with the steps that it has allowed you to take as a band in those 12 months?
D: I think our rise over the last 12 months has kind of been a credit to that, but I think that we’ve also been quite lucky in that we’ve managed to have two really massive UK tours, one of which went to Europe as well. Obviously, the one with Parkway Drive happened straight when it was released, and then Architects later on in the year. We were quite lucky, because those tours aren’t dependent on us selling tickets or anything; those tours were dependent on the fact that we’re friends with those bands, which is amazing.
Being offered to do a head support slot on shows those sizes is absolutely insane, so that was great. But then it just shows that the record sales are still there, the shows that we’re playing – the live show is still there. We’ve played some of the biggest shows and festivals that we ever have and that we’ve ever been able to with some of the biggest reactions that we’ve ever had. I mean, it’s all been credit to the album really. We wanted to make a live album that sounded like our set, with no frills, no intros, no interludes, and that’s what we did. It came out as well, if not better, than we wanted it to sound.
DP!: You put ‘Earthbound’ together quite quickly too. Was it around six weeks that it took for you to write it?
D: Yeah. I mean, the recording process was around six weeks, which was very, very fast and was done during the Stage Invasion Tour that we did around the UK, but yeah, we were writing on the road pretty much. We had influences from all of the tours that we’d done over the years, and we went on tour with Caliban in Europe and they had some influence, we did the K! Tour as well, and that kind of had a lot of influence from the people that were on those tours. Especially Beartooth, as obviously Caleb was the one who mixed and mastered the album. So, all of that had a bit of influence, but yeah, the actual recording process was less than six weeks. It’s pretty quick, but it’s a live album.
DP!: Do you think, because the previous album ‘Runes’ took a lot longer in comparison along with ‘The Union Of Crowns’, that the speed in which you put it out was part of the confidence you gained from the positive reaction you got off those releases?
D: I think the reaction that ‘Runes’ got, and the reason that we did it in that way was like I say, it was for that live feel. For us, we were just trying to portray that in every sense of the word, so writing it on the road, and recording it whilst we were still on the road are those kind of things where you can hear it. You can hear it straight away from the first song. It sounds like it’s a heavier band and a more brutal album, and that’s what it is. I think we drew a lot of influence from being on the road rather than anything else.
DP!: You’ve said that some of the lyrical content is quite anecdotal. Was that a conscious effort before you starting penning the lyrics, or did it come out that way as part of the music?
D: Yeah, I think this time we weren’t gonna go for the kind of themed record that we’d done before. I think it was always gonna be a lot more anecdotal. I think it was a conscious effort. I talked about stuff I wanted to sing about in the songs, but some of it is that kind of influence from being around and about at the time that I was writing, and what was going on in the world, and what was going on in my life. It was kind of half and half, of like a premeditated thing and kind of a natural thing.
DP!: There’s one song on the record, the title-track, and maybe you can confirm, but my interpretation is that it’s strongly about climate change. What’s your opinion on that global issue, especially when there’s things happening in the world actively ignoring that such as Donald Trump championing more use of fossil fuels?
D: It’s very hard to see that we are heading in a positive way. I think our world is pretty shot to be honest with you, but that’s kind of the feeling that that song has. In people not being vegetarian, people killing animals, people like Trump being put in power, having a Prime Minister that nobody voted for, and us leaving the European Union.
At the time that I was writing that record I think it was very hard to see a way out, you know? Nobody is listening to anybody. We’re the youthful generation, and nobody is listening to us. These decisions that are being made in 2016 and 2017, they’re going to affect our lives and they’re going to affect our kids’ lives. The people that are making these decisions for us are people that are going to be long gone before it even affects us, you know? That’s meant in a tiny sense of like climate change, and that grasping of things, but also in a fact of a persecution way. The fact that we’ll look at someone with a different coloured skin and judge them purely because of what the media is telling us to do. It’s wrong, and we all know that. We’re all using our brains.
There’s a generation of kids that are being brought up the right way, but there’s still people out there that are still spreading hate that is influencing that. It is what it is, and ‘Earthbound’ is truly about that.
DP!: Is that why you went for that song title to also be the title for the whole record?
D: It’s an overview. It’s certainly an overview of a lot of themes that are kind of running around that. That feeling of helplessness, in all senses of the word. So, yeah, I would think so. It’s a great title as well.
DP!: You had Jamie Jasta from Hatebreed feature on ‘301’. How did he get involved?
D: Me and Jamie know each other. We’ve done a couple of interviews together for his podcast, and he was always quite vocal about the fact that he really likes our band. We talked a while ago about paid meet and greets, because he has different views on it than me, but he’s also a very insightful man. The guy has done more than I’ll ever do in my career, so the fact that we can meet up and talk on a level about stuff is really cool.
Then we’d started talking about trolls, and the way we feel that music is being so sub-categorised now. It’s not just heavy music, and it’s not just metal music. It’s metalcore, or grindcore, or screamo, or melodic metalcore, or technical metalcore, or post-hardcore, and all this kind of stuff. It means nothing; it’s all heavy music. It’s all metal or hardcore, and that’s where it’s always been.
I think we both hit off on that front, and when we wrote the song ‘301’ it was purely about those kind of people that would immediately look at our YouTube page, or on Nuclear Blast, or on a heavy music zine, or something like that, and immediately without even listening to a song jump on and write that they hated the song.
The ‘301’ is purely in reflection to the YouTube numbers, which used to be that they would cap you at 301+, so if you went viral and it kind of went popular they would always cap you at 301, which I always conjured in my head a theme which was that the 301 are the people that were the first to your video, and they’re always gonna be the people that hate you the most. From that Jamie really liked the idea, and we talked about it, and I could only think of one person really that I’d want on it because, again, it almost solidifies that view where you have heavy music, and you also have bands like us with some light music, and you combine them both, and it’s a big kind of middle finger to anyone who kind of assumes that we’re a light band. We’re not. We’re a heavy band, but, because we have a melodic side it shouldn’t be judged in that way.
DP!: As you mentioned before, you recruited Caleb Shomo of Beartooth to produce the record. What made you want to opt for him to do the job?
D: We’ve been friends with Caleb for a long time, since like 2010 when we toured with his old band Attack Attack!, and ever since we’ve kept in contact. He’s always been very vocal about wanting to be involved in a record and recording, and doing all that kind of side of things. It kind of worked out perfectly. We got to a stage where we could do all of the tracking in the UK, and then obviously we did the K! Tour and Caleb was putting his hands up saying “We really wanna do this. We really wanna do the record.”
We met up, we talked about it. It worked with his timescale, and it worked with our timescale. It’s always better having a friend do it than someone who doesn’t know your band and who doesn’t know your ethics behind things. Our ethics have always been that we want to sound real. We never want to not have a drummer drumming. We never want to just track guitars that are on computers. That was our thing about being live sounding and heavy sounding, and he got it.
DP!: Were there any talks of him doing a vocal feature on the record too?
D: I think that it was kind of in the back of everyone’s heads, but I think it has to be right, both for him and for us. It’s not going to be one of those things that we rush into, and we just get someone on it for the sake of it. Caleb is a great vocalist and a great singer, but what we wanted out of ‘301’ it was like, Jamie Jasta is the only one for the job really.
DP!: Are there any other bands or artists that you’d like to team up with in the future?
D: Yeah. I mean, I’ve got lots of influences in metal. People like Corey Taylor from Slipknot, and Winston McCall from Parkway Drive. All of those kind of vocalists are very influential to both myself and also my vocal style. You never know. But, a lot of the time you go to a vocalist that’s completely out there. Jamie’s part on our record wasn’t because he sounded like me, or that he was heavy, or anything like that. It was a really different part for him as well with him being quite melodic in singing. For that it was really quite awesome to be able to have someone who’s doing something a little bit different. That’s what kind of throws things out of the box really when you’re trying to pick vocalists to do guest parts. No one wants to hear a record with a guest vocalist that makes no difference.
DP!: You guys have been a band together now for just over ten years. How does it feel if you kind of step back and think about Bury Tomorrow being a decade of your life?
D: It certainly makes us feel old, that’s for sure. Haha. But, you don’t really view it like that. Time goes so quickly, and, as cliche as fuck as it is to say, time does fly when you’re having fun, but it’s really how we feel. It doesn’t feel like yesterday that we went and recorded our debut ‘Portraits’, and certainly not with things like ‘The Union Of Crowns’. Not only that, but Dawson has been in the band for so many years now, and I still look at him and you almost want to introduce him as our new guitarist, but he’s so solidified in our band and we’re such a team now.
When you plan your time out in years, and that’s how we do it, like this year is our campaign year/year and a half, but when you have those kind of plans time goes so quickly. But, I think it’s given us the experience that we want. It’s given us the opportunity to be able to look back and see the mistakes that we’ve made, and also the positives that we’ve made. Every album that we’ve done has had a lot of positives to it as well as some negatives that we’ve taken forward. Especially with ‘Earthbound’, we tried to culminate all of those things from every album rather than just looking to a new style or a new direction, and kind of taken everything to make one direction of music that is Bury Tomorrow.
DP!: So, by extension, would you say that ‘Earthbound’ is THE Bury Tomorrow album?
D: Yeah. Probably until the next album, haha. Then I’ll probably say that that’s more Bury Tomorrow. You’re always trying to progress, and you’re always trying to do better.
DP!: Well, whilst we’re on the subject of ten years, it’s also the tenth anniversary this year since the release of your debut EP, ‘The Sleep Of The Innocents’. I assume that there are no plans to celebrate that milestone?
D: Haha. I mean, it was almost back in the day that it was a different band to a point. We were very, very young, and it was a record that was never officially released, you know? We weren’t on a label, or anything like that. As much as I love those songs and that’s great, the songs that we wanted to drag forward we did, with songs like ‘These Woods Aren’t Safe For Us’ that are on ‘Portraits’.
So, for me, ‘Portraits’ would be the big milestone, and when that hits the ten years that’s when we’ll really celebrate that ’cause that was our first album as a professional band. That was our first album which really showcased us as five individuals that wanted to make a go of it, rather than back in the ‘The Sleep Of The Innocents’ days where it was kind of like “Oh, we’ll just record it, and we’ll have a good time.” That was it, really. ‘Portraits’ was really the stand point of us going “Let’s try and make a go of this. Let’s make it a big deal.”
DP!: Obviously, fans are sat wondering when they can expect to hear album number five. Has anything for a new release been written yet? What’s the current progress on the next one?
D: We’re always writing, and we’re always taking influence. I think you have to keep your finger on the pulse when it comes to metal music, and know in which direction it’s going. We’ve already started doing bits and pieces, and we’ve already started getting riffs together. But, you know, and we’ve said it quite a lot in interviews recently, and it’s that we’re going to take our time with this one. Maybe not in a sense of masses of time and not elongating the process that we usually ride on, but, at the end of the day, we’re gonna really make sure that this is the record that really is Bury Tomorrow. As much as we were joking about it before, that is it. We really want to push ourselves to the next level. We want to get ourselves to the bigger venues, and that’s what we’re doing.
We’ve wrote an album in ‘Earthbound’ that could be played at Brixton, and it was amazing, twice in one year. Our next record will hopefully be that the only place we can support is Wembley Arena and Alexandra Palace, which is a crazy thought to have, but that’s where we’re at now, so we need to make songs that can really fill those venues to a certain degree.
DP!: What else have you got planned for the rest of the year?
D: We’ve got some really cool announcements that are coming out straight after the tour which are UK based which should be fun [The band were announced as special guests for Slam Dunk Festival], and really poignant for our year and setting us up.
We’ve got quite a few festivals too. We’ve got a European run over summer; we always kind of end up in Europe over the July/August period ’cause that’s where everything happens, which is great. Then we’ve got some time to do some more writing, hopefully recording at some point through the year, and then we’re going to be doing some crazy stuff at the end of the year, which I sadly can’t really talk about.
It’s like the awkward moment at the end of campaigns where you can’t really talk about stuff, but we’re going to be hitting a lot of markets that we’ve already hit over the last two years, and trying to get some new ones as well.
DP!: Any final words?
D: Come to a show, buy our record, and just enjoy yourself.
The band’s fourth full-length album, ‘Earthbound’, is out now through Nuclear Blast Records.
Interview by Zach Redrup (@zachredrup)
Founder & Editor for DEAD PRESS! | Atheist and antitheist. | Judge of the quick & the dead since 1989.