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Dan Briggs

Between the Buried and Me Bassist Dan Brigss Talks New Tour, New Band & Album

I recently was given the opportunity to chat with the bassist from progressive metal giant Between the Buried and Me. Below you can read highlights of our conversation in which we cover Russian Circles, Dan’s new band Trioscapes and even an AMA they conducted on reddit not too long ago. 

Brootalisk: How did you feel about the critical acclaim towards The Parallax II? Do you think it’s been a long time coming, or were you surprised to see it atop many year end lists?

Dan Briggs: Definitely not. We set out to kind of make our own version of a rock opera, just trying to make an over the top, thematic, progressive metal, operatic story, and it ended up being 70 something minutes long. You never know how something is going to turn out and be perceived. So we in the studio really felt like it was the best thing we had done, and that’s a hard thing to try to instill on people before they even hear the record. With all that in mind, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with how it’s been received. It’s definitely a bit of a shock for such a long record to be embraced by so many people. For me, when I listen to it, it doesn’t quite feel as long. The important thing about it was the flow, and I think there’s a lot of that that contributes to the theatrical feel that we were going for. We’re definitely excited about it.

Brootalisk: Were you surprised at all to see it atop of many year-end lists?

Dan: You know, I didn’t really see that it was, but that’s cool!

Brootalisk: Oh yeah, it topped a lot.

Dan: Oh wow, that’s awesome! [laughs]

Brootalisk: Your upcoming tour with Coheed and Russian Circles is obviously in support of The Parallax II. How much of your set will be devoted to new material, and can fans expect some of their favorite old tunes to make it into the set list?

Dan: It’s gonna be about half new stuff time wise. We didn’t want to do too much off of it. Of course, for us we just want to got out and play the whole thing, but we can’t. It’s kind of a matter of picking out songs that we were really excited about and that we wanted to play, and that we though would be a good balance for this tour, and finding older songs that compliment those well. We have such a big catalog now that making a set list is almost like creating an album. You want to have a good flow and have it come down at the right moments to give yourself and the crowd a break. Our music has a lot of those dynamics naturally, so it’s just finding the right mix of songs. It gets harder and harder because we keep putting out records, so we just have more songs to choose on. But, it’s the first tour we’re doing in America since the album came out, so hopefully people will want to hear new stuff.

Brootalisk: How much time are you given for your set?

Dan: We have around an hour.

Brootalisk: I’ve heard some unique and downright strange ways band members ready their bodies for a set. Do you have a preshow warm up? If so, what does it consist of?

Dan: I stretch before we play. I always stretch to get my body looser, but I’ve also employed deeper stretches for my legs and IT bands. Aside from that though, we don’t do anything weird. We just sit there and practice our instruments. Maybe some casual stretching on the side. I think Blake does some push ups. So that’s kind of weird, I guess. [laughs]

Brootalisk: I was surprised, but very happy, to see that Russian Circles were chosen as the supporting band for the tour. Did you have any influence in choosing them to support your and Coheed’s tour?

Dan: We did! What originally happened, we were supposed to be in the middle of a headlining tour at this point that was going to involve Russian Circles as well, and I think Coheed had some tour packages fall through, so they picked up our tour package and added it to theirs. Russian Circles was a band that we picked to go on tour with us, and now they’re going on tour with Coheed and us!

Brootalisk: What’s your opinion of the band?

Dan: They’re cool! I’ve been getting into some of their more recent stuff. I remember listening to their very first record when it first came out, and I thought it was cool, but I just kind of fell off after that. Not for any reason, I just kinda stopped listening to them. They’re a very interesting band and very interesting kind of instrumental band, so I think it’s going to be a very neat package. I think every band has their own crowd. I’ve been a huge Botch fan, so I’m extremely excited to nerd out on their bass player a bit.

Brootalisk: Going off topic a little bit, you conducted an AMA on reddit before your newest record released. Can you give some insight on what kind of experience that was for you?

Dan: It was fun. I had never been to reddit before, so I didn’t know what to expect. I had no idea. I didn’t know the format at all. When it started, we weren’t together at all. We were at our respective homes, so I didn’t really know what to do! But it was fun! It was cool. There were a lot of people that asked questions, and we tried to answer as many as we could. Paul’s personality definitely shined through. He’s a very sarcastic and funny guy, something that people might not necessarily get just from watching him play on stage or reading his interviews. We did it with the hope that it would be a bit more laid back and teach the fans more about us than they normally would get.

Brootalisk: Would you ever do one again?

Dan: Yeah totally, now that I actually understand the format!

Brootalisk: Speaking of internet popularity, are you aware of Protest the Hero’s attempt to go independent with their latest album? What are your thoughts on that? Do you think it’s a potentially viable way for bands to start funding an album?

Dan: It seems like it, if they raised that much money! To make an album, we’ve probably only ever had about half that much. I guess you don’t really need that much to make an album nowadays. But, I’m glad it’s an option for people to come out with their own stuff. Artists have been doing that for decades. Peter Gabriel has been putting out his own records since the ’80s, so it’s nothing new, but I think it’s reached the point where people who are underground can do it. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that you don’t necessarily have to rely on making a CD that has a national distribution that’s going to be in every Best Buy or whatever. I think the fact that you can get your music out through the internet, from either digital files or even your own webstore, that’s a huge thing. And maybe you can get a smaller distribution deal to sell at indie stores. That’s perfect, what else do you need?

Dan Briggs

How metal? Dan’s so metal he shoots laser beams out of his instruments.

Brootalisk: What are your plans after the tour?

Dan: BTBAM is going to Europe in the Summer, but right after this tour my group Trioscapes, which is a three piece fusion project with bass, saxophone and drums. We’re doing a couple weeks on the East Coast and we’re going down to Puerto Rico to do a masterclass and a concert of course. That’ll be fun. I’m going to be working with my third group Orbs. We just finished writing a new album that I’m probably going to try to and record the guitars, bass, and drums in May before BTBAM goes to Europe, and hopefully I can finish that in the fall. So, you know, staying busy.

Brootalisk: Do you think Trioscapes would ever tour with Tosin Abasi’s side project, T.R.A.M?

Dan: Yeah, you know it was really funny because we’re all good friends, and we all went to different countries touring, so we hadn’t seen each other for a long time. So we find ourselves in Europe together after a year or so and we ask them what they had been up to, and they were like, “Oh we started this fusion group with a saxophone player!” and when they asked me what I had been up to, I was like, “Oh I started this fusion group with a saxophone player!” That was weird. It ended up because we just have similar influences. Tosin and Javier are big into Mahavishnu Orchestra and John McLaughlin, and John McLaughlin is a big influence to me and everyone in Trioscapes, and that was sort of a chance thing. However, I don’t think they have live ambitions. I kind of made it pretty vocal from the get go. Trioscapes started as a live band, after all. It’s very much an active group. So, I would love to, and I think that would be super fun. I’m sure kids would love to see that, but I think there’s a better chance of seeing us on tour with Animals as Leaders than seeing T.R.A.M.

 

 

parallaxIIfuturesequence

Between the Buried and Me’s Newest Album Teases With Some Sexy Foreplay But Will Never Call Back

When Between the Buried and Me came to San Francisco for Summer Slaughter, I had the great fortune to sit down with Dan Briggs and Dustie Waring. Of course, one of the main things we discussed in detail was their newest addition to their diverse discography, The Parallax II: Future Sequence. We talked extensively about the new record, but one thing Dustie told me really stuck out to me; he seemed to genuinely think that it was their best musical venture they had ever created. Unfortunately, I very highly disagree with that statement.

Tracklist
1. Goodbye To Everything
2. Astral Body
3. Lay Your Ghosts To Rest
4. Autumn
5. Extremophile Elite
6. Parallax
7. The Black Box
8. Telos
9. Bloom
10. Melting City
11. Silent Fight Parliament
12. Goodbye To Everything (Reprise)

 

Both musically and conceptually, TPII begins right where The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues left off. The only problem is that it’s start is a little too awkward and jerky. After the intro, “Goodbye to Everything”, we get a little build up that leads into “Astral Body”, but it never really feels or conveys like we’re going onto this awesome musical journey into space where we’ll proceed to have our brains made sweet sweet love to. Ultimately, “Astral Body” seems very out of place as the beginning track. Fortunately, it leads very smoothly right into the next track, “Lay Your Ghosts to Rest”, which is in itself a very solid song. It almost feels as if this should have been the beginning track. This is further perpetuated by the lyrics present towards the last minute or so of the track: “The end, starts now.” In fact, a good chunk of the album sounds like it shouldn’t be there at all. “Autumn” is just a filler track before the meaty “Extremophile Elite”, and “Parallax” doesn’t fundamentally serve a purpose besides some basic storytelling.

Of course, there are more than enough redeeming factors to make this a worthwhile listen. They’ve seemed to realize that their musical endeavors can get bogged down by their penchant for unnecessary wankery, which they have undertaken to fix this time around, with moderate success. While addressing those complaints, they haven’t forgotten what’s made them one of the biggest progressive metal acts around. There is still a ton of weirdness and craziness present in the album, such as the very “sitary” reference to last year’s EP, and the utterly soul crushing breakdown in “Telos”. “Bloom” is also an incredibly fun listen, if a little out of place.

While the first 45 minutes are a sensory overload (for better or worse), the last 30 minutes of the record display some mind boggling and questionable songwriting decisions. There is the occasional segment of exorbitant showoffiness mixed with some seemingly random riffage, but the big difference between TPII‘s examples of etravagance and their previous efforts is the lack of an ultimate climax (stop your snickering). Once I had finally traversed through the drudgery of their instrument work and reached the end of my journey throughout Colors and The Great Misdirect, I felt like I could put the record away, that there was a satisfying conclusion to the melodious struggle that I had just experienced. This was what defined my time with BTBAM: the breathtaking and exciting climaxes that I felt throughout each and every one of their albums. However, with TPII, I experienced no such climactic feeling. I still had a sense of moving forward even though I had conclusively reached the end of the groundwork that BTBAM had orchestrated for me. It all adds up to a very anticlimactic finish from what is an otherwise pleasant aural eargasm.

Overall, TPII is a solid outing from BTBAM, though one can’t help but get the feeling that more could have been accomplished here. BTBAM tried to do too much and not enough at the same time, and while their newest release indicates that they are indeed moving forward, it also suggests that they’ve lost a step or two in their songwriting prowess along the way. Still, it’s hard not to be hopeful for the future. If BTBAM can execute more or less what they’ve done in TPII without the occasional clumsiness and stumble, it’ll be incredibly difficult for any band to top what they can deliver.

FINAL SUPER ULTIMATE RATING:

(3.5 Brutalisks out of 5)

parallaxIIfuturesequence

Interview with BTBAM’s Dan Briggs and Dustie Waring

With the passing of summer comes a slew of records coming from the some of the biggest names in metal. Converge, Neurosis, Devin Townsend Project, and Deftones all have new albums that sound very promising, but they’re not quite as headbang inducing as Between the Buried and Me’s newest prog masterpiece, Parallax II: Future Sequence. With the continuation of the concept they laid out with last year’s EP (which I thought was worthy of a #4 spot in my Top Ten Records of 2011), they bring many new additions to their already massive reservoir, and at 74 minutes, there’s a whole lot of groundbreaking material to go around. I got a great opportunity to sit down with BTBAM’s bassist and rhythm guitarist to chat a little about their new album, the recent djent craze, and even some Jerry Seinfeld. 

Bröötalisk: BTBAM is very well known for combining different musical elements, from blending metalcore and prog to my personal favorite “new wave polka grunge”. You’re the only band that I know of who’ve broken out into full on bar fight metal. Where do you get all these crazy zany ideas, and how hard is it to execute them and flesh them out into a comprehensive song?

[Dustie]: Well, it has to do with our sense of humor.

[Dan]: Yeah, I feel like as serious as the music is, as complex as it is at times, that might be the one time where people really understand that we’re just a bunch of doofuses and to not take us too seriously. Jamie King (album producer) adds a lot to those parts as well. He’s just as goofy as we are. He encourages us. He’s all about it. That’s just kind of a natural part of us too. The goofiness, the quirkiness, in writing or in every day life. It’s just how we are.

Bröötalisk: It seems to me that progressive metal has been gaining extreme popularity over the last few years. What’s your opinion on the direction it’s taking?

[Dan]: It really depends on who it is you’re referring to. The term gets thrown around a lot. Sometimes it’s kind of sad to see it used as more of a genre and less of bands really trying to do something new. There’s a whole group of bands that try to sound like Between the Buried and Me. But are they progressive or just a band that sounds like another band? There’s always going to be great bands that are pushing it and doing new things. The Faceless is one of those bands on this tour right now. They’re fucking phenomenal. I love them. There’s the bigger groups of course; Opeth and Mastodon. They always kind of move further and further from what the public would generally see as being metal, and those bands go way out there. And that’s great. It’s inspiring to see how well they do.

Bröötalisk: What do you think of the whole “djent” phase that everybody’s in right now?

[Dan]: I think it’s a phase, like you said.

[Dustie]: I don’t understand the craze.

[Dan]: Meshuggah’s been around for a long time!

[Dustie]: Yeah but I don’t understand how it’s become it’s own thing. They’re all bands just playing heavy shit. I think people focus too much on trying to classify people. It took me a long time to know exactly what they were talking about. It’s more of a sound then a style.

[Dan]: It’s so silly.

[Dustie]: I heard of thall? It’s like, the sound or something?

Bröötalisk: I think it’s interesting that people are basing their bands around a guitar tone, and not necessarily how the whole thing comes and flows together. Where do you think it’ll end up 5 or 10 years from now?

[Dan]: Oh, I don’t know man. At that time we’ll probably be a progressive bluegrass surfcore band.

[Dustie]: I want to be on tour with String Cheese Incident by then. With Widespread Panic. laughs

[Dan]: Yeah, Paul’s (guitarist) gonna be 42. No, 43 right?

[Dustie]: He’s gonna look like shit. Smell all fucked up.

[Dan]: laughs We’ll see man. No one can tell the future. We’re still gonna be writing weird shit and trying to do something new every record.

[Dustie]: I hope it never ends. I want to continue writing weird shit for the rest of my life.

Bröötalisk: How does The Parallax II continue the concept that was laid out by last year’s EP?

[Dan]: It continues it seamlessly. As far as the story and stuff. Musically it’s something completely new. There’s a couple small things that are very recognizable from the EP that carried over and have a new life. The EP laid the groundwork for the story and it gets pretty wild in this new record.

Bröötalisk: So would you say it’s a lot more different then last year’s EP?

[Dan]: Yeah, we just had more room to do stuff…at 74 minutes!

[Dustie]: It’s a very long record and it’s my personal favorite too so far. There’s a lot going on. We got to do a lot of stuff that we’ve never done. Even going all the way down to guitar tones and different instruments.

[Dan]: Yeah, we got some violin on it. Some tuba. Saxophone. Flute. All kinds of stuff.

Bröötalisk: I remember listening to a preview of the album on Amazon, and when I got to the song Bloom it sounded fucking weird and awesome and…really really cool.

[Dan]: Oh yeah, the Amazon preview is up…I’m curious what it’s actually showing! laughs Just wait till you hear the whole record man.

Bröötalisk: I have to ask, who is the genius behind the Parallax 2 Space Suit?

[Dan]: That was me and Tommy (vocalist). It just seemed so obvious. Why haven’t bands done that before!? We actually just put in our order for our own personal ones today for our crew. We’re gonna make them dress up on stage.

The sexy attire in question.

Bröötalisk: Is your new side project Trioscapes just a one off, or are they a more permanent band?

[Dan]: It’s hopefully a permanent thing. We’ve got a tour after I get home from this. I’d like to do more in 2013 and release a new record at some point. That’s one of those things where I feel like we can get together in 2 days and write half a record. That stuff came about very organically. It was just basically Walter (saxophonist) telling me that he wrote these two or three sax melodies, and then I wrote a bunch of different rhythmic variations for them, and working out a lot of different things with the drummer. It’s just a fun new different outlet for me. It’s guys that are into totally different and weird shit.

Bröötalisk: Trioscapes seem very similar to another side project, T.R.A.M. Are you familiar with the band? Did the two bands come together and say, “We should both write random jazzy fusion records!”

[Dan]: It was strange because last year in Europe with Animals as Leaders we were sharing a bus together, and we hadn’t seen each other in a while. And we asked them what they’d been up to, and they said, “Oh, we started a fusion group this summer with a saxophone player! What have you been doing?” And I said, “…I started a fusion group with a saxophone player!” It was very weird, but it’s great because we have a lot of similar influences. Ever since I met Tosin (guitarist for Animals as Leaders) we talked about John McLaughlin (composer for Mahavishnu Orchestra) as being a very big influence. I hope, if anything, to introduce that kind of music to some people who aren’t familiar with it. On the Trioscapes record we actually straight up did a cover of a Mahavishnu Orchestra song, although it’s a way different interpretation of it. Hopefully that will lead people to time travel back to the 70s and see where people actually began being weird. They think it’s weird now? No, go back then. They were crazy.

Bröötalisk: Is it safe to say you and Tosin are BFFs?

[Dan]: Yeah, we’re buds. These guys go back, even before Animals as Leaders.

[Dustie]: My other band, with me and Blake (drummer), toured with them in 2003.

[Dan]: We’ve known those guys for a long time.

[Dustie]: Evan Brewer was in the band with them too.

[Dan]: We’re taking Animals as Leaders to Japan, Australia, and New Zealand in November. It never ends. We’re trying to hit the whole world with them. We still gotta go to South America, Africa, gotta get up to Iceland.

[Dustie]: We should play Greenland. Play on a glacier.

Bröötalisk: Finally, just out of curiosity, I ask every single band I interview this: what are some of your favorite bands out there right now?

[Dan]: Well, I’m really excited about the new Faceless record. I love this band called Astra who’s on Metal Blade Imprint. They’re a totally psyched out 70s band. It’s really great.

[Dustie]: I’m not really listening to anything heavy at the moment.

Bröötalisk: I surprisingly get that a lot actually. A lot of people I’ve interview say that they don’t listen to too much metal.

[Dan]: I listen to a lot of Cab Calloway (jazz singer) and old music.

[Dustie]: Anything with Jerry Douglas (resonator guitarist) on it.

[Dan]: The Jerry Seinfeld album was awesome. laughs

[Dustie]: [In his best Jerry Seinfeld impersonation] What…was that? What’s…the deal… Well this guy…