Kill The Music would not exist without Keith Buckley and Every Time I Die. I mean, we're named after a song on the record. Enough about us though. We chatted with Keith who gave some commentary on Gutter Phenomenon. Enjoy the read and let us know your thoughts on Gutter Phenomenon ten years later.
How did you feel when the album came out?
I was very hopeful. I remember listening to it on a walk around buffalo and realizing that ETID wasn't just a hardcore band anymore. We could branch out and try new things and it was a plan so crazy it just might work.
Where do you think the album fits in the band's legacy?
It was more of a statement that we were a band that was willing and able to take chances. If you liked GP and were willing to stick with us, it would be an exciting next few years. If you hated it and wanted mosh part after mosh part, you were going to be angry and we'd probably lose you very suddenly and for good.
How the band approach writing?
Up until we got into the studio it was the same routine as it had always been. They would write the songs, record them on a cassette and give them to me to put vocals on. Once that was done we would typically take the songs as is and record them professionally. This time, however, when we went in with what we thought was a full record, Machine listened to the demos and made us rewrite a bunch of it. That completely took us aback. Some of us got really defensive and protective of the material. Like "who are you to tell us to change this. It's our band". Eventually he got us to loosen the grip on what we thought we were. It was very significant turning point for me as a vocalist.
What inspired the lyrics?
Anything I could see. I don't think there is a single theme on this record. I don't even think songs are about anything. It was all stream of consciousness. I don't remember being emotionally invested in any of them. I like how they sounded and I liked the images they conjured up in my head as I wrote. That’s it. It was the opposite side of the spectrum as far as lyrical “purpose.” Were they meant to make you think or were they meant to make you forget? Could they do both? It was a risk. It could have meant the end of the band for all I knew. He got me to say the word “cunt” for chrissakes. That word is awful.
What were your hopes and expectations for Gutter Phenomenon during the writing and recording process?
We didn't have any. We have never set goals. We hoped people would like it and it would buy us some more time in the hardcore community but we never envisioned a real end game other than to entertain people.
When you were in the studio, how was the morale of the band?
Depends on who you ask. I remember it being really good because we had a friend with us who served as a vibe tech. He would just get high and make us laugh. But we also had a new bass player that we had very recently recruited and once we saw how he operated in the studio we simply did not gel at all. I don't think I spent more than 15 minutes in the same room with him the whole time. After the session we pulled back into buffalo and as he was getting his stuff to start his drive home I had to tell him it wasn't going to work anymore in the future. I haven't heard from him since.
When was the last time you listened to the record? Are there memories and emotions that come back?
It has been years I've listened to it, but my portion of it was written during what I still consider to be one of the greatest time periods of my life, so when I did, it took me back to some incredibly pristine moments. This record is my gateway to those memories and it sounds stupid but i don't even want them to lose their potency. I’m kind of afraid that if i listen to it too much, it'll dull the shine of those months I spent writing it. Like your favorite shirt getting worn until it rips. I’m of the mindset to just keep it on the shelf. Maybe when I’m old I’ll revisit it.
What do you remember most about making the album?
Where I lived in buffalo and the friends that would hang out at the house where we sometimes practiced.
What sort of place was your life in when the album came out?
I was young and JUST dumb enough to still be really excited about simple things. I didn't have the voice in my head yet telling me that it wouldn't work.
Did you ever expect the album to have the influence it did?
Never, but I don't necessarily know the caliber of the influence it had at all. I know that it sold more albums than any of our other ones but that doesn't really mean anything to us. It didn't drastically or directly change our lives. It just allowed us more freedom to do new things. It endowed us with a sense of certainty as far as experimenting with things outside of the hardcore/punk world.
Do you remember what you were listening to at the time?
No, but I remember that I was teaching myself to use “Reason” and playing around with loops and beats and drum machines.
Is there anything about the album you'd change?
The release date. Maybe push it back a year or so, so we had more time to figure out what it would all mean. I didn't know what a producer was or what to expect from Machine. I was completely unprepared even if I was up for the challenges he would present. Then again, maybe the uninformed enthusiasm we had about recording a record with a producer AT ALL is what contributed to its stamina.