Songwriting

“The day when it is difficult for us to write music is the day it is done”: Andy Williams of Every Time I Die on the balance between music and… professional wrestling? – Guitar.com

Diamond Dallas Page’s hands are raised skyward, fingertips touching in a signal familiar to fans losing their heads at ringside during All Elite Wrestling’s Bash at the Beach. “Maybe it’s the diamond cutter’s hour!” Shouts the unmistakable Jim Ross in the comments. The Butcher, one of Page’s opponents in this freewheeling six-way match, kneels down, then to his feet, and walks straight to the professional wrestling legend’s finisher, finding himself face down on the carpet as icons that Ric Flair, Macho Man Randy Savage and Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart have done before him.

Meanwhile, four thousand five hundred kilometers away, Every Time I Die prepares to play its first show without guitarist Andy Williams in its 22-year history. After all, he couldn’t really be at the Watsco Center in Coral Gables to take that Diamond Cutter and to Paris to devastate the ornate Cabaret Sauvage hall at the same time. Living a double life, it seems, can be hell on your schedule.

“I was more worried about the guys’ reaction when I said, ‘I’m going to take this wrestling gig over that,'” he admits of Zoom from Los Angeles, where the band is making a video. “But it was Diamond Dallas Page’s last game of all time. It was his retirement game. So when you put that weight on it, guys were just like, ‘This is a once in a lifetime chance, go for it.’ “

At this point, Every Time I Die was also pulling things together to complete their incendiary new album. The metalcore Hellraisers are done calling Radical in early March last year, just as the United States came to a halt in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic. They put new songs on the setlist of a sold-out show in Chicago just before theaters across the country closed, then put the album on the shelf in a way that will be familiar to musicians around the world. whole. What Williams did next, less.

“You put all of that creative energy into making this wonderful record, you go out, you play a show and the whole world stops,” he recalls. “At that time, I was working with AEW but I was paid by appearance. If they booked me for a show, that was the only time I got paid. It seemed like this was what they were gonna do with me and my [tag team]partner. But then they offered us the full contract.

“It was just when things started to get risky with the pandemic. I was like, ‘The universe is really talking to me. I have to do it. I had been listening to this record for almost two years, and every time our manager contacted us because it seemed like we could book concerts, they were canceled. I plunged headfirst into the fight – if the other thing doesn’t come back, I have to settle down. I went there thoroughly, to say the least.

About the face

But you don’t just walk through the door of a promotion like AEW, which has become a serious rival to WWE, which has dominated the industry in recent years by signing a string of eye-catching free agents and independent heroes, including CM Punk, Bryan Danielson and Ruby Soho, whose name and entry music were co-signed by Rancid guitarist Lars Frederiksen. Since the release of Every Time I Die stockings teens in 2016, Williams devoted his time and body to wrestling alongside the other half of his team, The Blade, climbing the ranks to make it to television. It’s a punishing gig that actually has a lot in common with life in a touring punk band.

“You are taken away from your family for 40 days, you live in a van,” he says. “The other one takes you away from your family a day or two a week, but you’re gone, gone. I hardly speak to my fiancee on the days I work. I am busy all day. It’s crazy. Sometimes I get weird about it and I’m like, “One of them has to go.” And then I’ll think, ‘No way, man.’ I am only 43 years old. I have to do this until I can’t anymore. Obviously the wrestling thing is going to take precedence over the music thing, because I’m 43 years old. It’s not if I’m going to have to retire, it’s when I’m going to have to retire.

The ripple effects of all of these efforts were felt by Williams co-guitarist and creator Jordan Buckley, who took on more writing on Radical that he might not have done in the past. “I was running so much in the red when we were writing the record,” Williams admits. Buckley, however, was well placed to rise to the challenge. “It was good,” he says. “We had time. He didn’t feel rushed. I was just sitting at home riffing. I gave myself this quota of one riff per day.

“It was, say, 2017, 2018. The idea back then was to take two months off, and it was crazy. We were like, ‘Guess we couldn’t do anything for the first time. in 20 years. “I haven’t tried anything, and it worked for about four days. I picked up the guitar. Andy was doing his thing and it was natural. I was in a productive place and creative I wasn’t asked to do something I wasn’t able to do.

All the elite

Radical is not a band record that is running empty. It kicks like a mule, taking the patented mark of savage madness and time signature of Every Time I Die and cranking up the intensity so that every riff echoes through the listener, all knees and elbows. Recorded with returning producer Will Putney, its sky-high intensity isn’t the kind you always associate with a band – complemented in this case by vocalist Keith Buckley, bassist Steve Micciche and drummer Clayton Holyoak – for more than two years. decades.

“Me, Jordan, and Keith made this assumption a long time ago, that the day it’s hard for us to write music is the day it’s done,” Williams says. “On this one, it was crazy, man.” Every time we showed up for practice, either I had a song made or Jordan had a song made. We would leave for the night, come back the next day and say, ‘Hey, look at this. I have this thing. Every Time I Die is one of those lucky bands because we know who we are. This is a great thing.

Something that continues to be thrilling about Buckley and Williams’ sound is that no matter how punchy the production is, and it’s pretty punchy here, there’s a layer of unbridled dirt all over it. That’s all they have under their fingernails, stuck after years of trying to explode the plans of their favorite bands, renowned dirt dealers like Converge, Botch and Coalesce. “I think it’s DNA, man,” Williams says.

Buckley agrees. “Our roots are in there,” he says. “You’re going to make us experiment, you’re going to make us try new things, but you’re never going to make us give up on what got us where we are. We still love him. We still love bands that play that blurry, gooey, riffy, grungy, dirty hardcore-metal, whatever.

Jordan Buckley from Whenever I Die
Jordan Buckley from Whenever I Die. Image: Yuliya Christensen / Redferns via Getty Images

Both players have signature guitars that were in the mix on Radical – ESP Eclipse by Buckley, Balageur Toros and Enigmas by Williams – alongside a Les Paul Custom. “I’ve been too scared to play a Les Paul live since I broke one 20 years ago,” Buckley admits. “But Andy has one and I’m not so scared to play it in the studio.” The cornerstone of the Every Time I Die sound is a JCM800, with operation pretty much all the time, but beyond that there aren’t too many similarities between Buckley and Williams in terms of their approach to the sound. ‘equipment.

“I’ve always been the ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ guy,” Buckley says. “I have had a Marshall 800 and a TubeScreamer for over a decade. I love it, why change it? Andy bought me a 5150 because these are so amazing. If Will tells me it’s gonna sound good, that’s all I need to know. Andy is the guy who will try out all 100 pedals and then decide.

Williams is not about to disagree with this statement. “What we have done is to combine the 800 with something a little more modern,” he adds. “My live setup is a Mesa Dual Rectifier with a 1977 JMP, a 50 watt. On the record, I was using the Synergy SLO mod – which is crazy, man – via a Seymour Duncan 700 power amp. And then we would pair it with a Bogner Uberschall or a VHT Pittbull.

Team tag

Guitarists have complementary styles, attacking the punitive riffs of Every Time I Die from different angles in order to flesh them out for maximum impact. There is an obvious level of confidence in the way they discuss each other’s strengths, as well as the feeling that they really understand each other as musicians. “It’s very easy,” Buckley admits. “We know each other’s ideas are going to be great. Here Andy was getting really experimental on stuff. It reminded me of when we started.

“Before we knew how to write riffs and songs, we were just like, ‘let’s make it crazy, let’s make it confusing’. We would have mosh parts that were phone numbers – six times, seven times, then four times because that’s the area code. This is how we thought we should write. This time we were starting over. You add what we know now and you get some fun and cool ideas. Maybe it worked too well because we had 16 songs and we didn’t want to cut any of them. “

“Jordan is very much like his art, he’s very detail-oriented,” Williams observes. “He will insist on straightenings and bridges. Me, I am a guy of quality over quantity. A lot of the groove comes from me, and a lot of the technique comes from Jordan. It is a modern, efficient vehicle and I am an old muscle car. This is what makes us good together. I always want people to shake their heads. He wants their jaws to drop.

Every time I die Radical is now available through Epitaph.


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