The shock and sadness that surrounded the acrimonious split of Every Time I Die in January 2022 still lingers, and even though The Dillinger Escape Plan haven’t been a going concern since 2017, plenty of fans still mourn them. So, when the key members of both bands announced they were coming together to form Better Lovers, it felt like a dream for fans of challenging, chaotic and furiously noisy music.
“You have to have that humbleness,” smiles guitarist Jordan Buckley. “But you also need to know that you’re fucking killers and you’re going to blow everyone away. Not just because of the name, but because of what we know we’re all so capable of.”
If a new band rocked up on the scene with this level of confidence, you might baulk and dismiss them as cocky upstarts. However, Jordan spent the last couple of decades smashing out iconic riffs for ETID, and has kept his bandmates Steve Micciche on bass and drummer Clayton ‘Goose’ Holyoak in his new project, alongside super-producer and Fit For An Autopsy guitarist Will Putney and, most excitingly of all, former TDEP frontman Greg Puciato – so it’s fair to say his confidence is well founded.
“In 16 years of touring with Dillinger, Every Time I Die were the only band that kicked our ass, ever!” Greg tells us. “That was the only time I ever felt that. I remember shows where there was nothing we could do; they had taken the night. So, I knew that if you put me at the driving force of that band, we’d be unstoppable.”
As good as Better Lovers look on paper, they are already proving that they are more than capable of living up to both the lofty expectations of their rabid fanbases and their own unshakable belief in what they can be. Their debut EP, the 15-minute long, four-track attack God Made Me An Animal, is one of the finest examples of savage modern hardcore you’ll hear in 2023.
“These are all dudes that take my ideas and bring them out into the world and make them better,” Jordan explains. “There are riffs on this EP that, even when I thought the songs were the best they could be, Will would say, ‘I’m going to replace your worst riff with a new one that is the best one in the song.’ By the time it gets to Greg it’s really ready to go. I knew I could trust the process, that these songs wouldn’t come out unless they had the best riffs, best mix, best production, best vocals.”
The mutual respect between the members of Better Lovers, who have known each other since the beginnings of their careers, is tangible. Jordan describes Greg as his first choice for vocalist when he started writing material for the band, putting him on “The Mount Rushmore… of one”, while Greg struggles to name another guitarist from the post-2000s hardcore scene who is more unique than Jordan.
“In the last 25 years, I can’t name any other band that has as strong or as impactful a footprint as Every Time I Die,” he begins. “And most of that is because of Jordan’s writing, his very distinct and unique sound. I gravitate to strong flavours, because I’m a strong flavour, so I want someone else to have that. I can’t name any other guitar players from our scene that have what Jordan has. It’s very rare.”
The other thing it’s worth noting is that Better Lovers came together due to the friendship and respect of the participants, rather than some cynical attempt at being a ‘supergroup’ (a phrase that makes Greg look as if he’s about to vomit when it’s mentioned).
Instead, Greg and Jordan met up when Jordan and Converge drummer Ben Koller attended a Jerry Cantrell show. Greg was playing with Jerry, and the old friends ended up back on Jerry’s bus having a good time. At one point during the evening, Jordan happened to mention he had been working on new music.
“We were just having a blast in the front of Jerry’s bus, eating pizza, getting fucked up and acting the fool, and I just said, ‘Dude, send me those songs,’” shrugs Greg, before admitting that it took him some time to find his own voice within music as well defined as Jordan’s.
“I had to sit and wait and let it soak in. One day at 2am it just started coming out of me fast. Since then, it’s been foot on the gas pedal – there’s electricity here, you don’t get too many of those moments.”
It’s a relationship that looks set to give us plenty more music in the near future. With the band currently stationed at Will Putney’s house, Jordan enthuses that Better Lovers could record new material at any minute.
“We’ve got that magic where, whatever we set our mind to, it’ll happen,” he says. “If we want to put out a full-length album by the end of the year then we’ll do it. There’s no shortage of ideas, there’s no shortage of music.”
So, ETID and TDEP lovers, mourn no longer: Better Lovers might just be your new favourite band.
God Made Me An Animal is out now via Sharptone