Four hundred and forty-one days, 21 hours and 45 minutes. That’s the amount of time that will have passed between Bury Tomorrow releasing fourth album Earthbound, and getting onstage tonight to start their UK headline tour in support of it.
“I’m gonna explode onstage into a ball of flames – that’s gonna be our pyro!” jokes bassist Davyd Winter-Bates, making fun of metal soundbites but half looking like he means it.
We are chatting in an upstairs room of the Birmingham Institute, where their eight-date run is about to kick off. The band have spent the last week headlining in Europe, but there’s a sense of starting anew in their home country, and a feeling of heightened anticipation – because this tour has been a long time coming. After releasing Earthbound in January 2016, BT went off to support Parkway Drive, play the Impericon Progression tour and a bunch of summer festivals overseas, and then hit the road with Architects. This evening is finally a chance to give those ‘new’ songs a proper airing in a longer set, celebrate their success and affirm their place in the scene.
“You get to the UK and it’s almost like a reset,” adds frontman and brother Dani, who is always more measured. “It’s almost like the first day of tour again.”
The campaign for Earthbound got off to a memorable start. The quintet were main support on Parkway Drive’s Ire tour back in February 2016, making their debut at London’s legendary Brixton Academy. From the outside it looked like a triumph, but the band are self-critical about their performance.
“It was a shambles – we can be honest about that!” laughs Dav. “We hadn’t had a lot of soundcheck on the first day, the vocals weren’t right in the mix, the equipment went down at one point, but it was Brixton and the kids were insane. We had to come away from that and almost dust ourselves off and go, ‘This is not how we wanna start the year.’”
Nonetheless, it was a milestone for the quintet who first played with Parkway Drive as the local support act at the Southampton Nexus in 2007. Back then, Dani was the keyboard player and second vocalist rather than the frontman, and they had no idea of the success that lay ahead. Today, he puts himself in the position of a fan and views the Brixton show through their eyes.
“You have so many shows where you think the sound is terrible, but you look out and it’s one of the best crowds you’ve ever played to,” he says. “You have to appreciate they will not hear what you hear. If it’s your favourite band, it almost doesn’t matter, because they’re listening to the album in their head when they’re singing along.”
Things swiftly picked up as the band settled into a rhythm. They raged through Europe on the Impericon tour, and then hopped from country to country playing 16 of the world’s biggest summer festivals, ticking France’s Hellfest and Germany’s Wacken off their wishlist. But everything changed come the end of August, when Architects drummer Dan Searle announced that his brother and guitarist Tom had passed away from cancer. The band made the decision to go ahead with their October tour, with Bury Tomorrow as support. Dani remembers the first show in Paris.
“It was incredibly hard to watch,” he says. “To see a band like that in pain, and to see someone who had a brother in the band as well – not that it makes it any harder to me, because I have my brother, but I can empathise in a certain way. I don’t know how I’d feel. The whole tour was a celebration of Tom, and there were some amazingly moving moments. In Amsterdam, the whole crowd sat down when Dan was talking about him. That was chilling.”
Dav sat out the European dates due to his daughter’s birth, and joined the tour as it came through the UK, culminating in an emotional show back at Brixton in November. Dan made a moving speech to the 5,000-strong audience.
“Coming into it, it hit me like a train. I don’t know how someone can be that strong and that brave, because every night I sat there thinking about how I don’t know what I’d do if I lost Dani,” he says, shooting a glance at his brother. “And that was coming off the back of having a daughter, so I was feeling emotional anyway. Dan made Brixton feel like a living room. I was up on the balcony and I literally felt like I was onstage talking to him, and everyone was on tenterhooks. I cannot applaud him more for how he handled it, and his resolve.”
Life is changing around Bury Tomorrow, and they and Architects are no longer the rising young bands they used to be, changed by time, circumstance and responsibilities. As well as Dav becoming a father, Dani got engaged two months ago, and this tour is their biggest ever. Although they insist they’ve been having fun on the road, and share an anecdote about Dav breaking into Iron Maiden’s compound at Wacken (“I got freaked out!” he laughs), there’s little sign of partying this afternoon, though there’s a playful restlessness to their soundcheck. During the siren sound of their intro tape, Dani jokes about the rozzers coming to get them, and slaps their tour manager on the bum. Dav tries out his spins and plays the bassline of Marilyn Manson’s The Beautiful People. Crossfaith frontman Ken and electronics man Teru run in and pretend-mosh down the front.
“We’ve been very militant with how we’ve been on the road, because I think you have to be on a headline tour, so the fun element almost gets diminished a little bit,” admits Dani. “But then it’s made up for by the fact you walk out and see a sold-out show and they go crazy.”
The whole afternoon is a lead-up to this point. Friends and crew wander in and out of their dressing room, which looks like any normal band’s, littered with snacks, drinks, and something green in a bag that’s described as ‘broccoli’. Dani sits on the floor and diligently annotates his setlist with lighting notes, before slicking back his hair.
Front of house, Germany’s Any Given Day prime the crowd with their cover of Rhianna’s Diamonds, brick-shithouse vocalist Dennis Diehl packing an impressive roar. Brighton’s Black Peaks maintain momentum with some of their heaviest material, with Say You Will reaching an impressive crescendo and their new songs bursting with promise. Before Crossfaith go on, Ken grins, “We’re going to kill Bury Tomorrow!” Then they remind everyone why they’re one of metal’s best live acts, jumping off shit and playing with abandon.
Back in Bury Tomorrow’s room, the tension is mounting. Drummer Adam Jackson, who confesses he’s always anxious on show days, is tapping out rhythms on a practice pad. Guitarist Kristan Dawson is picking out riffs and slowly pacing. Fellow guitarist and clean vocalist Jason Cameron tells no one in particular that he’s feeling nervous, puts a cushion behind his head, and bellows out snippets of song. Dav waits listlessly. Dani does some stretches.
“Since about 2007, I’ve never got stage fright,” explains the frontman. “It’s what I do. The more people there are, the more I can manipulate into having a good time. People’s reactions create a ripple effect.”
Dani can talk for hours, often veering off-topic and launching into monologues about his band or the music industry (“He doesn’t half go on!” Dav chuckles affectionately at one point today, as we duck out for a cheeky beer). His voice is often tinged with defiance, perhaps unsurprisingly, given how hard Bury Tomorrow have fought for recognition. In 2011, they were dropped by their label and had to become their own champions, returning stronger with 2012’s The Union Of Crowns. They are fiercely proud of being rockstars without egos, railing against paid-for meet-and-greets. It’s a tactic that’s bred loyalty, judging by the fans we talk to tonight.
“I like the energy they bring to the shows,” says Chris, who’s seen them at least 10 times. “I live a stressful life, and I love to come and watch them and de-stress. They’ll come and have a photo and a chat, which makes the gig more intimate. When I was going through a tough time, Dani said some words that really motivated me.”
“They really are leading the way on young British metal,” adds Talbot. “I’ve got one of their t-shirts from back in the day, with ‘British Metalcore’ on the back, and I think we’ll see them becoming one of our most important bands.”
Their faith is rewarded as that siren intro blares out, and the five barrel onstage, Dani leaping onto the ego riser and unleashing the devastating scream of The Eternal as lights flash frenetically around him. Suddenly the energy levels in the room rocket by 1000%. “Holy fucking shit,” Dani says incredulously. “Now that is the way to treat a band when they come onstage.” Watcher soars, Cemetery sounds stadium- sized, and Last Light prompts the biggest singalong of the night. In short, they come across as a band burning with ambition for a bigger platform.
“My new mission is to still be playing massive shows when my daughter’s little enough that I can bring her out onstage with me,” says Dav. “That has always been my dream. Now it’s like I have to work harder at this and get better at this, because I really want her to see what I’ve spent the last 10 years of my life doing. I want to show her that I wasn’t just going off on lads’ holidays around Europe. How do we become a band that’s worldwide, astronomical?”
Part of that will hinge around the follow-up to Earthbound, which they’ve tentatively started working on. It’ll be metalcore, but maybe not as we know it, built to survive venues like Brixton and beyond.
“We’ve got bits and pieces, but because this year isn’t overly crazy, we don’t need to speed-write it,” explains Dani. “I think for this album, it’s going to be a much more structured process – let’s make songs that I could have never thought of in a million years.”
“We want to write an album that sounds like it could be played at Alexandra Palace or Wembley,” concludes Dav. “We’ve built an army of fans – now we want to create a legacy.”
Earthbound is out now via Nuclear Blast
Keep The Faith
We caught up with the Crossfaith fellas for an update on their next step
How was tonight for you?
Ken Koie (vocals): “It’s been awesome. Bury Tomorrow are fucking evil guys! No, they’re like the loveliest guys in the world. The first time I met them was in Japan, in 2010. We go way back. We’ve toured with them five times, so we are like brothers, and I miss them all.”
Do you guys have any new music coming out soon?
Ken: “We just finished tracking the new EP, six songs, and it’s going to be awesome! It sounds like Hell. How should I describe it? It’s hard, because there’s so many different types of song. We have two heavy songs, and two more electronic ones as well. And some more industrial stuff like Nine Inch Nails. So we don’t know how people are going to react to our new songs. But it’s still Crossfaith!”
Will there be any guest stars?
Ken: “We… er, cannot say.”
Hiroki Ikegawa (bass): “We have got two guest vocals, that’s all we can say!”
Back In Black
Black Peaks’ Will Gardner on repping for British heavy metal
What was it like playing to a heavy crowd?
Will Gardner (vocals): “It felt really fucking good! I was definitely nervous today, because this is the heaviest line-up we’ve ever done really.”
You and BT are representing British metal. What do you think of it right now?
“I think it’s fucking great. There are bands like Zoax and Heck and Creeper! And, dare I say it, Royal Blood, because they’re a fucking heavy band. There’s a lot of exciting English music out there and it’s sick.”
What are your new songs about?
“Fate Can’t Seal The World is about the fact that we’re surrounded by quite a selfish climate at the moment. The chorus idea is that fate can’t seal the world – let’s not go this way, and take ourselves out of our little bubbles, and look around. Small acts of kindness can make a huge change.”