How you guys been? I mean, you guys are putting out a new record and it’s amazing. Why did you guys decide to come out with a record less than a year after the last one?
The Burial guitarist Todd Hatfield: Basically, Jason (Dunn, Facedown Records’ founder) wanted us to put out another record. So we went ahead and booked the time, and we pushed ourselves to write it and get it done. That’s pretty much it, because we weren’t really planning on doing one that soon. But Jason wanted us to put it out, so we just did it. Do what the man wants (laughs)!
Oh yeah. For sure. Do you think it’s going to help your records like it does for For Today? You know, put out a record every year. Impending Doom did it, too.
And some bands have success with it, and obviously some don’t. Do you feel that you guys are going to be able to have success with this new record? Or do you think it’s not going to do as well as Lights?
I don’t know. I’m hoping it does better and opens up some more doors, because it’s definitely better musically than Lights is. It’s a lot more technical, and a lot more … I guess mature, well-written. So I hope that it does better and gets a bigger audience to check us out, you know what I’m saying?
I got this record and the new Extol record on the same day.
Listening to those back-to-back is total metal overload. Especially with this record, I really feel like you guys can capture that The Faceless audience, like, with “In the Taking of Flesh: Theanthropos.” For me, it sounds like a Pantera intro, and then it has a less playful, Primus bass feel, right before you guys go into it. How did you guys come up with stuff like that? How is that for the writing process of this record?
Elisha wrote pretty much everything on the album this time around. He was in the zone and started cranking out songs, and so everybody kind of gave him free rein and write everything. It was definitely better than anything I was coming up with. He kept pumping out songs left and right, so it’s all from his mind (laughs).
I was reading the last interview we did with you guys a year ago, and you were talking about how the band had crazy troubles. With Lights, you were actually just seeing the light. With the last record, you were just coming out of the tunnel. So how does it feel this time around? You guys are out of the tunnel, you’re a solid four-piece and Elisha’s just killing it on writing.
It’s way better; everything’s more cohesive. It’s the best line-up so far, especially spiritually, and everybody is on the same page, getting along – stuff like that. The way that I see it, it’s literally a completely different band than what we used to be since I’m the only original member left. It’s not just like we’ve progressed; it’s a completely different band.
Being a completely different band, why stay under the moniker of The Burial? Is it just because you guys have that history already? You know you’ve laid pavement with the band with that name and there’s really no need to change it?
We’ve thrown that idea around. We actually wanted to change the name when we first got bumped up to Facedown. Before we put out Lights, we were going to start fresh, but our bass player at the time didn’t want to change the name. We kicked the idea around again before we put out this album, but it seemed like, at this point, it would hurt us more than it would do us good. But you know? I’m not sure.
Yeah, especially with the groundwork that you guys laid with Lights. That record was a game changer for you guys. And we talked last year about how some of the your influences were bands like Extol; how does it feel to actually have them as labelmates now?
It’s surreal is what it is. It blows my mind we would even be associated with them in that aspect, so it’s awesome. We’re super pumped that Jason was able to pick them up.
In our last interview, we talked about you guys getting better recognition. Is that still on the way up?
Yes, but it’s really hard to tell because of the state of the industry right now. Everybody and their grandma is in a band touring, so shows are … You know, everyone is spread thin. Certain places, like when we played Seattle, were awesome and it blew my mind because there was a ton of people there that had our shirts on, and they knew every word to every song we were playing. That was awesome being able have that instead of just having a few kids; it was the whole group of people there to see us. So that felt pretty good, to see that response somewhere literally on the other side of the country from where we are.
It’s literally a completely different band than what we used to be since I’m the only original member left. It’s not just like we’ve progressed; it’s a completely different band.
Have you guys been able to get on any bigger tours?
No. We still don’t have any management right now – at all. (They would need) to put in a word for you because the politics and the industry are crud. It doesn’t matter how good you are, it depends on who you know. Being a favorite and putting certain bands on certain packages – stuff like that. In that respect, (talent) doesn’t matter; you can put out the best album ever and it wouldn’t matter.
Is that why you guys haven’t done it, because of the politics? Or is it that you have commitments at home and it’s hard for you, personally, to tour?
No, that really isn’t an issue as far as being able to tour. I have an awesome, supportive wife, so I can be on the road and that not be a problem. It’s getting people to actually want to work with you. We’re not a “trend of the week” band they can market and make a ton of money off of. I don’t know if there’s not enough interest or if people don’t care or if there’s not enough hype about us – I really don’t understand it.
I don’t understand it, either.
It comes down to management. That’s the thing I’ve noticed. It doesn’t matter what band it is; it just comes down to who’s pulling the strings behind the scenes, and who they’ve got working for them.
What is your plan for this new record cycle? Are you guys gonna try to push for management and a booking agent? Are there any prospects at all in that area for the band?
I mean, there are no prospects. We are going to continue doing what we’ve been doing, and we’ve emailed tons of people. We get some nice industry response about how they aren’t taking any new bands right now, and then next week they announce some new artist they have, the flavor of the week, you know what I mean?
That’s just what’s frustrating. Sometimes people don’t even respond with no, or a reason why or anything like that. They just don’t even care.
When you were writing this record and it was coming together, did you guys feel like you needed to push this record more than you’ve pushed any record before?
Not really, man. There’s only so much you can do as an individual band and that you can do with social media … This is the way it works. You gotta have those right people, even fans. If they think a band’s cool, then 10 of their friends automatically think, “This band’s cool, then.” Whether they are actually good or not, that’s just the mentality. It’s just a lot of hype – and you have to live up to the hype so you don’t fall off the face of the earth like a lot bands do. Some bands will be huge for a year and then you don’t hear from them anymore.
Now that you guys have put out two records are you going to wait and see what this record does for the band? And then wait to put out a third record in a couple years? Or are you guys gonna go three years, back-to-back-to-back, like some bands have done?
I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about it since we just put this out. I know, label-wise, we don’t want to go anywhere else because Jason’s awesome and we love the vision of the label. Even if we got offers from a bigger label, I don’t know if we’d even consider taking it because we love Jason and Facedown, in general. If we did get bigger and start blowing up, I think we would want to stay on Facedown to help them.
Sometimes people don’t even respond with no, or a reason why or anything like that. They just don’t even care.
You’ve said (before) that you haven’t practiced the new record yet. Have you practiced it at all, or was it all just pumped out in those moments in the studio?
No, Elisha pumped out everything. At the time, he would be writing and would do the pre-production. He just sent me the tabs to learn the parts – there’s still stuff on the record, at this moment, I still don’t know how to play, stuff I’m still learning how to do. It’s definitely challenging because a lot of it is beyond my skill level, honestly. But it is awesome because it’s pushing me to be a better guitar player at the same time. … There’s a lot of different technique I’ve had to push myself to learn.
So were you relieved when Elisha was like. “Hey, I’ve got all of this ready to go?”
Yeah, definitely. In the past, the way that we used to write was – I don’t think Line Press is a horrible record by any means, I am still proud of it – but the time we put into writing it felt like the finished product was really only the beginning shell. I think there’s so much more we could have done with that record to make it better, but the writing process was so different.
It’s a lot easier now with Elisha. He’s a really good drummer, too, so he understands it all. It’s a lot easier for him to work with Caleb because Elisha can program what’s in his head on Guitar Pro, like, the kind of feel he wants to go for, and then Caleb runs with it and put his flare into it. But the basic idea of it is already there, so it’s not like the way we used to write, us getting together and being like, “Hey! I got this riff!” and then trying to write the drums with the riff. That writing process takes forever.
How much of the guitar stuff did you get to actually play on the new record?
I didn’t play anything. Elisha recorded every note. Except, I think, there’s literally maybe a five-second part he wrote – but he just wasn’t used to playing it and it was a song that I already knew how to play – so to save time in the studio I did one little run, but other than that, I didn’t track anything.
Was that a relief for you or were you kind of bummed out that you didn’t get to do anything for the record?
No. I mean, I’ve got no pride about that. Like I said, it was a time saver. It’s more consistent. It’s solid because he already knows the stuff and knows how it’s supposed to sound. Elisha’s just a machine, he’s a freak of nature. We had an entire month booked and we had that record done in less than two weeks. Caleb did all of his drums in one day; Elisha did all the guitars in three days, both my parts and his parts. Alex had recorded the bass in Chicago at the studio at the same time drums were being tracked, so the bass was already done. Then Elisha laid down the vocals in, like, two days. It was just stupid how fast it actually went. Josh says it definitely was the fastest we’ve ever recorded.
Was it a better recording experience than when you did Lights? Because that whole experience for you guys was kind of new since Elisha was just coming into that leadership role, and it was the first record he had ever done with you guys. So comparing this time to the record last year how was it for you guys? Was it even more of a breeze?
Oh yeah, it was way better. Working with Josh last year, we knew how we worked, and he just really easy to get along with and work with. Elisha literally nailed the first take (on most solos) – which I don’t understand – but Josh isn’t about wasting time either. Not like, “Oh let’s do another one.” It was just, “That sounds great! Let’s keep it and move on.”
What did you do? Did you even go to the studio, or did you just stay home?
Yeah I went up there, definitely, hung out and listened and helped produce different ideas for difference effects or whatever. But that’s the thing. That’s the joy of doing pre-production, too, because you can mess around before you go into the studio. For the most part, we already had (our parts) worked out, so it was just a matter of going in and retracking everything. We didn’t really spend a whole lot of time experimenting or anything like that because we already had the shell of it.
If you just knocked it out, was there any downtime? Did you have any time where you guys just hung out and played “Skyrim?”
Oh yeah. I know that Caleb and Elisha ended up getting gym memberships so they worked out the whole time they weren’t at the studio. They stayed up there, and, I like I said, it was only like three-and-a-half, four hours from my house so I kind of traveled back and forth.
What has been one or a couple of things that The Burial has come to find out about themselves in this last year, especially with Elisha taking on this role? It just seems like you are able to step down and do whatever you need to do with your personal life. What does this next year hold for The Burial?
Basically, one of the biggest things is growing spiritually. As cool as it is to be in a band, the way the industry is and in the grand scheme of things … It’s just a stupid metal band. There are hundreds of bands touring the country in the name of Christ that really don’t … There are a lot of them that don’t have an agenda for the Kingdom at all.
(For me), it was all about realizing that if it was just about being in a band and playing in a band to have fun, I would have been done years ago. All the crap that goes along with it doesn’t outweigh – it outweighs the half-hour, forty minutes that you are on stage where you actually get to perform. It’s a completely different mindset from, “Yeah, it’s cool to be in a band,” but, really, it doesn’t matter. If that’s what you’re going to do, cool, but for us, it’s trying to be the best example we can be. To be the hands and feet of Christ.
That, in and of itself, has been liberating because then the success of the band doesn’t matter as much. I mean, it matters, but not in the same sense if, say, we don’t get on some big tour or whatever. It’s not a disappointment in that sense because we just want to be wherever God wants us to be.
You were talking about the success of the band. Have there ever been talks, like, if something doesn’t happen by this time next year, or the third record that we put out on Facedown doesn’t do anything, or if nothing improves to where we’re actually able to take this stupid metal band serious … Are you guys going to call it quits, or just going to keep doing it until you all have babies and just can’t do it anymore?
(Laughs) In the past, we’ve thrown that around, but we don’t feel called by God for it to be over. I feel like there are still things we need to do for the Kingdom. It’s waiting on God for that answer, because we don’t want to do anything prematurely because, “Oh, screw it. It ain’t worth it because …” Whatever, fill in the blank.
It’s not working financially.
Right. And it never does, unless you are a huge band. In fact, that’s not even a priority, you know what I mean? If it happened, it would be cool, but we strive to break-even and it is what it is.
You guys have serious commitments at home, and you’re touring when you can. I would be frustrated, where I know that we have something special, but there’s nobody to push you to the next level – all they care about are the 16-year-old kids that are digging some really crappy band, and they’re like, “Well, that’s gonna make me money.”
Exactly. In that aspect, it is very frustrating. Like I said, as long as we are where God wants us to be and we’re content, then what more can you ask for, really? All those other things are just wishful thinking and hopes.
We definitely want to push towards and it’s what we definitely work towards, but as far as top priority, it’s about where God wants us to be.
One time, God waylaid one me. We were on tour with Hell Retreat, and we had a show canceled the day before. We were stuck in Arkansas in 110-degree weather, just dying. We drove to this little town to play some show and there were, maybe, 20 people there. It was ungodly hot. We could have been bummed about it, but it was kind of like: focus. I was thinking, “We’ve got to get on these bigger and better tours because that’s what is going to make us happy.” But really? We prayed about it, and we played it like there were a million people there. That’s the way you should always play, anyway. If you don’t care about the 20 people, you’re not going to care about the 2,000, you know what I mean?
Be faithful with a little and then you will be faithful with much.
Exactly, exactly. So we end up talking to some random kid after the show, and we baptized him. We ended up baptizing this kid in this little fountain downtown, and it was such a humbling experience. We could have been on a tour with fill-in-the-blank bigger band, For Today or something, but then we wouldn’t have been there to do that – and that is why we were there. That was a game changer for me, realizing to keep that business-side and that frustration in check. That was way bigger than us being on some huge tour, playing some arena because that wouldn’t have happened.
A lot of people know about you guys, but not a lot of people know who you guys are, so tell me one thing either about yourself or Elisha or the other guys in the band. What is some random fact or phobia or quirkiness, something you can reveal to the public?
Oh man, let’s see. Caleb talks in his sleep – crazy stuff (laughs). Like, all the time, and it’s absolutely hilarious because he never remembers any of it. The best was one night we stayed with Jason when we were in California, and we had been up late hanging out. Finally we get to bed, and we’re barely getting into a deep sleep when Caleb just starts screaming at the top of his lungs! I’m on the couch, and he’s lying next to me on the floor, and he just starts screaming bloody murder! So I jump up, and I am trying to figure out what is going on, and he’s looking at me like he’s looking through me. He’s still asleep but his eyes are open and he’s just screaming, white as a ghost, cold sweat and then all of a sudden he just goes: “I fulfilled the prophecy.” It was weird. Then, he rolls back over and goes to sleep. It was hysterical, man. Stuff like that happens all the time. We’ll be in the van sleeping in a Wal-Mart parking lot or something, and he’s freaking out about something, and it’s always a good time.
The Burial was posted on July 3, 2013 for HM Magazine and authored by Rob Houston.