Progressive metal is one hell of a genre. Adding the idea of a "concept record" into the progressive world can produce rather electrifying results. Between The Buried and Me have taken it upon themselves to create this mix with the release of Coma Ecliptic, their most recent effort. Shortly before embarking on their U.S. winter headlining tour, I spoke with bassist Dan Briggs about the band's sound, the process for coming up with the story surrounding Coma Ecliptic, and more.
I wanted to speak with you a little bit about Coma Ecliptic. In your opinion, what would you say were some of the biggest writing differences in comparison to The Parallax series of albums?
I guess, for me personally, I was writing more on piano and keyboards, and acoustic guitar. A song like “Memory Palace” was something that started on the acoustic guitar. It forces you, even without consciously trying to do it, to write differently. We were conscious of writing with the melody being more in focus. When you’re writing on keyboard or acoustic guitar, that’s naturally going to happen, you know? You’re not going to write super brutal shit on those instruments.
Who originally came up with the idea to turn it into a concept album? Who crafted the story?
Well, we’ve done a couple of concept records before. One was musically conceptual. I guess The Parallax records had the story to go along with it. I didn’t think we had even really honestly talked about it. We just started writing music. The thought was just out there. It’s just what feels most natural for us to do. I think it’s just really fun to write a record that way. It’s not so much a random collection of songs. Everything is attached and connected musically: the lyrics, the music, the artwork, the concepts for the video, everything is tied into this story.
The story itself came after we had probably had, I would say, about a third of the record written. Tommy was bouncing around a couple of concept ideas, and we thought the one about the guy in the coma was really cool. Especially that it would be able to adapt itself to the different feelings that the songs had. He talked about this guy traversing all of these different, weird worlds, and how he would be able to come into contact with all of these different characters. We allowed Tommy to be able to voice those characters, whether it was male, female, cannibal (laughs), you know? He does a lot of different voices on the album, and that was a big thing. We were excited to be more theatrical with it.
It was almost like listening to a movie, if that makes sense.
Yeah, definitely! I know that Tommy writes his lyrics with a lot of visuals in mind. For us, we’re just in music-land, you know? We’re definitely excited about what he was writing. It applied really well to what we were writing, so it was great!
What kind of message, if any, would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
I think that the common tie with our band and our career is that we always try to push and move forward. We’re always looking at new territory and new things that we can do. We’re never content and constantly moving forward. The idea of being a progressive band is near and dear to our whole existence and everything we’re trying to do. I would hope that everyone would hear that in our music.
What does music mean to you?
(laughs) It’s been in my life since I was born. My mom was a music teacher, my dad played some piano, and he was definitely a music freak. A lot of stuff that I got into was stuff that he was into, groups from the 70s and stuff like that. To me, it’s everything. It’s the only thing that I’ve been totally obsessed with since I was a kid except for baseball, I guess. I don’t what I would do without it in my life. It’s both my creative outlet and my fun hobby, but also the thing that I work very, very seriously on, and devoted a lot of my life and time to. It’s just everything. Hard to sum up.
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