Interview: Buddy Nielsen (Senses Fail)

By Chris Marshman

Senses Fail have been touring the UK before their appearance at Slam Dunk this weekend. Chris Marshman grabbed frontman Buddy Nielsen for a quick chat in Cardiff.

Hey Buddy, hows the tour going?
Really good honestly. It’s been good, people who are coming seem to be very excited so I can’t complain.

Has there been any stand out shows so far?
Yeah, I mean they’ve all been pretty small, it’s sort of just about people being excited about the band y’know?

I think the last time I saw you over in the UK was on the Taste Of Chaos arena tour…
Yeah! We’ve come back twice since then. We’re not as big as we used to be, I think at one point we were fairly well known here y’know? I do feel like people tend to grow out of music here differently than other places, like people in Europe never grow out of what they like, they never stop! In America there are a lot of people that do but because the scene is so big and there’s so many people it’s not as drastic as over here where younger people get into something then they grow up and stop listening to it, that doesn’t really happen in Europe and it kind of happens in the US but I feel like it happens on a larger scale like once people get into their later twenties they don’t go to club shows as much, they’ll like go to a bigger deal show like to Festivals, you know what I mean?

Yeah I get that
Yeah, it’s just different because I’ll meet people who recognise the band but aren’t really coming to the show, I think bands who have fans who are young, all of them will go the show. In Europe if they like the band they’ll go to their shows until they die and in America some people won’t and some people will and in the UK I feel that only a smaller amount of people will follow a band through their entire career.

So, your new album, Renacer, it represents a different sound for you guys, does it feel better to play it live for you guys?
Oh yeah, it doesn’t feel like we have to play up to something now because the last couple of records felt like we were doing something to chase old success and with this one it wasn’t the case, so it feels more fun to play the songs.

And how are the audiences reacting to the newer material?

It depends, it’s pretty hit or miss. Some people like it, some people don’t, some people wanna hear old shit. It’s sort of like the bands only going to go in this direction, so we’ll see what people decide. It’s gonna take a minute but I think in five years from now people will recognise the band more as a heavy band and just sort of be like ‘wow, I didn’t even know they had all this old stuff’

What song on the album do you think defines the new sound?
I would say ‘Closure/Rebirth’ it’s not one that people really dig the most but it’s definitely a mix of the hardcore elements mixed with the Deftones/Poison The Well type stuff we’re gonna do where there’s no real song structure and there’s not necessarily an overt chorus and the song is more about a mood than it is about structure.

So the change in sound, is that something you think the band needed to keep things fresh for the band?
Yeah absolutely.

I’ve had a look at the setlists and you’ve got a pretty big mix of all your music, resulting in a pretty big setlist do you think it’s important to give fans value for their money?
Yeah, I like to play for an 1 hr 20 until it gets to the point where people are like ‘Ok…’

Then you hit them with that massive 4 song ending
Yeah! Where it’s like three of the bigger songs we have and it’s a good way to end. Yeah I like to play that long too, we’ve been a band long enough so we should be able to play a long set that’s cohesive, so yeah it’s good.

Are you hoping to gain some newer fans from the younger support bands you’re taking out with you?
I dunno, not really. I think we’re more just relying on word of mouth more than anything and hope that gets people to check us out.

Senses Fail is 11 years old now, what keeps you going with it?
I just like playing music. I don’t really make a living doing it. I have another job so any money I make from it is just extra money. So it’s not really the main thing in my life, it’s more because I like playing.

So what’s changed for you since you started the band?
Well now it’s just more like a hobby, than it is a job or a source of income. That’s one of the big things. It allows me not to care so much about success or what people think. It doesn’t really matter to me at this point because I do it because I like doing it and I don’t need to do it support yourself, and when you do it to support yourself I feel like you have to try and keep people happy.

Yeah, that’s something I wanted to touch on, bands who do try a new thing and then it doesn’t work out and return back to their older sound
Yeah it doesn’t really work out usually, if you change your sound you kinda go with it because when you try to go back it doesn’t work.

There’s a lot of reunion shows that have been announced recently. Whereas Senses Fail has stayed as a band.
Yeah, I dunno. I guess it’s fine y’know? People do it to make money and that’s why they’re doing it, so they can make money and it’s fun. They come back, they make a bunch of money and they play shows. I dunno, might as well not even break up. Just stop for a bit y’know? but it’s much more impactual to be like, ‘we’re breaking up’ and then you come back. It’s not as exciting when you just don’t do anything for three years.

Yeah I think that’s something I’ve always respected about Senses Fail is just the fact you’ve always stayed as a band, even through the harder times.
Yeah, I don’t know if we’d ever call it quits, I mean there’s no real reason too, we’d probably just not do anything for a little bit.

In a perfect world who would you like to see play a show again?

I’d like to see Jaw Breaker, yeah. They’d be one of the only bands I’d really be excited about playing shows together.

Cool. and what do Senses Fail have coming up?
We’ve got a couple tours we’re about to announce. Some international stuff and a US tour and then that’s about it. Probably start writing another record again.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]