Interview: Daniel Winter-Bates (Bury Tomorrow)

By Jess Tagliani

Bury Tomorrow have been storming the metalcore world of late. After their staggering success with ‘Runes’, the Southampton quintet replicated that winning formula of heavy riffs and brutal breakdowns in the form of their latest album, ‘Earthbound’, which went straight into the Top 40.

As if that wasn’t good enough news, they’ll be dominating the European festival scene this coming year, and are coming back to Download once again. We sat down with frontman Daniel Winter-Bates before they took to the stage to support Parkway Drive.

How excited are you for this UK run with Parkway Drive and Thy Art Is Murder?

As a whole, I’m very, very excited! I’m also pretty nervous because we are playing a lot of new songs. But after this show, which is the big one, I’ll get into it. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking and I don’t think we’re getting a sound-check today. It’ll be a baptism of fire! [Laughs] I’m really stoked. They’re a band we should have toured with a long time ago, style-wise and attitude-wise, so it should be really fun.

So, congratulations on ‘Earthbound’ hitting the Top 40! What was the initial reaction like when you received that news?

It’s kind of weird. After ‘Runes’, we were looking at the numbers and you almost expect it, but then you come back from yourself and think, “Wait a minute, I shouldn’t expect this ‘cause this is crazy!”

But it’s sweet, it’s absolutely great! This album’s done double what ‘Runes’ did sales-wise – that speaks in volumes about what’s going on with the fan-base, and you can only base yourself on how big you are when you either play headline shows or sell records. We’ve done one of those things and it’s been great. The response has been absolutely insane.

You wrote ‘Earthbound’ in six weeks whilst touring, whilst you wrote your last album over the space of eight months. How did that difference in time affect your writing? And do you feel that there’s a difference in your writing when you’re on the road, as opposed to when you’re at home/in the studio?

I think we focused on trimming the fat of the music. This record is a lot more concise, it’s very much individual tracks put together. It adds to the feel of it as we wanted this album to come across with a live feel. We didn’t want any gimmicks, we wanted it to show how comfortable we are with our sound now and how we want to portray ourselves as a band.

Writing on the road did get challenging in some places: lack of room was a problem, so it was a bit difficult. But I think it helped us, it helped give the album the sound that it needed. It was fun, it was a new experience, and it’s very rare to have new experiences when you’ve been in a band as long as we have.

When we were recording the album, also on the road, we were doing it around the time we were performing some intimate shows: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday in the studio and then Thursday, Friday, and Saturday playing the shows, and we did that for five weeks while recording. I’d finish my vocals on the Saturday night and then be in the studio the next day to record for the album.

Caleb Shomo of Beartooth produced this album. What was the working relationship like? 

I’ve known Caleb for years! We did a tour over in America with his old band, Attack Attack!, and me and him got on like brothers, and we’re just really good friends. He’s a great dude, he’s a very, very talented human being. The guy’s produced many, many records and he gets our sound.

Like with Beartooth, he understands the balance between heaviness and commerciality, and mixing those together without sounding over-produced – that’s what drew us to working with him. He was supposed to be working on the record that was meant to happen before ‘The Union Of Crowns’, so it was already on the table and it just seemed perfect to send him the tracks after the Kerrang! Tour last year.

Then we saw those guys at Slam Dunk, which worked out because we were writing the record during the K! Tour, then we recorded it, and by the time Slam Dunk came round, he had it mixed and mastered. It was a really, really quick timeframe.

Albums are an evolution of the band and the band’s sound. How has the sound of ‘Earthbound’ evolved from ‘Runes’? 

It’s almost like the attitudes have evolved, rather than us trying to be anything else. I think that every album before has been trying to prove something – our first album was proving that a 17 year-old lead singer and 19, 20 year-olds could actually compete with metalcore and be relevant in the music scene, which is ‘Portraits’.

Then ‘The Union Of Crowns’ was such a long time afterwards, we didn’t think we were going to be a band in 2011, and that was over two and half years between ‘Portraits’ and ‘The Union Of Crowns’. That album was like another proving point, as it was a case of, “We’ve come back and we’ve got a relevant sound.”

Then we parted ways with Mehdi [Vismara], our old guitarist, and then Kristan Dawson came in on ‘Runes’. That was another proving point: “We’re going to write a long record of 14 tracks just to show off how great a guitarist he is and to show the fans that we haven’t lost that.”

But this album…this is the first one we’ve had where we’ve had the same line-up, there’s been no hardship that’s stopped us writing this, this is the perfect album to show what we are. We scrapped all intros, all interludes, all acoustic tracks, all outros. We just wanted it to be a brutal onslaught of what we feel what Bury Tomorrow is. We wanted ten tracks of us, so that’s what we did.

You had a rocky time a few years ago, so how does it feel to have come out the other side and released your fourth album? 

When you realise that you have four albums, that’s the crazy thing. I look at them at home, in their various different versions of them, and it’s a big achievement for us. We continue to grow and sell more records, which is what you always want to do as a band. You want to grow, sell records and play bigger venues.

I don’t overly think about the stuff that’s happened because I feel that, without that, we wouldn’t have written ‘The Union Of Crowns’. We wrote it with a very forthright view behind it, as it was very much a case of “We’re back, this is us”. We wouldn’t have written that if everything was fine and if we’d written it in America, which would have meant that we would have probably had an ‘American’ sound. But the fact that we’ve come out the other side and released four albums is crazy, and we’re now thinking about album number five.

You’re going to be playing alongside metal heavyweights Killswitch Engage this coming June. How does it feel to be supporting a band that’s been a big influence on the band?

They inspired our band, the forged what was the early building blocks of our band, and it’s great! We’re getting to the point where those kind of thrills are starting to go away, because we have to play with bands like that, they’re the biggest bands in our genre. There’s no other people we can support outside of that. We’re a band that’s doing fairly well, we’re a band that’s growing a career, so we’re going to be playing with bands like that.

You were on the Kerrang! tour this time last year with a really varied line-up. You were on the bill alongside Beartooth, Don Broco, and We Are the In Crowd. Did you feel that you had to step up your game as you were playing to such a varied crowd? 

In a way, I think that tour was easier for us as those people who don’t like heavy music are so shocked by what you do. I also like meeting people when we’re out on tours. I hate VIP Meet and Greets, I hate all of that rubbish, so I put myself out when I’m on stage because I’m appreciative of the people who are stood in the room, whether it’s 1, 2000, 10,000, it doesn’t matter.

If anyone’s giving me the respect to stand there, whether they’re on their phone or jumping around and going crazy, you’re still in the room, you’re still into it, and I want to meet those people. That helped us out by breaking down that barrier between heavy metal music and this stigma that some people still have around metal music.

A lot of people still seem to have this idea that metal music is full of big, bearded men with Dimebag Darrell tattoos and cut-off jeans. But we’re not like that! We’re guys who look like they could be in bands like Young Guns.  We’ve brought ourselves up to be fashionable guys and I think that does help, in a way. But yeah, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. We’ve played metal shows that are more suited to us and our sound that have been harder.

And finally, what are Bury Tomorrow’s plans for the rest of 2016? 

Touring! We’re doing a load of shows. We’ll be going out on Impericon, which will be a huge European tour for us and we’ll be supporting Hatebreed, which will be amazing as Jamey [Jasta] is on the album, so we’ll be meeting up again with him.

Then we’ve got Progression Tour in Europe, which we’ll be headlining, and we’ve announced Download. We’ll probably be capping it off with a massive tour at the end of the year, which I can’t say anything about. But yeah, we’re doing a lot – we’ve pretty much got a year locked up to promote this album.

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