Each release Between The Buried And Me has dropped since their 2002 self-titled debut instantaneously becomes a classic! Automata I and II push Between The Buried And Me as a band further beyond any sort of musical limitations when it comes to creating another masterpiece! Fans of heavy music will be foaming from the mouth in utter joy for weeks on end upon hearing both Automata I and II, thanks to the genius riffage and storytelling within both releases. Here is another Vandala Magazine interview with Between The Buried And Me frontman Tommy Giles Rogers Jr.!
By Chad Thomas Carsten
Can you describe the exact mental rush and feelings that poured throughout your mind and body when you first play the piano and knew music was your true calling?
Tommy Giles Rogers: Well, I knew very earlier on that I was instantly drawn towards music. I mean that was the only thing that ever really excited me a whole lot. I grew up playing guitar, so piano wasn’t really anything I touched until later in life. I mean we had one around the house and I would kind of you know mess around here and there, but the second I got a guitar I just wanted to learn all of my favorite songs. And I was probably eleven years old when I really got into it, but I was into music you know, and when I eight I saw my first show that was Bon Jovi and Skid Row and I just knew I wanted to play music. And once I started learning how to play guitar I instantly knew that I like creating music, and at a very early age kind of started writing quote-unquote songs or parts and I didn’t know what I was doing at all.
And I guess since then it’s just been a learning process. And yea I have always just been so drawn to it and it’s one of the most important things in my life still for obvious reasons. And you know I still really enjoy listening to music it’s very important in my day-to-day life.
If Between the Buried and Me had a chance to do a full length EP with David Gilmour of Pink Floyd; what would the EP’s subject matter focus on?
Tommy Giles Rogers: I have no idea. I would probably interview him and that would be the beginning and you know what does he want to get across? You know he is an old man. I guess I would leave it in his hands and maybe I would try to tell the things that he’s learned or things he has experienced through my words or something. I don’t know? That would be crazy!
How did modern society influence the title for Automata I and II?
Tommy Giles Rogers: I mean it’s got a big influence on it. I mean I think each album is kind of a time capsule, you know to represent our lives as a band and you know our lives as human beings. And you know I kind of have always written lyrics that are kind of just me sitting back and analyzing society and the oddities that exist because of how we live. You know the title Automata just really fit the story really well and we like titles that don’t really give it all away. You kinda have to Google it, or look into what the words mean to understand how it relates to the story, and this was a title that definitely did that.
Can you break down the differences between Automata I and II in terms of production and riffage?
Tommy Giles Rogers: Well there are different riffs.
Nah, seriously. I mean we wrote it as one piece. We wrote the album and record the album as one album. Later we decided to release into two parts. So production wise it’s all very similar. I feel like each part kind of has a different vibe. I would say number two is a little more adventurous maybe even, (and I hate to use the word “progressive”) but yea. It’s a nice little shift in pace and I really like the fact that number one holds its own and number two hold its own and they work really well together. So yea I’m excited for people to hear it!
When first writing Automata I and II what did you hope to accomplish with both releases?
Tommy Giles Rogers: Well, I mean we just approach it like we do all our albums. You know you want it to be the best representation of you at that moment and you want to write the best album that you can, you know. So that’s what we do. And you know you don’t want to think too much about it and you don’t want to plan too much, you just want to write what naturally comes to you and really represent you in that moment and be as genuine and as honest and creative as you can. So I would say that is what we always want to accomplish with all of our albums and I think that we definitely did that with this.
How are Automata I and II keeping the metal genre alive?
Tommy Giles Rogers: I don’t know. I mean I guess that’s not really for us to decide, but you know from day one we have always been a band that wants to you know create heavy music that doesn’t have boundaries, you know. And that we have complete freedom with as far as what we want to do and you know we have kind of shown the world that.
I think that’s what made metal interesting and its made it a very important type of music, because you can incorporate all of these different moods. It’s a very emotional form of music you know and I hope that we are a part of you know a little chunk of that. That’s meaningful to people.
Precisely where did you spend most of your time writing the lyrics for Automata I and II?
Tommy Giles Rogers: I would say that I wrote a lot of it in my car down the street from my house, and then there is a beautiful park; a kind of a hiking area across the street from where I live, and there’s a bench that sits in the middle of the woods that kind of looks over a really pretty valley. And yea! I wrote most of the album there.
If you had to pick a specific pasta food dish to describe the guitar solos within Automata I and II; what would it be and why?
Tommy Giles Rogers: I would say thick spaghetti because you know there is a lot of noodles and there is a lot of notes but it’s not too many. Its not Angel Hair. Or it’s not, you know, the void of noodling. So it’s not a thick noodle, it’s kind of in between.
Which track from both Automata I and II challenge you the most vocally and how did you overcome these challenges?
Tommy Giles Rogers: Now that’s tough. I mean I think every album you know when I first started writing music I am like, “how the hell I am I going to write vocals to this?!” I don’t know. I guess it’s a song on Automata II. It’s called “Voice of Trespass” and it’s a very different song for us, and I just wanted to – it has quirky moments in it and the problem with quirky is finding that balance of tastefulness and you know character, you don’t want it to be cheesy, but you want it to be exciting. So it’s one of those things that you have to just kind of go with your gut and go for it.
Which song from both Automata I and II related to you the most personally and why?
Tommy Giles Rogers: I would say the last song on Automata II just because at that point that album took kind of a direction lyrically and musically, it’s right after Chris Cornell died and there was some moments that kind of sink up really eerily and because of that it was a very moving kind of moment for me personally. And it’s one of those goose-bump moments which are few and far between. So yes, definitely the end and the song is called “The Grid”.
Can you dive into deeper detail behind “The Grid”?
Tommy Giles Rogers: I would say it’s the audience perspective. I think as an audience we kind of have a lot of/ you know we are part of the outcome to a lot of situations. And our character was in a very bad situation and you know the audience kind of looked at it like we’re part of this as well, you know at the end of the day we are all in this together.
And you know I think I just wanted to open up the conversation that there is a lot of sadness within people that you couldn’t imagine sadness being a part of their lives, and that it’s okay for people to be able to talk about things. It was kind of the track where society kind of realizes that you know, we are all just part of the same thing. We’re just trying to get by.
If “Gold Distance” had lyrics what would you want them to say?
Tommy Giles Rogers: Well, for me it’s all about a title about gold distance because it was a talk, talking about like the future being bright, which is what our own protagonist was, in his mind at that point was kind of like the future is ahead of him and he’s got it in his hands. And the reason why I call it “Gold Distance” was because I was on a road trip. Actually me and my son. Night Time driving and pulling in to Albuquerque New Mexico. And it was pitch black and in the distance there was light. And my son was like, “Why is there gold in the distance?” So that instantly you know kind of stuck in my mind and I wrote it down on a notepad. It seemed perfect for that song.
Are you able to dissect the music video for “Millions” behind writing its theme and is there a deeper meaning hidden within the lyrical content and visuals?
Tommy Giles Rogers: Well the song is pretty simple. It’s honestly just a boy dealing with lost and I never really explain who the boy is or what he is dealing with. In my notes I even had it as a teddy bear or a toy. I just feel like the song I wanted to get in the mind of a child and deal with something that is very detrimental to them but might not be to an adult. Figuring out video content we knew we needed a little more. So we chose to kind of use the video for “Millions” as a way to sort of be a theme for the whole album. So the video kind of represents the entire story and you know a lot of different moments in the story, but the actual lyrics don’t really involve much more than this child in his backyard expressing loss.
How satisfied are you with the final outcome behind recording Automata I and II? Any final thoughts regarding both releases?
Tommy Giles Rogers JR.: I am very satisfied! You know after all of these years I still feel very motivated by our music. It was a joy to write. I really think we are still being genuine and honest with what we do and still being very creative in regards to working with each other and the songs that we write. I’m really happy to still be doing this and I am very proud of this record, and I think that it’s one that I am going to look back on and be very proud of years from now.
Any advice that you would like to share to musicians hitting the road to tour for the first time?
Tommy Giles Rogers: Well the first time it’s probably going to be hell. Nobody’s going to be at your shows and you’re not going to make any money. I don’t know. If you really want to do this that’s what you have to do and it’s very different now than it was when I started. When I started it was not even a notion of making money. I mean there weren’t bands that made a living from playing music you know in our world. So we literally did it because we loved being on stage regardless if there was a hundred people there or ten people there.
And I mean I think when you are young roughing it and going through all of that it’s awesome you know it’s a part of it, and it’s you know you are with your buds and you are in a shitty van that breaks down and you are dealing with all of these things but you learned so much about yourself and about your friends and music, and you know hopefully you grow from that and it kind of pushes you in what direction you are supposed to go to if it’s music or not, you know I think that it’s a good learning experience for anyone.
What do you hope to accomplish as a musician in the next ten years?
Tommy Giles Rogers: I have no idea. I don’t know. I mean I love writing music and I hope to continue to do that. I like working with new people and hopefully, I will keep writing new things with different people. And Between the Buried and Me and doing solo stuff still, and yea I don’t know. I will just keep trucking and hopefully, I will continue to be inspired and people will still want to listen. Thank you for the interview and I have to go and play at a show pretty soon. Thanks, bye.