PropertyOfZack had the chance to interview Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail a few weeks ago for a great interview. The band will be releasing Renacer on March 26th, and Buddy and I discussed the change in sound on the album, staying relevant in a fast-paced scene, touring decisions, and much more. Check it all out below!
I think the record is going to be interesting to fans upon first listen. It’s a lot harder than previous Senses Fail records. I’d like to talk about what went into that happening in the first place. You guys went with a different producer than the first time and there are a lot of differences with this record.
Yeah, I mean everything was purposefully done different. It was an approach that we didn’t want it to sound like or be anything like anything we’ve done. That it was sort of unique. That was sort of the approach; the immediate approach. The fact that it does sound different and that everything’s different was all done intentionally and that was at the onset of the writing process; even before then, really.
Was The Fire positively received from fans?
I don’t know. I can’t tell. I used think that people didn’t like Life is Not a Waiting Room, but now since it’s dead for however many years, what four…? Five? Six? Whatever, however many, people are right now starting to come around to that record. So I don’t know. I think the older a record gets the more people that maybe initially didn’t like it; they tend to grow towards it. The Fire was one of our more lackluster, as far as critically acclaimed (none of our records have really been critically acclaimed). It wasn’t great. There were a lot of people that it just didn’t do it for them.
Was part of going into the writing process for this record a reaction to that?
Yeah, well I mean it’s just… it’s different. Here’s the thing, our main songwriter left the band. The guy, who sort of wrote all of the songs, left the band. So basically, it was never going to be the same band, but to try to make it the same band would have been stupid. So we made a conscious decision, “What direction do we want to go in?” And I sort of wanted to go in a heavier… I wanted to go in this direction. You know? And I want to keep going in this direction. This is not what Senses Fail was, but for better or for worse, this is what it is moving forward. I’d rather play this style of music, I’d rather play stuff that’s upbeat, that’s heavier, less about a melodic chorus and more about the song structure; more about the movement of the parts than the hook. I’m not a huge fan of poppy. A lot of people tend to think that the pinnacle of musicianship is writing that pop-punk and I’m the opposite. I don’t think that’s the end all, be all. I mean The Beatles too… I don’t aspire to the be The Beatles. A lot of pop singers and pop bands, that would be their go-to, Beach Boys or The Beatles. “Those are the people that I wish I could tend to…” But that’s not us and that’s not me. I want to go the opposite direction. I want to explore things that are a little bit darker and a little bit heavier. Not that we’re breaking new ground on this record, but for me personally, it’s something that I’ve never been able to explore.
So Garrett left and Matt came in. Was that a scary moment for you?
You know, when Garrett told me that he was going to quit, one of the first things I thought was, and I’m not saying that this was the right reaction, but I was like “Well, that’s good because we need to change our sound. We need to switch things up. Because what’s going on right now…” It just seemed like the band was fading. The sound of music that we played had become, I don’t want to say extinct, but it’s on to something different. We were just trying to recreate what we had done previously. I don’t think we would have been able to go a different direction with Garrett. I think he’d want to go in more of a pop direction. That’s just not what I would be interested in doing. So it’s kind of a blessing and a curse. I guess a little bit scary, but then again, I knew that Dan and I knew how to write songs. The fact that we don’t play guitar doesn’t mean that we don’t know how to craft a song. Or how to explain to somebody with guitar, “Hey, try this.” Or “Why don’t we try this?”
Your crowd throughout Warped Tour was strong. Not surprisingly strong; because nobody thought you would do poorly, but it did feel like there was a lot of sudden interest in maybe a surprising way. Did you feel the same?
I feel like it was a nostalgic thing. And I don’t want people to be nostalgic about this band yet. Because I know that we have a lot still in front of us. Warped Tour was pretty unexpected for me. I wasn’t expecting us to have as big of a reaction. That made me want to be like, “Well if all of these people seem to be interested in the band, then we really need to come with something strong.” Something that’s well written; something that’s different that at least get’s people’s attention to check it out.
So getting into the record some more, you guys recorded at the end of last year with Shaun Lopez, a different producer than you guys have used before. What was it like going out to California instead of Baltimore?
Yeah. We didn’t want to be comfortable. We felt like maybe if we had been with McTernan, that he would have just kind of fallen back into some of our old habits of writing this kind of music or Brian may have been like “I don’t know if you guys should make that change.” So we were just like, “Let’s just take that out of his hands. Let’s just make it uncomfortable. Let’s make it so that we have to just show up with exactly what we want to do.” Because that’s the thing, when you work with a different producer you have no idea what he’s going to bring to the table. So the best idea is to show up as prepared as possible so that you aren’t relying on the producer to sort of tighten anything up or put in anything… you know what I mean. When you’re working with someone you’ve never worked with before, you need to come prepared. We know we’re prepared and we overly thought out exactly what we wanted to do with the record. I don’t think we would have done that if we had gone with Brian. We would have been a little bit more comfortable.