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Dan Briggs from Between The Buried and Me: “It Was Important to Start Off Big.”

June 23, 2014

Text by Rick Kauffman. Image by Timothy O’Donnell.

Sweating in the back of a tour bus in the middle of summer, no AC, wearing nothing but a pair of soccer shorts and a guitar on his knee while Ozzfest carried on outside, Between the Buried and Me bassist Dan Briggs felt that he and the rest of the band simply didn’t belong.

“It was lowest low of the band in the ten years I’ve been with them,” Briggs said. “We didn’t feel like we fit in at all. We were grouped in with these bands and we really wanted to step outside.”

BTBaMTimODonnellBriggs had begun writing the tracks ‘White Walls’ and ‘Son of Nothing’ in the back of that bus, tracks that would become focal points on their breakout album Colors, released in the summer of 2007. Thrown in the mix just an album prior, Briggs, an Erie, Pa. native, felt like there just “too many cooks in the kitchen” while writing their third album Alaska.

Briggs joined the band in 2005, when the two remaining members of BTBAM, lead singer Tommy Rodgers and guitarist Paul Waggoner, were fit to be tied. After two full lengths, they were at wit’s end trying to write the third album and brought in Briggs, drummer Blake Richardson and guitarist Dustie Waring to move the writing process forward.

“We were all thrown in a room together,” Briggs said. “It was tough, it was sometimes a struggle to know where songs were going.”

But, in writing Colors, the first album written in entirety by the lineup appearing tonight at the Theatre of Living Arts in Philadelphia, would change the complexion of the progressive metal outfit, taking them from being pigeonholed in a congested genre to breaking out to new ears.

“Right after it came out, we were on tour with Dream Theater and Open,” Briggs said. “We got to do some heavy touring with Dillinger Escape Plan and Mushugga. That opened up a broader world for us to tour with bands that would have originally shied away from a band like us.”

Once the flood gates opening in the writing process from Colors, which draws influences from 70s progressive rock and fills with blues, jazz, bluegrass (yes, a banjo) and piano ballads all the while remaining true to metal roots, they started pouring all kinds of influences into the process.

“We thought, ‘let’s see what we can get away with,’” Briggs said of their 2009 album The Great Misdirect. “We were really throwing everything into the mixing bowl.”

However, on their most recent full-length, 2012’s Parallax II: Future Sequence, Briggs felt that the band “really honed in on our songwriting.”

Starting with what Briggs calls a “big, quasi-Rush inspired opening,” Parallax II was the first album that the band wrote as both vocally and conceptually continuous. The lyrics convey a story about an astronaut marooned in space, as he drifts further and further away from home he recounts all the emotions one feels as they say ‘goodbye to everything.’

“When writing something so thematic or conceptual, like when you look at ‘Darkside of the Moon’ they’re made up of five or six different themes, they take on different qualities depending on where they’re placed,” Briggs said. “It was important to start off big.”

Tonight, at the TLA on South Street, Between the Buried and Me will do it big on the final stop of their nation-wide tour. Doors open at 7:30, opening acts are Alustrium, Cognitive and Koanashi.

See here for tickets.

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