Since the 2007 release of its fourth album, Colors, North Carolina’s Between the Buried and Me (BTBAM) have toured relentlessly, blowing metal fans away with its exciting and challenging contribution to the Progressive Metalcore genre. As part of a highly adventurous quintet that mixes epic elements of Pink Floyd and King Crimson with the thunder of modern heavyweights like Tool and Mastodon, drummer Blake Richardson is determined to bring the groove back to extreme metal drumming.
As Richardson explains, “Will (Goodyear), the band’s first drummer, was very groove oriented. Mark (Castillo, who replaced Will) was a powerhouse who played a lot of blast beats and double bass. When I joined I wanted to tone it down a bit. There are some blasts on Colors, but I tried to compliment the riffs. If that required just straight grooving on the track, then that’s what I did. I didn’t say, ‘Okay, this needs to be as fast – and have as much double bass – as possible.’ Blasting wasn’t really a big issue for me on Colors.”
“I’ve been into death metal as far back as I can remember,” the drummer continues. “So I’ll do the occasional blast, but grooving is where it’s at for me right now. It’s kind of a shame to see players relying so much on speed and blast beats, because many kids just learning drums will get their first kit, and all they do is practice double bass and blasting. When they’re asked to play a Latin beat or groove, they have no idea what you’re talking about.” Between the Buried and Me releases its first Live Concert DVD, also entitled Colors, in late summer 2008.
Metal Edge: Who are your primary drumming influences and how do aspects of those players’ styles show up in your own playing?
Blake Richardson: The first clinic I ever went to was Terry Bozzio and that totally changed my whole outlook. As soon as I saw him play I knew that this was what I wanted to do. Dennis Chambers is also up there. I really like how he keeps it controlled, but when he wants to he can definitely release the energy. That’s what I try to do, because our music is very controlled but you also want to let the lion out of the cage whenever possible (laughs). Matt Cameron of Soundgarden is one of those players whose influence crept up on me. He’s all about the toms and it’s almost like he tries to avoid using his cymbals as much as possible. Matt’s playing inspires my tribal feels.
Metal Edge: Speaking of Tribal drum feels, the tom parts that you play at the end of “Informal Gluttony” are just insane. How did those develop?
Blake Richardson: Tommy (Rogers, vocalist) and me are big suckers for percussion. We were like, man, we’ve got to add some sort of tribal part on the record, because it’s a very percussive record to begin with. Creating that part at the end of “Informal Gluttony” just fit when we were together writing all of the songs. That song also leads into “Sun of Nothing” and when we needed a way to bridge the two songs together, it just came to us; we had the idea of doing a percussion part and it matched up tempo-wise and everything. It really worked out great.
Metal Edge: I’ve read some BTBAM fan forums where drummers discussed having issues with your snare sounding too muffled or not resonant enough. How do you address those kinds of concerns?
Blake Richardson: In the studio we just have to go for what sounds best be with the music. When we tuned the snares in the studio this time we went a little higher and with a bit more of a dry sound. Therefore it probably doesn’t have as much ring. I keep the drumhead tight and the snare wires pretty loose, just so they’re as responsive as possible. It’s definitely a bit more of a processed sound but I dig it.
Metal Edge: Are you using any electronics or triggers?
Blake Richardson: I used triggers for Ozzfest, because it was an outdoor gig and triggering was almost necessary, because it cuts through way better than regularly mic’d kicks. But since then I haven’t used them. We all have an in-ear [monitor] system and I just use this little cowbell sound sample that I have triggered in time with the record. That’s my click and whenever I’m not playing, but I still need to keep time, I’ll just hit that pad. Other than that, our shit’s all raw (laughs)!
Drums: Tama Superstar
Sizes: (2) 20-inch Bass drums, 10”, 12” and 13” Rack Toms and 16” Floor Tom, 14”x6” Snare.
This article was originally written for Metal Edge Magazine as part of a monthly column by Gail Worley (under the pen name Jayne Rollins). With the magazines’ dissolution, the article has been added to the content base of The Worley Gig for our readers’ enjoyment.