Every Time I Die

Keith Buckley Says The Trump Administration & “Universal Uncertainty” Inspired The Lyrics For Every Time I Die’s New Album


The lyrical inspiration for Every Time I Die‘s 2016 album “Low Teens” came from an inherently personal place, with frontman Keith Buckley having been plunged into chaos by his wife’s then serious medical emergency and the resulting premature birth of his daughter.

For that album’s upcoming follow-up, Buckley instead looked a bit more outward. Speaking recently to Altpress, Buckley spoke about the sessions for their new record, which wrapped earlier this year with producer Will Putney (Body Count, Thy Art Is Murder) once again behind the boards.

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When quizzed what ‘the single greatest force’ of inspiration for the lyrics on this new album were, Buckley replied:

“The Trump administration coming into power. And I know some people prefer to keep politics out of music, but in one way or another, politics inform everything we value. It’s not a cat you can put outside for the day.

Its arms reach into art, music, literature, our careers, our neighborhoods, our family structures, our access to essential goods and services, everything.

But OK, let’s pretend it is possible to set aside the political implications of the current Trump administration. Take away all policy-making ability and media coverage. What you have now is a demographic of human Americans forging an identity from the absolute worst and most dangerous resources they possess because they saw one evil man’s rise as validation of the idea that “evil” can take what “good” cannot earn.

To people rightfully tired of being shit on by those in charge—bosses, wives, husbands, “the coastal elite,” whatever—the idea of a sudden and newly “acceptable” power grab seemed too good to be true.

So they built an identity around their darkest parts, the ones they’ve had to repress as part of our social contract but no longer need to. I imagine it felt like taking your bra off after a long day of work.

With this now in play, the game is on as to who can be the worst in the shortest amount of time, which is why the internet blossomed like a corpse plant. Innumerable grifters raced to the bottom by pandering to hate, jealousy, bitterness, fear and confusion through self-destructive contrarianism.

Intentionally duplicitous bullies operating in abject bad faith who use not instinct or courage to guide them through their lonely, miserable lives but the outrage they revel in when they conflate “bravery” with “shamelessness” and “the righteous anger of the marginalized” with “arbitrary violence” because they delight in pain and cruelty and cannot even comprehend how empathy functions.

You don’t need to hang out in political circles or listen to political podcasts to know that supporting the Trump administration is a question of human decency, of morality. Seeing how such brazen stupidity and heartlessness affects people who just want to follow their own bliss and love whoever they want to love and provide a better life for their families, it disgusts and angers me.

But I’m not so blinded by that anger that I can’t recognize a symptom of helplessness when I see it. This spoiled, delusional preteen of a country has failed the people it was supposed to protect and made us feel so worthless that there are actually those of us who don’t believe that we deserve things like Medicare For All. And even if they do, it’s not enough to have. Others must have not.

The short version: I didn’t think I’d ever be able to write better or more charged lyrics than what I wrote for Low Teens, but that record was about personal uncertainty. This one is about universal uncertainty.”

Earlier in the chat when speaking about the impact U.S. President Donald Trump and his original election had on him, Buckley stated :

“…I realized that being on tour every night meant I also had the ability to control something much more important—the mood of the room we were in. It was a safe assumption that if people were at an Every Time I Die show, they were there because of a shared moral—and to some extent, political—ideology.

If they were in the hardcore scene at all, chances are good that they recognize injustice, corruption and egregious exploitation of life when they see it. Speaking for myself, the scene I’ve been involved with for over half of my life prepared me for times exactly like this. [It] taught me how important it was to stand up and speak out on behalf of others that could not.

Protesting fur, boycotting companies that tested on animals, being distrustful of cops and aware of how police brutality affected the poor, donating to Food Not Bombs, physically fighting fascists, racists, misogynists and homophobes, these were all lessons I internalized at 14 years old.

So when Trump, who is the personification of every corrupt ideology poured into one disgusting suit of loose skin, was victorious, I knew that our shows had the potential to empower a lot of people who may have suddenly begun feeling powerless.

Getting in a room full of peers sharing an experience of live music, looking out for each other, laughing, drinking, dancing, organizing, it felt more like a community than it ever had, and instantly, involuntarily, and even though temporarily, we were taking power back.

Since then, “the scene” and all its inherent good has only become more essential. It has proven itself as a light in the darkness. It is a tireless army of revolutionaries, and if it found a way to run the world, the world would be an infinitely better place.

Of course, there are a few anomalies who insist that supporting Trump and being a part of the hardcore scene are not mutually exclusive, but all that does is prove to me [that] they were never really a part of it in the first place.”

You can find more from Buckley on the album, his thoughts on the pandemic and more over at Altpress.

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