As they release a stunning new single in 'Death By Water', we catch up Buddy and out exactly what is fuelling Senses Fail in 2021.
Senses Fail are back!
The band have just dropped their first brand new music since 2018's 'If There Is Light, It Will Find You' in the form of 'Death By Water'. An atmospheric and darkly catchy slice of poetic post-hardcore brilliance, that also features a guttural appearance from Ice Nine Kills' Spencer Charnas, it finds the band continuing to explore what they are capable of in 2021 and beyond.
To find out a bit more about how the song came to be and how we have reached this point in their journey, we had a little catch up with vocalist Buddy Nielsen...
Where exactly in the process of putting together this new era of Senses Fail did this song come in?
"Somewhere in the middle. It helped define what the heavier side of our sound [right now] would be like. I was searching for where to take things after not really doing anything heavy on 'If There Is Light...' and coming off of a really heavy release in [2015's] 'Pull The Thorns From Your Heart'."
What does it represent, and how did the vision of what you wanted to be writing about come to life?
"It represents my interpretation of the Death By Water stanza in T.S. Elliot’s The Waste Land. For me, the song's story is about entering the underworld through water and cleansing oneself of grief. Through the visual that came to me from The Waste Land, I wanted to build my own version of the wasteland for my narrative. This song takes place after 'Still Searching', where I commit suicide at the album's end, specifically where I enter the underworld after passing on."
What was it about Spencer that felt right for this song?
"He’s just got such a cool voice, and the screaming part was perfect for him to show both sides of it."
Visually, especially in the context of this video, what does Senses Fail in 2021 feel like to you?
"I feel like I want to bring back some more of the UK post-punk look of Joy Division and New Order. Very dark and very goth. All the imagery is centred around natural decay and the various forces that cause decay and, of course, in doing so, bring re-birth. So I wanted the visual to represent what grief and death are from a natural and human perspective. We make altars for our loved ones, and naturally, the altars and objects we use to move our grief also decay. I visually want to show the cycle we are a part of."
How does that compare to what you’ve wanted the band to look and feel like in the past?
"I think it is much more focused and much more visual. In the past, our visuals have always taken a back seat to the music, but I really wanted the visuals to be just as much part of the story. You really have to see images to understand the mood and vibe I want people to be in to understand that record and the wasteland."
What would you say your main goal was with the band’s music this time around? What is the core of what you have been trying to convey?
"I want to convey the functional movement of grief. Ideally, I would like to facilitate the listener to move through the cycles of grief that might be stuck for them. So much of what we have dealt with in the last two years is grief. We wrote this before the pandemic, but it all feels that much more useful now. Grief and acceptance of the ephemeral nature of life is key to experiencing joy in our lives. Without the acceptance of death and the procession of grief, we live very sheltered lives."
What did the ‘If There Is Light It Will Find You’ cycle do for you, both on a musically but personal level too?
"I became a father, so it changed me immensely. It forced me to really clean up all the ways in which I'm stuck. I had to really examine what I was bringing to the table and how it was no longer just me it was affecting. It gave me a great amount of joy, the success of the record. I really had a lot riding in it, it was really make or break. If it didn’t work out, I was going to have to go in a different direction."
How have the last three years of experiments, where you’ve not just returned to the very beginning of the band but also covered some classic bands, informed what you want the band to be now?
"To me, it's all become about storytelling. I feel like my role and job is to go out and challenge myself emotionally, physically and really dig into the big questions about existence and tell stories about the experiences. Also, to start sharing other peoples stories. I am much more a musician now, as I wrote the last two records, I feel I finally feel comfortable with the role of songwriter."
What does Senses Fail mean to you in 2021?
"A chance to bring joy."
How has your relationship with the band adapted throughout writing these new songs?
"I mean, all I can say is that I like myself a lot more through this process. I was the main songwriter and main person working on the music. Most of this was a solo process until it came time to record it."
How does it feel to be here continuing the band’s story in this way?
"It's strange. It was always a group of 5 guys, and now it's my story, vision, and baby. I would never have thought that almost 20 years ago, I would be here, still successful and still learning and growing."
What is exciting you the most about the future?