Sometimes you just need to know your place. In the case of Every Time I Die's most recent Epitaph release, From Parts Unknown, that place turned out be the hardwood floor of a converted garage owned by Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou.
It was there, with Ballou at the production helm, that the Buffalo metal-core band members found themselves spending much of their time being eyed warily by their new producer's dogs.
"It's a weird situation when you're No. 2. This is the dog's home, so you're the second guy," recalls guitarist Andy Williams.
"You'd go to the store to get something to drink, you'd come back, and the dog would take your spot on the couch. It kinda sucked."
Dogs notwithstanding, Ballou's own band experience made him a good choice to capture Every Time I Die's raw, sharp-edged and nearly-flying-off-the-handle vibe. "We're more of a live band, and I think he got that," says Williams.
As a result, From Parts Unknown taps into more of the raw-boned thunder the group has become known for over the past 17 years. The tightly wound, contrapuntal guitar thrum suggests hard-revving dragsters in stop-and-go traffic, with Keith Buckley's hardcore bellow rumbling underneath.
Through the years, Every Time I Die has sometimes sounded like a Black Sabbath album played at 45 rpm, although they've gradually learned to mediate the intensity.
"The first two albums we recorded were very technical," Williams acknowledges. "Then we realized that less is more. So if you're going to be technical, be technical in different spots, but know to slow down in certain spots, and really feel a riff out."
One of the things that's been key to Every Time I Die's longevity is their willingness to play with and for just about anyone. That includes playing open slots for bigger-name bands.
"I don't think we've ever had a 'We're better than you' attitude. Other bands are like, 'We don't want to tour with that band,'" says Williams. "But we're like, 'Put us out there, if that's really what the band wants. We'll kill it.'"
This tour finds the band fresh from the Europe festival circuit, where they were killing it for large crowds.
But, true to their DIY roots, they'll happily embrace those smaller, more closely packed shows where the ceiling rains sweat.
"I would still take those 500 kids, in a 500-capacity venue going apeshit, over 30,000 where the guy in the back is looking at a text message because his girlfriend dragged him there."
Ultimately it's all a question of attitude. "If we wanted to go out on tour and they said, 'We have this great idea, we're going to play old folks homes,' I would literally play old folks homes for a month and a half," says Williams. "I don't want to look at it as an elitist thing. It is what it is, and I want to play for everyone."