joe zorzi gets in the grind…
You can’t have a musical event, steeped in punk rock without including the guys from the post-hardcore outfit Senses Fail. The band’s lead singer and songwriter, Buddy Nielsen, a Bergen County native, was on hand at The GameChanger World Launch Party on February 3 at iPlay American in Freehold, New Jersey to not only talk about his new album — but the game Senses Fail will be a part of for this new mobile gaming platform.
While Nielsen had a blast gaming with fans, sitting and chatting about music and North Jersey — he’s got a lot on his mind these days. Senses Fail is on the verge of releasing a brand new album, Renacer and then embark on a nationwide tour (which will see them return to New Jersey in May at The Stone Pony in Asbury Park, NJ).
Pop-Break’s Joe Zorzi and Bill Bodkin had the chance to sit down with Nielsen to talk about the launch and creation of the band’s new game (available for Android and iOS in the coming months), the band’s new album and his love for Pantera.
Joe Zorzi: You guys are on your fifth full length album, Renacer. What does it mean?
Buddy Nielsen: It means to be reborn. The act of being reborn in Spanish.
JZ: So is that the thought process of this whole album?
BN: Yeah, yeah I mean it’s a completely different band. The record sounds nothing like the band.
BN: Yeah, sounds like a completely different band.
JZ: Heavier, or…?
BN: Yeah, it’s heavier. It’s just different. We’ll see, people might not like it, so.
JZ: You had a few new songs that came out when you guys put out your greatest hits compilation. Is it going to sound similar to that?
BN: No, still different than that.
JZ: You had a facebook status, “Monday.”
BN: Oh yeah, we’re gonna put up a song. We’re gonna put up I guess the first song that we’re putting up from the record.
JZ: Is it gonna be a single?
BN: I guess. I mean, it’s not really a single it’s not like…
JZ: Just promotional?
BN: Yeah, the first song that we’re putting out. I wouldn’t even call it a single, that would give the connotation that it’s like poppy or radio friendly. It’s not.
JZ: Does it matter anymore for bands like you do you think?
BN: No, no not really. Nothing off this record would ever be played on the radio ‘cause it’s too heavy.
JZ: So the title means reborn… you guys still have the same members though right?
BN: No, only two original members.
JZ: Oh okay, so does that have a big impact on why…
BN: Yeah, that would be one big reason why it sounds completely different than everything else. I mean, our main reason is that the guitar player, who basically wrote all the other stuff left after the last record. So a whole new team of people writing.
JZ: That’s exciting.
JZ: Now you guys have a two month tour coming up, April and May.
BN: Yeah, April, May, and then going to Europe.
JZ: And what was the thought process with that cover EP you put out? Where’d that come about from?
BN: Just to try to get people to buy pre order tickets, just give them an incentive to buy pre order tickets in advanced.
Bill Bodkin: I saw Phil Anselmo not long ago at Gramercy Ballroom and I saw you covered “Mouth for War” by Pantera. Now, is that one of your favorite Pantera songs and what’s your spin on the song?
BN: It’ll probably sound a little heavier. It might be a little faster. ‘Cause there’s sort of like a groove to that song and I mean, it’s heavy but I think with updated production it sounds a bit heavier. And I don’t sing it as Southern. I’m not really yelling like off my back porch kind of thing.
BB: Yeah he did that a lot.
BN: But still kind of similar delivery, you know. We didn’t really mess with the song, it’s a Pantera song I don’t want to fuck with it you know?
BB: Is that a band you’ve always dug?
BN: Yeah of course, I mean… It’s also, it’s one of those things that it’s a challenge to do ‘cause if you don’t do it well there’ll be a lot of people that’ll be bummed. It’s gotta be done well or else people will be upset. So we’ll see. I think we did a good job with it.
JZ: And what’s it like, for the new album you’re on a new label now.
BN: It’s the same label it’s just a different name. It’s part of Vagrant it’s just a different name. It is a different label, yeah, but it’s still a part of Vagrant. So it’s technically not really a new label.
BB: Now you had just mentioned before about singles and stuff like that, you were saying how it doesn’t really matter anymore. Do you feel more or less pressure to produce now in terms of an album now as opposed to maybe ten years ago?
BN: No, I still want it to be that way and I still want it to be a record and be listenable all the way through and have a cohesive concept. I do. People don’t really care anymore, but I still would rather try to achieve that than say, ‘Let’s just throw a bunch of songs together’ or ‘lets just abandon that format.’
BB: Yeah, ‘cause a lot of bands I’ve spoken with through the years are like ‘Oh you know, the album’s just helping promote the tour now.’ And they don’t care as much about the whole concept of the record.
BN: Yeah I mean you can definitely tell people don’t really… younger bands or just bands in general, you listen to the records and they don’t really have a flow or it doesn’t really seem like anybody planned anything out, like there’s a theme or an approach. I don’t know. I just sort of, more so than ever, and definitely on this record has a theme and approach, a visual aspect behind it, concept and a vibe.
JZ: Something that’s interesting is that a lot of bands, like you guys used to be on MTV a lot and stuff. I noticed a lot of those bands have been having more trouble lately. But then at the same time you start seeing, since there’s so many less CD sales overall, in all of music, that these bands are getting back on the charts and stuff.
BN: I mean, yeah that’s the good thing because if you come out and just sell 15,000 records your first week, you’ll probably be in the top ten. Which is like, cool, whereas, I don’t know. I don’t know what we’re gonna do the first week but yeah it gives you the opportunity, because of record sales you can chart higher than you would’ve in the past ‘cause it kind of levels the playing field. I guess that’s good in a way, yeah.
JZ: Get your name out there more I guess as a top seller.
BN: But I don’t know how many people really pay attention to, ‘Oh wow, that’s in the Top 5’. I don’t know if people really pay attention that. I mean, it’s definitely something good to say.
JZ: Now that you guys have an EP and five albums so far, when you play live does it get hard to try to figure out what to do?
BN: You try to play the songs that you know people want to hear and then mix in the ones you want to do and the new ones.
JZ: Do you ever find time for deep cuts or anything?
BN: I mean it’s really hard to do now. It’s really hard to play for more than an hour and a half. This style of music is just taxing to play for longer than an hour. So we can only do, I think, twenty two, twenty five songs is really the max that at least I can do comfortably doing every night. And then out of that twenty five, you know you have to play five off this record, four off this record. And that’s already nine songs. So you can’t really end up doing deep… you can, you can do one or two a tour, you know, a show. But you really have to stick to the songs that people generally all agree upon are the best songs from each record.
JZ: Onto GameChanger. You guys have a new game called Grind Core. Can you tell us the idea behind it? What the concept of the game is?
BN: It’s like a momentum based scrolling skateboard game where there’s hills and basically you press down to gain momentum on a decline and then when you’re going up the hill you let go so it gives you air and the more air you get, the more momentum you get and basically when you launch in the air you want to time it so you come down on the decline and you keep your momentum going. And obviously it’s sort of like this game Tiny Wings, just that kind of concept.
BB: It’s kind of like, my niece has a Yo Gabba Gabba game for iPad. You know, you’ve gotta jump and you keep scrolling and the faster you go, the faster the level goes.
BN: Yeah, yeah that sort of thing.
JZ: So what’s it like playing as yourself in a video game?
BN: It’s cool. I mean, I don’t think it looks like me. But not really, ‘cause it doesn’t really look like me, it looks like a video game character.
BB: When we spoke to the people in charge of Gamechanger they said a lot of bands were really excited to be part of this and they had a lot of input on the concept of the game. Did you guys have…?
BN: Yeah, I definitely, I mean I play video games and I’m familiar with the medium so I had ideas. I just want the game to be good, I don’t want it to suck. That’s my biggest concern.
BB: What’s one of the aspects of the game that you, as someone who’s played games for a long time, that you really like about it?
BN: I just think it’s a little different. I think a lot of the bands went ahead and just were like ‘Ah we’ll do this running game or this game’ and I sort of… I don’t know, tried to think about it a little bit more and said lets do something that isn’t as popular of a style of game that might be a little different. It’s just the kind of game that I like, I find myself playing a lot. ‘Cause it’s easy to play, hard to master and those are the best kind of games. Easy to play, hard to master. ‘Cause it’s enjoyable, you get something out of it but also want to keep playing because you feel like there’s some sort of challenge.
BB: With the GameChanger concept, what they’re going with kind of how this is really bringing the fans and the bands together. How do you like that concept? Taking the meet and greet to like a whole nother level.
BN: Yeah, I mean I’m all for whatever. We never really… we’re always available as a band if you ever wanted to meet us or anything. So it’s like, I’m fine with that you know. It’s sort of always been our motto. I don’t think anybody that’s ever really wanted to meet the band didn’t really get a chance unless you live somewhere we just never come.