Igniting the Black Flame: An Interview with Davyd Winter-Bates from Bury Tomorrow: ” I want to remembered as the band that gave a shit about the people who put them there.”

Posted by: Simon Crampton on 21st December 2018

2018 has been a stellar year for Bury Tomorrow. From the release of their critically acclaimed fifth album ‘Black Flame’ to playing festivals across Europe and ending the year on a sold out UK/Europe culminating in a show at The Forum in London. We were able to catch up with bassist Davyd Winter-Bates to discuss how 2018 has been for the band, where they see themselves their peers, what the future holds and why covering Ricky Martin continues to haunt them to this day.

2018 has been a huge year for Bury Tomorrow with the release of Black Flame and the success of that album, the festival shows, and now this tour you are finishing up. How are you guys feeling right now?

Davyd: Well if I’m completely honest, it was completely unexpected all that has happened with the album from the original success with it to everything that has happened with this tour. We always have expectations in our head and we thought we were doing alright, but the reception to the record showed us that maybe this record has connected with people and then the tour has been absolutely mind blowing and we never in a million years would have thought that everywhere would have been practically sold out, it’s crazy really, we don’t think of our band in that way.

When you say that you don’t see your band that way, is that because you still see Bury Tomorrow as the 5 guys that started out and that you have managed to maintain a certain level, so when these things happen it’s a bit like ‘Where did this come from?’

Davyd: It’s exactly that. We’re a band that gets a bit weird about having more than one crew member. We’re always a bit dubious about where we are in the grand scheme of the UK metal scene, and for a long time as well there wouldn’t be much in the way of press or exposure because we are a metalcore band and for a large chunk of our career metalcore was not popular and people didn’t want to admit that there was band like us out there doing it, so we kind of grew up earning our craft doing that and being in that world and now that it’s different for us not much has changed in the way that we think about our band, but then we have been doing bus tours for the last 3 or 4 years and I should probably stop thinking that we are 5 dudes in a van because we aren’t anymore.  We did the Stage Invasion tour last year and we love doing that sort of thing because you aren’t going to get insane shows unless you do something like that so we aren’t ever going to stop doing those sorts of things, so when we get to a venue like this it almost feels a little bit like we are faking it. Last time we were in London we played The Fighting Cocks (Laughs) it was sweaty, fun, manic and dangerous and that’s probably all the words I would use to describe our live show (Laughs). I think apart from Enter Shikari, we are one of the only bands who can do a 37 date tour of the U.K, we did it once where we did 3 weekenders and that was crazy, so we decided to do it properly and all of those venues were all of the small venues we could think of and we were trying to get to places like the Norwich B2 and places like that because we wanted to go and get crazy, and I think because we do stuff like that and also because of the way we are with our fans that this feels a bit more special rather than “Oh yeah, big show we’ve done well” because we’re not that sort of band.

You mention the way you are with your fans. I have noticed that every time I come to a show where you guys are on the bill even if you aren’t headlining that there are always about 20-30 fans outside about 4 hours before doors, and it’s always the same people. Have you noticed that as you have grown that your fanbase has been right there beside you and grown along with you.

Davyd: Yes. I think what attracts people to our fandom if you can even call it at, is very similar to when me and you were growing up and we were listening to nu- metal…I’m assuming that you liked nu-metal with me, you would have the rock community made up of all these little sub communities so you’d have your rockers, your nu-metal kids, the skater kids and somewhere along the way we got older but that sense of community wasn’t lost and it turned into this thing where kids like everything and it’s awesome because they are now more open minded than they were when I was a kid. What I think they get from us and hopefully what they get from our shows is that all we want is that community feeling to be back, so we often push our fans to reach out to the community of the Black Flame more, if people our giving away tickets we encourage them to give them to someone in the Que that wants to come to the show, just support each other, if you are going to shows give each other lifts not in a weird way but it’s that sense of community and what we are trying to do is create a safe space for people that isn’t the 2018 definition of a safe space but just a place where you can come and listen to whatever type of music you want, where you can do whatever you want and you can feel like you can be the person you want to be and the person to your left and to your right are going to be there with you and help you every step of the way and what has happened is yes we have noticed the same fans from other shows but what happened is we started connecting the fans together that do regular shows and they are all coming together so instead of having 3 kids that come to this one show or 4 kids over here that come to these shows now there are 15-20 kids all coming together and they all have their own Whats app group and it’s absolutely sick! and that’s what it’s all about  and that’s what it’s always been about and I think as we get bigger we joked the other day that we would get them their own tour bus to come with us, like a Butlins holiday where you pay £500 for the week and you get all 5 shows and a nice bus (laughs) so that’s the next step the holiday tour with Bury Tomorrow (laughs)

So for you as a band is that how you measure success? by how your fans react to the music and this community they have created amongst themselves through the band rather than by chart and critical success.

Davyd: It’s more of a collaboration, we’re not rating it against whether they think it’s good or not. With most fans if we put out a shit song they won’t say it;s good because they think it’s what we want to hear. I think we have the most honest fanbase going at the moment, when we put out Black Flame and the digital compression meant that the sound was whack on the first YouTube video the fans hit us up and told us that there was something wrong and we needed to address it, in that instance it would have been really easy for YouTube to become really negative but it wasn’t, so we took it down we re addressed, remixed it and remade it for a digital output and the fact that the fans came  back and said to us that it was it and we’d got it right, and that is how we measure it based on the collaborative process between us and them, they know this album was for them but not in the same way that every band says it, it legitimately was for them and in return they own a piece of it so it’s like if you own a house with friends then you aren’t going to let your part be really nice and  then let everyone else’s part fall to bits you will all work to make sure it all works and this is what this tour was about , the tour was about working together to spread it, so you can bring your friends who have never heard Bury Tomorrow before and show them what our community is all about and move forward and that’s why I think it has got so big.

I know that a lot of you have careers, as well as wives and children away from the band and when you are away from tour you live off the grid so to speak. Have you ever discussed what it would take or what you would need to achieve to make the band a full time commitment or are you happy to have the career and the band exist as seperate things.

Davyd: I think the career for all of us is a necessity. Bury Tomorrow was our job and our career was our hobby that facilitated our job, from day one we have quit jobs when they couldn’t give us holiday, we have told them we couldn’t be there when we could so that we could actually tour and do the things we wanted to do, there have been countless opportunities lost but that’s because the band is the job and then everything else is second priority but as we got married and had kids it shifts but still the main thing we do is the band and although our careers are doing pretty well outside of it, I can’t see with the current music industry how we could facilitate it being something that we could support our wives and our children with permanently so because of that it seems unlikely.

With the success of bands like Architects, While She Sleeps and yourselves as you all become bigger and breakthrough to a wider audience what do you think it is about that group of bands from your generation that really connects with audiences and how far do you think it will go and where do you see your part in all of it.

Davyd: Although they are similar bands I see us on a slightly different path to the other two that you mentioned. Architects are without a doubt a national heritage band, they are going to be the next Download headliner that comes through that is what we are talking about now. While She Sleeps are the rawest emotive hardcore metalcore band in the UK, the reason why While She Sleeps connect with so many more people over the world than say their American counterparts is because everything they do speaks from a real place, you can’t ever listen to a Sleeps record and feel like Loz is phoning it in or that they haven’t written a riff torn it apart and then it written it again, there is so much authenticity about that band that when they do things even though it is DIY it still feels high quality whereas it is the other way around with a lot of American output where I feel like there is a lot of high quality input but a lot of low quality output. I think that we have become more of a European band and it’s kind of cool and we are very much in the realms of smaller bands like Heaven Shall Burn, Parkway Drive and these sorts of bands that do the Festival circuits in mainland Europe and grow and grow from it, I think we can follow in their foot steps and that is sort of where I see us going and I think we are lucky that all 3 of us have slightly different paths so that we don’t compete and that is always nice especially when it’s your friends.

So after the huge success of 2018 what do you have in store for us in 2019.

Davyd: The Black Flame isn’t over so there is going to be more stuff happening with that both physically and live so there is more to expect from that, more headline shows we are going to Russia and Spain and hopefully Japan as well as coming back to the UK and Europe and planning to take things the next step further.

So you aren’t starting to think about new music just yet then.

Davyd: Yeah we’ve written a couple of songs already. We’re always writing it doesn’t really stop, we have written a couple of new songs not necessarily for a new album…

Maybe dropping something new to support a tour perhaps….

Davyd: (Laughs) yeah maybe…just something else, but you’ll hear them sooner rather than later let’s put it that way (laughs) but we’ve actually got songs from Black Flame that when we sat down and tried to make the songscape we really loved the songs but they didn’t work so we have songs from Black Flame that are recorded and done and produced that no one has heard yet, and we have them and we kind of want to give those songs an opportunity away from that campaign because it wasn’t for then but I think now it could work like a little gift for the fans.

Someone has never heard Bury Tomorrow before and you have 3 songs to show them who Bury Tomorrow are what 3 songs do you show them.

Davyd: Black Flame. Knife of Gold and More than Mortal. In that order.

If Bury Tomorrow ended tomorrow how would you like to be remembered as a band.

Davyd: I would want to be remembered as a band that no matter how big they got they didn’t forget the reason why they were there. I want to remembered as the band that gave a shit about the people who put them there.

If you could swap places with another member of the band and live as them for a day which member of the band would it be.

Davyd: None of them I’m the best one. I’d live a day in the life of me…can i clone myself? I would clone myself so I could just live the same day twice as myself. That’s the one (laughs).

The name of the site is Rock Sins so what is the biggest Rock Sin that you have committed.

Davyd: We did a cover of Livin’ La Vida Loca by Ricky Martin and it will never go away no matter how hard we try and bury it , that is the greatest sin of all time. I hope we are remembered for never playing that fucking song (laughs).

Do you have any closing messages out there for your fans.

Davyd: Keep being you, keep spreading the Black Flame make more of them come and let’s burn down the entire world.

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