Never in his life did Every Time I Die frontman Keith Buckley imagine he'd hear anyone ask the question, "Where's Michael Madsen?" Nor could he have expected the answer to that question being, "He's over there ... by the lion."
"I just sort of removed that sentence, and left it floating in space and I stared at it," was the impressionistic memory from Buckley, whose Buffalo-based metalcore band released its third full-length, Gutter Phenomenon, last month. "It was unbelievable that someone could have that exchange — and it made sense to me."
For Buckley, filming the video for "Kill the Music," the first single from Every Time I Die's latest LP, was nothing if not dreamlike.
"The guy who directed the video, Darren Doane [Deftones, Thursday], had just finished shooting a movie with Michael," said Buckley, referring to Madsen, of "Reservoir Dogs," "Sin City," "Kill Bill" and the-voice-of-several-violent-video-game-characters fame (less illustriously, he also appeared in "Free Willy" and "Free Willy 2"). "We were just talking, and, as sort of a half-assed, shot-in-the-dark joke, [one bandmember] mentioned, 'Oh yeah, we should get Michael Madsen to come in and be a hard-ass in the video.' So we called Darren and left him a message and a few days later, he called and said, 'He's in.' "
Still, the band wasn't so sure Madsen would actually show for the shoot. But as Buckley said, "He showed — and he was awesome.
"He was like your uncle who comes by and crashes the party," the singer continued. "He showed up with a suit in one hand and a bottle of vodka in the other. It was so surreal. The whole day was nerve-racking until he showed up. There were certain points during the day where I would stop and say, 'What the f--- am I doing?' "
In the clip, which rather inexplicably features several shots of a roaring lion in its opening, Madsen plays a callous music video director, prone to sudden bursts of unbridled rage. At one point during the video, guitarist Jordan Buckley (Keith's older brother) appears to ruin the shot, and Madsen launches into attack mode, wailing on the rocker like a pitbull locked in bathroom with a poodle.
"He did a double-boot stomp on Jordan, and fell down," Keith Buckley recalled. "Everyone stood up, like we had broken porcelain or something. We were just waiting to see if he would be all right and not walk off-set, pissed. But he was fine. He was so enthusiastic. When he got home, he called Darren and was anxious to know if we thought he had done well — like he was contemplating whether he could have done better. And I had to call him at his hotel room and reassure him he'd done a good job."
The band formed a bond with Madsen, who, throughout the shoot, would swipe Doane's megaphone from him to recite lines from "Reservoir Dogs" (We were like, 'Dude, say something from "Free Willy"!' " Buckley said). In fact, Madsen wants to work with Every Time I Die on a song he's written.
"It's called 'Chillin' Villain,' and the lyrics are amazing," the singer said.
And the metalcore act is into collaborative work. Gutter Phenomenon features two of Buckley's oldest pals: My Chemical Romance mainman Gerard Way (on "Kill the Music") and Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw and Head Automatica lending his vocals to the track "Champing at the Bit." But for fans of ETID's first two LPs, Gutter Phenomenon is something of a shift in musical direction for the band, even if that shift is subtle.
"We were listening back to our old stuff and sort of cringing," Buckley said. "From when [2003's] Hot Damn came out and when we started writing this record, we had done so many things — Ozzfest (see "Screamo Comes Of Age On Ozzfest's Second Stage"), a stint on the Warped Tour — and we did so much promotion for Hot Damn before and after it came out that we never stopped to listen to it and see if we had grown. We're all from the same school of thought where, you really can't move on until you hate everything you've done before.
"Too many bands find their niche, and put the same ingredients into every soup. Not us. We knew we had changed, grown up, and acquired new tastes and distastes for music, and became a little more accepting of the background we all had — which was growing up, listening to classic rock from our parents. But on this record, we embraced that. We tried to hide it before because we didn't think it had any room in the 'hardcore community.' "
Fresh off of this summer's inaugural Sounds of the Underground tour, Every Time I Die will spend the better part of the next two months on the road: They launched a a 27-date trek with High on Fire, the Red Chord, the Chariot and Esoteric on September 7 in Poughkeepsie, New York; the run wraps in Rochester, New York, on October 7. The band will launch a second jaunt — this time, with Haste the Day, A Life Once Lost and fellow Buffalonians It Dies Today — on October 8 in Providence, Rhode Island, that concludes in State College, Pennsylvania, on October 24.