Bury Tomorrow: “This was our moment to try something different”

Pulling themselves back from the brink, BURY TOMORROW return rejuvenated, and with one of their best albums yet.

Back in the summer of 2021, Bury Tomorrow had the world at their feet. With 2020’s ‘Cannibal’ gatecrashing the UK Top 10, along with major slots at festivals and sell-out gigs, the band had finally broken through. And then founding member, co-vocalist, and guitarist Jason Cameron departed the band during the pandemic days. Suddenly, they hit the brakes, nearly slamming the door shut on close to two decades together.

“If I’m being brutally honest, the idea of not being a band was much more enjoyable than being a band,” reflects guitarist Kristan Dawson, who looks back on the past three years with just a sprinkle of sorrow. “We’d all reached a point where it’d not been working for so long that we’d resigned ourselves to the fact that Bury Tomorrow were better off being on hiatus, or not being a band anymore.”

With the world itself on hiatus, Kristan – joined by bassist Davyd Winter-Bates, drummer Adam Jackson, and vocalist Dani Winter-Bates – took the chance to take stock. As the ground was opening up, ready to swallow them whole, they suddenly saw the light. 

“I didn’t think that Bury Tomorrow would survive that, so everything since then has been such a lesson in resilience, but also a lesson in gratitude, a lesson in grace, a lesson in just being a band again. And now I get goosebumps thinking about the fact we get to do this again, and do it better than before.”

Hang on, if they were halfway to the hangman’s gallows, what changed? First and foremost, they found not one but two new members who’ve changed Bury Tomorrow’s DNA from the ground up: guitarist Ed Hartwell and keyboardist and vocalist Tom Prendergast. Fast forward a year and a half, and they’ve headlined a stage at Slam Dunk, stormed main stages at Download and Bloodstock, dropped standalone bangers ‘DEATH’ and ‘LIFE’, and recorded their seventh album, ‘The Seventh Sun’. 

‘The Seventh Sun’ is a rich tapestry of woven soundscapes, seasoning the meat of their metalcore with lappings of synth-laden melodies, melodeath tendencies, and a pop sensibility that sends shivers down your spine. For a band seven albums in, changing their spots isn’t something as simple as setting overnight oats, so was an injection of new blood the spark they needed?

“100% in every way, and it’s no disrespect to our previous albums; I think they served a purpose in the time they were released, but this was our moment to try something different,” adds Dani, who comes alive as their next era enters the chat. “If we’d have come back and written the same album as ‘Cannibal’ again, I’d have wholly expected people to call us up on it, I’d have called us up on it.”

Before they could infuse Ed and Tom’s creative juices into their music, they had to change up their musical diet first. With some members feeling disenfranchised and others fearing complacency, change was compulsory for survival. 

“I listen to it and hear how uninspired musically I was, it just didn’t resonate with me. It soundtracks a really miserable time in my life,” Kristan admits when considering ‘Cannibal’’s place in their catalogue. “Whereas this, I was like, ‘I’m not just going to repeat a verse just because I’m scared to have an argument, or I’m uninspired, I’m just going to let loose and let my inspiration do the talking’. That was met with Tom’s inspiration, with Dan’s, with Ed’s.”

When you’ve got a good thing going on, staying in the same lane is a simple thing to do. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, etc. But for Bury Tomorrow, it wasn’t that anything was broken; they were just divinely uninspired to a hellish extent. “I just felt like Bury Tomorrow had become so set in its ways, and it’s felt so refreshing to finally incorporate more of that ambience, more of that soundscape, more of them electronics, more of them solos, more of them intricate riffs. I’m just so proud of it, I absolutely love it!”

“This album is helping redefine who Bury Tomorrow is at a perfect juncture in our life. It would be very easy for a band of seven albums to start tailing off; let’s write seven more ‘Choke’s, let’s write another ‘Black Flame’, another ‘Lionheart’. You’re just circling the drain, because you’re becoming a tribute band of your own band.”

‘The Seventh Sun’ is not a tribute to their past flames, but it is a creative monument, a shrine to shining lights in their lives. With Ed and Tom shouldering some songwriting responsibility from Dani and Kristan, they were able to make every sound matter, and every note hit you in the heartstrings. Take ‘Wrath’, Side A’s closer created to capture the feelings of love, loss and life in a single soundscape, all in honour of a friend.

“My best friend’s dad passed very suddenly, and he was called Ralph, so I wanted to think of a word that sounded so much like Ralph, and I found the word ‘Wrath’, and I was thinking how cruel life can be,” Kristan shares, sobering the conversation up from its earlier excitement. “I wanted to write it for my friend Ben, with the perfect mix of metalcore riffs, melodic hardcore, and ambience to the point it truly made you feel something.

“At least, I wanted Ben to feel something because I felt something; I wanted to write a song that I know my friend Ben is gonna fucking love. It’s also my homage to Misery Signals’ ‘Of Malice And The Magnum Heart’, that album changed the way I feel about melody in aggressive music, so it’s a homage to every part of my life.”

In many ways, the magic of ‘The Seventh Sun’ is its homage to the sights and sounds that shaped them as musicians. ‘Majesty’ began life as an acoustic ditty Dani stole from Kristan and Tom’s pandemic sessions, and was originally rewritten, sounding “like Alice In Chains, and I fucking love Alice In Chains, but it was a bit too rock”, so they rewrote it some more, leaning into other loves. “It’s very inspired by ‘Alchemy Index’-era Thrice.” The whole experience was so mad that the end result can only be summarised by Kristan as a way to “tell I was smoking a lot of weed in the studio”. 

Like Kristan musically, Dani has been on an expedition of self-discovery since ‘Cannibal’, which he believes was his way of marking a milestone in his mental health journey. “I’ve literally given everything I can to bettering myself and trying to support others with mental health; this is literally my life.

“I’ve done the Coronation Street documentary, I’ve done 52 online safe spaces, I’ve done the physical safe spaces, I’ve worked in mental health, and now I’ve released the album; it was a stamp for me to personally say I’ve given everything I can in this space.”

So once you’ve given everything, once you’ve poured it into a solid gold record and shared it with the world, where do you go next?

“Moving into this new era, it’s understanding my own knowledge of the things around me. It’s like a look at the things that impact your mental health; it talks about the band itself and our life cycle; it talks about the world itself, the chaos that we live in. I think that’s really important because you can’t ascertain or understand chaos without one, living in it, and two, being in a mental state that can make sense of it.”

While ‘The Seventh Sun’ sees Bury Tomorrow look outwards to the world around it, it’s still rooted in those same experiences Dani documented on ‘Cannibal’. “There are still nods to that. ‘Recovery’ is a less than subtle nod to my own journey. It’s an articulation of ‘do we ever recover?’, because this is a long-term condition for me, and it’s how my mental health, my own outlook can perceive the world around me, and that’s not a bad thing; my conditions that I’ve got are not a bad thing. They present me with challenges, but they also present me with perspective and experience.”

Perspective isn’t two-dimensional for Bury Tomorrow. They welcome anyone who listens to ‘The Seventh Sun’ to hear it however they want, but they’re under no illusions that like ‘Cannibal’ before it, it’ll be shrouded in the climate of the world right now. “’Cannibal’ was a perfect expression of how people were feeling, it’s almost like I’d started Covid – how can this come out at the exact moment that everybody is feeling that exact thing, and that was what carried it a lot of the time.

“I think with this album, people will do the same. I genuinely think there’ll be moments where people go, ‘holy crap, that’s exactly how I’m feeling’, and sometimes that’ll be with the more on the money, on the nose lyrics, with ‘Wrath’ being in that space and other times they’ll be listening, and they’ll just go ‘wait a minute, I think that’s what he meant’.”

The way you interpret ‘The Seventh Sun’ is yours for the taking, but it runs deeper than just lyrics. Kristan didn’t spend “two days straight in the studio with no sleep” slaving over single parts for Bury Tomorrow to be brushed off as just another metalcore band. They want you to understand there’s an evolution, a changing of the guard. “It’s not defined by a genre; I don’t want to be a metalcore band, I just want to be a band.”

“If people call us metalcore, they call us metalcore; if people call us metal, they call us metal; and if people call us rock, they call us rock,” adds Dani, keen to reaffirm it doesn’t matter what you think, as long as you think something. “We’ve been championing metalcore since 2006, I’ve recorded seven albums under the bracket of that, and I don’t have any negative connotations towards that word. But it’s really important we don’t pigeonhole ourselves into a place that stifles creativity.”

They’re not abandoning their roots; they respect the fact they “were over it from the beginning because the genre we picked was the most uncool at the time. [Metalcore was] a dirty word in 2009; we were pretty much shot down in flames by everybody when we said our debut album was metalcore.” 

But ‘The Seventh Sun’ is them acknowledging that their fans don’t just like metalcore. “I think it’d be doing all our fans a disservice to say they do just like metalcore. Look at all the new bands coming up that are pushing alternative music, taking metal out of it even wholly; bands like Spiritbox, Sleep Token, and Bad Omen are literally ruling the world”.

Instead of closing the door on two decades, Bury Tomorrow have risen from their own ashes through sheer perseverance. 

“We’re just chasing what we perceive as greatness in regards to Bury Tomorrow; I’m not saying that like ‘oh, we were chasing greatness bro’, we were just so immersed in it,” professes Kristan, as Dani hits the finisher. “I want to show people, I want to share it, I want to leak the album. I don’t think it’s gonna feel like it’s been sat on a shelf for 12 months; I think people are going to be like, ‘holy crap, this is super current’, and I’m proud of that.” ■

Taken from the April 2023 edition of Upset – order a copy below. Bury Tomorrow’s album ‘The Seventh Sun’ is out 31st March.