“We always say ‘if the thing we’re doing currently isn’t as good as what we just did, then there’s no point in doing it anymore.’”
“Yesterday we played in the Swiss Alps, and we literally played to a mountain,” states Every Time I Die guitarist Andy Williams, as he returns to the Download Festival for the third time. “I consider this the big one, but there are no mountains here. They need to step it up,” he jokes. While there might not be any mountains on show, he’s surrounded by good company; band mates, old touring buddies and some fellow professional wrestlers. Before talking to Already Heard in the press area, Williams was in catering with WWE NXT “Superstars” Kassius Ohno and Roderick Strong.
Since forming in 1998, Buffalo, New York’s Every Time I Die have to become one of metalcore and hardcore’s most consistent bands, with each album succeeding in quality than the last every time. “To think our band has been around for 20 years and people are still gloating about our music is pretty rad,” says Williams when reflecting on the response the band’s eighth studio album, ‘Low Teens’, has received since its release last September. “That’s something we take pride in. We always say ‘if the thing we’re doing currently isn’t as good as what we just did, then there’s no point in doing it anymore.’ That’s what is keeping us going and the fact that everything we put out, we think is better than what we put out before. Once that doesn’t happen, we’re going to break up.”
It is a credit to Every Time I Die that at eight albums deep into their career, they still have a hunger to better themselves, whereas many bands in a similar position would easily “phone it in” and go through the motions of delivering something inconsistent. However, despite their consistency, Williams did experience some doubt as the band ended the touring cycle for ‘From Parts Unknown’ in late 2015.
“We had really bad luck. Keith (Buckley – vocals) had some family issues, and when we were over here the shooting happened at the Bataclan and we cancelled those London shows. That tour we did with Jason [Butler of Letlive.] singing with, and as rad as it was, it felt like we were phoning it in. That’s the first time it has felt like that,” Andy tells us. “Every Time I Die has always been, even though there’s been members come and go, it’s always been me, Keith and Jordan (Buckley – guitar), so to play a show without Keith is really weird. There hasn’t been a show like that since.”
Coincidentally, and unfortunately, in the days following our interview, Keith once again had to leave the band and head home to see his daughter, Zuzu, in hospital. While the band continued where possible, fulfilling festival appearances in France and Belgium with members of Trap Them (Ryan McKenney), The Devil Wears Prada (Jeremy DePoyster), While She Sleeps (Loz Taylor) and SHVPES (Griffin Dickinson) taking over vocal duties. All being way, the quintet will be able soldier on as normal with their remaining plans for the year. First on their agenda is a lengthy US tour supporting emo-rockers Taking Back Sunday. It’s a run that Williams suggests “should be interesting.” They also have a headline Canadian run pencilled in for the Autumn, where they will be joined highly rated hardcore up-and-comers, Knocked Loose.
Beyond that, Williams hopes to turn his focus to another hobby; professional wresting. “I’ll be 40 at that time. I’ll officially be an old man wrestling as a rookie,” says Andy. Having befriended a wealth of wrestlers during his time on the road, Williams began wrestling in 2014, even making an appearance during Progress Wrestling’s late night shows at Download in 2015, powerbombing Jimmy Havoc through a table. “We’re friends now. He shows up at London shows and jumps on my shoulders,” Williams tells us.
Since making his debut in 2015, and when Every Time I Die haven’t been in the studio or on tour, Williams has been training and wrestling a handful of matches, mostly for Canadian independent promotion, Smash Wrestling. He’s scheduled to wrestle his “rival” Braxton Sutter along with Joe Coleman in a tag team match in July. Williams’ partner will be Kevin Blackwood before taking on Sebastian Suave, the owner of Smash Wrestling, the next day. “That’s going to be pretty interesting, to have the boss in my hands,” Andy hints.
“When you call a match, that is just like writing a song.”
Rock and metal and wrestling has a long history of over-lapping one another. From a plethora of band’s music being used on World Wrestling Entertainment’s (WWE) TV programming to music-themed wrestlers, although some of them didn’t turn out too well; for example check out Man Mountain Rock. Nevertheless, when it came to stepping into the ring, Williams realised how being a musician benefited his ability to structure a match.
“When you call a match, that is just like writing a song. You have to have peaks and valleys, and bridges and choruses and stuff like that,” explains Andy. “It’s crazy when I got to understand how to call a match, I realised how close it was to writing a song. It’s so easy now. If I have someone that I’m wrestling and they’re a musician, it’s so cool. I can be like ‘hey man we need a bridge, let’s get to the chorus, let’s get to the breakdown.’ It’s just opened my mind completely to how things are set up and how to work a crowd. It’s awesome.”
For many wrestling fans, WWE’s annual spring event, WrestleMania is the pinnacle of pro wrestling. And while Williams is yet to step foot in a WWE ring, he found himself in Orlando this past April taking part in one of the many independent wrestling shows taking place over “WrestleMania Weekend”. ‘Joey Janela’s Spring Break’ saw Williams in an inter-gender tag match alongside Penelope Ford defeating Braxton Sutter and Allie. However, as Andy explains that wasn’t always the initial plan.
“It’s crazy to think about where it went from when I first started talking to Joey about it. He was like ‘hey I need you to be apart of this thing. Will you wrestle Nikolai Volkoff (80’s and early 90’s WWE wrestler)?’ and I said ‘What? You want me to wrestle an 80-year old dude?’ Then Joey asked ‘do you want to wrestle Glacier (90’s WCW wrestler)?’ and I was like ‘No. Just let me bring my guy (Braxton Sutter) down and we’ll wrestle’. It ended up being really rad.”
From speaking to Andy and reading about what happened at ‘Joey Janela’s Spring Break,’ it’s clear this wasn’t your run-of-the-mill indy wrestling show. Most noticeably, the ‘Spring Break Clusterf&*^’ match was just as its title suggest with a host of unique characters and wrestling “legends” of the past appearing. Williams told us about an interesting encounter he had with one of wrestling’s former “superstars”.
“That night I got punished by Virgil (80’s and early 90’s WWE wrestler/signed autograph seller),” says Williams with a grin. “He was backstage telling me ‘if you wanna make money in this business, you’ve got to sell out Madison Square Garden!’ Yeah I’ll get right on that man. I’ll probably just set a show up next week. ‘Madison Square Garden? Go away man!’” laughs Andy.
From speaking to Andy, it’s clear he’s not just a big guy looking to wrestle for fun. He’s a genuine, longtime fan. During our talk, he speaks highly on a host of British wrestlers who are making a name for themselves in both America and Japan. “The kids coming out of England is fucking insane,” he says, while name checking the likes of Jimmy Havoc, Joe Coffey, Wolfgang (“I like the fact that he looks like an old 90’s wrestler”), Zack Gibson, and El Ligero. Williams also comments on the current WWE United Kingdom Champion, Birmingham’s Pete Dunne.
“I love the one punch cutoff he does. I went to BOLA (PWG’s Battle of Los Angeles) last year and he wrestled Mandrews (Junior’s Mark Andrews), and Mandrews came off the top and he [Pete] hit with that punch. I remember that more than Lucha Bros (Penta el Zero M and Rey Fenix) doing the coolest shit against each other, but that match [Pete Dunne vs Mark Andrews] was one of the best I’ve ever seen in my life.”
When it came to asking Andy about his favourite matches of the year so far, there was only one match that instantly came to mind. “[Kazuchika] Okada and [Kenny] Omega (at New Japan Pro Wrestling’s ‘Wrestle Kingdom’ event) was insane. I don’t give a fuck what anyone says. That match was great. I wouldn’t say it was perfect, but it was great.” Within 24 hours of talking with Andy, Okada and Omega delivered a 60 minute broadway draw.
As for Williams and Every Time I Die, they’re sure to fight through everything that has been thrown at them so far and continue to be one of the scene’s most beloved bands.
‘Low Teens’ by Every Time I Die is out now on Epitaph Records.
View more of Already Heard’s coverage from Download Festival 2017 here.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86). Photo Credit: Joshua Halling.