Keith Buckley is no stranger to pushing past boundaries and challenging conventions. He manifests this most visibly as frontman for Every Time I Die — whose notorious, hard-partying shows are truly insane affairs filled with constant crowdsurfing, stagediving ... and often result in the physical destruction of the stage itself. And it doesn't matter where they play — whether on land or sea — the metalcore vets bring it hard. They've been banned from venues, destroyed drop ceilings on boat shows and even jumped in a hotel's pool mid-performance to "baptize" fans during the set. Fittingly, Buckley's other band, the crushing hard-rock supergroup The Damned Things' new album — and first in nearly nine years — is titled High Crimes.
But for Buckley, his creative (and destructive) expressions aren't simply empty gestures, rather the natural extensions of his own self-examination and deeply thought-out world view.
"Some of us believe that we can stop making bad decisions if we just become more aware of the circumstances surrounding them, that we can read the signs — the omens — and say, 'I see what is coming, and I choose to avoid it,'' explains Buckley of the meaning behind the Damned Things' new single, "Omen."
"But not all poor decisions are avoidable and an omen might just be the whistle of a train while you're already tied to the rails. 'Omen' is about bracing for the impact of an unavoidable disaster."
Below, Revolver caught up with the quick-witted vocalist and author for our "Breaking the Laws" series — in which we interrogate artists about all manner of infractions, accidents and misdeeds.
WHAT DOES THE TITLE OF THE DAMNED THINGS' HIGH CRIMES REPRESENT FOR YOU?
KEITH BUCKLEY It implies that crimes of morality — as opposed to legality — are the ones usually committed while high.
WHAT WAS THE LAST LAW YOU BROKE?
Just this afternoon I was thinking about how excited I was to get home and stream video games, and I accidentally did 35 in a 30.
WHAT IS THE MOST ILLEGAL THING YOU'VE EVER DONE?
WHAT LAW WOULD YOU OVERTURN IF YOU RULED THE WORLD?
It would not be illegal to assault racists/Republicans.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ONE SUPERPOWER THAT DEFIED THE LAWS OF NATURE WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would want to be able to pause time.
WHAT'S THE WORST FIGHT YOU'VE BEEN IN?
I've never been in a really bad fight. I busted my finger in, like, 2006 punching a dude who I found pissing on my kitchen floor at a party we were having … so I guess that's the worst.
WHAT LYRIC WOULD YOU MOST WANT TO STEAL?
"I'm so horny but that's OK/My will is good" by Kurt Cobain [on Nirvana's "Lithium"].
HAVE YOU EVER STOLEN OR QUOTED A LYRIC IN ONE OF YOUR SONGS, INTENTIONALLY IN TRIBUTE OR BY ACCIDENT?
Oh yeah — I stole a line from Mathew Wilder's "Break My Stride" on New Junk Aesthetic's "The Sweet Life." It just fit so perfectly and I thought rather than try to do something like it and have people say, "Sounds too much like Mathew Wilder," I just figured to make it Mathew Wilder, exactly.
WHAT'S THE BEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU'VE COMPLETELY IGNORED?
"Don't do anything stupid."
WHAT SONG ON PAPER SHOULDN'T WORK, BUT STILL DOES?
Eiffel 65, "Blue."
WHAT'S THE WORST TROUBLE YOU GOT INTO AT SCHOOL?
In first grade I told my teacher to "go suck an egg." My first memory of getting in trouble, and therefore the most traumatic.
WHAT'S THE WORST TROUBLE YOU'VE ENCOUNTERED WITH YOUR BAND?
We're currently involved in, like, three different lawsuits, so I'd say, "Legal trouble regarding personal injuries."
WHO'S YOUR FAVORITE OUTLAW, FICTIONAL OR REAL?
Whatever character Tom Waits plays in his songs, that's my favorite.
Below, Buckley discusses the value of humor and the challenge of channeling personal hardship into art for our "Flex Your Head" series, hosted by Killswitch Engage's Jesse Leach: