Anniversary tours are no big surprise for bands who gained popularity in the early 2000s. A little over a month ago I saw Circa Survive light up the stage while performing their sophomore effort On Letting Go in full. In October, Brand New mesmerized the crowd with The Devil and God Are Raging inside Me, and a few weeks later I watched Mayday Parade perform their debut in a venue a fraction of the size they could’ve sold out — artists clearly do their best to find ways of making the shows as special for the fans as possible. This Saturday, post-hardcore powerhouse Senses Fail is coming to Saint Andrew’s Hall in Detroit to celebrate their 15th birthday, performing their second record Still Searching.
I had the opportunity to speak with Buddy Nielsen, the band’s upbeat frontman, about the tour, their new acoustic EP and how the band is keeping their performance fresh despite the growing concern over the predictability of full album performances.
“I can’t remember a tour in the last ten years that has been this successful, but also, it sort of felt as cathartic for people coming to the shows … so when they’re coming to experience this record and relive this for yourself, it’s usually pretty emotional,” Nielsen said .
The record itself is a dark listen, wrought with themes of lost faith, mental illness and suicide. It’s a record I vividly remember clinging to while navigating the dark halls of high school — a sentiment likely shared among others near my age who held to Senses Fail, and who are now surviving their 20s.
The band itself has found a new passion on this tour the way their fans did over a decade ago in the band’s work. Nielsen shared that they were on the verge of calling it quits, but this tour has firmly reinvigorated his love for music.
“We almost broke the band up a year ago. So, to be in this place, where I’m on an extremely successful tour and a really good place, releasing new music with a lot of enthusiasm, it’s been really interesting. Because last year at this time I was like, ‘I don’t know if I want to do this anymore,’ and now I’m sort of like, ‘yeah this is the only thing I want to do with my life,’ more so than I ever have,” Nielsen said.
In tandem with the start of tour, Senses Fail released an acoustic EP titled In Your Absence that Nielsen revealed was in production over a year ago. Featuring three new songs and two acoustic versions of past material, the EP is a step in a vastly different direction for the band. Moving away from their heavier sound — especially that of 2015’s Pull the Thorns from Your Heart — Senses Fail had to approach songwriting through a new lens.
“Writing acoustic songs is fairly different, especially than writing the last record we wrote which is pretty heavy. You know, sitting down with an acoustic guitar and just trying to really write the best stripped down songs possible is a completely different approach in all aspects to writing something that’s more either heavy or atmospherical,” Nielsen said.
Nielsen also cited inspiration from Dan Bazan and Death Cab for Cutie for his acoustic work, whose influences shine brightly on the EP. Yet moving forward, he says the band will be reinvigorating their older sound:
“We’re going to do a record in July. Basically, it’s gonna sound more like if you put a record between Still Searching and Let It Enfold You … so I think we’re kind of going to go back to our roots, but it’s going to be with a new approach because I’m the main songwriter now and when we wrote those records I wasn’t writing music at all,” he said.
So whether you’re a new fan or have been with them since the beginning, listeners will still be kept on their toes by Senses Fail, what with their dynamism and slew of recent releases. If Nielsen’s own excitement and the band’s past performance record are any indication, Saturday’s show isn’t to be missed.