How important was it to separate your solo project, Thomas Giles, from Between The Buried And Me?Tommy Rogers: I think it was very important to separate the two. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people do solo projects that sound like their main band. I wanted to step outside of what I normally write and try something totally new.
What’s different about writing music for you from writing music for a group of people, like the members of Between The Buried And Me? Are the filters the same or do you allow yourself a wider creative canvas on which to sonically paint because you won’t have to entertain the interests of others?
Tommy Rogers: It’s really hard to compare the two. The method of writing is so different from each other. The writing for Pulse was randomly done over a two to three year period, so there was never a huge amount of time concentrated solely on that project. It was very relaxed and there was no pressure due to the fact that I didn’t let anyone know I was even working on a record. I had no deadlines and that created a sense of comfort that helped me get through the record without rushing. I wanted to make sure everything was exactly how I wanted before I announced that I was even going to record.
I hear a little Porcupine Tree in Pulse. Neat coincidence or are the Brits an influence?
Tommy Rogers: I’ve been a fan of them for years and I’m sure it’s a natural influence. I also feel I’m very influenced by a lot of similar artists as them… For example, The Beatles.
I also feel like ’80s electronic music and video games played a part in Pulse. Perhaps like “Catch & Release”. Off base here?
Tommy Rogers: I’ve been a huge fan of electronic music since high school and it’s something I’ve always been interested in writing. It was very natural to have those elements on the record. With catch and release I wanted to create a heavy industrial song. That was my interpretation of that thought.
Is Pulse the follow-up to Giles? Just wondering since you elongated the band name.
Tommy Rogers: The only similarities the two records share are the fact that they are both solo records of mine. Giles was an experience that never felt very natural looking back… And Pulse is about as natural as I can get. Giles is a fun record and a tongue-in-cheek look at pop music, and honestly I look back sometimes and wonder what the hell I was thinking, but what’s done is done. [Laughs] It was a really fun experience making that record even if it’s not my most proud moment, and that in itself makes it worthwhile to me.
How do you think you’ve grown as a songwriter since Giles?
Tommy Rogers: Just like anything, the older you get the more you learn. I’ve been writing music with four amazing musicians now for 10 years and that rubs off on me for sure. I’ve learned so much about creating moods, song structure, making ideas come to life in the studio, and most importantly I’m slowly starting to understand my voice.
Pulse is diverse. How do songs like “Scared”, “The Medic”, “Reverb Island” relate to one another? Do you see the song-to-song path as logical and connected?
Tommy Rogers: When I listen to this record I think it really sums up what goes on in my mind when I write. It’s hard for me to stay in one space… That’s a trait I carry over into normal life as well. That hardest part for me and this record was making all these songs fit together. It took a while to create a flow I felt worked…
The production on Pulse is interesting. It’s very soft and muted. Was that on purpose? Even “Medic”, which is the album’s heaviest cut, doesn’t have a very aggressive bite.
Tommy Rogers: I wanted the record to be very dark and mellow and I think the production hints at that. With songs like medic being more aggressive, I still wanted it to have a vibe that felt comfortable with the rest of the material.
Over how long of a period was Pulse written? Are you the type to write and re-write tunes until you’re spent?
Tommy Rogers: I randomly wrote the songs over a two and a half year span. I didn’t do a lot of re-writing, just improving on what I already had.
Do you think metalheads and hardcore kids are more open-minded now about music than they were, say, when Prayer for Cleansing were bopping about?
Tommy Rogers: Absolutely! I feel people are looking for new things in music, and in order to find that you have to be open-minded. I was even a lot more close minded back in those days… I think age has a lot to do with it as well. Regardless, I love writing and hopefully I’ll do it till the day I die.
** Thomas Giles new album Pulse is out now on Metal Blade Records. Order it here.