Keith Buckley, vocalist for the acclaimed Buffalo, NY metalcore outfit Every Time I Die (ETID), announced the pending publication of his debut novel via Twitter early this morning. The semi-autobiographical text, Scale, will be published by Rare Bird Books in late 2015/early 2016.
Buckley broke the news in a tweet reading, “permission to announce this is the best birthday gift I’ve ever gotten. my book ‘Scale’ will be on shelves in 2015.” His tweet also included a link to the press release for the book, which appears on Rare Bird’s website. Rare Bird’s communiqué describes the novel as a subject of interest for “fans of pop culture, Americana, Punk Rock music, and Charles Bukowski’s HAM ON RYE,” urging these prospective fans of Buckley’s writing to “lookout!”
Moreover, the press release offers a brief summary of Buckley’s debut novel, which is about a hard-drinking, hard-partying, “hopeless and struggling indie rock musician,” who, “unfortunately for him, will probably outlive you.” The description of the text becomes more cerebral, stating: “SCALE chronicles Ray Goldman’s journey downward through the adversarial trials that sometimes prove necessary in facilitating an eventual ascent into truth and happiness. The odd chapters of the novel find Ray, now a 31-year-old guitar player, seeking fulfillment in the wake of a life-altering tragedy while the even chapters see him reflecting on the depravity and selfishness that hastened his descent towards it. SCALE is about the relationship between instability and balance, death and resurrection, perception and reality, but ultimately it is about the endless war waged between our disquieted minds and our noble hearts.”
Fans of Every Time I Die’s music will doubtless recognize these motifs as recurring in the band’s canon, and listening to Buckley and company’s seventh studio full-length, From Parts Unknown, would do little to disabuse them of this notion. The singer, who turns 35 today, has been lauded as a prolific lyricist; a former English teacher, Buckley often includes literary and philosophical allusions in his lyrics. Examples of this practice from ETID’s most recent release can be found in songs like “If There is Room to Move, Things Move,” and “Moor” which, respectively, reference Shrödinger’s cat and Shakespeare’s Tragedy of Othello, the Moor of Venice.
In light of this announcement, it would seem Mr. Buckley is having a blue-ribbon year replete with various noteworthy milestones: a new record, a summer on the Vans Warped Tour, a 35th birthday, and now, a first novel. But this year hasn’t been without struggle for the vocalist; in a behind-the-scenes video published to YouTube this past summer after the release of From Parts Unknown, Buckley states: “[It] just kinda got to the point where I didn’t really like myself or anything that was really going on. I’d put so much time and effort into being this dude, I can’t just give it up. Because all these people believe that I’m this dude, and I just wasn’t that dude anymore… It became this whole thing from [Every Time I Die’s sixth LP] Ex Lives where I really, really hated myself and I didn’t want to be angry anymore and I didn’t want to be unhealthy anymore and I didn’t want to be dishonest anymore so I kind of just scrapped the whole thing, you know?… Let’s just f**king let some light in, really take a look at what we got, here, and get rid of the unnecessary stuff… I just got to a point in my life where I was like, ‘if I just know what’s true and dissociate from this ego manifestation, that I could probably do a lot better by a lot more people.’ I stopped standing in my own way and I think a lot of the lyrics [on From Parts Unknown] are about that.”
Buckley’s conquered cognitive dissonance aside, Scale shows promise, though this writer personally hopes that, considering the author’s literary acumen, the text offers something more complex than the tenets of Bukowski’s work, as much of a cultural touchstone as that work may be. Though it will almost certainly lack the casual lowbrow misogyny of the “Hunchback of West Hollywood,” Scale offers the prospect of a navel-gazing sort of resonance, especially within the alternative/hardcore scene that nurtured Every Time I Die from the band’s humble beginnings as “a Buffalo Bills tailgate party and a high school kegger.”