Senses Fail Biography
Last updated: 07/10/2012 12:00:00 PM
Not many musicians influenced by punk, hardcore and metal are also well versed in poetry, literature and comparative religion. Then again, not many musicians are in Senses Fail.
While dozens of their peers continue to create soul-rendering music about the girls who shattered their hearts and ruined their lives, the Bergen County, New Jersey five piece takes a more intellectual approach to sonic catharsis. Even the name Senses Fail comes from frontman Buddy Nilelsen's interest in spirituality.
"In Hinduism, they believe that being alive is hell, and the only way to each Nirvana is to ultimately have no attachments to anything," he explains. "So, people go out and live in the middle of the woods and they don't eat and don't drink. They just meditate because they've reached such a high level where they're not attached to love, relationships or anything. And if you want to reach the highest level of being and see God, you have to have all your senses fail."
The band's full-length debut, Let It Enfold You, is a melodic and an emotionally revealing slugfest that dives into unusual and refreshing subject matter. The title track is named after a poem by nihilistic author and poet Charles Bukowski, "The Irony of Dying on Your Birthday" draws from the work of mythologist Joseph Campbell and the lyrics of "Slow Dance" are comprised of lines from Dao De Jing.
"I was really into Daoism for a while and I really wanted to write a song explaining what it was about -- the idea of living a pacifist path. You let things come and you let things go. You don't get overexcited or overly upset. I'm a very emotional guy. I'm either really upset or really happy. There's no in between. So I'm always trying to find that middle ground where I can be happy."
Fourtunately, Senses Fail's brains are matched by their brawn. Let It Enfold You is a powerful, inviting and triumphant manifesto of youthful energy and turmoil. From the tumbling rhythms and piercing guitar fill of the storming "Tie Her Down" to the tuneful vocal harmonies and blood-chilling screams of "You're Cute When You Scream" to the surging, stop-start rhythms and pointed vocals of "Bite To Break Skin" the band delivers with the consistency and power of veterans, not an outfit that has only been around since 2002.
A year before Senses Fail were officially born, Nielsen posted an ad for band members on a musician's Web board. Guitarist and background vocalist Garrett Zablocki responded, and the two started jamming with guys Zablocki knew from a previous band he had been in. Guitarist and background singer Dave Miller and drummer Dan Trapp joined when their other group broke up, and after going through a couple bassists who didn't work out, Senses Fail nabbed ex-Tokyo Rose member Mike Glita. The band wrote and practiced a bunch of originals, and lined up gigs at VFW halls and small clubs throughout New Jersey.
Then Senses Fail entered the studio in 2002 with producer John Naclerio, recording two three-song demos. The material turned into an EP called, From The Depths of Dreams. The response to the disc was so strong that just a couple weeks after its release, the band was being courted by larger labels. The collection sold well, and the band supported it with numerous well-recieved tours, including Finch, Millencolin, and The Starting Line. From The Depths of Dreams would later be re-issued with two bonus tracks.
After they finished touring, Senses Fail returned to the studio with Saves The Day producer Steve Evetts to record Let It Enfold You, their most challenging and rewarding experience to date. "We killed ourselves over and over trying to say what we wanted, and make the record the best it could be," Nielsen says. "I just feel like we got lucky to be where we are now, and now we have to prove ourselves and really earn it."
Senses Fail preceded the release of the album with a prominent spot on the Warped Tour and will tour exhaustively through 2004. In addition, Senses Fail are writing music for their next record, and Nielsen spends whatever spare time he has scribbling new poems and passages. When things are so busy, Senses Fail aren't interested in living in the past, or even the present. They've got their eye on the promising future and are determined to capitalize on their vast potential.
"We just love making music and writing good songs," Nielsen said. "I feel like I've got a lot more to say and we've got a lot more to contribute. But even if things ended tomorrow, we've gotten 10 times further than we ever expected to get and that makes us feel like we've succeeded regardless of what happens from here on."