The laughs are easy to come by,” Keith Buckley says with a chuckle, appropriately enough. “That’s no problem.”
Taken at face value, those words may seem a little counterintuitive from a guy who makes his living shrieking like his tonsils are on fire.
Still, Buckley’s an affable dude, even if he fronts a band that possesses all the geniality of a bear trap.
Said group, Buffalo, N.Y.’s Every Time I Die, is a storm front of swarming, metallic riffing, bellowed epithets and seismic breakdowns.
On paper, that reads like the metalcore blueprint, but the members of ETID distinguish themselves from their peers with a streamlined, rock ‘n’ roll groove that lends their catalog far more swing than most bands of their ilk.
It’s the difference between getting mauled by a grizzly and doing the two-step with it.
And then there are Buckley’s lyrics, sardonic, cheeky and awash in symbolism, the barbed musings of a former ninth- and 10th-grade English teacher who was a literature major in college.
“I had a professor who said, ‘There are two things that a male English student writes about, and that’s Jesus and his penis,’ ” Buckley says with another chortle. “So everything is going to be about that, one way or the other.
“I was a major in British literature, and obviously, nobody surpasses Shakespeare as far as the imagery is concerned,” he continues. “That was a big thing for me, something that I appreciated and tried to do, just paint pictures that are conveyed without spelling it out.”
Dark-hued and largely nonlinear, Buckley’s lyrics tend to eschew the alienation and blind rage that serve as much of the thematic grist for bands as hard-edged as his. Instead, he pokes fun at fashionistas and the trend-prone, his words often tongue-in-cheek and inscrutable.
“I never went for the cheap thrill of, ‘Let’s say something that everybody will know we have in common so kids can relate to our band,’ ” Buckley says. “I think it’s more of a heat seeker, like, ‘OK, I’m going to put this out there, and then let’s see whose ears it finds. Who’s actually going to take it in and understand what I’m talking about?’ Then they can relate to it.”
On ETID’s latest disc, “The Big Dirty,” the band’s fourth overall, Buckley wraps his serrated howl around lots of snarky wordplay (“We’rewolf,” “Rendez-Voodoo”) and pitch black social commentary.
“I definitely think that I was actively going for a bluesy feel,” he says. “I was listening to a lot of the Delta blues guitar players, Robert Johnson, stuff like that. I like those really dark, heartfelt lyrics a lot, and I tried to incorporate those if I could.”
Still, ETID is far from a dour bunch, and this is where a lot of the group’s appeal lies. A collegiate, bachelor-party-of-a-band that films videos that spoof everything from movies such as “Boogie Nights” to themselves, these dudes never hesitate to have a laugh at their own expense.
And their sound is similarly loose.
Whereas many hard-edged bands drop albums posited upon a suffocating density and a turgid grind these days, ETID has infused its latest disc with even more of the hardened, Southern-rock-influenced boogie that’s become the band’s trademark.
“We all kind of feel that the songs on the last record that had a little more groove to them were the songs that we enjoyed playing the most live,” Buckley says. “That was what we really liked playing, and I think we tried to infuse a lot more of that into it.”
Touring in support of the disc, the band is headlining the charitable Take Action Tour, the proceeds from which go to the Kristin Brooks Hope Center, which runs suicide prevention hot lines.
“It’s a tour that’s not about record sales and popularity,” Buckley says. “It’s for a good cause.”
With this bunch, it’s all pretty much one in the same.
Which is why they’re particularly looking forward to hitting Vegas.
“It’s like Babylon for us,” Buckley says.
And he means it as a compliment.
Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (702) 383-0476.what: Take Action Tour, with Every Time I Die
when: 6 p.m. Saturday
where: House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, 3950 Las Vegas Blvd. South
tickets: $22-$24 (632-7600)