In late fall of 2017 I had the opportunity to sit down with BURIED ABOVE GROUND members Eric McMahon (vocals) and DJ Gunnarson (guitars). I for sure thought this recording was lost, but I managed to find it, along with some other hidden gems that I will be posting in the weeks and months ahead. So, for the fourth in our “The Lost Tapes Interviews” series, I present BURIED ABOVE GROUND. Check it:
Amps: So Eric, how long have you been with BURIED ABOVE GROUND?
Eric: Since the beginning. DJ and I started this.
DJ: We were in THEE MASSACRE together.
Amps: Jeez DJ, I’ve been covering your work for awhile now, huh? WHITE EMPRESS, THEE MASSACRE, and now this band!
DJ: It’s been crazy, man. But this is the last one, I promise (laughs)!
Amps: Birth came out in July of 2016. Great, crushing stuff. So what’s next?
DJ: Our new EP is all written and we’re just putting some finishing touches on it for an early 2018 release. (At press time that EP, The Crown, is currently out and making some big noise!!) We just got a new booking agent and a new publicist in George Vallee at Seek and Strike. He really follows through on what he says he’s gonna do.
Amps: George is such a great guy. He definitely works hard for his artists. I’ve known him since 2014, and I have nothing but great things to say about him.
Eric: When he hit us up about working together we had already heard how good he was so it was the perfect move.
Amps: I know you’ve got a couple of tours coming up, one of them supporting CARNIFEX, so 2018 is sure gonna be busy, huh?
DJ: it sure is. We’re really excited to get out on both coasts, too. And I’m pretty sure Europe, too.
Eric: You’re back in Philly now, right? We’ll see you!
DJ: And you have some of the funniest rants and offbeat humor-type posts on social media, dude.
Amps: That’s the power of vodka and rum, my friend (all of us laughing)! Eric, Tell me a little about what you like to do away from music to unwind.
Eric: Not much. When I have free time it’s usually video games and just hanging out with friends. I work a lot, so when I don’t have to think too much about things I’m happy!
Amps: DJ, I know you’re a pretty prolific writer. Eric, are you the same way?
Eric: I’m not so much of the writer, as far as doing it often.
DJ: I bug him to do it, though…a lot!
Eric: Yeah, he does. I’m working on it, though. I’ve managed to get more personal in the lyrics, but I don’t do it to the extent that DJ does.
Amps: What albums came out in 2017 that are really moving you?
Eric: I am really digging the new CD from THE BLACK DAHLIA MURDER (Nightbringers) and I fell in love with SEPTICFLESH’S latest release (Codex Omega).
DJ: That NAILS record (You Will Never Be One of Us) from 2016 is still in pretty heavy rotation for me. I love the way Kurt Ballou recorded that record.
Amps: Is this the same line-up as the first EP?
Eric: Oh yeah. BURIED ABOVE GROUND, we are very much a unit. We all work really well together. We all have a job in the band, and without one member pulling his weight we’d be screwed.
DJ: We’re a machine now, for sure.
Amps: I can remember when we had just reviewed THEE MASSACRE, and a few weeks later I get a message from DJ saying, “Got something new and really cool happening, dude.” And I’m like, “Da fuck?!? We JUST did MASSACRE!!”
DJ: (Laughs) I know, I know. I got the itch to start something after WHITE EMPRESS, which is how THEE MASSACRE was born. And the amalgamation of all the bullshit we in this current band have been through is what led to BURIED ABOVE GROUND.
Amps: Oh, I’m glad. Because I love this band! Eric, what’s your favorite food, book, and movie? Don’t think…ANSWER!
Eric: That’s tough because there are so many great movies. Saving Private Ryan is definitely one of them. Favorite book? I’m a huge fan of the Game of Thrones series. As for food, anything with cheese in it is perfect for me.
Amps: I love cheese. I would marry cheese if I could.
DJ: Dude, he puts cheese ON cheese. He’ll put cheddar cheese on top of mozzarella to make sure there’s enough cheese!
Eric: Hey, there’s nothing wrong with that!
Amps: DJ, same questions, GO!!
DJ: My favorite food is Stove Top stuffing, I love that shit. Favorite movie? Superbad for comedy, Fight Club for something darker. The last book I read that I really liked was End the Fed by Ron Paul.
Amps: When are you most inspired?
DJ: Super-late at night, when I’m alone. If it’s 2 a.m. I’ll be in the studio working.
Eric: I found that I wrote most of the lyrics for Birth at 10 in the morning, right after getting up on days off.
Amps: Do you guys find it difficult to maintain relationships with women, since this band consumes so much of your time?
Eric: Oh it’s very hard. This band has already ended one of my relationships.
DJ: You give so much of yourself to the band because you want it to reach its full potential, and sometimes you’re not able to give as much of yourself to your relationship. It’s a trade-off that I definitely have not mastered yet.
Amps: When the listener gets The Crown in their hands, and the last note of the last song rings out, what would you hope they take away from it?
Eric: I’d want them to have to know what we’re like live. Like they can’t wait to see us.
DJ: For the people who have already heard Birth, I’d like them to be able to hear our progression as a band and as musicians. Kind of sit back and be like, “Whoa, Fuck!”
Amps: With that in mind, how do you feel you’ve grown or changed as both writers and musicians since the first EP?
DJ: The songs are a lot more mature, for sure. I’m not saying the first one was rushed in any sense, because it wasn’t. I feel like I was still trying to learn how I wanted to write the songs for the band, and I think everyone kind of was learning what their role was gonna be, and we were all kind of feeling each other out a little bit. We definitely trust each other a lot more now. We’re able to put more of ourselves on record, if that makes sense.
Eric: It’s definitely a lot more personal, lyrically, as I said earlier.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the BURIED ABOVE GROUND fans out there in the world?
Eric: Just a huge thank you for all the support. You’re making my dream come true, here. I wouldn’t be able to make music with my friends if it wasn’t for all the people checking us out and sharing us all over the place. Thank you to everyone.
DJ: I would say the same thing. Without people actually listening to our music, we can’t do it on the scale we do it at. Ultimately we make music for ourselves, but people liking it really means the world to us.
Man, this one was fun. DJ and Eric are really cool guys, and super nice. Which is crazy, because when you hear their music they sound like they’d be one of Satan’s house bands. I’m so glad this recording was retrieved and I got to share it with you all. Check out The Crown and Birth HERE, and there are six dates remaining on their Chaos and Carnage Tour 2018. And those dates can be found HERE. Get into some BURIED ABOVE GROUND, folks. You’ll be glad you did.