Tommy Giles Rogers is the founder of Between the Buried and Me, the 5-piece band out of Raleigh, North Carolina. They can be classified anywhere from metal to prog, but they don’t let labels limit their writing, and it shows in the eclecticness of their music. The vocalist, keyboardist, guitar playing, songwriting, 38-year-old musician has been pushing the limits with his band and in his solo work for as long as he’s been making music, particularly on the keys.
“I think what has always been so fascinating about keyboards for me is that it’s literally endless, and with the kind of music, we write it just felt really natural to incorporate that,” Rogers told us, explaining how his role in the band as the keyboard player began.
He was first drawn to the keys not out of any strong desire to play, but as a way to keep busy on stage as a vocalist in a band that incorporates quite a few extended instrumental breaks. The more he explored, the more comfortable he got, to the point where keys became a pivotal part of their sound.
“I would just try to fill in things I heard in my head, or try to take traditional metal parts and think about how I could make them more interesting with keyboards,” Rogers said. He went on to explain that the older he got the more he discovered different ways to incorporate the instrument depending on the type of song.
Between the Buried and Me
When it comes to how Between the Buried and Me writes their music, things tend to get very technical according to Tommy Giles Rogers. Every little detail is combed over until it’s absolutely perfect, which works well for the band, but there were many things Rogers wanted to try as a songwriter that he couldn’t do with the band.
“With the solo stuff I really wanted to have simple songs and tap into a different way to write,” he explained. “I’m a huge fan of rock music and songs that are focused around melodies, a lot of times one little keyboard part or guitar riff can turn into a song, whereas with the band a riff can help write a song but it will never be the entire song.”
When it comes to recording, as well as his place on the stage, Rogers has been a member of the Korg family for the strong majority of his career. Starting off with a Triton LE and M50, before moving on to the Korg Krome which he currently uses. As a vocalist and keyboard player, minimalism is important to Rogers in order to perform both roles with as few distractions as possible.
“I like the simplicity of the krome and how diverse of an instrument it is,” Rogers said, breaking down his setup. “For me, on stage, the least amount of gear the better. I don’t want to have to focus on my gear during the whole set, because being the vocalist I need to interact with the crowd and create energy there.”
Between crowd management, tracking his parts, and tapping into the different plugins, sounds, and samples contained throughout the band’s music, Rogers is able to manage efficiently with just a few pieces of gear.
“The Korg stuff is kind of an all in one thing for me with the way it’s laid out and it works really well with the way I set up on stage. Sometimes I’ll incorporate a sampler as well if there are sounds that I can’t quite duplicate with the Krome. It’s been very reliable.”
Roger’s dual position in the band is a direct influence on the songwriting process, always keeping in mind his role as a vocalist when writing keyboard parts and vice versa. Something he says has become more natural over the years.
“I have to constantly think about that when getting the set ready,” he explained, referring to the instrumental sections versus the more aggressive vocal parts. “It’s not only learning the parts, but I also need to make sure I’m there for those moments on stage.”
Rogers is constantly growing as a vocalist. Much like his role as the keyboard player, lead singer was not something that was part of the initial plan, but the band needed a vocalist and the rest is history.
“The fun thing about it for me is it’s still something I learn a lot about every year and every tour,” he said. “I’ll meet new people, this last tour I talked to Daniel from Tesseract a lot, he teaches vocal classes and I learned a lot from him. It’s one of those things that even as I get older I still want to learn and I’m still not as good as I want to be.”
Tommy Giles Rogers hinted at some tour dates in July before the band heads to Europe for a fall tour. Be sure to check out all his gear on AMS.