Reawakening a New Path:
An Interview with Buddy Nielsen of Senses Fail

Words by Nick Hodgins — Lanchester, PA

Take what opinions you think you have about Senses Fail and forget them. Renacer, Senses Fail’s fifth studio album, translates from Spanish to “rebirth” or “revival.” With only two of the original members left, Senses Fail has very much undergone a rebirth for their latest release.

Buddy Nielsen, frontman for Senses Fail, explains how after 11 years of doing this it was time to reevaluate the sound of the band and try a new direction.“Musically, it’s just completely different than anything we’ve done before; it’s a new attitude and a new approach.”

Renacer attacks the listener right from track one with chugging guitar riffs, heavy vocals and an in-your-face demeanor that is tough to ignore. The poppy days of Let it Enfold You are behind Senses Fail and introduced is an edgier, overall heavier style, as can be heard on tracks like “The Path” and “Closure/Rebirth.” Referring to the older sound, Nielsen says, “I don’t want to write that kind of music anymore… I knew we were gonna lose some fans along the way, but I also knew we weren’t. So hopefully we gain more fans than we lose.”

Live love learn, Nielsen preaches through raspy screams on the second track titled “Holy Mountain.” Despite the heavier style of Renacer, the lyrics display a more positive vibe, which is something we haven’t seen much in past Senses Fail. “I’m just in a different spot mentally and in my life and I just made a conscious decision to not live in that mindset and that’s sort of what the records about, urging people to do the same,” says Nielsen.

Nielsen mentions the hardcore punk band Poison the Well as an influence on the new record. “I’ve always loved their style of mixing singing and screaming and I just think it’s really well done.” Nielsen goes on to explain how the new members Zack Roach and Matt Smith bring that sound to the band and that Poison the Well influence is able to shine through more than it has on past records. “It just got a lot moodier and a lot deader. I enjoy what we’ve done in the past but I think this is a higher quality songwriting.”

Senses Fail is currently touring to promote the new record. Initially, plans were to kick off the tour at home, in North Jersey, at the Montclair venue The Meat Locker, but they ran into conflicting interests with how they wanted to do the show and how the venue wanted to do it. The initial plan was to have kids lineup outside and let the first 60 in on a first-come-first-serve basis. For those not familiar with the Meat Locker, it is a small, basement style venue. “I still wanna do a show like that,” Buddy began, “That’s where we started doing it eleven years ago and I like doing it. It would have been a lot of fun, but it just didn’t work out.” Instead the tour began in Pennsylvania and will roll around back to the tri-state area the second week of May.

As for what can be expected from this new era of Senses Fail, Nielsen describes the future as one without boundaries and hopes fans are willing to take that risk and grow with the band. One aspect of Renacer that does resonate with previous albums is what Nielsen refers to as the “obvious Senses Fail choruses,” and thinks that is one thing that will definitely change in albums to come. “I don’t think we’re gonna abandon everything about Senses Fail, but we’re going to be way more open to mixing in different [heavier] ideas.”