In the fall of 2004, Senses Fail released their debut album, Let It Enfold You, which launched the Ridgewood, New Jersey-based quartet into mainstream success. At a time when New Jersey continued to shine as a recognizable home for underground music, Senses Fail became the next group to carry the torch for the Garden State with an angst-ridden and heartfelt post-hardcore entity to call their own.
Not only did this release immediately win over the hearts of many with iconic singles like “Buried A Lie,” “Rum Is For Drinking, Not For Burning” and “Bite To Break Skin,” Let It Enfold You became regarded over the years as an influential masterpiece that still stands the test of time to this day.
In celebration of its 10-year anniversary, Senses Fail recently started a month-long tour, where they will be playing the album in its entirety. Before they embarked on this nostalgic journey, I spoke with the band’s founder and leading frontman, Buddy Nielsen, about the ways in which Let It Enfold You has shaped his life personally and musically.
Were there a lot of expectations and anticipation from your fans to do a 10-year anniversary tour for Let It Enfold You since the beginning of the year?
Yeah, I think so. I’m not really sure since… Yeah, I think there was. So that’s why we did it.
How long have you wanted to do a 10-year tour for the album? Was this something you had planned out for a while, or was thing something that you’d figured, why not?
I mean, it was something that, you know, I didn’t necessarily want to do, but then I decided it was probably kind of a good idea. You know, I think that the band’s sound is moving in a different direction, but I do think it’s important to sort of celebrate what we have done in the past as well.
Since the band moved toward a heavier hardcore-influence direction with your last full-length, Renacer, what will it be like to reconnect with these older songs throughout this upcoming tour once again?
Umm… it will be interesting. We still play a lot of them [songs off of Let It Enfold You], so I think it will be fun to go out and sort of rediscover these songs along the way.
What songs off Let It Enfold You are you looking forward to playing the most that you haven’t had the opportunity to play too much live?
Yeah, we don’t play the title-track, “Let It Enfold You,” a lot. There’s a song called “Slow Dance” that we never play. So, there’s definitely a couple of songs that we don’t really get into and it will be really cool to play those live because we’ve never really done it.
Are there any songs off of the record in particular that still hit close to home for you personally whenever you play them live?
Some of the songs I still relate to and some of them I don’t. It’s been 10 years, so I’m a much different person that I was, so they don’t exactly relate in the same way.
On this tour, will you be also be incorporating a variety of songs into your set from your previous albums as well? Or will you be playing Let It Enfold You in full on one straightforward set?
We’re going to play Let It Enfold You and also a mix of everything. I would like everyone to be happy.
Chris Hornbrook of Poison The Well is going to be playing drums for the band on this tour. Since you’ve referenced in the past that Poison The Well was a main influence for the last record, what kind of impact do you think he will add to dynamic of the band on this tour?
I mean, he is just a fantastic drummer, so he’s going to really bring a whole new sort of approach to the songs as well as moving forward musically. For the next record, it’s definitely going to step into a different direction, even more so than the last record. It’s been really cool to play with someone you’ve grown up with as an influence and be able to integrate that into your music.
Did you get the opportunity to play with Poison The Well a lot when they were still around back in the day?
Not really, no, we didn’t play with them too much. We were a part of the younger “screamo/emo/Drive-Thru Records” thing and they were with the more respected hardcore bands, so our paths never crossed.
One cool thing that I’ve always admired about your band is that you’ll always bring out many newer bands that are emerging in the pop punk and hardcore scene as supporting acts on your tours. When choosing opening acts to come out with you on the road, what are some factors that you normally take into consideration?
I manage bands and have worked at a record label for like, four years now, and it’s a part of my job to stay up on what is going on, on a smaller scale and a younger scale, so I’m constantly stumbling upon new music and new bands. I just try to pay attention. I also want to stay current on what’s going on in music.
Our new music is influenced by new bands. I mean, I’m definitely influenced by older stuff, but Senses Fail is always influenced by current music. To the joy of some people and to the anger of some people who kind of want us to remain the same, that’s sort of how I go about this band.
Just because I’m always working with some of the bands I manage and looking for bands to tour with and trying to get on tours, that sort of had an impact. When I put together a tour, I’ll go, “I think that this will fit what we’re doing,” and, “I think that these bands will be cool,” so it’s not like I just randomly pick bands.
What would you say are some of the advantages of touring with newer and younger bands?
I see it both ways. I see people who complain, “The bands you take out on [tour] suck,” and then there’s people who wouldn’t know about unless if we took these bands out, so I don’t know. I can’t really say whether or not people enjoy it or not. I think some people like it, and I think that there are some people who would rather have us tour with, you know, the same bands that we did 10 years ago, and most of which don’t exist anymore.
Reflecting back on the huge success this record was from the very beginning, what would you say was your biggest accomplishment you achieved since releasing Let It Enfold You from a personal and musical level?
Yeah, I mean, it is our best-selling record. And this is the one that really set the stage for us to kind of go on and really have the larger success that we did. It was a wild time and it really did set the stage for really all of the experiences that I’ve had until now.
After all these years, what are some defining qualities from Let It Enfold You that still resonate with you the most?
I think the title of the record and the title song still carry weight with me. I try to let things that I’m still working on kind of “enfold” me. That’s probably the main thing I think that, when I look back on that record, I go, “Oh, well the title of it.”
What I was trying to go for is still something that I’m working towards. It’s still something of interest. Some of the songs, you know, were yearning about a limited world that I had at that time, but the title of the song and the name of the record really still hold weight. I could name a record that now and it would still be relevant to me.
After this 10-year tour is all said and done, what are some future plans you have in store?
We’re going to be recording in November and we we’re going to be touring next March and then we’re going to put out a new record in the summer. We’re going to be doing a bunch of stuff.
Excellent. Is there anything in particular that stands out musically that fans should look out for or look forward to about this new record?
It’s going to be much, much heavier. A little bit more “experimental.” I know that’s a dirty word.
You know… I don’t know yet. I don’t know what it will be like until it’s done and even then, I don’t know what people will think of it. It will definitely be our most adventurous record.
Maybe you’ll like this, I don’t know, maybe you won’t. It’s not up for me to decide.
Senses Fail will be playing The Marlin Room At Webster Hall in Manhattan on Sept. 17, the Music Hall Of Williamsburg in Brooklyn on Sept. 18, the Trocadero Theater in Philadelphia on Sept. 19 and the Starland Ballroom in Sayreville on Sept. 20. For more information, go to sensesfail.com.