Listen to Every Time I Die's 'C++ (Love Will Get You Killed)'
Becoming a parent for the first time can be nerve-wracking, even if the pregnancy goes smoothly. So the last thing any father-to-be wants to get while he’s traveling far away home is a phone call informing him that his partner and newborn child are facing a medical crisis. Unfortunately, that’s what happened to Every Time I Die singer Keith Buckley when he and his wife, Lindsay, were expecting their first child in 2015.
He was in Toronto when he received word that Lindsay, then seven months pregnant, had developed a life-threatening complication that resulted in the baby being born prematurely. Lindsay also stopped breathing after their daughter was delivered. Buckley immediately rushed home to Buffalo, N.Y., to see his family through the crisis.
“When I got there they took me to see [Lindsay], but she was unconscious and hooked up to a bunch of machines,” says Buckley of the traumatizing scene at the hospital. “None of the doctors knew what happened. All they could do was monitor her vitals. She couldn’t talk because of the tubes so she just wrote words with her fingers on my arm. ‘Scary’ was what she wrote first.”
The track “C++ (Love Will Get You Killed)” on Every Time I Die’s new album, Low Teens (due Sept. 23 on Epitaph), recounts Buckley’s experience of spending that first night in the intensive care unit with Lindsay.
“I had never felt so helpless,” he admits, refraining from describing the specifics of Lindsay's illness. “I could do nothing for her. I couldn’t tell her it was going to be OK. I couldn’t even tell her that death wouldn’t be better because I had no idea yet if our daughter had even made it. I kept asking doctors what the machines meant, and eventually I could tell they were sick of me asking so many questions. I realized that if I could only understand what their beeps meant I might have some hope. I might have some answers.”
Listen to "C++ below":
“C++” isn’t the only song that reflects Buckley’s experience: Low Teens as a whole was affected by the situation. Fortunately, both patients survived, but amid the uncertainty Buckley relied upon writing for emotional catharsis and to process his feelings in the subsequent weeks as Lindsay’s and the baby’s health improved.
“I didn’t know what I was doing or exactly how it was working, but writing lyrics at night and feeling like I had made sense of some of my confusion gave me hope,” explains Buckley. “I would take that hope into the hospital rooms. We would get more good news. I would go back to writing lyrics with confidence. Confidence made me hopeful.” He says the cycle continued until both baby and mother received clean bills of health and Low Teens was written and recorded.
“The record healed me,” says Buckley. “It kept me strong for my family. People can say it's a coincidence, but they weren't there. I know it was something more.”
While he says that “99 percent” of Low Teens’ lyrics are specifically about the November night his daughter was born, Buckley feels Every Time I Die’s fans can still relate to the album since, as fellow humans, they “understand hopelessness and anger and darkness and light.”
“It will mean different things to different people,” he says of Low Teens. “When you try to write something anthemic, hoping to speak to everyone, you usually connect with no one. We just put our heads down and focus on what we feel and hope it resonates with other people.” Buckley attributes the band’s longevity to this trait: “We're inspired to make music by everything around us at that moment. It may not be a timeless agenda, but it is a very human experience.”
On the brighter side of making music, Low Teens contains guest vocal appearances by Deadguy’s Tim Singer and Panic at the Disco’s Brendon Urie. Buckley observes that Singer had “a very similar experience” to the one that’s described in the track “Fear and Trembling.” “There is such a sincere anger in his voice that it haunted me the first time I heard it. Listeners may not know the background story, but the energy it carries is undeniable.”
Regarding the song Urie performed on, “It Remembers,” Buckley calls it “more of a linear story than any others, so for me it wasn't as much getting him to sing as it was about casting him as a character. I also love pairing up with someone that surprises the listener. Every Time I Die and Panic at the Disco probably don’t share many of the same fans, but he and I are friends and I admire him more than any other pop vocalist out there. He’s a f--king genius.”