Senses Fail's Buddy Nielsen

Com­ing out as a queer rock artist

GA Voice - - Front Page - By GREGG SHAPIRO

Buddy Nielsen, who re­cently came out as queer, is the front­man for Senses Fail, a band known for its “scream” sound. His com­ing out is the kind of act one hopes will in­spire oth­ers like him to feel safe enough to do the same. Nielsen, cur­rently on tour with Senses Fail in sup­port of its lat­est release, “Pull The Thorns From Your Heart (Pure Noise),” talks about the band and more.

Ge­or­gia Voice: Buddy, I’d like to be­gin by ask­ing you about the ge­n­e­sis of the name of the band Senses Fail.

Buddy Nielsen: When I was in high school I took an East­ern Phi­los­o­phy class. I was in­tro­duced to Hin­duism and Bud­dhism and Tao­ism and Jain­ism and all sorts of East­ern thought. It really spoke

to me. I pulled (the name) out of a mix of some of the things I’d heard about Hin­duism and Bud­dhism and the un­sat­is­fac­tory na­ture of life. Senses Fail spoke to this tran­scend­ing of what our re­al­ity is. It spoke to me be­cause at an early age I had a trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence and went into a dis­so­cia­tive state. I didn’t feel like I was in my own body. A lot of my life I was never really able to feel com­fort­able in my own skin. It was a ref­er­ence to that, as well.

In terms of the band’s sound, was it al­ways the plan for Senses Fail to be a hard­core metal band?

It started off a lit­tle dark, a lit­tle heavy. Then we had some suc­cess with some of the more poppy, catchy stuff. That’s what was go­ing on at the time. We mor­phed into more of a rock band with some heav­i­ness to it. Then, over the last three years, we’ve mor­phed into more of a hard­core sort of heavy metal act. There was no plan. Ev­ery­thing was pretty nat­u­ral.

You re­cently came out as queer. What was the re­ac­tion from your fam­ily?

It was very pos­i­tive. I think it’s just con­fu­sion, hon­estly. A lot of peo­ple didn’t really know what the hell I was talk­ing about. I’m en­gaged to a cis­gen­der woman. I didn’t live my en­tire life only be­ing at­tracted to women. If I had felt more com­fort­able, who knows if I would have been in a com­mit­ted re­la­tion­ship with a woman. I think ev­ery­body was a lit­tle con­fused about what it was ex­actly I was com­ing out for and what I was really say­ing. Be­cause no one has ever known me to have any other sex­ual iden­tity; but that’s just be­cause I didn’t feel com­fort­able be­ing in a re­la­tion­ship with a man or some­one gen­derqueer. A lot of my at­trac­tion was to gen­derqueer peo­ple as well as trans­gen­der women. I never felt com­fort­able ex­plor­ing any of that, really, so no one ever knew. They were all sur­prised.

How did your band­mates re­act?

They were fine. That was prob­a­bly the eas­i­est.

Do you think that’s be­cause you spend so much time to­gether?

Yes. It’s also be­cause for the younger gen­er­a­tion who are in­volved in this style of mu-

“I don’t really have a place in this mu­sic scene. In­die rock is dif­fer­ent and pop mu­sic is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. But in this un­der­ground rock scene, it’s very straight male-driven. That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of ad­vo­cates. But there’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween ad­vo­cates and peo­ple who iden­tify.” – Buddy Nielsen

sic—ev­ery­body’s pretty open. It wasn’t that big of a shock and no­body bat­ted an eye.

Had you or have you spo­ken with other LGBTQ mu­si­cians within your mu­si­cal genre about the com­ing-out process?

No, I haven’t really had a chance to. For this, it’s not really like there’s a com­mu­nity. That’s one of my is­sues and that’s what I’m try­ing to do and that’s why I’m be­ing so vo­cal about it. There’s just not that many of us [laughs], es­pe­cially in this mu­si­cal genre. I don’t really have a place in this mu­sic scene. In­die rock is dif­fer­ent and pop mu­sic is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent. But in this un­der­ground rock scene, it’s very straight male-driven. That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of ad­vo­cates. But there’s a dif­fer­ence be­tween ad­vo­cates and peo­ple who iden­tify.

Do you think by com­ing out, you can set an ex­am­ple for other mu­si­cians, as well as fans of yours who are strug­gling with the same is­sue?

Yeah! I would hope so. Giv­ing peo­ple a place where they can voice that is really im­por­tant. Peo­ple need a place to dis­charge this stuff. That’s what I’m work­ing to­wards; my role of be­com­ing a safe place for peo­ple to con­nect. I spent a long time deal­ing with a lot of men­tal an­guish over some­thing that now, hav­ing come out—I just wish I would have done 10 years ago. But 10 years ago was a very dif­fer­ent time in this coun­try.

Buddy Nielsen (Public­ity pho­tos)

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