Formed over a decade ago, Massachusetts-based quintet Unearth have risen to and remained at the top of the metalcore subgenre. I recently spoke with the band following their brief headlining club tour. All questions were answered by vocalist Trevor Phipps unless otherwise noticed.
You just finished up a brief headlining tour. How did it go?
The tour was definitely a fun one. Both Slo and Buz recently became dads, so we shortened up our touring schedule for the summer. We booked smaller rooms in smaller cities just to make sure we could get out there and have a good time playing. No "big show" stress of bringing a ton of backline or having a sweet light show. The intention was to just head out for ten days and party.
You filmed a few shows on this tour. How were they?
The shows were all solid. When the crowd knows they are being filmed, they put that little bit of extra energy into the show. Everyone likes being on camera. [laughs]
When can we expect to see the footage and in what form?
The footage will show us on stage, us in the van, us partying backstage and all the other stuff that goes into traveling on the road. The footage will be in a DVD format in a yet to be finalized release.
You recently came off a tour with Testament. What was it like playing with them every night?
Being a big Testament fan since 12 years old, it was a huge honor for me. On top of the shows being sweet, the guys in the band were down to earth and treated us with respect the entire time. They have been around since the mid 80's, and they still throw down on stage night after night. It was inspiring for us to see that, as being a career band is our ultimate goal.
Do you prefer these smaller, intimate shows or the larger ones?
Most musicians will tell you that the smaller intimate shows are the ones they prefer because there is more energy to feed off of. When you can see and feel the emotion of the people in the tight venue, it takes things to a more intense level for everyone.
How was it making the transition from having your own bus to touring in a van?
We toured in vans for years and years so it isn't a big deal to us. We go back to the van every once in a while when we do short runs like this and we do just fine. Sometimes the van can actually be more fun as we can just get a hotel in the town we play in and rage into the night and not worry about a midnight bus call.
You guys are heading to Europe for a tour with Chimaira in September. How are shows over there?
The European fans have always treated us well ever since our first trip there in 2002. I really can't say there is much of a difference between the American and European crowds for us. The raw energy at the shows is all there, and it is something we look forward to doing every time we have a tour planned for over there.
You filmed a music video for “Grave of Opportunity” a while back. When will that be released?
The release for this is still up in the air, as the production of it has hit a snag for some stupid "red tape" reasons. We tried to make a fun video for once, and it has turned out to be a pain in the balls for a lot of people. We'll eventually see a release for it though, so stay tuned.
Can you tell us about the video? I know you said it would be a lot different.
We want the final product to be a surprise, but it is different for us all around. There will be party footage, beer pong, animation, guest appearances and other cool shit going on. It was the easiest and most fun we have ever had shooting a video.
Have you had a chance to play the song on Guitar Hero: World Tour?
I did download it on my Wii, and it was fun as hell to play on guitar. I don't have the other instruments for my system yet, so I haven't tried all of it. I hope I pass the vocals!
When can we expect to hear some new music from the band? Do you have anything written?
We will be touring on The March for another year, so we haven't concentrated much on writing. There are riffs and ideas floating around, but we really want to get this record in peoples hands. This is some of the best song writing we have ever done, so it is a must for us to get out there and showcase the songs for the metal masses to hear it.
Why did you stop using clean singing in your songs after The Oncoming Storm?
The songs we have written since then have been on the heavier, more aggressive side and simply haven't made sense for any clean singing. That said, we haven't ruled that style of vocal out for future songs. You can't force something if it doesn't feel right, so we will wait for the proper tune to hit peeps with some clean shit.
Buz, you're going to be filling in for Mark from Lamb of God for a few European shows. How did that come about?
BUZ: Mark is expecting his first child and needed to be home with his wife during this time. Back in March when we were on tour in Australia together, he asked me if I could help him out. Unearth has been friends with LOG for many years, and I was completely flattered to be asked. It's been a great experience for me, and I am grateful to be vacationing on Lamb of God island. Big congratulations to Mark and his wife on becoming parents.
Derek, Seemless recently announced that they would be disbanding. Can you elaborate on that?
DEREK: Basically, Seemless was my baby. We had that first record written and recorded before Jesse even had anything to do with the band. We did everything we could, but in the year that we toured full time, not one dude in the band received a dime, and we lost thousands of dollars. When you have marriages, children, houses, etc., there's a line you have to walk between loving what you do but still needing to make ends meet, which obviously was not happening. I'm thankful for the cult following that we built and for the time we had to give things a shot, but in the end, it just didn't work out. We are a "bands' band" that seemed to go over the head of fans, for the most part.
Ken, you recently helmed the recording of The Destro’s upcoming album. Tell us about the process.
KEN: They came up from Texas and recorded the nine tracks in ten days. Their song writing was better on this album than the last, and I really pushed them to continue to find their own sound. I am psyched on the album.
Do you have any more production gigs coming up? How do you like it?
KEN: In August, I will be recording a band from Connecticut called The Breathing Process. They are an awesome up-and-coming band from their scene! I just heard the preproduction, and right now I'm sorting through riffs, time signatures. All and all, it's gonna be a great album. Even in its rough phases it's in awesome shape.
What ever happened with Burn Your Wishes?
KEN: Burn Your Wishes is half way through finishing our record. All the vocals and drums are done. We were cut short half way through the overdubs and rhythm and bass tracks due to Adam and I going on tour, but we will be finishing soon.
Now, for some reader-submitted questions: What type of shampoo do you use to make your hair look so vibrant while headbanging?
TREVOR: Is it really vibrant? I pretty much use whatever shampoo gets my head clean, but I need to use Pantene conditioner to get the knots out. For some reason it is the only conditioner that works to get those sweat filled headbanging knots out.
How does it feel being one of the standards for metalcore music, and how do you feel about the genre?
It is cool to be recognized as one of the originators of subgenre. That being said, I don't feel we set out to be in a subgenre. We just wanted to create heavy music that we liked to play. We weren't intentionally trying to melt sounds together that hadn't been done before; we just took our influences and created tunes we dug.
What types of guitars and amps do you use?
The guys use Ibanez guitars and mostly Mesa amps.
Who is the better guitarist?
They are both excellent players. Ken knows more musical theory, and Buz has more skill and speed on the fret board.
Do you have a cure for a hangover?
Gatorade, Tylenol, peanut butter and toast, water and vitamins. Ingest all that and give it thirty minutes. You should be good to go.
Are you friends with or fans of any "scene" bands?
Scene bands come and go so quickly, so it is tough to know who you are referring to. We are usually get along with every band we meet, so the easy answer is probably yes.
If you were in a bare knuckle fight with a bear, what would your tactics be?
Met these guys at multiple shows... and they are some rad dudes. Always willing to hang out and chat w/ fans, and let's face it, they DO set a standard in MetalCore. By far my favorite band in that genre/scene!