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Underoath Ė 10.17.08 
by Jonathan Bautts on 2009-02-28

The following is a phone interview with Underoath vocalist Spencer Chamberlain.

You have a new record out now called Lost In The Sound Of Separation, which I believe is a line from the song ďWe Are The Involuntary.Ē How does that kind of relate to the record as a whole?

I just felt like it was right for the record. It kind of ties everything together. Itís kind of a long story but the line basically just means that in my life, or anyoneís life, I feel like you have a lot of different people telling you what to do. People are always going to express their opinions on how you should live your life, be it your friends or your parents or the television or the news. Then you got your own opinions and whatís going on in your own head. Then for us being Christians, we have what God wants us to do with our lives. Being Lost In The Sound Of Separation is like when you get all that stuff happening at once, it just sounds like noise. So itís like that struggle of weaving in and out of what you shouldnít be doing, you know?

Some of the lyrics on the record are pretty dark but thereís always some hope given. Is that what you were trying to communicate?

Thereís not really any intention or goal, really. I just kind of write all the time. I write about my own life and what I know best. Iím not making up stories. What I know best in this world is myself and the places that I go through, so I just write them down and over time eventually make them into songs. Thatís just the way I live my life.

I have a lot of issues and struggles, just like every other human in the world, but I always feel like thereís something else because I do believe in God. So there is going to be that sense of hope in some of the songs. Itís kind of normal for me, I guess. Itís not really like, ďI should make this a little bit more positive,Ē or whatever.

The band has taken big stylistic jumps with each record, and this one it seems you build a lot off of what you did before on Define The Great Line.

Yeah, definitely with Define The Great Line we figured out what kind of music we all agree on, and what we like to write together and enjoy to play. I donít think the style is a huge jump on this record, but we definitely went way above and beyond in many different levels, like challenging each other. Thereís definitely stuff we wrote on this record that we wouldnít have been able to play two years ago.

We messed with a lot of different time signatures. We tried to stay really open minded. Thereís songs on the record that are the heaviest things weíve ever written, and then thereís a song or two thatís like the most mellow thing weíve ever written or done. Not for any reason, but we just tried to make an album. We donít want kids to download their favorite songs. We want people to hear it as one piece, I guess. It was more of an effort of making an album. We tried not to be in any sort of category, like ďOh, you canít do this because youíre a heavy band,Ē or ďYou canít do that because of whatever.Ē

We just tried to really write the best music we could write, and I feel like weíve done that. We kind of raised the bar on all ends of the spectrum Ė lyrically, vocally, musically, production wise. I feel like itís definitely a huge jump, whether people really realize it or not, for us. People who are musicians could probably tell, but maybe average people would just be like, ďOh, itís kind of like Define The Great Line.Ē But thereís definitely a lot of changes.

As far as the songwriting process goes, you donít really believe in b-sides or anything like that. How does that work out?

Yeah, we donít have any b-sides. Thereís six of us in the band, so we go into the studio with exactly everything weíre going to record. Nothing less and nothing more, really. Weíre not the kind of band that takes six months off and writes records really fast. We work really slow over a long period of time. We started writing this record probably a month after Define The Great Line came out. Weíre always kind of writing and weíre always progressing. When the six of us agree on something, thatís kind of it. Thereís no need to write 40 extra songs just so we can pick the six or seven we agree on. Thatís not really how it works for us.

You worked with the same producers again (Adam Dutkiewicz and Matt Goldman) that did Define The Great Line. Did anything change this time and how did it compare with your previous experience?

Not really. We picked those guys because theyíre our friends. Weíre comfortable with them and itís fun. Going with a real big-time producer, itís kind of like their project. With these guys, particularly because theyíre our friends, they respect us, know what weíre capable of and what our potential is. They enjoy what we do and they back what we do a hundred percent. Theyíre just really good at getting the best out of our performances and getting the best sounds out of our gear or whatever it is weíre using. They donít help us write our songs or anything. Weíre not that type of band. Having a seventh dude putting an opinion on what the six of us already agreed on doesnít really work for us.

So we found these dudes with Define The Great Line and it worked out as good as it did for us sonically and mood wise. Just being in the studio and always being happy. Having a dude tell you to redo it because he knows you can do it better and he believes in you. Itís not like some Joe Schmoe behind the boards expecting the biggest paycheck as possible. Why not do that again? Weíre not trying to recreate anything, but it works really well for us and itís really comfortable.

I donít know if youíre in a band or not, but the studio can be a high stress situation. It can be very comfortable. It can be very uncomfortable. We definitely worked with people where it was very uncomfortable before. This was just like it was right last time, so why change it? Why go somewhere unfamiliar and have to worry about, ďMan, am I even going to get along with this dude?Ē If I donít get along with him and I donít respect him or he doesnít respect me or both, youíre not going to get the best out of me on this recording. Thatís just a big risk to take in my mind.

Iíd much rather work with dudes that I can go out to a restaurant with and laugh and have a good time. Or hang out with on a day off from the studio, and then go and work the next day and itís all the same thing. Youíre laughing and youíre having a good time. I think you can tell when you hear the record the difference once we joined with them. Everyone at their peak potential and not anything really compromised, whereas before it was a little more uncomfortable and not that way.

It also seemed you did a little bit more singing this time. What kind of things did you want to do vocally with this record?

Iím always trying to be better at what I do. Iím a guitar player as well. My entire life Iíve been playing guitar. I have the same mindset of, ďWell, Iím never going to be the best guitar player or the best singer,Ē and that always makes me want to be better and do more. Iím always learning more. Iím always practicing. Iím always trying to conquer new feats. I sing a lot on this record, and a lot more than people actually realize. Thereís a lot of things where you canít tell if itís me or Aaron, and a lot of times itís both of us. Me and Aaron have gotten really good at singing together.

When we figure out what works live, if we canít do it live letís not do it on the record. So everyoneís like, ďOh, if itís singing itís Aaron,Ē but thatís not true on this record at all. Sometimes it just makes sense for me to do it. Sometimes rather than me doing it, itís him doing it because it sounds better or best supports the song. When weíre practicing, itís like, ďMan, thereís no way Iím going to have enough breath to do both.Ē So itís like, ďAaron, you should sing this line,Ē or vise versa. Heíll be like, ďThereís no way I can play this drum part and have enough breath to do this, so letís switch that there.Ē

We both say, ďLetís make it to where these songs are right live.Ē If Iím singing a part and thereís a harmony, itís Aaron doing the harmony. Or if heís singing a part and thereís a harmony, itís me doing the harmony. We did it the same way we do it live on this record, which is a first for us. We try to give kids something real, and that was definitely something we thought about before we went into the studio.

You guys are definitely one of the most intense, energetic live bands Iíve seen. You mentioned how you want to carry that from the recording into the live performance. How do you think youíve been able to be so successful with that?

I donít know, man. As far as getting it right in the studio, itís just all about having fun. If you enjoy what youíre doing and believe in the song that youíre playing, writing and recording, you should be able to get that across in the studio. And live, itís just natural. Thatís what we thrive off of Ė playing for people. Itís fun. We have fun doing it. Go until you canít go anymore.

Weíre lucky enough to be doing this at all. Weíve all been dreaming about doing this for our entire lives. Iím sure thereís a lot of people who feel the same way that donít get to do it. So that thirty minutes to an hour and fifteen minutes youíre on stage, or however long your set is, if you donít give it your all you donít deserve to be up there. Thatís kind of like our mindset.

What kind of toll does all that screaming do on your voice and is there anything you do to keep it fresh?

Thereís a lot of technique to it. I had a vocal couch and Iíve been very well trained. Itís all just about warming up, knowing what youíre doing and knowing your voice inside and out. Just like knowing the guitar, you need to know what scale youíre in or what key youíre in and where to go. Itís the same thing with your voice, singing and screaming wise. Thereís a lot to learn and thereís a lot to be taught.

I take it very seriously so I donít ever lose my voice. The only occasion where I do is when I have the flu or something, but that never really happens. Itís all about taking care of yourself. Getting enough sleep. Drinking lots of water. I do warm-ups everyday, whether I want to or not. You got to know what youíre doing. If you just get up there and scream, youíre definitely going to hurt yourself and lose your voice.

Do you have a favorite song from the new record?

I kind of love them all. Weíre all really proud of this record and really pleased with it. It depends on the kind of mood Iím in. Thereís not one song on the record Iíd change, so I canít really just pick one, you know?

The last two songs are pretty different for the band. How did they come about?

We just wanted it to be an album. If you just downloaded that one song, youíd be like, ďWait, this isnít Underoath! What the hell?Ē We donít want kids to just pick one song and then be like, ďOh, thatís my favorite song.Ē We want it to be an album. Eleven songs of just in your face, brutal whatever doesnít really make an album. So in the middle it kind of slows down for a minute. Thereís another song thatís mid-tempo. Then at the end it really chills out and gets super dramatic to that effect of a full story. A full closure. That was the whole goal, so thatís why we wrote those songs that way.

I was watching the DVD included with the album and it looked like you adlibbed the last part on ďDesolate Earth.Ē Whatís the story behind that?

No, not really. It was originally going to be instrumental. When we got done writing it, those lines popped into my head and I wrote them down. I actually went up to Chris and went, ďDude, what do you think about this? This is just the way I feel when I heard it.Ē Heís like, ďThatís awesome.Ē So I ran into the vocal booth, tracked it and that was it.

I think it ends so well with those words and stuff.

Yeah, it turned out really well. I was pretty stoked about it.

You released ďDesperate Times, Desperate MeasuresĒ as the first single. What is that song about and what does it mean to you?

Itís kind of a long story. I tried to paint a picture as a story. Itís definitely a song about being in situations where you should stop dwelling on it and ask people for help. Ask your friends to be there for you. If you read the lyrics, itís more of a visual story of a dude in a cellar locked down there, kind of weak and dying. He tries to scream out for help but no one can hear him because everyoneís upstairs. Thereís a line: ďI hear them talking but canít make out the words.Ē

Itís that struggle of getting to the point where you need to ask a friend or ask God or your parents or whatever you feel is right, and be like, ďYou know, maybe Iím not together as I should be. I need to stop being ashamed of it. Can you help me out a little bit?Ē That kind of scenario.

Iíve noticed youíve been doing a lot of foreign touring recently. What is that like for you?

This time we just got home and itís the best itís ever been. Itís starting to get the same all around the world, which is awesome. It used to be really bad for us, but now itís gotten to the point where we can get the same amount of kids anywhere in the U.S. and anywhere in Australia, Europe, South Africa or wherever we are. Everywhere around the world is being really good to us right now, so itís awesome.

Over the last couple years it seems like the bandís personal lives have received a lot of focus, particularly the Warped Tour incident. What do you make of that and has that been hard to deal with at all?

Itís alright. Whatever. People want to hear about certain things. You canít just pretend like nothing ever happened. Everyone asks about it a lot, which gets kind of annoying, but whatever.


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