Formed in Portland, Oregon in 1997, Christian screamo metalcore band Underoath are one of a number of bands that have emerged over the past decade that best represent the genre that has become known as emo in heavier music circles.
Over the past fifteen years, the band has undergone major line-up changes and a vast progression in its sound and form. Currently featuring none of the original members, the band specialise in a modern take on metal, with a very accomplished groove and swing to it.
It has been particularly interesting to see how the overall sound and production of the group has changed and grown over the course of six studio albums, the most recent of which, Disambiguation, was released in 2010.
“It’s very positive to be seen as an influence and source of inspiration for younger bands,” says Davidson when asked about the resurgence of metalcore screamo bands over the past few years, such as We Came As Romans and The Devil Wears Prada. “I think the main difference is that, after fifteen years together, we have found our own sense of sound and identity. Experience is something that we have and that only comes with time. A lot of the newer bands out there are gaining that sense of experience and finding their own identity at the moment. It is always cool to see younger bands doing that. We don’t follow or subscribe to any musical trends out there at any moment. We try to make music that we love, pure and simple.”
Underoath has been a band that has constantly experienced a sense of evolution, both on a musical level and as far as personnel are concerned. “We’ve all been in the band, in it current line-up, for about six years or so. It’s not really something of an issue to us. It seems to be an aspect of Underoath that the media seems to concentrate on more than what we as band members do. We’ve been playing together for a number of years and have really found a great rapport as musicians,” says Davidson.
The band is prominent and best known for the Christian beliefs and their sense of faith. “I think that where everybody stands as far as faith is concerned in the band. We are pretty direct in our references towards faith and spirituality in what we do as musicians. We try not to be didactic and preachy. This is probably clearest in how our music addresses questions of religion and faith in a somewhat abstract and impressionistic way,” explains Davidson.
The band has quite a strong and forceful sound. Who, as a drummer, would Davidson cite as influences that made him want to make music his career? “It’s hard to speak for the other in the band, since there are six of us. I really love bands like The Deftones, Helmet and Nirvana. These are the bands I look to for what has influenced me as a drummer and have influenced my style and playing,” says Davidson.
The band is also known for some rather striking video clips, such as the one for “Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear”. Have the band had any direct influence and say in their creation? “I think the band have chosen directors that they feel in synch and a connection with. Other than that, the band leave the sense of vision in the hands of the director,” says Davidson. “The band always has the ability to tweak what is presented visually, but the heart of the ideas primarily comes from the directors.”
“Lyrically, all of the songs are written by Spencer Chamberlain, our lead singer. I get the feeling that they are coming from quite a personal place for him. They are very much portraits or pictures of where he is at mentally and spiritually in the world and identifying his place within it,” says Davidson when asked about the lyrical content of the music that Underoath create.
The band are writing new material and slowly putting together plans to record a new album.
“Our primary concern at the moment is touring. We will be in Australia next month as part of the Soundwave line-up. After that, we plan to tour Asia and take a short break after. We have started to write new material, but it is very much in its early stages at the moment. We haven’t booked any studio time as yet,” says Davidson.
The band has nothing but positive memories of the last time they were here, playing a co-headline tour with A Day To Remember. “That was such a fun tour. The crowds were incredibly enthusiastic and an absolute joy to play for. We are very much looking forward to coming back to Australia. The country holds a lot of positive memoires and experiences for the band.”
Underoath appear at Soundwave Festival – tour kicking off this week – as well as Sidewaves in Melbourne and Sydney supported by Dream On Dreamer and The Smoking Hearts. (27th February at The Hi Fi, Melbourne – 18+ – and 1st March at The Factory – Licensed/All Ages.)