Unearth were one of the founding fathers of the highly successful “Metalcore” scene that emerged from Massachussettes at the start of the 00’s. They along with the likes of Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall and others were among the first bands to revitalize metal and bring it back from the dark days of *shudder* Nu-metal and reintroduced the musicianship and brutality that had made metal so popular in the past.
While some feel that the Metalcore scene may have become saturated, as all genres do, Unearth have managed to remain among the standard bearers for the genre, and metal as a whole, delivering such crushing, technical and downright awesome albums as “II: In The Eyes Of Fire” (widely regarded as THE metal album of 2006) and their latest release “The March”, which has also been championed by fans and media alike.
I managed to get to opportunity to speak with Unearth vocalist Trevor Phipps through e-mail, just before the band embark on a North American Tour with As I Lay Dying, All That Remains and Carnifex and then moving onto the Persistence tour with Sick Of It All, Sepultura, Blood For Blood and Evergreen Terrace.
So read on for Trevor’s thoughts on their latest record, the latest news regarding work on their new item, touring, the difference between touring in N. America and Europe and other topics. Enjoy!
Hey guys, You must be getting excited about the upcoming tours?
Hell yeah we are. We have been friends with As I Lay Dying and All That Remains for years and have become tight with our boys in Carnifex within the past couple years. That tour should slay.
The Persistence Tour in Europe is also going to be a great time. I heard it is the biggest traveling festival of its kind, so we are eager to take part in it.
Is there anywhere in particular you guys are really looking forward to playing?
The honest answer is we enjoy playing everywhere. Wherever there is a stage and people to rage with us, we make sure to have a good time. Besides playing the actual gigs, I am looking forward to the Edmonton show at the Edmonton Event Center in the Mall because it has a casino, water park, roller coaster, shooting range, movie theater and ice skating rink all within the complex. If you are up for it, you can have the greatest day of your life there.
With As I Lay dying, All That Remains and Carnifex on the bill too, it’s a really strong line up. There must be some competition to put on the best show every night?
We always view a show as a friendly competition. As a musician and performer you need to believe that you are putting on the absolute best show you possibly can each night. Without that competition between bands you wouldn’t have that fire under your ass to do your best. I personally prefer to go on after a band that has a killer frontman or frontwoman. If I feel they killed it, it just makes me want to kill it even more.
Is there competition too when you guys are partying after the show? Is there anyone in particluar who tries to prove they can party the hardest?
I am sure there are nights where we’ll shotgun beers, play Edward 40’s hands, break out the beer bong and see who can inhale the beer the fastest or play Quarters. We do our best to have a great time while on the road. It help keep your sanity with all the travel between gigs.
The down time during tours can drag a bit I guess, especially the long ass drives from city to city. When your not partying or playing, how do you guys pass the time?
I personally pass the time with doing work for both the band and my business Ironclad Recordings. I always try to stay on top of web updates, twitter, facebook, myspace, etc… to keep our fans up to date on what is happening and to keep my business running and the bands on my label happy. If I am just relaxing and not doing business or partying I break out my PSP and play some baseball.
After the N.American tour, you guys are heading to Europe. How is touring in Europe different to the states?
We first started touring Europe in 2002 and things were a lot different then. Cell phones weren’t as affordable to be turned on worldwide and there was no Skype to speak of and nevermind video chat. Technology has really made the touring world smaller for bands, which is a good thing as it keeps us all connected to home a bit more.
Ofcourse the landscapes and architecture are a lot different than the States, but for the most part the shows are very similar and we have just as good a time traveling overseas as we do on our home soil.
What are the main differences between american and European fans?
The European fans seem to enjoy circle pits, stage diving and the wall of death more while the American audience generally likes to let out their aggressions in the pit with dancing and moshing a bit more.
Do you guys prefer European or American beer?
German beer is usually superior to most American beer. It is good both cold and at room temperature. We still have our home favorites though. You can’t go wrong with an ice cold Miller Lite!
Your latest release (even if it is 2 years old!), “The March”, was really well received and , personally, I think its a great album. After the success of III:In The Eyes Of Fire (which many felt was THE album of 2006), did you guys feel more pressure on your shoulders when writing and recording The March?
You feel pressure with every album you write and record. There wasn’t any “more” pressure than any other album before, but there is always that sense of urgency to make the best songs possible. We all feel the record is a strong one and have really dug playing a bunch of the songs live. We always try to make every record better than the last. If we succeed that’s great, if we don’t, at least we know we are happy with the songs. We would never release a record we weren’t proud of.
You guys played the main stage at Download this year. That must have been an awesome experience?
That was the largest crowd we have ever played in front of. We all talked about it after and it seems like a blur to us. Adrenaline was flowing through our veins an hour before through an hour after the gig. We won over a lot of people that day and it was an experience I’ll never forget.
The great thing, I’m guessing about festivals, is that you actually have time to check out other bands sets. How in particular did impressed you guys?
I was totally blown away by Them Crooked Vultures. Josh, Dave, and John Paul Jones are rock legends and their set was really captivating. Other bands that killed it were As I Lay Dying, AC/DC and ofcourse Killswitch Engage.
You guys contributed a song to the “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” movie. I’m guessing your fans of the show? Did the movie live up to your expectations?
The creators of that show are metal heads and we were pumped when they asked us to contribute a song to the movie. I think they did a great job with it. It was even more bizarre than the t.v. show, so I think they succeeded with their intentions. It is definitely a movie to watch stoned!
After the tour cycle is complete, I’m guessing your going to start working on a new album? Have you started any new material for it? Have any ideas?
We already have half an album or so of material right now. No complete songs just yet, but we have been working most of the summer on the next record. So far the songs are true to our style, but with a few experiments and intentional progressions.
Metalcore was born in Massachusetts. I’ve just spent a year living there and it seems like such a laid back place. Why do you think metalcore was spawned there?
Laid back? What part of the state were you in? Boston isn’t laid back by any means.
As for why metalcore was born here, I think the reason is because we had a lot of hardcore from the area (Slapshot, Sam Black Chruch, Gang Green, etc…) and ofcourse New York Hardcore (Agnostic Front, Sick of It All, Madball, etc..) only a few hours drive away and we all liked Metal. As any start up bands do we tried to imitate the bands we liked the most and out of that imitation came a new sound. Isn’t that how all new sounds are created? It is the interpretation of different sounds mixed together as one by a separate group of people.
Finally, any plans to come play a show in Ireland in the near future? You guys are really popular over here!
We’ve always wanted to play in Ireland. Tell your local promoter to contact us and we’ll make it happen in 2011.