Unearth interview

I had a talk with Trevor Phipps, the head of Unearth about the new album and the past…It might sound weird, but my first question is not about the new album. You are part of the international metalcore scene for a long time, what do you think about your certain albums now, since your lineup and also the conception changed nevertheless the meaning of Unearth doesnt. For example I mean, my favourite album of yours is the Endless EP from 2002, which fell into oblivion… Lets walkthrough your discography chronologically!

1999 – Above the Fall of Man (EP)
This ep was our demo tape put onto cd by a small label called “Endless Fight Records”. It is basically us in our earliest of forms. The song writing and ability shows, but you can tell it is a very unrefined sound. It got us a name, some short tours and an eventual record contract with Eulogy Recordings.

2001 – The Stings of Conscience
This, our first full length album, is what got our name in peoples faces. We blended sounds that had not been blended before if the metal world. This got us out there on tours and we sold some cd’s around the world. That cd is our defining moment. We found our sound and the world found us.

2002 – Endless (EP)
Our contract with Eulogy required us to release an ep. We were touring so much that we didn’t have time to write an album and Eulogy wanted a new release. We put together three new songs with an old demo track of a song off of “Stings” and we put it out. This ep, combined with our full length album and all the touring we were doing got us signed to Metal Blade Records.

2004 – The Oncoming Storm
Our second full length and first for Metal Blade Records showed the bands growth in playing and songwriting. This cd is what put our name out there for good. It is our best selling CD in the United States and is right up there with our last album around the world. A lot of people say this is their favorite Unearth album and I can see why. The songs we put together on that album are still seeing their time in our live set every night we play. For whatever reason, the songs on that album get peoples feet stomping.

2005 – Our Days of Eulogy
This is basically a re-release of our “Above the Fall of Man” ep and our “Endless” ep coupled with a select few live tracks taken from a January 2004 recording. It is a recap of our early years thrown onto one cd.

2006 – In the Eyes of Fire
This is our fastest, darkest and angriest record to date. We were in a bad place internally at this time and it showed with the music. I will stand behind this album until the die I die because it was such an emotional experience for us all. We fought, we hated each other and we wrote some dark angry metal.

2008 – Alive from the Apocalypse (DVD)
This Double Disc DVD has one disc of an entire live performance of ours in 2007 in Calofornia as well as a second disc of a complete documentary of our band. It has footage and pictures from all 10 years of our existance as well as interviews with a bunch of our peers in bands young and old. It also has additional live footage from festivals in Germany and Japan. This dvd really gets people to know our music and us as individuals. It is something we are all proud of.

And here we are at the new album, what should we know about it, how much time did the studio recordings take, who designed the front cover, please tell everything about it you think important or interesting is!

“The March” – Right now this is my favorite album of ours. The technical level everyone has worked themselves into shows on the album as well as our growing maturity as song writers. The record has everything an Unearth fan would want and expect, but with a few different twists here and there. We always try to keep our core sound, but offer something different at the same time and this album captures that intention perfectly. We spent six months writing the album with minimal touring at that time andw e took roughly a month to record it. The artwork is done by Sons of Nero, the same company that did our artwork for “The Oncoming Storm”.

What about the lyrics? Whats the base of them, and what are your influences? (I mean the happenings in the world – history, movies, books, anything)

I get all of my lyrics from the happenings around the world and in my personal life. There are songs on this album that people might be able to relate to on a personal level which is important to me. Music should bring out an emotion, whether it is good or bad, laugh or cry, aggression or ease. I do my best to write in such a way people can find something for them all at the same time of me getting my point and view across. There are a handful of songs that deal with a theme though. Basically “The March” to me is the belief that with all the bullshit happening around the world from the financial floor falling from beneath us, to wars going on around the globe and our leaders taking too much power in an effort to “protect” us, that the people of the world will bond together and take back what’s ours. You can only push us so far before we set aside our differences and work for the greater good.

Which are the bands you are influenced by, which are your childhood favourites what you still often listen to?

My favorite band of all time is Pantera and has been since the 7th grade. Besides that I grew up loving classic thrash bands like Testament, Anthrax, Megadeth, Metallica and Exodus. In high school I found hardcore with bands like Sick of it All and Slapshot and then later got into heavier hardcore like Earth Crisis, VOD and Snapcase. My favorite modern day band is Terror. I think their live show energy is rivaled by few.

What do you think about the dominating metalcore and deathcore trends of our days? My opinion is, there are already too many bands, due to their multiplication like mushrooms these genres are becoming boring, there are only a few outstanding ones. I can see only money and profit, success and the labels, no sign of honesty… dont misunderstand me, I dont talk about you, who are active since the first EP released in ’99 but the bands founded nowadays, who are skillful thou, but completly unnecessary…

There will always be immitation in any form of art, but the creme usually rises to the top. The originators of certain styles are also usually better at what they do than the copycat bands because they are playing from the heart and not from pure immitation. That being said, I do see too much emphasis on subgenre labeling by people. Metal can only get so big because of the limited amount of people on the planet that actually like aggressive and heavy music. So why turn our backs on a certain style because it isn’t in the tiny subgenre platform that you and your friends have approved? Metal needs the support of everyone within the scene to survive. Too much labeling breeds too much elitism and this needs to end. If it is heavy and aggressive and you like it, support it. If you don’t, don’t support it, but don’t classify it and all bands that are similar in a subgenre that will eventually become a deterent for others to listen to them. I say this all the time, Slayer, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Metallica all sounded drastically different when they were young bands in the 80’s, but they were all called “Heavy Metal”. Why do we now subgenre everything? If it is heavy and makes you want to pump your fist, bang your head, mosh, dance or crowd surf then it should be called HEAVY METAL.

And this turns up into the next question, what do you think, how more this genre is versatile? If you see inside, thrash and death metal had its own waves, just like there were many gothic and black hordes a few years ago, and today fanatic people play these genres for a much smaller audience… metalcore is problematic in this area as well, if we are lazy, it is basicly the modern reincarnation of the melodic death metal of the early ’90es…

Heavy Metal has been around so long that it is difficult to do anything without being compared to another band or another style. What we as musicians need to do is to continue to try and come up with fresh ideas and new blends of sounds within the confines of aggressive music. Metal will always be here, just like Rock’n’Roll. It will never die. Bands will always find a way to keep metal heads breeding around the world and carrying the torch.

Ok, lets drop this subject, cause its not our task to make these calls but the life and the media, I am just interested in your opinion, since you are musician of a top group, you have a better look than others. Btw, if its about life, whats the age of Unearth members, who has any sideprojects and what are your jobs and hobbies?

We are all late 20’s and early 30’s. I own an independent record label called Ironclad Recordings (www.ironcladrecordings.com). I help out bands I like and want to get heard. It is a business and a hobby. Ken is always working on a new pop rock project. He is a metalhead, but has a soft spot for cheesey 80’s rock and he says he will one day release a solo pop rock album. We’ll see… Derek is truely a professional drummer as he is in both Seemless and Kingdom of Sorrow as well as constantly doing session work for other bands. Slo is a gambler, blackjack mostly. He makes a good amount of money doing it, so I guess we shouldn’t call the gamblers help hotline just yet. Buz, he just riffs all day.

Have you got a message for readers of Fémforgács? Last message is also yours…

Thanks for the support. Check out of new album and come see us on tour. We know you will have a good time.

Thanks for the opportunity, take care of yourselves and I expect many strong and heavy albums of you, haha!

Thank you. See you soon.

Rock Maraton Rock Maraton
október 07.