Mon, 29 Sep 2008 14:08:36
The summer of 2008 was pretty good for Underoath. "The Slipknot tour was the most fun summer tour that we've ever done," exclaims vocalist Spencer Chamberlain. "At the end, it wasn't like saying goodbye to a few close friends. We had to say it to everybody! [Laughs] Everyone was just so friendly. There were no egos or weirdness. It was such a good time!" Chamberlain and his band mates are in good spirits right now. Backstage preparing for a record release show in New York in support of Lost In the Sound of Separation, Chamberlain relaxes. He deserves the time to reflect. Lost is Underoath's follow-up to 2006's massively successful Define the Great Line. Define saw the band blow up during the summer of 2006, but it wasn't without its pressures and problems. The band was driven to the brink, fraught with inner tension. Nevertheless, they persevered, and they've arisen with their best album yet. Chamberlain talked to ARTISTdirect about getting Lost In the Sound of Separation and much more.
Lost feels like a darker album than Define the Great Line was. Do you feel like that's the direction that you went in? It feels like everything got a little bit heavier and a little more extreme.
Yeah, I totally think it sounds that way. It was a natural progression when we were writing. We pushed each other pretty hard—trying out new time signatures. We were just open-minded. We pushed each other by writing things that maybe a couple of the dudes couldn't even play right off the bat. That's what writing is about for us—pushing each other as friends and musicians and having fun while we're doing it. We just had a great time writing it. It was fun.
Do you feel like you experimented a bit more? There are a lot more textures coming in on that one too.
Absolutely, as a musician you don't want to put out the same record over and over again. You want to expand in every direction. It got heavier, and there are so many different time signatures that we tried out. Even on the experimental side—like the effects, different keyboard parts and just everything on the album—we felt like we needed to do what bands used to do, which is write an album. Every song had to be in the right place. Everything's cohesive within the framework of the album, even towards the end, when everything is really slow. A lot of people just download songs, and when they hear the one song, they're like, "That's not really Underoath." But it is Underoath. We want to get people to understand that this is an album not a bunch of singles. We obviously don't write singles, but most bands do nowadays. We want to take it back to the days of Pink Floyd. I'm not comparing us to them by any means because they're an amazing band, but they would approach a record as a full album. Even though our album is not necessarily a concept album, everything is in its right place and part of a thought-out process.
Underoath are like heavy music's Radiohead. Define the Great Line is like your OK Computer. It's the record that really brought you to the mainstream audience, and Lost is like your Kid A.
Dude, that's a huge compliment to me. You have no idea. They're definitely my favorite band of all time and probably a lot of the other dudes' in the band too. They've been my all time favorite band from the first time I heard them until now. Every album is right for me as I'm growing and experimenting with music and different things. I can't think of a band that does it any better than them.
Within the landscape of each song, it sounds like anything is possible. Would you say that's the case?
Totally. We didn't really talk about what we wanted to make. We just started making it. After the last two records, we realized that we didn't want to be pigeonholed in just one category or anything. Underoath is always going to be a heavy band forever. However, we want to be able to experiment and push walls down. We want to go as far as we can go in any direction without worrying about what people are going to think. We don't think about anything. We just try to write the best songs possible that we all enjoy writing and playing. We don't think about management, labels, or even like the fans. Not to be a jerk, that's not really our concern when we're writing. When you're writing with those things in mind, your writing becomes diluted. That's not really what we want to do. This is our most honest album. Musically and lyrically, there isn't really anything holding us back.
Where are you coming from lyrically on this album? It feels different from the last album.
A little bit, yeah. It's kind of like the last two years of my life in a little package [Laughs].
It seems like it was quite a journey for you to go through and explicate that on the record.
Absolutely. With every record you should be doing something that you weren't necessarily able to do before. There's always room to grow. With that mindset, it allows you to do that. People can see that with everyone in the band. You've always got to push yourself or there's no point. We just try to tie it all together in the right order. It was definitely a thought-out process for sure.
Did you come up with one concept for the entire album?
It's not per-se a concept record. There is a maturity to it. There's somewhat of a timeline of occurrences there. I just feel like every song, either lyrically or musically, makes its own concept. The way that it's laid out and how it plays out is the way it should be listened to in that order. That's why we put it in that order.
Lyrically, do you have a lot of stuff just written or did you just write to all the music?
It's actually never the case of writing to a song. I'm just writing all the time, and then it just happens. Things will work out. Sometimes there's a lyric I wrote the same week we wrote a song or a lyric from years before, but I always take it and make it work. Sometimes you have to take out some pieces and add others, but it ends up working out well.
With how vivid your lyrics are, have you ever thought of writing poetry or a book?
I've thought about it. I'm a writer and I've been writing my entire life. I really enjoy doing it. There's nothing that I like better. I probably would be doing that if I weren't a musician. At the same time, I feel like I can express things better in a song.
You're definitely telling stories, but at the same time, everything seems open to interpretation.
That's what I'm hoping for. I'm writing about things in my life, but people can apply it to their own lives and adapt it. Hopefully, I can be a little hope for some people so they don't have to live through what I've lived through.
Where did the title come from?
The title is actually a lyric from one of the songs, and it just felt pretty cohesive with the whole record. It's a long story, but going through certain situations, you have your friends telling you what to do, your parents telling you what to do and your T.V. telling you what to do. In our lives, we have what we feel is a God telling us what to do. Then there's that selfish act of what you want to do yourself, and that's being "Lost in the sound of separation"—trying to separate all that noise. At a certain point, you can't defer to one or the other. It's that question of, "Who are you as a man and who do you really want to be as a man?" It's about having to filter through all that stuff.
We're all looking for that balance in some way.
I think it's a title that everyone can somewhat relate to whether they're Christian or not—or even if they believe in anything or not.
The record's going to make people think.
That'd be nice. I just want people to buy it and hear it. I want them to read the lyrics, look at the artwork and packaging. I want them to take it all in.
Would you ever want to create some visual component to go along with the album?
We've talked about recreating another Wall. We always have these ideas, but half the time, they never get to happen. Maybe one day?
Somebody's got to do it. Regardless, you gave the fans something to ruminate on for now.
I'm hoping it registers, man. We'll see. I'm not really counting on it registering with people, but I hope so. I don't know if people have the patience anymore.