PropertyOfZack Interview : : Underøath

by Zack Zarrillo - Mar 4, 2011

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PropertyOfZack was lucky to sit down with Grant from Underøath just a week or two ago when the band came into New York City to play to a great crowd alongside Thursday. Grant and I discussed the reception to the band’s new album, how the absence of Aaron Gillespie has made a difference, upcoming tours, and new music. Read up and enjoy!

For the record, could you state your name and role in Underøath?
Hi, my name is Grant and I play bass in Underøath.

The band has been on tour with Thursday, A Skylit Drive, and Animals As Leads for a good amount of time at this point and will be finishing up the dates at the end of February. How has this tour been so far?
Awesome. Really smooth. There haven’t been any real issues at all. Everyone on the tour has been great. It’s gone by really quick, actually. It’s been a little bit over a month and it feels like it’s only been two weeks. It’s been really good. We’ve been trying to tour with Thursday, especially in the States, for a long time. It finally worked out, which rules.

Thursday has been playing Full Collapse every night for the tenth anniversary of the record. How has it been out there in terms of fans and the mixture between Thursday’s core following and yours?
They bring out their kids and we bring out ours and there’s definitely some crossover ones. They seem to stick for the most part and come early and enjoy both bands. It’s been good.

This tour is obviously different for a few reasons, one of which being Underøath has a new album, Ø (Disambiguation), and the other being that Daniel Davison has replaced Aaron Gillespie on drums. How have fans been reacting to the new songs and the drum switch up on this headliner?
Yeah. I don’t know if it’s just like fans being overly nice, but I’ve gotten more reviews and fans saying that this is the best they’ve ever seen us live, ever. It’s been awesome and unexpected. I think that we’re putting on a great show, but I didn’t think that this was a “best thing ever” kind of thing. It’s been awesome. It’s awesome playing the new songs and just kind of throwing out a different vibe that we never had before. Fans appreciate that and are being receptive.

You guys went on the road with A Day To Remember right about when the record dropped, so this is really your second full tour with the release and member change. Have you guys continued to grow as a cohesive group out there every night?
Yeah, I’d say it’s better than it’s ever been. I’ve been in the band with the guy for not ever a year yet, and he’s one of my best friends. It’s been great.
POZ: Is it extremely comforting to know that you guys made the right choice at this point?
Grant: Yeah, I think that we were at a point, and all parties included were at a point, where any change was going to be somewhat better and an improvement. I think with Aaron to and with us. I didn’t expect for it to be this good, but it’s definitely been a blessing and has been more comforting than I thought possible. The transition was seamless.

What’s the set like on this tour? How many new tracks are in there?
We’re playing like fourteen or so total, and I think about six or so off of the new record. We try to make a conscious effort to play some fan favorites from prior records. I think that we understand that a lot of people love many records and I think it’s easy for bands to be like, “Oh, we’re just going to play the new stuff.” We try to find a healthy balance between the stuff that we like and the stuff the audience wants to see too. We cover all of the last four records and I think that we do a good job.

Ø (Disambiguation) debuted at 22 on Billboard. How astonishing of a feeling was that? Especially considering that many fans seemed somewhat tepid on all of the changes that the band had made.
Yeah, it’s weird to think about it because it’s hard to take in. When it happened, part of me what expecting less and part of me was expecting to do better. Our last record did really well. There are so many factors are in it.
POZ: So much has changed in the industry.
Grant: Yeah, the industry itself has changed. Aaron’s impact on the band; there are a lot of people that liked our band because Aaron was in it, and that’s just a fact. I think there’s a lot of stuff to take into it. Considering everything, I was definitely stoked. The thing I’m most stoked about is the people who did buy it and truly like it. That’s what’s most important.

Has there been any one comment that fans have come up and said to you regarding the effort that they particularly like?
Honestly, I think it’s the vibe. I guess it’s like a heavier tone and people are really into that. A lot of people told me that it feels a lot more cohesive with one singer how and it’s most relatable. I guess that’s what I hear the most.

The band went into the studio with Matt Goldman for about two months. Was this one of your more enjoyable times in the studio? Was it almost like a fresh start?
It was a mix. The whole process reminded me a lot of when we wrote Chasing Safety because we lost our old singer, Dallas, and we got Spencer and it was mine and James’s first record with the band too. It was like, we lost our singer, no one expects anything so us, so we could do whatever we wanted. It wasn’t to that same degree, but Aaron left the band and no one knew what to expect. People thought it was going to be all screaming or all heavy, so to us it was refreshing to go into the writing process with having everyone on the same page. There was always a conflict with the freedom to try new things. Certain dudes were into it, certain dudes weren’t. In the writing process, that definitely helped. It was like that in the studio too, but it got to the point where we realized this record could be a make or break record. There were a couple times in the studio where everyone was over-critiquing, not to the point to where we were fighting, but there were songs that Spencer wrote and sang six different melodies for choruses and we’d go through them. We were just set on making all six dudes stoked on everything. When you get in that mindset in the studio, it can drive you insane.
POZ: Yeah, I bet it got nerve-wracking in there at points.
Grant: Yeah, if it comes to the point where five dudes like it and you’re just kind of like, “Yeah, it’s cool,” then you need to go with it.

How did the dynamics in terms of writing change for this record?
It was a lot more group involved. It’s always been a group thing, but I think parts of it were like that Aaron would work on stuff and then everyone else would work on stuff. Everyone was open this time. Daniel wrote some guitar riffs on some songs.

Do you think that the record will only grow in success as fans who have been hesitant to accept the new Underøath slowly get over their trepidations?
I hope so. I think that this record is a grower; it was for a lot of my close friends. A lot of them were like, “Yeah, it’s pretty good,” but then they listened to it more and they were like, “Wow, this is a good record.” Honestly, all my favorite bands, I didn’t like at first. Then you keep listening and it’s awesome. Hopefully that’ll happen with this one for a lot of people. I’m really excited about the next record. We haven’t started writing, but we’ve handed around ideas. I think the progression that we’re going in is going to be awesome.

The band released it’s first single, “In Division,” back in November before the record dropped. Will we be seeing another one possibly with a music video?
We shot a video right before this tour for “Paper Lung” in Montreal. We’ve been waiting on it. It was supposed to be done in the beginning of February, and the director, he’s amazing, and gave us a really good deal, but he’s been busy so he’s juggling things. It’s funny because we played Montreal a few days ago and he was so ashamed that he wouldn’t come out to the show. I ended up hanging out with him later and saw a clip of it; it’s going to be worth the wait. I think it’s going to be our best video yet.
POZ: Could it come out before that European run?
Grant: Yeah, I am hoping that it comes out by the beginning of March. He’s just touching up stuff now.

You guys will be taking some time off before heading on a month long European tour through the UK and many different countries in the mainland. How stoked are you guys for this tour?
I’m really stoked. We haven’t been there in forever. I know we’re playing with Anberlin in Germany. The UK has been really great for us too.

There are two dates in Japan as well in the middle of May. Will we see any more dates around there in possibly Japan or maybe Australia?
There is going to be Australia connected to Japan. It’s not announced yet, but we’re going to be going to Australia at the same time. The Japan dates are awesome. We’re playing with Story Of The Year, Thursday, and Architects. It’s going to be sweet.

There’s nothing quite on the books after that tour, but I think everyone assumes that the band will be on the road again this summer. When can we see some announcements?
We’ll be doing a headlining tour in the states again this summer. It’ll hit a majority of the same markets.

It was announced in late-January that Underøath would be releasing a split with Thursday featuring “Paper Lung.” Did that come together while planning this tour? And will we be seeing you guys do anything more with that track?
Yeah, I think the original idea was even to put a new song on it or a cover song. We were trying to do something cool because Thursday is such a great band. It worked out to just a split with our new single. It was just an idea. We really like vinyl. We just wanted to do it and it seemed like a great idea to do with them. We also just released the full-length 12”.

You mentioned a little earlier that you were excited for the next album. Was there any sort of direction that you see the band going in?
I’m not sure if it’s going to be a continual progression, but I think we found out a lot about ourselves as a band in the studio last time with Spencer singing and everything.
POZ: It was kind of like a test record.
Grant: I don’t want to call it a test record, but now it’s like, “Okay, this is what we’re capable of. Lets push it to the next level.”
POZ: Do you see yourselves writing this year?
Grant: I hope so. I was ready to write four or five months ago, but Spencer wanted a little break. Hopefully soon. I know a couple days ago we were talking in Montreal and he was already talking about melodies and stuff he has in his head. Ideas are flowing.

Thanks so much for your time, is there anything else that you’d like to add or that we should be on the lookout for?
Just that the “Paper Lung” video will hopefully be out soon.

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