Underoath: The Fierce Awakens (p2)
We had many conversations before we even decided to start this band again, where we were like, “Let’s tour as the band that we are. We have a really good following, we have a great fanbase… There’s no need to over-tour; there’s no need to act like this is the last tour we’ll ever do and tour the States four times in the same year. That’s just ridiculous.” And at that point, you’re putting a lesser value on your tour because fans are like, “Oh, well they’re on tour in September, but I can catch them in December anyway. I don’t want to ask for time off work or re-arrange my schedule, so I’ll just go to the show in December.” A concert should be a big deal. Your favourite band coming to town should be a huge thing – it is for me! When my favourite band comes around, I make sure that I can catch them, and if I’m on tour, I’ll see where the tour is on my break and take a flight to where they are. That’s what I’ll do for music, and I feel like a lot of our fans are the same way.
I think this time, we’re touring when it’s the right time to tour, and we’re writing when it’s the right time to write. We’re focusing all of our energy into doing things smarter this time, and that allows people to understand that, y’know, a lot of our guys have kids and wives and stuff – this allows them to not be on such a back burner either. Underoath doesn’t need to come to Australia three times a year. That’s ridiculous. We have a lot more of a say in what’s going on with our band now. We were a part of something that grew from nothing – I’m not saying that we’re these mega pioneers, but it all kind of grew while we were growing, and I don’t think anyone knew what to do with it. Nobody knew what the right answer or the wrong answer was, and I think now there’s a lot more clarity. There’s a lot more acceptance in music in general, because you can kind of do whatever the hell you want: the internet is there and the tours are there – you have YouTube and Apple Music and Spotify: so many different ways to get your music out there – it doesn’t have to be so scary to these guys that are putting money behind it.
Absolutely! So let’s get back to this Australian tour – of course, you guys are playing They’re Only Chasing Safety and Define The Great Line in full on this run. Why those albums in particular?
That’s what we were playing on the tour that got the band back together, so now we’re taking that tour around the world. Define The Great Line turning ten is what sparked the initial conversation that brought us all back together. It was, “This album is turning ten, so let’s play a show! It’ll be a lot of fun, no pressure,” which turned into another conversation of, “Well, maybe we should do a full tour, because it’s kind of messed up to just do one show when we never did a full farewell tour,” which turned into, “Let’s add They’re Only Chasing Safety because that album turned ten while we were broken up,” which turned into, “Hey, this is great, let’s just get the band all the way back together,” which turned into,” “Hey, this tour was so great, let’s take it around the world before we move onto the next step!” So… That’s everything that happened [laughs].
“People are obsessed with [nostalgia], and that’s so stupid. It’s like, no, they’re a band with a career that’s celebrating something, and an album tour is a celebration of a record that holds its weight in time for a while.”
I think the way people connect with those albums is really interesting – there’s a lot of talk about millennials in general being a culture that’s enthralled with nostalgia, but there’s something truly special about how powerfully that era of rock music has stuck with everyone that imbibed in it. How does it feel to have been such a seminal part of that culture?
I think it’s great! To me, it’s not nostalgia because these are songs that we’ll be playing for the next ten, twenty years. Like, you don’t go to see Metallica and only expect to hear their new stuff, or if they play stuff off the Black album or Master Of Puppets – albums that probably came out before we were even born, depending on how old you are – you’ll never hear someone go, “Oh, this is so nostalgic, man! I’m totally back in high-school right now, I’m re-living my 16-year-old self!” People are obsessed with that, and that’s so stupid. It’s like, no, they’re a band with a career that’s celebrating something, and an album tour is a celebration of a record that holds its weight in time for a while. That doesn’t mean that we’re a nostalgia band, it just means we’ve surpassed the point where we have a career now.
I think that’s cool. If the Foo Fighters go and play The Colour And The Shape in full, I’m gonna go watch it and be stoked, but it’ll never once cross my mind that, “Oh, I’m re-living my middle school days,” or whatever. No, I’m stoked to see this record that they wrote however long ago – 25 years, 40 years – and I’m gonna be just as stoked if they come back next time and play a mixed bag of everything they’ve ever written. It’s just a different kind of event, man. I don’t think that this tour has to be linked to nostalgia. That word has gotten a bit of a bad view, in my opinion.
So let’s turn to the future, then! Have you guys been writing much together over the past year, or do you have many ideas for what could become new Underoath songs?
Well, we have had many a conversation, and there’s a lot of stuff going on. I can’t really say what our plans are because I’m not allowed to say anything, but if you know anything about Underoath or you’ve ever followed us, you’ll know we’ve got plenty of… We’re not one of those bands that just throws stuff together, y’know? There’s been a lot of stuff going on that the people will find out about in the near future. The first step was just to announce this Australian tour, and get that on sale as soon as possible because the Rebirth tour in America sold out, like, six or seven months in advance. Not only are we getting the fans that were there at the beginning and end of our career, but we’re also getting at least half an audience of newcomers – people that never got the chance to see Underoath because they were too young, or just got into the band after we broke up. Whatever it is, those first-time Underoath fans buy their tickets fast. So y’know, the first step after America was Australia, because Australia has always shown us a lot of love over the years. But there’s been a lot of time between the American tour and the Australian tour – just realise that we haven’t been doing nothing! That’s all I can say!
“She doesn’t bark at people like most little dogs do – she doesn’t bite or nip or anything – she’s just super chill and a lot of fun.”
Touring regularly now with both Underoath and Sleepwave, you must come across a lot of dogs on your travels…
Well, I bring one with me on American tours!
We’re going to need more details, Spence.
I have two dogs. I have a big dog who stays home – he used to tour with Underoath when he was a puppy – but I also have a tiny dog, and she comes with me on the tour bus. She follows us around and chills in the green room with all of the guys in the band, and the crew hang out with her and take her on walks. She’s super happy. She tours with Sheepwave as well, and she just kind of hangs out. I’m a big dog kind of person and I’ve always been a dog guy my whole life. I’ve always had dogs, and I have a huge dog at home but he’s ten now. He’s really old, and with my lifestyle, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to take him around. You always have to leave him with someone – either it’s a girlfriend or a roommate – it’s not fair because you can’t really bring a big, 120-pound dog with you everywhere. So I happened to get this little puppy. She’s a Chihuahua – tiny little dog – and she’s four pounds. I’ve had her for three years and she’s been on tour with me the whole time. It’s easy – she can fly, she can ride on the tour bus, she doesn’t get in anyone’s way, and she’s really chill. She’s a great dog – she grew up with a bunch of dudes on tour, so of course she’s gonna turn out cool anyway [laughs].
That is literally the cutest fucking thing I’ve ever heard. What’s her name?
Her name is Bella! My big dog’s name is Leroy – he’s a big, big dude.
I am enthralled. Tell me more.
He’s a Neapolitan Mastiff. Mastiffs are my favourite because their nickname is the “gentle giant”, and that’s exactly what they are. Like, they’re huge dogs – they’re really scary and intimidating, people won’t mess with your house or anything – but they’re just big, big babies. They just love to snuggle and hang out. Leroy’s been my best friend for ten years: he just chills with me all the time and comes with me everywhere. I live in Brooklyn in New York, which is really cool, y’know, you don’t really need a car, you can just walk everywhere and everywhere is super dog friendly, so I can just take him with me wherever I go. I take them both with me pretty much everywhere – they come to restaurants with me and chill out. They live a good life, man! I just feel bad leaving Leroy a lot, but yeah, Mastiffs are my favourite breed for sure.
Never in a million years did I think I’d have a chihuahua, either, but this family was selling a litter of puppies out of the back of their car one day and I just… I was going into the store to actually buy dog food, and I was just like, “Ah, I’m sorry, I don’t need another dog!” But I came back out and they were still there, and the lady started kind of tearing up, telling me, “I don’t want to have to give these to a pet store, I usually sell out of them really fast. I don’t want to give any of my litter away,” and I just looked at the little puppies in this box and I was like, “Ah, God.” My heart just melted over them, and I was like, “Alright, I’ll take one.” It was an impulse thing. I was like, “Ah man, I shouldn’t have done that,” but I got home and within a month it was the best decision I’ve ever made. She’s just brought so much happiness to my life. She’s just full of energy and she has a really funny personality, always running around, playing and having a really good time. She doesn’t bark at people like most little dogs do – she doesn’t bite or nip or anything – she’s just super chill and a lot of fun. Definitely one of the best mistakes I’ve made.
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Friday February 10th – Eatons Hill, Brisbane (AA)
Saturday February 11th – Enmore Theatre, Sydney (AA)
Sunday February 12th – 170 Russell, Melbourne (18+)
Wednesday February 15th – Governor Hindmarsh, Adelaide (AA)
Thursday February 16th – Metropolis, Perth (18+)