Throughout the lockdown, post-hardcore titans Underoath have been regrouping, albeit digitally, to look back on and pick apart their back catalogue of albums in great detail. This morning, for a solid 4 hours, the band re-upped their seminal 2004 release, They’re Only Chasing Safety. Without a doubt one of the most influential records to have ever hit the alternative music scene, it is largely viewed – even by the band who made the thing – as the springboard which launched them into the alternative stratosphere.
Released 17 years ago, They’re Only Chasing Safety dropped at a time before everything was painstakingly catalogued online, meaning much of the stories behind the opus were left in the dark ages.
Flanked by the album producer James Paul Wisner, contemporaries Josh Scogin (Norma Jean, ‘68, The Chariot), Matt Carter (Emery), collaborator Aaron Marsh (Copeland) and cover artwork model Julie McCaddon, these stories once lost have now been unearthed.
We picked some of the biggest moments discussed in the review.
The iconic cover image was the result of a small budget
As mentioned above, Julie McCaddon was the model for the album artwork, essentially becoming the ‘brand’ of the entire record. For years to come, Julie’s likeness would be blown up into merchandise designs and staging props. Indeed, it’s an image that has become instantly recognisable to fans. It’s tough to imagine an album with more specific, and striking, imagery.
As it turns out, it was merely the end result of having almost no budget for artwork. As the band recall, Julie’s husband was tasked with leading the charge for the album’s artwork and in an effort to save costs, tagged Julie in for the shoot rather than hiring a professional model.
The final image was submitted to the band with several others – including one of hiking gear. Upon seeing the shot of Julie wearing the mask, for the fire time in the entire They’re Only Chasing Safety process, the band agreed on something.
Aaron was scared and anxious of recording
As was discussed throughout the stream, there was a palpable feeling surrounding Underoath as they recorded They’re Only Chasing Safety. There was a broad consensus that once released, the record was going to catapult the band into the scene, like few bands had experienced before them. But that didn’t stop Aaron Gillespie from being shit scared.
“I feel like I can hear it..so much anxiety,” he recalled of his vibe during recording. “We were so young. I was scared of letting everyone down, fucking up to the click track or whatever….Am I good enough to do this? 16 years old. I was scared tracking the drums and vocals.”
The next door neighbour complained
That said, not everyone in the Florida area was as excited about the album Underoath were crafting. With the band tracking from his home studio, Wisner recalls his next door neighbour rapping on the door after long day of recording. As it turned out, the neighbour was a nurse and worked nights, and shared a common wall with the ‘guitar room’.
“She was not going to be cool about it. We switched the room over.” As a result of the different recording rooms, much of what was already tracked had to be re-tracked. “We had to re-do like half the record,” the band recalls.
They lied to a church to use their choir
One of the most beloved moments on They’re Only Chasing Safety saw the band at their sneakiest.
In an effort to enlist a local church choir to partake in the rousing ‘It’s Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door’ bridge (“Drowning in my sleep”), Underoath found themselves having to be less than honest. Tim recalled having to spin the song’s message to persuade said local church.
“It was some bullshit think, like ‘It’s got this higher meaning’…that had nothing to do with anything. That was my first treason against the Christ church.
“We’re going to get in so much trouble,” he remembers thinking, should the church actually hear the final edit.
‘Down Set Go’ was their attempt at “a Brand New song”
Though they proudly pioneered their own sound, one that bands attempt to emulate to this day, Underoath weren’t without their influences. Much like many others in the scene at the time, Underoath found themselves quite taken by Brand New’s then most recent record Deja Entendu, released in 2003 (before the formerly revered outfit’s fall from grace).
In fact, so taken by the album were Underoath that they had their own crack at the Brand New sound, resulting in ‘Down Set Go’. The band point sarcastically to the lyric “I’ll have her finished by 5am.”
“We were way off the mark”, Tim surmises.
Most of ‘Some Will Seek’ was written within half an hour.
Without a doubt, the most climatic moment on the album was its original closing track ‘Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape’, a song designed to demonstrate the band “wearing their hearts on their sleeves”. In an otherwise hard-fought album where riffs and lyrics usually took weeks or months to finalise, ‘Some Will Seek’ came together in a matter of minutes.
To finalise the song, Underoath tagged in Copeland vocalist Aaron Marsh, no doubt on account of his angelic cleans. Aaron wrote his lyrics half an hour after arriving at the studio. Marsh explained that he had “both feet out the door with Christianity” at that stage in his life and found that was an interesting and inspiring perspective from which to write.
To wrap the stream, Underoath teased a forthcoming announcement – set to hit the internet in the coming week or so. Without revealing too much, they promised when they have all the information, the fans will get it.
And now, we wait.