Tucked in amongst the mammoth Soundwave line-up, Underoath are no strangers to Australian shores or the Soundwave Festival itself. Still riding the waves of their last, and fairly brutal, offering ‘Ø (Disambiguation),’ KYS caught up with keyboard player/programmer, Chris Dudley, to have a chat about the band’s current world.
So you guys are coming down to Australia soon for Soundwave, are you excited?
I was actually telling my friend who I was hanging out with just now that I don’t think I’ve been this excited about a line-up of a tour that we have been on like, ever. It’s just insane, there are so many good bands, I’m not the type of person to just say things because I’m doing an interview, like, if this tour was coming to the states I would pay a lot of money to go see it. I can’t believe I get to actually to play it and get to come to Australia at the same time, it’s pretty much amazing.
I was going to mention the line-up because when it was first announced a lot of people were pretty surprised/impressed, who are you excited about seeing?
Oh my gosh, I wish I had the line-up in front of me because there is so many bands. I know Meshuggah is on it I’m excited about that, Marilyn Manson I’m stoked on that, Slipknot, I think Lamb Of God is on it right?
Yeah they are.
Yeah I’m excited about them, Dashboard, Thursday, I think that is going to be their last tour ever so that will be bittersweet, I’m excited to spend time with those guys because we have been friends for a really long time so to be able to witness their last tour will be awesome. I actually made a list the other day of the bands I’m most excited to see and there was like twenty bands that I have to see. I remember the last time we did Soundwave there was bands that I was really excited to see but because of our schedule I never got to see them so I’m hoping that doesn’t happen too much this time.
Seeing how many band’s there are that might happen a little, hopefully not too much.
Yeah well I’m gonna be out there all day though so we’ll see how we go.
So you guys have done Soundwave before so you kinda know what to expect, have you tailored your set differently this time around? What should we expect?
More so just the set length because we have different sets for different times that we play, Soundwave I think we get a forty-five minute set but right after that we’re headlining in Asia and we have to play for like and hour and a half, so we’re cutting the fat I guess you could say, we’re playing songs that we know are gonna go over well and songs that we’re gonna have a good time playing. It’s just gonna be a good set, we have an e-mail chain going on right now trying to figure out exactly what we’re gonna play so it’s being worked out as we speak.
So you mentioned you are playing in Asia, is this still classed as the ‘Ø (Disambiguation)’ tour?
Asia is a little different because we have never been there before so technically it’s on our last record but the people there have never seen us play anything, so I don’t know how you would describe it. It’s funny though because that’s the tour where we’re actually changing our set because we’re playing a lot of older stuff that we don’t play anymore because we’ve played it a million times, but because these people have never seen us play our songs we’re gonna tailor our set to that.
So what took you so long to get to Asia and why are you going now?
Both of those questions I don’t have an answer for, we have been saying we’ve wanted to go to Asia for…it’s probably been since 2005, and our management and our booking agents always just say for some reason or another it just doesn’t work out, be it the time we wanna go there or not enough shows in a row to be able to pay for us going there. It’s all logistical things, it’s never been a lack of desire to go there on our part, we’ve been trying to go there non-stop, every time we go to Australia we’re like "we should tack on Asia to that" but it never works out, and this time it did so I’m happy about that.
What does 2012 hold for Underoath besides the early touring, maybe a new record?
Well after Soundwave and Asia we’re doing Japan, after that we’re gonna be doing some festivals here and there but our writing process this time has been really slow intentionally. We’re not really putting ourselves on a time crunch the way that we have in the past. We’re on more of the mindset that that we want the songs to come to us naturally and not be like "Ok, it’s December, so we need to start writing a record." It’s more, if we have ideas we’re writing, if we don’t we’re not, so the next record may take a little while longer to get out than we usually take. We’ve pretty much been, every two years since 2004 we’ve put out a record, but we’re kinda breaking that this time because we all have things that we’re doing separate from the band. Everybody has different things going on so we’re not rushing it we’re just letting it come the way it comes.
Is it too early to tell what it might sound like? I ask because there was a fairly big difference between your last record and the ones that came before that.
To be completely honest we have no idea. We have very little written right now and it could really go any way at this point. That’s really exciting for us because we don’t really have to write anything that sounds any certain way because we all have vastly different musical tastes within the band so there’s times when we’ll have a really stripped down slow idea or we’ll have a fast heavy idea, or an electronic idea or whatever so at this point it’s really up in the air, I’m excited to see what comes of it but we really have no clue.
We mentioned Thursday earlier who recently announced their break up, Thrice announced a hiatus around the same time, these are band’s that you guys came up with in a similar scene, how do you feel about this in relation to your longevity?
I guess because we know all those guys so well we really don’t look at it the same way that everybody else looks at it. I know the guys and I know they all have other things that they really love doing, everyone obviously has lives outside of the band and whatnot, but I think it’s sad for the music scene in general that those bands are going away because, being completely honest for me, those are two of a small handful of bands in our scene that I look at and say "that’s how it should be done." I can mention maybe three or four more bands that I think that way about but knowing that those guys are going away I’m like, "damn, who are we left with?" As far as how it affects us, it’s definitely odd because we do look at both of those bands like barometers for things in a way, like you said, we came up with them and we’ve gone through changes with them, and we’re still here and we’re jamming, but it’s definitely going to be different, not necessarily us and our music will be different, but I think the scene in general will be different because those were two giants in the music scene they’re gone so I think it will be a matter of seeing what comes of it and what bands take that place, if there is even a place to be taken. I was talking to Tom from Thursday when they finally announced that they were breaking up, because obviously we all knew it was coming for awhile, I told him that I think they have carved out a niche in the scene which I don’t think should be filled by anyone else because they were such an important band for music and for us, in general, that was one of the first bands that we saw in our scene "make it" technically, if you want to look at it that way, we were like "wow, I can’t believe it, they are really doing it," so it’s definitely crazy.
There was an interesting article not that long ago about how much money band’s in your situation actually make, it even featured Geoff from Thursday mentioning that he only made $10,000 from the band last year which obviously isn’t much, you guys are a full touring act, do you find that the music scene these days creates monetary pressures for you? Can you still do it comfortably without having to work other jobs or have other sources of income?
The thing is if you’re touring non-stop, as far as where we are at anyway, you can make a living and that’s definitely possible but where the hard part comes in, with us we’re all pushing thirty now and I’ve got two kids and Tim’s got two kids and James has two kids and it’s getting to a point where the idea of being on the road ten months of the year, for me personally, is not as appealing as it once was. It’s odd because I love playing shows, doing it is my favourite thing in the world, nothing compares to being on the road and touring but that takes me away from my kids and my wife, so it’s odd because it’s a totally different spot in life being around thirty with kids as opposed to being seventeen and riding in a van across country with your friends so for me personally I’m getting to a spot where I don’t wanna be away all the time so there is monetary issues that come with that because I’m like "well if I’m not touring, that is how I’m making my money so I need to figure something else out." None of us ever want to feel like we have to go on tour and we have to play, we do this band because we love it and I think that if it ever gets to that point stuff starts getting stale.