Underoath’s first Australian tour in nearly exactly five years, their mammoth ‘Rebirth’ tour with Sydney’s sleepmakeswaves, will be commencing in less than two weeks time. Considering that they’re performing both ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety’ and ‘Define The Great Line’ in their entirety. I am literally counting down the days until I witness ‘Young & Aspiring’ roaring through the PA come February 12th in Melbourne.
For the second time in just four months, I jump on the phone with frontman Spencer Chamberlain. Without spoiling all of it, we speak about picking the right support bands, the impact that ‘Define The Great Line’ had (you can also read our retrospective feature on it here), the respect that that record garnered the band from both fans and industry members, jumping between Underoath and Sleepwave, and his love for Rick & Morty.
So go and read this shit, my glib glops!
The support band for this tour is this awesome post-rock band from Sydney called sleepmakeswaves. In their announcement, they stated how much respect they had for you guys and these two albums. So, how familiar are you with their own music?
We found out about them through our Australian agency that sent us a bunch of bands to listen to, and they were the one we liked the best. We hadn’t heard of them before and the only time I heard their name prior to this was when someone showed me their name because of my side band, Sleepwave has a very similar name [laughs].
Underoath is never the band to bring someone along on a tour that sounds really similar to us. It’s just not something that we believe is fun for anyone in the crowd. We think it would be cool for Underoath fans to come out and pay money for a show to see a band from a different genre that’s equally as good. Instead of just seeing three bands that sing and scream over playing breakdowns. That’s why we took Caspian on our US tour and sleepmakeswaves was a no-brainer.
I was just about to mention Caspian! You guys have a knack for picking really good instrumental post-rock bands for your tours.
Yeah! Honestly, we just take bands that we like and I don’t think enough bands do that. I understand why they don’t do it. A lot of the times you have to stack a bill with bands that sound like your own band in order to help sell tickets. We’re in a very fortunate spot in our career where we don’t have to do that. I guess we put in our dues long enough that we can bring bands we actually enjoy!
[Laughs] That you have! Songs like ‘To Whom It May Concern’ and some of the material that came after that had a post-rock vibe at times.
Oh, for sure! We all listen to that kind of music and whatever we do, it’ll always sound like Underoath. But I think that it’s natural that anyone influences come out in certain places.
Definitely. Likewise, what are your thoughts on not just having fans and punters praising the band and these two albums – ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety’ & ‘Define The Great Line’ – but also publicists, labels, managers, your peers and other industry heads also loving your work. That must humble to an insane degree, yes?
Dude, I think it’s incredible. To me, it was a great reminder about always being yourself and not following the herd and the scene. We as a band always did what we wanted. We could have made a record after ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety’ with me singing instead of screaming and having Aaron also sing and just go full pop-rock. And we could have been the biggest band at that time, and not have a career after that time. But we didn’t want to do that as we didn’t agree with people trying to shift us to a poppy record, so we said ‘Screw that!’. We got in a room and wrote songs that we loved and worked our asses off for something that made us happy.
The industry back then was very different to what it is now. There wasn’t A Day To Remember, there wasn’t Bring Me The Horizon and to some extent, there wasn’t even Underoath. There wasn’t anything that big in this scene. Radio heads and promoters wouldn’t take you seriously, and bands like us had to pave out our own scene. We made a real dent with that record [‘Define The Great Line’], it’s the biggest selling record we’ve done, and the fact that kids and industry people still to this day cite as what inspired them is such a beautiful feeling. We did everything that we weren’t supposed to do. It’s a testament to believing in yourself.
Well said, Spencer. As you said, it’s all about doing what makes you happy. You wouldn’t play in this band if you didn’t love it and I wouldn’t write if I didn’t love it. Now, you and I actually spoke last year when this tour was first announced, and you were in between work with both Underoath and Sleepwave. So, how busy are you now with your schedule?
Oh man, I haven’t had any time off since then! I’m constantly working on music so it’s all fine with me, and we have a lot of exciting things coming in the future that I can’t talk about yet. But yes, it’s been non-stop for me. The problem for me now is scheduling as I’m trying to get it all under the same roof and not be stuck in the middle anymore. Every decision I make makes the other side unhappy. So I’m keeping it simpler and letting others deal with the big stuff [laughs]. Because I’m just one guy making music!
Well, when you’ve got that much stuff to do, maybe it is best to let someone sort your shit out! On that, though, have you ever double booked yourself with Underoath and Sleepwave?
No, not yet! I’ve been pretty good about it. Sleepwave just did a tour with I Prevail in America. We weren’t planning on doing it at all but they personally asked so we did it. We were going to make a [Sleepwave] record during that time and Underoath’s schedule filled up and it’s not a rush to make that record, and we’d have to wait anyway. It was good for the band and good for me, as the last tour that I did before that was Underoath festival shows. So I was going from playing these big shows with people singing every single word and being treated very well, to playing a grassroots tour and playing songs that people don’t really know and being treated differently from Underoath. These two bands are two very different animals. It’s nice for me to see both sides of the coin and to remember how hard it is to make any kind of impact.
So it definitely puts it all in perspective for you, jumping and back and forth between these two bands?
Absolutely! Even down to the chemistry, which is a huge thing for Underoath. Playing on stage with different people; their personalities, skill levels, whether they’re there for the right reasons or not, you really feel that chemistry. But you can also feel like you’re trying to get through it all too. I probably told you this in our last interview that Underoath’s chemistry cannot be taught, it’s just learned from playing together for so long. This is the best time you’ll ever see our band because we love and respect each other. Everyone wants to be there…and it’s been a long time since Underoath felt like that.
Sleepwave being two guys and two hired guys, I don’t get that chemistry there. It’s really eye-opening to see the differences between having a project and having a band, and not that one is better or worse; it’s just cool to understand how important it is that everyone is happy. Because if just one guy doesn’t want to be there, and he wants to be making more money somewhere else, you’ve lost that chemistry. You’re only as strong as your weakest link.
That’s so true, dude. You did mention to me that Underoath was the “healthiest” it’s ever been. Before I let you go, I noticed on Twitter that you share a fair few Rick & Morty GIFS. I love that show too, and I’m going to guess that you must be keen for season 3, yes?
Yeah, me too man! We actually have a lot of inside jokes in the Sleepwave camp as we’ve been on it since the beginning. I’ve shown it the Underoath guys, my older brother and so on and we’ve all just taken the main quotes from the show and say them to each other. Like the snap of the fingers and saying, “yes” to each other [good S1 E4 reference right there]. I’m so excited for the next season. That show is just so bizarre and brilliant!
You know, I’m not a big Twitter guy, as I never really used it during the first time through Underoath, as how many followers you had was never a thing back then. But now, when I do use it, I try to find the best Rick & Morty meme to put with something like a tour or our music. A lot of people still don’t know that show yet!
[Laughs] that’s rad, man. Such a great show. We’ll leave it there, Spencer. Thank you so much for your time today, before this awesome Australian tour kicks off!
Yeah, no worries man, thank you. I’ll see you guys in a couple weeks!
Chugg Entertainment, Destroy All Lines & Killyourstereo.com are proud to present Underoath’s almighty return to Australia this month with sleepmakeswaves in support, where they’ll perform in their entirety both ‘They’re Only Chasing Safety’ and ‘Define The Great Line’. Ooooh, baby!
Check out the dates below, grab whatever tickets are left here, and go get fucking excited!