If you're looking to expand your perceptions of music, look no further because Underoath is creating a sound that you need to hear and pay attention to.
The Florida band came together about nine years ago with drummer Aaron Gillespie, vocalist Dallas Taylor (now lead singer of Maylene and the Sons of Disaster) and guitarist Luke Morton. After touring for a while, Underoath was signed to Takehold Records in 1999 and recorded two EPs, "Act of Depression" and "Cries of the Past."
In February 2002, Underoath released its debut album, "The Changing of Times." With this album, the band strayed from the heavier music they played in "Cries of the Past" and began to produce their own style of music. It was an amazing start to what was in store for them and their musical futures.
When Underoath began, "everyone was transitioning a lot for the first three or four years doing the whole 'I-was-14-now-I'm-18.-I-don't-know-how-I -feel-about-the-band-anymore,' " says guitarist Tim McTague. After touring and releasing "The Changing of Times," the band went through a lot of member changes. Underoath finally found solid ground with its final lineup: vocalist Spencer Chamberlain, McTague, keyboardist Chris Dudley, bassist Grant Brandell, guitarist James Smith and drummer Aaron Gillespie.
Underoath hit the studio again to record its sophomore album, "They're Only Chasing Safety." Released in June 2004 and rereleased in October 2005 with a DVD, "They're Only Chasing Safety," doing amazingly well gave Underoath universal recognition, as they became Warped Tour headliners and extensively toured Europe and the United States. If you didn't know who Underoath was by then, just listening to their single "It's Dangerous Business Walking Out of Your Front Door" made you want to listen to everything they've ever written.
With a mind-blowing release like that, there was no telling what Underoath would come up with next. In January 2006, Underoath began to write what would be their best work yet. On June 20, 2006, "Define the Great Line" took our breaths away. With the intensity of the guitar and bass riffs intertwined with the powerful rhythms of drums combined with the melodic notes of the piano, and the amazing vocals from Chamberlain and Gillespie, "Define the Great Line" has become one of the best albums in years. With songs like "In Regards to Myself" to "Everyone Looks So Good From Here," from start to finish "Define the Great Line" expresses a deeper meaning to life and takes us into a whole new world instrumentally and lyrically.
McTague says that Underoath never wants to be seen as just another hardcore band or to create a pointless album in order to make money. "We could write a record that's just verses and choruses and maybe sell a million records like we've seen a lot of bands do this year, or we could write a record that we want to write, that means something to us and some other people, even though that number might be a quarter or a third of what it could've been. I hope that that says something about us. If not, that's cool, but we think it does," says McTague.
"Define the Great Line" goes in a completely different direction than "They're Only Chasing Safety." "We wanted to put something out that at least changed somebody's mind. I'm not saying that we're breaking any major musical boundaries but we're trying to push ourselves, our friends and our fans to do things differently," says McTague. He explains that musically, they wanted to put something out there that could change "people's ideas of what music is, what music can be and how you can approach it. I think that it's important for kids not to be content with everything they hear on the radio, Warped Tour, or what they read in AP."
The lyrics of "Define the Great Line" show how vocalist Chamberlain has grown in a profound way. For "They're Only Chasing Safety," Chamberlain had only been in Underoath for three months and he was "just learning how to feel us out musically, as friends, and as people. He had a very not broad idea of what he thought the band could be. He was more trying to figure out what the band was and how he fit in that picture," says McTague. "It was basically me and Aaron writing music and this guy came in and screamed over it. Now we're all in the practice space riffing out ideas as a cohesive unit and it all kind of works."
McTague describes the lyrics as "a story about Spencer and his struggles, his victories and what he had to deal with" not a concept. Aaron also wrote a lot of the lyrics too so it's like "their story," says McTague.
It's no secret to anyone that Underoath is a Christian band. It shows throughout their albums. "We looked at ourselves and realized that we're not alone. If it wasn't for our faith and the mercy that we feel God has shown upon us, then we wouldn't be here," says McTague.
A great thing about Underoath is that they don't care what religion you are. They still want to talk to you. They still care. "The biggest thing in our music is spreading the message of hope and positivity. Being like "this is where we were. This is where we are. This is how we got there but in the event that you just want to do whatever you want to do then that's cool too," says McTague.
Expressing their faith through music means a lot to them. McTague explains: "It's a good story to tell because you're not just telling a story, you're telling your story."
After this tour, Underoath will go home for a while. McTague will get married. Then they will hit the studio again in March and be back on tour in May with a new album. Find more information at www.underoath777.com
Marli Lee McGarrah is a junior at Buffalo Seminary.