Using the word “heavy” would be putting it mildly when it comes to describing the Floridian metalcore quintet Underoath, who will be taking UC Irvine by storm at the Bren Events Center this Saturday. With its recently released sixth album, “Lost in the Sound of Separation,” Underoath continues to show its hard-hitting aggression and penchant for crafting blistering soundscapes, with an onslaught of apocalyptic guitars and drums set to vocalist Spencer Chamberlain’s hair-raising screams and Christian -themed lyrics.
Currently on a headlining tour with Saosin, The Devil Wears Prada and Person L, Underoath continues to show its unwavering intensity, never backing away from its full-fledged ferocity. However, before the band’s show in Salt Lake City, the New University brought the volume down a level and caught up with vocalist Chamberlain to talk about the band’s new record and the state of the touring industry in a difficult economy.
New University: What was the goal in making “Lost in the Sound of Separation?” Is there a specific idea or message behind the album’s title?
Spencer Chamberlain: The goal of the record is that we just want to write the best music we can write. We don’t try to deal with what’s cool right now or what the label wants. Our goal is to be happy with what we’re writing and playing. If you’re not happy, you’re not really making real music. We write things that we enjoy without thinking about what anyone else will think.
New U: How do the songs generally come to fruition? Does the band follow a certain process or methodology when it comes to writing a record?
Chamberlain: It usually takes us a long time to write a record. It normally starts with one riff on the guitar and then one or two of us will build on that. Once we have a basic structure, we add our touches and then change the song about a million times until we’re all happy. Then I add the lyrics to it and we track it.
It takes about two years to get the songs on the record. We don’t have any outside producers who write our songs or help with melodies. We’re not necessarily trying to be on the radio.
New U: With Killswitch Engage’s Adam Dutkiewicz co-producing the record again, did he bring something extra to the fold?
Chamberlain: The most important thing about recording is working with people you respect and who will respect you. We’ve been on tour with him and have been friends with him forever, so it’s more than recording.
It’s about being with a friend who knows how good you are at your instrument and your potential and who can tell you that you can do something better. We’re working with one of our best friends, so it’s more laid-back.
New U: “Too Bright To See, Too Loud To Hear” sticks out from the rest of the record with its subdued, contemplative nature. Is the song an opportunity to step back and take a moment to reflect on yourself when it seems like your faith might be slipping away?
Chamberlain: We put the album in a specific order and that song is there for a reason because it makes it more of an album. The last two songs slow down and die down; it’s just a feeling of the past two years as the story goes.
At that point, it’s about taking a step back and realizing where you come from, who you are, why you’re here.
New U: In having quite an aggressive style to your vocals, what is the key to preserving your voice on the road?
Chamberlain: You have to be very trained. I’ve been singing my entire life. I learned to scream later on when I was younger and then I started taking more vocal lessons, learning how to control both [screaming and singing]. I start getting ready an hour before we start playing the show. It’s all about knowing what you’re doing because you can’t just go out there and scream. It’s definitely a lot of technique.
New U: You guys will be heading out on your first South American tour in December in addition to having toured in the U.K. and South Africa. What do you believe has given the band more international appeal?
Chamberlain: It’s awesome. I love being able to play other places in the world. Everyone else in the world seems to be doing ok while America isn’t doing as well as far as music goes, which is kind of scary.
It’s a blessing in disguise that we’re doing well outside of the United States. Our tour is doing really well right now, but we talk to promoters and they’re saying how some shows have been bombing and fewer kids are coming out to shows.
With the economy, gas prices and no jobs, it seems America might be going downhill. We’ll just have to wait and see. I think we’ll see a lot of smaller bands disappearing because kids aren’t buying records or going out to shows as much anymore. I think as long as we can keep on making better and better records and playing shows, hopefully people will still keep coming out.
New U: When you are out on stage, what are you ultimately trying to achieve that you believe gives purpose to what the band does?
Chamberlain: I love every minute of it. I’ve been playing shows at venues since I was 12. I would only stop if I ever lose that feeling I had when I got on stage playing guitar in a band with my older brother to a sold-out show of 200 kids. I have so much fun and it’s something I’ve always loved.