“We write so many new chapters again” is a statement screamed by Spencer Chamberlain, the heavy vocalist of alternative post-metalcore outfit UnderOath in their third single ‘You’re Ever So Inviting’ from the group’s masterpiece album Define The Great Line.
The record, released over 15 years ago would become the sextet’s most successful release commercially and even earned the Floridians a Grammy nomination; however, during writing, recording and even unleashing this fifth LP upon the world it would have been near impossible that UnderOath could have known how important the line: “We write so many new chapters again” would be in regards to their future.
In his first interview with Wall Of Sound in years, Spencer Chamberlain is animated in discussing everything happening in his universe and UnderOath’s with the release of their ninth studio album Voyeruist. This is the first full-length that the band have undertaken the recording process without external assistance; every note, scream, melody, snare and so on was captured and put to tape by the Tampa natives alone. As Spencer describes to WoS from his home, this was a rewarding endeavour but one that was not easy to carry out nor approach lightly.
“I think we’ve always wanted to self-produce a record, but we’ve never been able to because just our friendships, you know, we have gone through a lot.” He admits compassionately: “I mean, it’s no mystery, you know, there’s been band members coming and going, drama, drug abuse, hospital visits and all sorts of stuff that you can only imagine how much that our friendships have have had their ups and downs. And I think the band breaking up was us at our lowest point.”
It’s at this juncture that Spencer pauses briefly, as if the band’s past is rediscovered in flashes during daydreams; but it has brought UnderOath here and it is a remarkable new chapter to be a part of. He continues:
“Getting back together and learning how to work together; I mean now we’re all in our 30’s regaining this love and respect for one another. After making Erase Me (2018), our first record back; I think we’d gotten through that whole process and the whole touring cycle of that, I think it was it was finally time where we were able to cross that bridge and it is tough! It’s hard to not have an outsider in the room telling you that’s not good enough, or your part sucks, or you need to rewrite that or those lyrics aren’t strong, or the vocal sounds like shit – doing that with each other, it takes a whole new form of respect and love. Understanding that, you know, we all want the same outcome, which is the best songs that we can possibly come up with.”
It plagued this writer to then ask how this additional responsibility might have affected Mr Chamberlain? Or furthermore, his band mates?
“UnderOath is tough, because there is four guys, four cooks in the kitchen, it’s myself, Aaron (Gillespie, drums and vocals), Tim (McTague, guitar) and Chris (Dudley, keyboards) and the four of us can all probably get to the finish line alone – we all have, we’re all capable of doing it. But what makes it special is that we all want it to be different, we would all do it completely differently. There’s this tiny little middle ground that we get on when we all agree on to it. That’s UnderOath, we didn’t write any songs away from the group. So the four writers made all the music together; obviously, the lyrics and the melodies Aaron and I always do off to the side, just because it’s a ‘no’ to the whole band writing lyrics, I think it would be a nightmare I couldn’t imagine (laughs).”
Voyeruist is undoubtedly a progression for the (live) six-piece; They’re Only Chasing Safety era songs do not really have a part in this venture, but in all honesty, they would not belong at all. However, there is a familiarity with the 10 tracks on offer – the DNA which UnderOath built from the aforementioned Grammy nominated record and even afterwards is abundant. Elements of influences from the post-metal act ISIS, alt-rock and electronic fluctuations of Radiohead and notes of post-metalcore counterparts Norma Jean are recognisable and remarkable.
“With the four of us doing the doing all the music, I think did throw us back to the original era of we used to write this in a small practice space, you know, before the digital era where you could record everything and people could send files to each other. Now, even though we were recording and capturing and demoing in the writing sessions; it was more similar to how we started which was writing together in a room.”
Spencer elaborates further –
“We really pushed past our own minds and everyone got upset. Everyone got angry but everyone was happy; we got along, it was everything you would expect it to be of how hard it would be emotionally to make a record on your own and people’s feelings were hurt. People were crying and punching walls – but people were also hugging and having the best days of their lives, all within the same record. But I think we came out on the other end just stronger. Well our ‘family’ did and I think when the relationships and UnderOath are doing well, the band is obviously healthier on tour and in the songwriting, it shows too.”
As per Wall Of Sound’s review (read that here), full-length number nine is the band “doing well”. Elaborate yet familiar, the real victory of the record is the curious cohesiveness when there is an affluence of delicacy but an onslaught of destruction – near schizophrenic in moments. However, this is what UnderOath is and has worked towards, not a collection of songs, an album.
“When I was growing up, I heard a lot of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and The Doors from my dad; I think Pink Floyd wasn’t the one that got me right away. I liked Led Zeppelin who was heavy and I was young. With Pink Floyd, I’d play it and love it when I was hearing it but now I am older I pay more attention. I mean, think about it, if that stuff never came out, if it came out today, how relevant it would be. It’s psychedelic, it’s moody, it’s beautiful – it’s just art. When you put on a Pink Floyd album, you want to listen to it from front to back, you don’t really skip around. That’s how I’ve always wanted UnderOath to be ever since Define The Great Line. I think They’re Only Chasing Safety is a different ballgame. Voyeurist is kind of the first some of the where I really feel it like as a broad stroke; I don’t know if I have a favourite song, but I do I want to play them all live.”
Spencer clarifies further:
“This is the first record that I felt UnderOath has done that where there’s not a moment or a section where I’m like: ‘Ah, I wish we could change that’. I really feel like we like we accomplished what the best versions of ourselves were at that particular time. I’m 100% happy with the record. Normally, there’s a few like moments or songs that are like kind of a thorn in my side. There have been times where I find myself saying: ‘That’s corny or cheesy’ or whatever. But this record doesn’t have that, I feel really proud of this one.”
The outfit may have written numerous chapters in their career, but Spencer has achieved numerous of his own: Sleepwave, his alt-metal-rock project that he in his own words: “Did for a minute” during UnderOath’s hiatus. However, in more recent times there has been the emergence of Mr Chamberlain’s Slo/Tide indie project which is building quicker than he anticipated.
“I just wanted to write a record that I want to hear my car, that old Brit rock stuff that I love and the alternative stuff. It’s when I don’t listen to heavy music, which is 95% of the time. So I made a record that I really truly love and really believed in, and I’m excited to share more with people. It’s just timing and patience.”
“Matt Cutshall is genuinely a rad dude. He’s a really talented guy.”
Spencer happily articulates – “I did the song in my studio in my house and sent him the vocals and I just kind of tried to make it sound super throwback and that was what he was going for. Then he hit me up to do a music video so I flew out there; of course I did (laughs). When I met him, it all clicked, like, wow, this guy deserves everything that’s coming for him, because he’s a great guy. He loves that music, the songs that he wrote for that album he’s working on he loves, he’s so into it. Even though there’s the comedy aspect to it, he loves and he believes in it. I think that’s why it’s doing so well as people see that. It’s fun, it’s funny and the songs are actually good.”
Interview by Will Oakeshott @TeenWolfWill
Stream Voyeurist here
Underoath – Voyeurist tracklisting:
1. Damn Excuses
3. I’m Pretty Sure I’m Out Of Luck And Have No Friends
6. (No Oasis)
7. Take A Breath
8. We’re All Gonna Die