Interview by Shannon Shumaker
Unearth are no strangers to the road. The metal veterans, together since 1998, have been heavily touring for well over a decade now, so it's no surprise that their current coast to coast tour in support of the 2014 release, Watchers Of Rule comes as second nature to the group. While things have chanced since the band's inception eighteen years ago, one thing (among many) remains the same - their passion for music, and most importantly, the metal scene.
We had the chance to chat with vocalist Trevor Phipps in the midst of the band's busy touring schedule, which comes through Colorado for three days in early April. Unearth will be hitting Grand Junction on April 4th, Colorado Springs on the 5th and finish up their Colorado run in Denver on the 6th. Purchase tickets to an upcoming show HERE.
The Prelude Press: You guys are in the midst of your Fury Tour - how have things been going so far?
Trevor Phipps: It’s good. We’ve had a few shows that were really good, some that were decent, but I think we got out in the West Coast here - once we hit Fort Collins, Salt Lake and Reno - we hit real strong.
You have a couple of dates in Colorado too, because you had Fort Collins, then The Springs and Denver, right?
Yeah, and we’re doing Grand Junction, so we have the four, which is unheard of.
This tour in support of your most recent album, which came out a couple of years ago - Watchers Of Rule - I know you guys haven’t had the chance to tour much on it in the U.S., so how does it feel to finally get out there and play it for people?
It’s good. We’ve done a lot of touring for it overseas, but we haven’t done a full coast to coast tour for it stateside. So that was the whole point for doing this tour. I think the band was kind of waiting for a good band to support, because you want to headline a coast to coast one. This is what we only do ever in the states is headline, so it was just like “Alright, let’s get the best package together.” It’s a solid package, and we’re feeling good playing the songs live out here.
Considering how much material you guys have, how do you go about putting together a solid setlist, especially not having done a full coast to coast tour for Watchers Of Rule?
We’re playing a long set. We’re playing songs from each record, so there’s actually a song from our first record that we’re playing and we haven’t done in a couple of years, and we’re playing a different one from In The Eyes Of Fire which came out ten years ago that we haven’t played in a couple of years, so we’re kind of mixing up the older stuff while we play three or four new songs. It’s a pretty long set for us.
Are there any songs that you’ve been really loving to play live lately?
“Never Cease” is probably my favorite one. That’s a new one - that’s coming out as a video in about two weeks, so that’s our next kind of single.
Now that you guys are in full swing, what can fans expect from the upcoming shows?
It’s just been a fun tour. I think all of the bands are bringing it. It’s our stage show, which as a band we have as much fun as possible. Moving around, getting the crowd engaged, that’s kind of what our show is all about, and it’s been like that nightly so far.
I know this is sort of a big question, considering how long Unearth has been together, but how do you feel either the band, or you personally have grown since you first started versus now?
Besides the fact that we’re all grown men compared to kids, I think we’re still the same people, but we’re grown as players, as performers. Our home lives have all changed. Back then, we were all kids and now we all have families and homes. It’s a much different life than we had back then, so we do tour a little bit less, because it’s hard to be away as much as we were back then. We’d tour eight or nine months a year, now we’ve cut that down a little bit, hence why there hasn’t been a coast to coast tour yet.
You don’t have to rush it now, either. You can do it at your own pace, have your home life and then tour.
I think that’s the thing most bands do anyway. Cause when you’re young, you just have to push the name out there until everyone hears of the band, so now that we’ve had a name for ourselves for so long, people know the band. They can choose to buy the record or listen if they want. Our name is out there so each time we have a record, we do all we can to pump up the record and get people to want to hear it, and we’ll do tours around it of course, just not as much.
With the scene changing over the years, the metal scene particularly, what has been one of the best changes or the coolest changes you’ve seen over the years? How do you guys adapt to it?
When we started, metal was kind of a bad word. All these bands that loved metal and were playing metal songs, like us and Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, Lamb of God, we all got tagged as metalcore because we were playing underground, more hardcore style shows. Then our bands became more popular, and old bands started to come back from the dead or a short lull, and metal was getting cool again, then it just kind of blew up. And now, there’s so many bands in the scene, and they’re all pretty heavy - some might be trendy, some may not be here in a year or two - but I do like that the music has gotten really heavy.
As far as what I don’t like about it, I was never a fan of nu metal, and I do see a lot of younger bands mixing a lot of those elements in there with the heavy riffs. I’m not saying they shouldn’t do it, cause that’s what they grew up listening to - I’m just not a fan of that style. But I just think with music, it keeps on going and it keeps on changing, and of course that style would eventually work its way into the underground, cause that’s just how that goes.
It’s a cycle.
Yeah. Things grow like that, and I don’t have to like it, but I appreciate it.
"Metal is a worldwide music. That’s the best part about metal is that it’s accepted in most corners of the planet. Not every style of bands are."
That’s a good thing, because there can be quite a bit of bashing one another, especially in the metal scene, for what someone else does or doesn’t like.
Elitists are everywhere in metal, and I’ve never been one. I just think it’s ridiculous. It’s such a small scene and it’s such a small pool of people for bands to sell their songs to, because not everyone like aggressive music. So when that fan base then turns its back on every little sub-genre, it kind of hurts the whole scene. It hurts the fans from actually finding cool new songs. The scene kind of hurts itself sometimes.
Well that’s the perfect segue into my next question. If you could change anything about the music scene, what would it be and why?
I guess on that point, to get rid of elitists. Metal is a worldwide music. That’s the best part about metal is that it’s accepted in most corners of the planet. Not every style of bands are. It’s not that way with lets say, country music. But their limit is much higher than what a metal band might reach, cause that’s just more accessible. Because it’s aggressive music, only a small pool of people will actually like it in each area, and for fans - or even bands - to turn their backs on bands because they don’t like their sound, that’s something that needs to go.
I think those festivals in Europe really have it on lock, because there is that sense of community. The fans all camp out. The bands on the festivals are all quite different, and it kind of brings everyone together. I think that America has to make that change as well.
I know festivals like Riot Fest are doing a pretty good job of that stateside, having artists like System Of A Down and Ice Cube play the same night, and it just works.
That’s the right thing to do. In Europe, we played a fest that was like REM and Pearl Jam. That makes no sense in the states, but it was great in Europe. I think if that stuff starts to happen here, it’ll be good for fans and bands alike.
Since the tour wraps up in mid April, what are your plans looking like for the rest of 2016?
We have a festival in June in Canada, and that festival has a lot of good bands on it from different genres. That’s a cool one. Then in August, we’re doing just over three weeks of touring in Europe, doing festivals and club shows. Then we’re going back to Europe in December, and then there’s talks of something maybe something in the states in the fall, but it’s not confirmed. We’ll stay busy.
I think that’s about it, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks for the talk and we hope to see people at the gig!
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UPCOMING TOUR DATES:
4/1 - Upland, CA - Grizzly Den
4/2 - Mesa, AZ - Nice Half House
4/3 - Flagstaff, AZ - The Green Room
4/4 - Grand Junction, CO - Independence Ballroom
4/5 - Denver, CO - Marquis Theater
4/6 - CO Springs, CO - The Black Sheep
4/7 - Lawrence, KS - Granada Theater
4/8 - OK City, OK - 89th Street Collective
4/9 - Austin, TX - Empire Control Room
4/10 - Houston, TX - Fitzgerald's
4/11 - Biloxi, MS - Kress Live
4/12 - Atlanta, GA - The Masquerade
4/13 - Fayetteville, NC - Drunken Horse Pub
4/14 - Washington, DC - Rock & Roll Hotel
4/15 - New York, NY - Santos Party House