Unearth is a smokin’ Metalcore band that was formed in 1998 in Massachusetts. They released their latest disc, The March, in October 2008 through Metal Blade Records and have been touring in support of it ever since. They are currently touring the country as part of the “Decimation of the Nation” tour along side Hatebreed, Cannibal Corpse, Hate Eternal and Born Of Osiris. The March was one of my favorite albums of 2008 so needless to say I was quite excited to finally see the band live. Vocalist Trevor Phipps sat down with me just before the show to discuss the band and the tour.
How is the tour going so far?
Trevor: It is going well so far. Yeah definitely, we have a great package. We are fans of Hatebreed and Cannibal Corpse big time. Both of these bands definitely influenced us when we were starting out and Hate Eternal and Born Of Osiris are really good bands.
What songs do you get the best audience response to?
Trevor: The biggest staple in our set is “Lying World.” It is off our album The Oncoming Storm. It is a longer song, almost five minutes, and it just gets the crowd pumping. It has fast parts, slow parts and mosh parts. It is a song that I don’t think will ever really leave our set.
Is that your favorite song to play as well?
Trevor: I would say that it is my favorite of all of our songs to play but right now, my favorite song to play is a song called, “Crow Killer” from The March. It is always fun to play new stuff because we get tired of playing the same old stuff and that sing is one that I am really excited about.
Are you playing a good mix of old and new songs in tour?
Trevor: Yeah, the only record that we are not doing a song off of is our first album Conscious. Usually we will play a few songs off that album when we headline, but with only forty minutes and with four full length records and a couple of EPs we cannot play something from all the records.
You guys have been at this a long time right?
Trevor: We started in 1998. We did not start touring until 2001 so we have not been touring for ten straight years.
Do you feel as though you are getting more respect nowadays?
Trevor: Definitely. For instance, Boston did not even like us when we started and we are from Boston. It took us a while to get good shows, we played a lot of crap shows where there were like fifteen or twenty people. I remember playing with Killswitch Engage and a band called Keepsake in Western Massachusetts and I think there were like nine or ten paid people in the club. The crowd, not really a crowd, but the people were all in the back of the room sitting down so I told them that if they were going to sit down so were we, so we sat down and played our set. The next thing I knew six months later we started getting good shows, better shows. As far as other bands yeah I feel as though we are getting much more respect. So many bands are flavor of the month bands and they come and o so quick, we have been there standing for over ten years and touring straight for many years.
That says a lot in this business.
Trevor: It definitely does. I mean bands like Hatebreed, Cannibal Corpse and Slayer are bands that have done that and they are bands that we look up to for sure.
What kind of preparation goes into your live show?
Trevor: We warm up. We do push-ups, sit-ups and pull-ups. We stretch out and drink a lot of whiskey. We do try to work out in the hotels sometimes and before the set do some push-ups, sit-ups or pull-ups to get the blood flowing. We drink a ton of water to stay hydrated.
All that passion that you guys play with must be tough on you physically. Do you do anything special to stay in shape?
Trevor: We all work out or we try to at least.
Are you guys traveling on a bus?
Trevor: Usually we are on a bus, but on this tour we are in a van. We are trying to save some money for the holidays. Times are kind of tough right now with the world economy.
Speaking of the economy, how do you think it is affecting the band?
Trevor: It definitely affects music. People buy less merchandise and the attendance at shows is much worse. There are big tours with bands, I hate to mention, where the touring attendance is about half of what it was last year. Shows are still good but last year they were a little bigger it is not awful, but you can definitely tell the difference.
Is it just as bad overseas?
Trevor: The world economy is the same. Everywhere across the board is the same. We hear it from every band, every label manager and booking agent that it is not what it used to be. We are all hoping it rebounds. The shows are still happening and we are still doing okay we just hope it rebounds.
What have been the best countries to play so far?
Trevor: My favorite place to play is Australia. The people there are cool, the wildlife is different and there are casinos in every city. The weather is usually nice most of the time and it is just a great place.
Is there any place you have not played that you want to play?
Trevor: We have covered most of the globe, but we have yet to get to South Africa. We hear they are doing good shows there. Tasmania does shows occasionally too. There are also a few places in Southeast Asia we have not been to that we would like to get to.
What is the toughest lesson you have ever learned in the studio or on the stage?
Trevor: In the studio, you need to be prepared with the lyrics and you need to be in shape so you can perform well and not get winded. When the tour for the last record started, we had not played a show in so long that when I first started singing I was out of gas. I actually had to work my way into it. It was a couple of days of practice just going over the songs and getting my body going. I was not in poor condition physically I was just in poor singing shape.
One hundred years from now what will the music history books say about Unearth?
Trevor: They stayed loyal to their fans and their sound and they lasted a long time.
What is the hardest part about being in a touring metal band and what is the biggest obstacle your band faces?
Trevor: The hard part is being away for so long. Life just goes on, we have families and we have wives. Parents get older and grandparents die, when you are on tour stuff happens that happens in life and that is hard. I have been away when people have died in my family, that is hard. You know you might be halfway around the world when something like that happens. The biggest obstacle is staying relevant. People’s attention span is so short nowadays, especially with the internet that you really have to give hundred percent all the time and tour, tour, tour and write music that people will like.
When can we expect a new album?
Trevor: After this tour we have two months off before we headline a tour in January and we plan on doing some writing. Hopefully it will be done by November or December of next year.