After coming off of their world tour, Underoath had every right to be exhausted and dread more interviews. This was not the case, however, and the band willingly lent the down-to-earth Christopher Dudley, keyboardist, to Driven Far Off to answer our questions. Fans from across the country were also able to submit their questions, and Christopher graciously answered a few of them at Pipeline Cafe in Honolulu, HI.
Huge thanks to Chelsi Schriver and Christopher Dudley for setting up this interview!
– How did you guys find eachother and decide to start a band?
C: In a nutshell, we were all friends from being really young. We met each other at different local shows and decided we wanted to get together, but a lot of that was different guys. We’ve gone through a lot of member changes and stuff in the past…quite a few years, but that was about 10 years ago.
– How did the band find the name Underoath?
C: Well, the guy who thought of it was a guy who was never actually on an Underoath record. He was in the band for 8 months right when we first started. I know it came from the Bible somewhere, but no clue where. He’d be the one to ask, but I don’t think anybody knows where he is–he’s off like living in the woods somewhere. He kind of went nuts [laughs].
– How does Lost in the Sound of Separation differ from your previous records?
C: Better, and more fun. The songs are better, so in turn they are more fun to play.
– What is the underlying message of the album?
C: I don’t know if I’d say there is one message per say. A big thing with us is like, Spencer’s lyrics are really personal to him and we try as best as we can to be really honest about what we write about and not try to write a song about something just to write a song about it. Everything that is on our record is something we’ve gone through or something Spencer’s gone through, and I think the main focus of all of that is: look, we are all people and we all go through crappy times, but with us being a Christian band we are all really adamant about being like, look, this sucks, life sucks sometimes, but God is always there and no matter how bad it gets it can always be worse. Like, there is always–a cheesy saying–a light at the end of the tunnel.
– What is the process for writing the music and lyrics?
C: It’s different for every song. Sometimes Tim will come to the table with the guitar part and then be like, “let’s try and do something along this line.” Sometimes Spencer will come and be like, “yeah, I was thinking we should have something that sounds like this,” and just kind of like mouth it. Like today when were sound-checking and we were just riffing around, just all together messing around and stuff, and every song has a different story and a different way it came about. Different songs start with different people in it, but usually by the end of it it ends with all of us in a room like riffing on it trying to make it as good as possible. It usually just ends with all of us jamming.
– Who have been your greatest influences?
C: For us there are a few bands that we all are able to agree on that once we heard that band we knew that we weren’t going to see music the same way again. Radiohead is a really big band for us, At the Drive-In was a band that when all of us heard it we knew things had changed, and Refused. As far as all of us collectively those are probably the only few that we can agree on. It really runs the gamut as far as all of us goes. Aaron listens to Keith Urban, Tim listens to Iron and Wine, James listens to Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, and I listen to Imogen Heap, Guns N’ Roses and Creedence Clearwater.
– Does Solid State control most of your music or–
C: –none. That’s probably the biggest thing why we decided to resign with them, because a lot of major labels give you a lot of money and you get a lot of stuff but at the end of the day they have control over whether they are going to put out what you write or not. There’s a certain band that I talked to who is on a major label and they wrote an entire record and were really really stoked on it, and gave it to their label and their label said, “no, go write another one.” That’s just ridiculous. Solid state has, for a really really long time, been comfortable with saying, “who do you want to record with, where do u want to record, give us the record when you are done.” Most labels, while you are recording, will be like, “send us a song, send us three songs to see where its going,” and with Tooth and Nail we will straight up be like, “no, you’re not getting anything until we are done with it,” and they are fine with that. Which is really important to us because we just really want to focus on doing what we are doing and after everything is done show it to someone.
– For first time listeners of Underoath, what song would you suggest they listen to and why?
C: I’d have to say Returning Empty Handed; it’s a song off of Define the Great Line. There are a lot of songs I would want them to listen to more, but I think that’s the song that encompasses what we do the most. There are a lot better songs but I don’t think there are any better songs to completely sum up what we do.
– What is the story behind Underoath’s documentaries, like Survive, Kaleidoscope?
C: Two years ago we came to our label and were like, “hey, we want to put out an actual documentary,” like we wanted to have a film crew follow our tour, and pretty much document what it’s like on tour. Tour is awesome but a lot of times its not–there are hard times and stuff–and we really wanted to have something that was shot from a 3rd party perspective of the entire tour to show what it’s really like.
– A lot of members have come and gone in the band. Was it difficult to adjust each time someone left?
C: I think it depends on who you are talking about. We haven’t gone through a member change in almost five years now. Some guys were harder than others, some guys came out of the blue and said, “hey, I’m going to be leaving;” others were asked to leave; so with every dude it was a different story. But I think all those things led up to where we are now and I think that’s a really important thing and I think the six of us are supposed to be here. I think every person that left was supposed to leave and we feel really comfortable with that.
– Do you think that being a Christian-based band has been an advantage or disadvantage at all?
C: If you’re talking about in the industry per say, like if it’s helped us sell records or anything, I don’t think so at all. But if your talking about just being a person, being in a band, then you know, we wouldn’t be a band if we weren’t doing it to talk to people about what we believe. So I guess in that aspect it has helped us because we are in a band where we wouldn’t be in a band any other way.
– Do you guys have any side projects going on?
C: Aaron has a side project going on that he’s doing and they are called The Almost, and the rest of us have small things that we are doing here and there. The thing is, like, with Aaron’s side project, he’s got a record out and he plays shows and stuff, and Underoath tours a lot, and when we’re off, like when we get to go home and actually see our wives and see our families, he’s gone on tour again. So it’s one of those things where we all play music but I don’t think any of us at the moment are willing to take it to that next level of recording and putting out a record and playing shows because we take the time that we have to actually be at home. That’s a really crucial thing because we are gone so much, like we will probably be gone nine months this year, so those three months that we actually have at home, I’m going to be sitting on the couch watching TV with my wife. I’m not going to be going into the studio and recording another record. It can be difficult, but it’s one of those things where we know that this is what God has for us and we feel very confident in that, and all of our wives/girlfriends are very supportive of that.
– Although you have had fame for a while, was it strange getting used to the media and coverage of Underoath?
C: I don’t know, we are in a band and we’ve sold records and some people know who we are, but I don’t really see us as being famous. It’s not like I can’t just go to the supermarket or mall and just can’t get away from myself, like I’m not just reading about myself in all these different places. It’s definitely different now than it used to be, because people actually come to our shows, but I don’t see it as this burden that is just horrible. People actually watch us play where before we would go on tour and nobody would be there. Granted you get some weird people and people who are kind of off, but for the most part people are cool and they like to hang out and we like to hang out, so it works out. We’re really thankful and really blessed that people enjoy what we are doing.
From beginning to end, how long do you spend on an average song before it sounds like it does on the CD? -Tim, IA
C: It’s different things for different songs. There is one song on our new record that we actually wrote in one practice, from beginning to end, everything except for the lyrics was done in one practice which took us about three hours. There are other songs that take a year to two years. It just depends on the song.
What’s the best show you’ve ever played? -Danica, CA
C: Some ones that come to mind are: we played in Birmingham, Alabama in 2006 and that was an amazing show. The London show on this tour we are on now was great. One of my personal favorite shows we’ve ever played was in South Africa on this tour. The shows itself was good, but the venue was out in the middle of nowhere, just a field with like a hut and nothing else. But these kids had made this venue and there were these big bonfire things and they had random people come and selling drinks. It felt like a New Years Eve party. It was just insane; it was a great.
How do you feel about the illegal downloading of songs? -Jessica, MA
C: It depends on who the person is I think. I don’t think there is anything wrong with downloading per say, but when downloading makes people not buy records, I don’t like that because obviously if I like a band, I’m going to want to go and buy their record. Not saying that just because I’m a band, but I’m going to want to support what they are doing. I just never really understood the “I like that band, but I’m don’t want to support them. I’d rather just take it.”
What are your favorite movies? -John, AZ
C: Wizard of Oz, The Shining, Psycho, Vanilla Sky, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest, Rear Window-I’m just a movie guy. I’m a fan of movies that disturb me in general.
How has your faith helped you get to where you are now? -Stephen, IA
C: The only reason why I am here, here in the sense of being in this band and here in the sense of where my life is in general is because of God and because He has completely pulled me out of being in a completely different place. So I guess it’s kind of cheesy to say, but I completely owe credit for everything in my life up to this point to God. So it’s not like he’s helped me out or I’m a little better because of it. No, I wouldn’t be here at all.
Which album do you think you’ve spent the most time working on? -Kate, GA
C: The last two records we’ve spent a great deal of time on. It took us about two years to do both records, so I’d say the last two records in equal amounts.
Do they think a band should tell their fans who they support [in the election] and encourage them to vote the same way, or just emphasize the power of voting in general? -Bryce, MN
C: If you are going to emphasize anything, you should be educated. I’m not necessarily going to tell someone that they should go out and vote if they don’t believe in what they are voting for. I definitely think it’s really important to be educated and know where different candidates stand on different things.
What are some foods that you can’t live without on tour? -Sam, CA
C: I don’t know if there are any, honestly. We go to so many places and just have to eat whatever is around. There is a lot of stuff I’d like to have constantly though.