In an age where “metrosexual” is becoming a household term, and makeovers are crossing any gender boundaries, the pretty boy image is stretching not only through fashion-conscious cities like Chicago and New York, but noticeably through the music community as well. It appears the lines between style and rock have become so blurred, some might think one is imperative for the other’s survival. Nowadays, even hardcore acts spend nearly the same amount of time touching up their eyeliner and faux-hawks pre-show as they do writing the songs originally intended to be the focal point of the band.
…And then there’s Underoath. Though not stylistically challenged, you'd more likely find these Florida natives covered in black and blue from an energetic bat fight (which they’ve been known to have for fun), than above their eyelids for any sort of beauty regimen. And it’s that sort of blasé attitude toward what has become “important” to the music industry that has kept them grounded enough to realize what truly matters: the music and camaraderie to create something meaningful.
Flashback to last summer: After already undergoing two member changes since their previous Solid State Records’ release, “The Changing of Times,” (2002) Underoath proved their revolving cast of characters was about to alter again. This time, in an emotional departure of frontman Dallas Taylor in the midst of Warped Tour dates, some were wondering if the band would even continue on. But it was October 2003’s CMJ Fest in New York City that hushed any skeptics as new vocalist Spencer Chamberlain not only stepped up to the mic, but made the role all his own, wowing a packed audience, and proving they’d not skipped a beat in the face of the hurdle.
“I think that we as a band have grown through each member change and matured through the good and bad situations in which each member left,” explains guitarist Tim McTague. “Now that we have the people in the band that we do, we are open to a lot of potential that we weren’t open to before.”
This potential was truly tapped upon entering the studio with James Wisner (Dashboard Confessional, Further Seems Forever) to create their third studio release, “They’re Only Chasing Safety,” dropping June 15, 2004. The new vocals meld into what Underoath has been evolving to become for years: a cleaner, more direct heavy rock style avoiding any hardcore clichés they might have previously garnered. And with their innovative keyboard / electronic heavy base for the dynamic 10 song release, it’s hard to imagine anyone penning Underoath with clichés at all. Still, fans of the previously metal-driven band may be in for a shock as catchy choruses and hooks dominate this release.
“If hardcore kids want to like us, that’s awesome,” McTague elaborates, “but we’re not trying to impress them. And as far as kids saying we’ve sold out…kids like that just like to talk. They might be weirded out at first [by the new album], but hopefully it will catch on, but if not, who cares, you know?”
There’s no doubt with infectious choruses on stand-out tracks like “Reinventing Your Exit,” and “80’s Song” along with the pure magnitude and passion of each track, that the songs will, in fact, catch on regardless of where the band’s concerns lie. Still Underoath remains apathetic toward critics and will keep concentrating on what they know best: writing songs they like and playing shows relentlessly because that’s what they love doing.
“Everyone is all about making things more marketable, receivable, accessible, and in turn have watered down everything from their faith to their struggles in life, and I think people need to start being real,” McTague concludes. “Our goal is to write an album that changes music and impacts people in a huge way. I think we might start something with this record, but I think there is a lot more to uncover in the future…this is by far the closest we have ever come to that though.”
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