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Unearth – from hardcore kid to metalhead

Yes, you’ve seen right, you already know this interview from the STALKER magazine but back then it had to be abbreviated so much that a lot of things had to be left out which was too bad. That’s why we decided to unveil to you the unabbreviated version.

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We have to confess that this is a translation. The journalist was unfortunately unable to deliver us the original version. The editors
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Unearth hail from Boston Massachusetts. Their music and the same-titled Bee Gees pop song have as much to do with each other as Kader Loth with the Nobel prize. Boston has produced a lot of very good and creative bands like for example Cave In or Isis to name only 2. Apart from a change on the drums Unearth still play in the same in 1998 formed formation. Over the years not only their riffs became heavier, their playing more technically adept and sophisticated but also their hair longer. From hardcore kid to metalhead!



When I meet Trevor Phillips and guitarists Ken Susi and Buz McGrath they all look a bit exhausted but still relatively relaxed. Especially Ken Susi is extremely reserved. In stark contrast to the Ken Susi who rants over the stage like a dervish and is absolutely unstoppable. Trevor with his glasses, his hair-do and the beard would fit perfectly into a social affairs and/or education lecture. I thrust the STALKER into Trevor’s hand and he immediately starts to leaf through it.

Hi guys! How are you and how is the tour going so far?
Trevor: Great! Really great! We are a bit knackered but otherwise fine. (Trevor is still leafing through the STALKER and shows his band mates the saunarocker report.) We should get some pictures like these as well (grins). The tour is awesome! At the beginning we weren’t sure if we fit in ‘cause we’re definitely more metal than any of the other bands.

Are there things that annoy you like meetings with the press for example?
Trevor: No, no. Hey, this is so much better and enjoyable than a 9 to 5 job! I don’t mind answering questions!



Do you think you will ever reach a point in your development as a band and as artists where you’ll create something that’s perfect?
Buz: No, because every time we released an album it made us grow. It happens automatically when you write songs and record them. By doing so your demands grow as well but maybe we will one day. I don’t know. I don’t think we’ll ever accomplish that.

But if you did succeed wouldn’t it be the logical consequence to break up the band and start something new?
Buz: Hmmm…(he ponders a long time) Well, I think that would only make sense if we would develop into a direction that isn’t metal anymore, that isn’t Unearth anymore. When one of us isn’t committed anymore to what we are.

The title of your last album „The oncoming storm“ sounds rather apocalyptic. Do you believe in God?
Trevor: God?

Yes, God. Or is the title more of a metaphor?
Trevor: Yeah, it’s a metaphor. It stands for what’s going on in world politics and what this will bring onto ourselves. I think this is just the beginning and it’s going to get worse.

But you don’t believe in God?
Trevor: I wouldn’t say that.

I mean you can believe in God but that doesn’t imply you have to go to church.
Trevor: Exactly. For me God is no guy with a long white beard. I do believe in something, let’s call it energy.

Do you think that metalcore is the new grunge? Not because of the current hype but because metalcore already exists for such a long time and only now it gets the attention that it deserves…
Ken: Actually, it’s very interesting. I could have never imagined that this kind of music would reach that status. Right now there are so many bands that make this kind of music. It’s somehow surreal. When we started metalcore was absolutely underground and now it is considerably bigger but I don’t think that it will become as popular as grunge and nu metal.
Buz: It’s definitely an exciting time for this kind of music right now. No one knows where it will go and it already went farer than I thought it would ever be possible. The kids are really into it at the moment. But those trends come and go! The music industry and the people are very picky, they always need something new. It’s at the same time frightening but also exciting.

Do you think that commercial success is consistent with the D.I.Y. attitude?
Buz: Somehow this is always a double edged sword. If you want to commit yourself as an artist or a band 100% to your work like in our case to our music than you still have to pay your bills and rents from something. The D.I.Y. scene is sometimes very intolerant. They say: we are not listening to this or that band anymore because they have success. We stay who we are and we don’t make any compromises for anyone.

It wouldn’t make sense either to write music that pleases others but not yourself.
Trevor: This is one of the reasons why we are signed to Metal Blade. They let us do our work. They don’t put any pressure on us and they don’t try to tamper with us. We feel very comfortable with them.



Where starts “sellout” for you? For example being a host for a MTV-show or to sell a song for commercials. How far would you go?
Trevor: I personally would never sell a song for commercials because this is really the total sellout. But I don’t think that it’s a sellout to be played on MTV. MTV is a music channel and there’s nothing wrong about being played there. It only reflects what the kids go crazy for.

How are band-related things decided? Is there a simple democratic majority or do all 5 of you have to agree?
Trevor: Honestly, I don’t think that something like this would come up for discussion. Who would want an Unearth song for a commercial? (Buz cuts Trevor off)
Buz: But assuming that the commercial would be for let’s say, er, skulls or knives or explosions…
Trevor (laughs): Yeah, firecracker or something, that would actually be cool.
Ken: Or for skateboards…
Buz: If it would be something that fits into our vibe I wouldn’t necessarily say no but I think we would have a lot to talk about for a long time. For Coke or Pepsi I would right away say yes.
Trevor: But commercials for insurance companies – no way, fuck it!

Now seriously, how are decisions made within the band?
Trevor: It is voted democratically but we try to find a common ground. That means nothing else than to convince someone with another opinion of your own ideas. But by this process and the conversation about it your opinions automatically converge.
Buz: We actually always agree on the basic things. There are rather discussion if someone makes a suggestion and not everyone likes it.

You don’t label yourself as a political band in terms of telling your fans who to vote for but are you disappointed that Bush won the elections again?
Trevor: I think it’s just sad for America and I’m convinced that the rest of the worlds starts to hate us. It’s only denoting that the best man in the administration, Colin Powell, resigned. This says a lot about our government! Unfortunately, most Americans are not interested in world politics. Christian aspects are much more important to them. The coasts voted for Kerry but the rest? We get around quite a lot and we give our opinions. You can only hope that the rest of America will get it, too.

What means home for you?
Trevor: Home is where I live and my family is.



Then I already say thanks for the interview. Would you answer a few either/or questions?
Trevor: What kind of questions?

Either/ or questions. I give you for example 2 names or terms and you have to decide for one of them, okay?
Trevor: Alright, shoot!

Britney Spears or Avril Lavigne?
Trevor: What kind of question is that? That’s heavy stuff…
Buz: I’d say Avril.
Ken: Me too.
Trevor: Britney is crap. Avril is also crap but not quite as bad as Britney.

Johnny Cash or Neil Young?
Ken: Wow, this is really difficult.
Trevor: I’d say Johnny Cash (starts singing immediately)
Buz: Hmmmm, I was going to say Johnny Cash as well. How about a draw? I think both of them are great.

Marilyn Manson or Eminem?
Trevor: Definitely Eminem!
Ken(looks askant at him and within no time a lively discussion starts): Eminem?
Trevor: Yes, of course Eminem!
Ken: But Eminem is an asshole!
Trevor: Of course he is but despite that he has written intelligent political lyrics.
Ken: I think Marilyn Manson is much smarter than Eminem!
Trevor: Yes, but Eminem doesn’t need to shove a mic stand up his ass to get attention.
Ken: But that’s not the point!
Buz breaks in the dispute and says that he also would go for Eminem and I go quickly for the next question.

Star Wars or Star Trek?
Trevor: Star Wars.
Buz: Also Star Wars for me.

Alright, now really the last question: Whiskey or vodka?
Trevor: Look over there! There are 2 bottles of Jim Beam only for us! But we only drink Bourbon, not Scotch

That’s the right attitude! Unfortunately I can’t tell you If they really emptied the 2 bottles but I can assure you that they kicked solid ass onstage, Jeez!
Author: Natali Mozanic, Photos: hfr., Translation: Kathleen Gransalke
Date: 2005-09-13

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