Unearth, hailing from Eastern Massachusetts, are primed to hit the road on tour in support of their new album, Watchers of Rule, from eOne Entertainment on Oct. 27. A week before the tour started, I got the chance to sit down with the singer and guitarist, Trevor Phipps and Buz McGrath respectively, to have a fun chat about what was in store for the tour and the album.
Jeff Ayers: So your tour starts in a week, are you guys pumped?
Trevor Phipps: Yea super pumped.
Buz McGrath: Fully pumped, i mean, we got Darkest Hour, the realist motherfuckers in the game –
JA: Yea, can you guys speak a little bit about how this tour lineup came to be? It seems really well put together.
BG: We went through a hundred lineup changes, and everyone canceled on us, so Darkest Hour, we suckered them into it.
BG: Then they agreed, and it was supposed to be a month, but they [could only do] twelve shows. But everyone on this tour is awesome.
JA: I actually got the opportunity to talk with Jason Keyser, the singer of Origin on their last tour, and he said he was excited to hit the road with these bands, being such a different kind of lineup.
BG: His last name is Keyser?
JA: Yea, Jason.
BG: Oh I can’t wait to meet him, I am just gonna call him KEYSER all day.
JA: [laughs] He will probably love it.
BG: Yeah, we never met them, but we are hoping to make some new friends there.
JA: I bet you will, they are great dudes. This tour is going to end with the Housecore Horror Film Festival. Were you guys on that last year, and what is that going to be like?
TP: No, this is our first time. Horror movies and heavy metal! How can you go wrong?
JA: So let’s talk a little bit about Watchers of Rule. Where did the name come from?
BG: It was originally called Breakdown Lane, but we changed it to something more epic. [laugh] But [Trevor] Phipps is going to tell you more about that.
TP: Yeah, Watchers of Rule came from the entire record being about personal experiences and current events, not politics. Watchers of Rule to me means those that have the power to watch over us, are actually the ones with the power.
JA: Very cool. I love the album artwork as well, who was the artist?
TP: That’s Richey Beckett, he is from the U.K., he did the album artwork for a band on my label IronClad Recordings, called Armed for Apocalypse, and the album was The Road Will End. It was killer cover, and everyone in Unearth liked what he had to offer, and it turned out he was a fan of the band as well, so he drew up a cover for our record.
JA: Awesome, it totally fits the sound. I listened to the whole record, and I thought you guys brought a solid full album experience on this. What is your writing process? Do you hit the studio with a ton of ideas or does it take shape in the recording process?
BG: We have a lot of it down before we hit the studio, but a lot of the ‘detail’ stuff happens in the studio while you are doing it. But ninety percent of the music is there before we get into the studio.
JA: Lyrically speaking too, do you go into an album with an overall idea lyrically? Or does that kind of morph as the music is being written?
TP: It kind of morphs as the music evolves. It is a mood a might feel with a specific song. Also though, it does reflect the past year or two before the record was written. On tour, if I come across something that inspires me, I’ll just jot down a note that might impact me at that time, and I will go back and revisit that and if it matches up how I feel about a certain song, I’ll jot down some lyrics to it.
JA: So I am sure you have been playing some of this new material out, and getting the crowd feel for it. My favorite track on the record is “Guards of Contagion”, I think that you guys bring everything that Unearth is about with that track. Is there any track you guys are excited to start working into sets?
BG: Yeah that is one of them!
TP: That is the second single that is coming out, in a month or two.
BG: We haven’t played that one live yet, we are playing it on this upcoming tour, and it should be fun.
JA: Speaking of this tour, what’s next for you guys after this wraps up?
BG: I don’t know, do you know any bands that need someone to tour with them?
JA: [laughs] I could put the word out!
BG: Tell em Unearth is looking for gigs!
TP: We don’t have anything solid, but we will be touring on this record, so keep an eye out.
JA: You guys are usually busy, touring and playing as much as you can. Do you have any favorite places to play?
BG: I like Los Angeles. Just because it’s kind of shitty, and Hollywood. It’s fun to visit once a year, and be a “hollywood” band.
TP: I also like Japan. It’s like a different country there. Most countries around the world are either very American or very European, and there is something different about Japan, unique from the rest of the world.
BG: Keith Buckley put it best. When we toured with Every Time I Die in Japan, Keith said ‘If you gave a five year old girl ecstasy, and then constructed everything she rambled on about, you would have Japan.’
JA: [laughs] Wow. I love that!
BG: It’s perfect.
JA: Final question. Are there any bands that are currently in constant rotation on your IPod or whatever?
TP: The band I discovered [recently], our merch guy showed us the band Nails, and I know they have a few records out now, and they are ridiculously heavy. Very much enjoying them right now.
BG: Solid band, that is. Let me tell you about another band, called Nails. [laughs] They are so heavy. [laughs]
TP: What about the new Body Count?
BG: Yeah, that is hot. You want to hate on it? You are hustling in reverse.
TP: What about a band you want to champion? Who are you listening to?
JA: Me? Well I can’t get enough of the new Black Crown Initiate album, and I know they are going on tour with you guys.
TP: Right on!
JA: Also, I consider myself lucky to be in this area, because there is always a budding metal scene in Albany and the surrounding areas, so I get to see a lot of great, talented bands.
BG: Do you know Ted E. Toll?
JA: Oh yeah!
BG: Good ol’ Teddy. [in a Ted impression] Hot Shit!
JA: Ha! [my impression] Have ya met my dog?
BG: Everyone has an impression of that guy! He was one of the first guys that brought us out there. I remember we showed up to Albany, and the first time I’ve been there, and he shows up with an envelope of money, to give us to play, and then gave us beer –
TP: And Oreo cookies!
BG: Yeah! Before we even played. I was like this is great!
JA: What was the venue?
BG: Valentines. We got to thank Ted for doing that for us and other bands, great guy. Great area to play.