Turning the page and writing a new chapter of life is rarely easy - emotions are high, people are often disappointed, and surroundings are new. This rings true for Florida metalcore band Underoath, who recently announced their break-up and final tour, much to the dismay of loyal fans. Many wasted no time in expressing deep disappointment, from writing on the band's Facebook wall, to angrily tweeting various band members. Fans in the left side of the United States felt neglected, questioning the lack of shows in their area.
I was able to talk with keyboardist/programmer Chris Dudley late Friday night, about the final tour, the new tracks, and beyond.
How's home life been lately?
Chris Dudley: It's been awesome, it's been really busy. I'm living outside of D.C. right now, and I'm working on staff as a youth pastor at a church. It's been great, I've been able to see my wife, see my kids, and eat dinner at home and all that jazz.
How long have you been working at the church?
Chris Dudley: I've been there since last November, so it's been right about a year now.
How do the kids at the church respond to you being a youth pastor? Do they see you as someone that's in Underoath, or just a regular youth pastor?
Chris Dudley: Yeah, there's definitely a music scene in D.C., but I live an hour away from there, out in the middle of nowhere, in the Manassas area, I'm not sure if you know where that's at. But there's only one kid in the youth group who knows who Underoath is, and some of the other kids know I'm in a band, but it's not something that I talk about too much. The kids that do know I'm in a band think it's cool; some of them like the music, whereas others are like "I don't understand why you're screaming so much!", and then want to go and listen to Kanye West or something. It's fun, you know? It's a fun thing to talk about, and be able to connect with kids, so it's been rad.
Let's talk about this last tour you have coming up here. The line-up is incredible, with mewithoutyou, As Cities Burn, and letlive. on the tour.
Chris Dudley: Yeah, we're really really excited about it. When we decided that it was going to be it, the last tour, all we could think about was "Who do we want to spend this last week and half to two weeks with?", and that's what it came down to. We've known mewithoutyou and As Cities Burn for years, those bands grew up with us, going back way early in our careers. And now that As Cities Burn is back together, we're real excited that it's working out.
letlive. is a band we just started touring with, I think just last year or the year before. We did a U.S. tour with them, and we played with them in Australia as well. Those guys are just so rad, and they put on a live show that makes me want to play a live show, and that's a real big deal for me, watching a band like that, I just want to say "YES, that's how it's done", you know? It's exciting. When we were in Australia we were on a festival tour, and one way I knew I was right about them being amazing was no matter how many people were out front watching them, the stage was always packed with other bands watching them, because you could tell these dudes all understood what they were about and were real excited about it. I'm really stoked to be spending this last tour with them, because we really connected with them when they were out with us before, and we're like "Hey, we want to hang out with you guys, and this is going to be our last tour, so you should come out". It's going to be great.
Do you feel that letlive. is one of those newer bands that's changing the scene in the same way as you guys did with They're Only Chasing Safety?
Chris Dudley: I'm not really sure, I'm not really a good judge of what you'd call "the scene". I know they're doing something that's exciting to me, I know they have a mindset and way of looking at music that's very in line with the way that we look at it. They have the goal of "We're going to go out there and kill everything", that's their mindset. It's just like when we come off the stage, and we don't want anyone to want to play after us, and I love that energy, I love that commitment. I really hope that they're a band that people look back on in 10 years and say "Wow, they really did something big", but it's hard to tell in the moment if something like that is actually happening. I hope that it is, because they will have been recognized for all the hard work they're doing, and all the awesome music they're making, and all the awesome shows they're playing.
To get this question out of the way, will Aaron [Gillespie] or Dallas [Taylor] be back in any way on this tour? I know lots of people have been asking.
Chris Dudley: Neither of them will be on the tour. I had talked to Aaron a couple days ago, and we've thrown around the idea of him coming to the Tampa show and doing something possibly, but it's not worked out or anything. Daniel's going to be drumming for the entire tour. Dallas isn't going to be a part of the tour either, I haven't talked to him about anything with Tampa. But there's a possibility that Aaron will come and play some stuff with us in Tampa, because I mean, he lives right down the street and he was part of Underoath for a long time, and you know, good dudes and good tunes and that whole thing, haha.
So Tampa really has the possibility of really being something special then
Chris Dudley: Yeah I hope so, it's definitely going to be an emotional one. That's where we got started, and that's where our family is, that's where a lot of the bands we grew up with playing in the local scene, those guys are still around, I'm sure they're going to be there. When I think about that show, I already know that I'm going to be a wreck, because it'll be the last one. It's pretty crazy to think about, because we've been doing this for so long, and the fact that when we walk off stage in Tampa it's not going to be "I can't wait to do that again...", it's going to be "Well, I'm going to grab my bags off the bus and go home, and that's it", and that's a crazy thought.
How difficult has it been picking a setlist for this tour?
Chris Dudley: We've talked a little bit about it, but it's not all the way put together yet. I can honestly say we're going to put more thought and work into this setlist than any other that we've done before. We're very mindful that the people who have bought tickets and who are going to be there are going to see us one last time, and we don't want anyone to walk away and say "I wish they would've done this or that", and we want to be able to put on the best show possible, and I think I was talking to Daniel [Davison, drums] yesterday, and we were just thinking how it needs to be legit, and we've always put a lot of work into our live sets, but this is obviously going to be something different. We've already put together a list of songs we'd like to play, it's a really long list. Nobody wants to watch a heavy band jam for two hours, so we're going to have to get creative in how we fit all this stuff in there, but it'll be fun, I'm really excited about it.
Are you guys more inclined to put together a Disambiguation heavy set because Daniel was a part of it, and he's still drumming for you?
Chris Dudley: No, I don't think so. We're all very mindful of the fact that Disambiguation is the latest thing that we've done, but it's only a piece of who we are; we're not going to go and play that record from front to back, because it's the newest thing we have and it's what Daniel helped write. We're very much wanting to bring the entire chapter of Underoath to a close, and not just the last three years, you know? We're still going to be playing some older stuff, and maybe not as old as some people would like, but it'll be good.
Are there any songs that you'll be playing that you haven't played in a few years?
Chris Dudley: We don't have the setlist down yet, but I'd assume so; maybe stuff we haven't played, maybe stuff we haven't played in a long time, but like I said, we're putting a lot of thought into it, and it'll be worth it. I think we're putting more attention into it than...how do I want to word this...when people are coming to these shows, they're gonna be like "They had better make this good", and we have that mindset, but it's tenfold. We're our own worst critics, so we're going to definitely do it big, so I'm excited.
What song are you particularly excited to play when you're on tour?
Chris Dudley: Oh man, quite a few really. I don't know how many of these songs, if any, are going to be in the set, but I really like playing "Emergency Broadcast: The End Is Near" (Lost In The Sound of Separation), "Writing On The Walls" (Define The Great Line), "Breathing In A New Mentality" (Lost In The Sound of Separation), that's one of my favorites to play. "Illuminator" (Disambiguation), and "Driftwood" (Disambiguation) are two more. It varies, but these are all songs I really look forward to playing. I would love to play all of those on this tour, but the setlist isn't worked out yet, so I'm not sure.
A lot of people are pretty steamed about not getting a show in their state, particularly in the West Coast. A lot of you guys have your own families, and I can definitely understand why shows are as limited as they are. It seems like a lot of the younger fans are far less forgiving of the situation.
Chris Dudley: That's a weird thing for us too though, and we do want to play everywhere. We thought about it, and we're like "We'd like to go play a show in California, we'd like to go play a show in Seattle and Portland." We'd love to go to Australia again, and Asia too, but it comes down to the fact that our lives are where they are right now, and...we can't, we're not able to. We're not all able to be in a spot where we can take the time that it would take to do a tour like that. We were thinking at one point to just do the tour, and then fly out to L.A. afterwards and play a show for West Coast kids, but we realized that logistically we were going to have to have it be a different show, and honestly not as good of a show. Cause you know, we're in the midst of putting together our production elements: projector stuff, lighting rigs, etc. We're all working really hard to make this show something better than anything we've ever done before, and we knew that if we went and flew to L.A., we wouldn't be able to do any of that stuff. We don't want to cheapen anything of what we're trying to do. If we were to try and add West Coast dates to the tour, that would add another week to it, and honestly for the past year we've been flying out and doing festival dates and touring, except for a few things here and there, and we're in a spot where we have other full time gigs as well, and we just can't take that much time, and it's a bummer because we're definitely not in a space where we don't want to go out and play for everyone, it's just that we can't, because of where we're at.
Some guys are in different positions than others, such as Spencer [Chamberlain, vocals]; he wants to tour until he's 70, I would see him being like Mick Jagger, up there doing his thing until he can't walk anymore. I think that element is what makes Underoath what it is, because we're all different people with different things going on. But as a whole, we're not in a spot where we're able to do that. It's a bummer because I, as well as everyone else in the band, don't like letting anyone down. We're very mindful of the fact that people want to see us play one last time, and we're getting phone calls and emails, and twitter messages from people all over the world saying they're flying out to some of these last dates, and that's just awesome. I'm glad that there's people who don't live near where we're playing, and they're making a trip to come see us play, it's really humbling and crazy.
Do you think the sense of entitlement in the scene has gotten progressively worse over the last few years? I mean, with some kids having the mentality of "You owe us this CD for FREE", or "You owe this this show in my state", etc.
Chris Dudley: I don't know, I was talking to someone the other day about how people will act one way on the internet, that they wouldn't if they were talking to someone face to face, and I know that everyone I talk to on the phone like I am with you, or in person when I explain the situation and what's going on, and we're playing all the shows that we can and we're trying to make it good and not just long, they'll go "Yeah, I totally understand", and I tell them we have full time gigs doing other stuff and family commitments and we're just not able to. But when someone gets behind a keyboard, it makes it to where they're not afraid to say whatever, and I don't know if I'd say it's a sense of entitlement, but when they're commenting on a website or video, they're just saying what's on their mind, you know? It may be something where if you were to sit down with that person and have a conversation, they may not say the same thing.
I think the point that you made about people getting a CD for free, I don't think that's a sense of entitlement, I think that's just a generation of kids growing up where they don't have an understanding of what it is to not have an iPod. And since iPod's came out, music isn't really something that you look forward to, and you wait in line for. I went to go see The Dark Knight Rises when it came out, I was standing in line for the midnight showing, and that sort of thing used to happen all the time when CD's came out. When Metallica's Black Album or Guns n' Roses Use Your Illusion came out, there was a sense of excitement, and people supported it because they didn't have a choice. And now for a large majority of people, music is just something you drop off and on your iPod or phone, and you enjoy it somewhat, but a lot of people don't have that connection, and there's not a respect for the art that there used to be. Again, it's not everyone, there's a lot of people that have that. But yeah, I wouldn't say it's a sense of entitlement, not in a derogatory way, but growing up in a different time.
I'm not talking like I'm some old guy, I'm only 29, but I still remember buying tapes the day they came out, that kind of thing. But I'm not one of those dudes that's going to get mad over that sort of thing, it's just "Hey, times are different, and that's just how it is". It's weird knowing that after January, I won't be in the music industry anymore, and it's just like "Alright, that's not really something that affects me anymore".
Changing the subject, you guys did a majority of your touring this year overseas, right?
Chris Dudley: Yeah, we did a Australian festival tour called Soundwave, and we did that a couple of years ago too, and we realized that we had never been to mainland Asia before, so we figured "Well, we're going to be in Australia anyways, so we might as well hit that while we're still here". So yeah, we went and did that, and then we headed to South America because it was time to head back there. U.S. touring and Overseas touring is totally different; when we're touring in the U.S., unless it's a festival tour, there's a lot more to it, like production. We have these large blocks of time scheduled out to do these tours, because we're adamant about the fact that if we're going to do something, we're going to do it 100%. We did a U.S. tour with The Chariot and Comeback Kid, which was awhile ago, but yeah, the last few tours we've done have been overseas touring.
So those people overseas might be a bit more understanding about not getting a show for this final tour, because they recently just had a show.
Chris Dudley: Oh yeah, the mindset overseas is completely different. It's interesting, because when you book tours, you look at different parts of the world in a different way. Say you have a city like Nashville and one like Birmingham; there's a good distance between those two cities, but when you're booking a tour, you most likely won't play both of those cities, because people will drive from Nashville to Birmingham, and people from Birmingham will drive to Nashville, it's a decently long drive. But if you play in Southern California, you can play a show 40 minutes from where you played the night before, and have it be totally different crowds because people in Southern California generally won't drive to shows, whereas overseas you have people that are saying they're taking trains, airplanes, and just making it a thing because they don't have shows all the time, and not something they're accustomed to having. Every band that plays in the U.S. plays Southern California, so that's what they've come to expect. If you live in Southern California, you have shows every week, you know? So yeah, one mindset is not better than the other, it's just what you're accustomed to and what you grew up with.
Yeah, I think some fans are starting to appreciate you guys taking your entire year's vacation just to be able to do this final tour, it's really mind-blowing.
Chris Dudley: Yeah it's funny, we made the decision about a year ago that we had been doing Underoath full-time for...well, for me, I started doing Underoath when I was 16, and now I'm about to be 30, so it's been a long time. Underoath has always been the first thing in my schedule. If I want to do anything else, I need to make sure we're not doing anything Underoath related first. None of us have had any time to do anything outside of Underoath, because it's been this machine that's just going, and we built it that way. We wanted to be road hogs, and to be gone all the time, and I think that's responsible for all the success we've had, and we put 190% into it for years and years. We're all a little older now, so we came together about a year ago, and we said "Okay, let's see what happens when we don't have Underoath be the 'end all be all' of our schedules". We all had things that we wanted to pursue, so we said "Okay, let's go and do those things, and we'll make Underoath work when we can". And when we started to do these things, we realized that we weren't going to be able to do Underoath in the capacity that we've always done it in the past, and we want to be able to give it 190%, and if we can't do that, then we just need to not do it anymore, which is what we decided to do.
So we decided if we want to go out on a high note, we need to do like you said and put in the vacation days. As I mentioned before, I work for a church, and I told our pastor, "Hey, I need all this time to do this tour, it's out last hurrah, and once that's done, I'm right back here and this [job] is what I'll be doing", and he was like "Yeah, that's cool". James is an accountant now, and Tim is running a merch company, and Daniel is shooting music videos, and we're all putting these things aside because we so want this week and a half tour to be everything that it can be, so we decided that we're going to give it one more 190%, and that'll be it. I think that's what the fans deserve, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
When you guys were writing and recording Disambiguation were there any signs or signals that you guys were going to start to wrap things up?
Chris Dudley: Oh, not at all, that recording process was great, and we really excited about how it was turning out, and we were saying "Man, this is going great, I can't wait to get out on the road and tour on this record". At that point touring was looking different than it did in the past, with half the guys in the band having multiple kids, we can't do 10 months of touring, but we can do a solid 4-6 months of touring off this record. As we've toured over the past year and a half on this record, some dudes have had a more difficult time being away from home, kids getting older, etc., that's where it kind of came to an end. So yeah, it definitely wasn't during the recording process, because when we're in the studio, we're very focused and excited because of what we were doing.
It was odd though, because when we were recording these two new songs that we're putting on the Anthology record, that was an odd time because we knew before we went into the studio that we would be done in January. So that was odd, because we were in there recording and being excited with what's happening, saying "Oh man, these songs are sounding great", but knowing that was going to be the end of it, that there wasn't going to be any sort of touring for it, no "Man, I can't wait to see how this goes over live...", no "I wonder how these songs are going to fit into the record", that was it. It was an odd feeling walking out of the studio, knowing it was the last time, it was pretty heavy.
What can you tell me specifically about those two new songs, "Sunburnt" and "Unsound"?
Chris Dudley: It's hard, narrowing it down to just those two songs. Sunburnt in particular, I'm really happy with the way that song turned out. Both of those songs we wrote in an unconventional way for us, because we were writing parts and emailing ideas back and forth, I would track something and send it back, etc., whereas normally we'd sit down in a room and write, but we weren't able to do that, because of our schedules and whatnot. The songs themselves turned out awesome, there's things that we've done as a band on those two songs, Sunburnt in particular, there's this bridge where when we recorded it, we said "Woah, where'd that come from?". I think the synth stuff is really cool, I'm biased on that though; Spencer's also doing a lot of really cool stuff. But yeah, Sunburnt is definitely the aggressive one out of the two, Unsound is more laid back and chill. It's interesting to look at those two songs and try to think of where that record would've ended up, if those were the two songs we wrote, and we had like 8 or 9 songs to go, and another year of writing. I wish I knew where it would've gone, we could've written another record, it would've been physically possible, but it wouldn't have been the way we would've done it before.
With this tour, will you be recording live video and audio?
Chris Dudley: It's being talked about, we've thrown around ideas about shooting stuff, but it's nothing I would count on, because if it didn't work out, I wouldn't want anyone to be disappointed.
I think that Tampa show would be really cool to see in it's entirety, especially if Aaron comes back for a couple of songs.
Chris Dudley: Yeah it's interesting, I've thought about that show and if we end up filming stuff we may end up filming that show, and it's going to be odd because we're all going to be a wreck emotionally, and I don't know if I would that to be on tape forever, us crying like babies. Everything's in the talking stages right now, but there's a chance.
When the Underoath decided to not be a Christian band anymore, how hard was that for you personally?
Chris Dudley: Pretty rough at first, honestly. I understand why that decision was made, because we value being honest with people more than we do trying to be something to someone. We really value honesty and being who we are. The fact is, not everyone was on the same page anymore - some guys with faith things, some guys with other stuff. It really came down to me realizing God's plan for my life isn't completely found in Underoath, and for so long it was "Oh, well this where I'm supposed to be", and I still feel that God is able to use me in this band. I sent out a tweet the other day, saying that everything that Underoath has been able to accomplish was because God used a bunch of dudes that were not special at all for something that was, and I truly believe that. The success that we've had is not anything that we planned for, we never aspired to accomplish anything that we did, we were just out doing what we felt like we should be doing, and I truly believe that God blessed that. But I understand that my viewpoint is not the only viewpoint, and I love the dudes so much, we've been through so much together and I care about them more than I do anyone else, aside from my family. We're six completely different dudes, and we agree on a lot of things, and disagree on some other things, but at the end of the day we've been doing his thing for so many years that we're all in it together.
When this tour is over with, will you be doing any sort of package deals, such as a vinyl bundle with perhaps They're Only Chasing Safety through Disambiguation? Or maybe a Photobook?
Chris Dudley: I'm not sure, that's all stuff that's being talked about as well, nothing's set in stone yet.
You mentioned that you'll be out of the music industry in January, but does that mean you won't continue to make your own music?
Chris Dudley: Oh no, I just meant that music isn't going to be my career and how I make a living anymore. When I started playing in the band I was 16, and that never was something that I thought was going to be the case, it never was "Hey, I'm going to be a rock band, and that's what I'm going to do with my life", it was "Oh hey, let's just play music", and success just sort of happened. For the past however many years that's what we've done, and how we've made our living, and how we've provided for our families. Now it no longer is, and it's not to say that I'm no longer going to make music, it's just that I'm not going to go out and try to "make it"; I'll still be involved with stuff here and there, I've got some stuff I'd like to do here and there, I have some ideas. I had a project awhile back that I'd like to revisit. I'm a completely different world, but it's cool.
In a few years down the road, what's the one thing that you'd hope people would remember Underoath by?
Chris Dudley: I guess the thing I'd want people to remember is that we were who we were, and we didn't pretend to be anything else. For me personally, I've always been adamant that this is where God has me, and what he wants me to be doing. I've spent every day being on tour, meeting new people and making new friends, going out to eat and hanging out with people. Personally, I would want people to look back and say "Those guys actually care, and it wasn't just a band/fan relationship, they really care", that's the way I've always looked at it because everything that we've ever been able to accomplish was able to happen because people cared about what we do, and supported our band. There's really no way to express the amount of gratitude that we have for people like that. We're real dudes who like playing real music, and try to be as cool as possible - not in a dress a certain way and act a certain way, but cool as in "Hey, let's just hang out and go get some food, let's talk".
" We're real dudes who like playing real music, and try to be as cool as possible - not in a dress a certain way and act a certain way, but cool as in "Hey, let's just hang out and go get some food, let's talk"."
If any of those dudes were in a the Nashville area, I'd totally take them out to eat to just chill and talk... haha.