Out With the Old?
By Andy Argyrakis, senior music editor, GospelMusicChannel.com
Underoath on the Comeback Attack
"When I went home from Warped [in 2006], I said 'I'm going to work at Taco Bell, see you later' because I was basically done with it," offers bassist Grant Brandell, laughing in hindsight now that the tension and toil of that summer's completely worn off. "Chad Johnson, the A&R guy at our label, told us to just pray about it and think if that was really what God wanted. He said 'so many people have been affected by Underoath, I can't see it ending this way,' so there was one day when we just hung out as friends and got connected again at that level. Then from there, we had a meeting – one of the most brutally honest we'd ever been in – found out where each other's hearts were and realized something more can be done."
These days, the sextet is stronger than ever both off and on stage, not to mention the studio, as traced throughout the brand new Lost In the Sound of Separation (Tooth & Nail/Solid State Records). Outside of showcasing an evolution of the band's scalding but melodic balance, it also takes listeners on a journey of digging into the darkest corners of their soul and coming out cleansed in Christ.
"I think every record we try to push a little more and the fact that there's six different dudes makes us have a huge span of influences," he explains. "We're definitely a heavy band, but we're not anti-melody by any means, and we tried to dig into different areas of music. Some of the songs are more jammy, which is cool, plus we've become tighter as players and better as songwriters...I don't want to say the title's interpretive, but it is broad, dealing with choices. It asks the question 'are you gonna make the decision to change?' as it relates to the experience of growing up, though it's funny because the very last line of the record says 'I've found God/Oh, God! Save us all.'"
Impact is indeed a primary focus of Underoath, even if they don't typically play at Christian clubs or with bands associated with that culture. Though Brandell, when prompted about this month's Gospel Music Heritage celebration, remembers seeing Petra as his first-ever concert and following Five Iron Frenzy, the group's focus remains reaching out to the unchurched.
"The night [before our album came out], I went to the Virgin Megastore in New York and there were two kids already in line since 2 p.m. for our signing at the store the next day!" he recalls. "I went up to say 'hi' and we got to talking where one of the guys named Ian was telling me he felt like God was pulling at his heart [through our music] and now here we were meeting up, which is such an amazing thing to me outside of the fact he was sitting in a lawn chair for ten hours just to buy our record!"
All in the Beginnings
"I never once went back there in my head because it's so powerful to be singing these songs on stage now," he says of a set list that includes old-school hits "He's Alive," "Rise Again," "J.E.S.U.S." and "Name Above All Names." "After all these years, you can see the depth in our walks with the Lord, plus the increased anointing on this material, so [simply reliving yesterday] never once crossed my mind!"
Celtic Punk Power from Flatfoot 56
"Many Christian listeners are afraid of listening to anything that isn't rubber-stamped by the Christian music industry, and it's because of this that Christian listeners have been blown away by the different type of sound that Flatfoot 56 has," says singer/guitarist Tobin Bawinkel from the band's extensive fall tour. "How we hope to change the musical palate of the Christian listener is to simply get them out of their comfort zone and allow them to experience music that wasn't necessarily written to sell millions of records or that wasn't made to be palatable to just Christian listeners. Our music is written from our heart and to be real about who we are in Christ."
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He's also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel's very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).
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