The Changing of Times (Solid State)
An interview with guitarist Tim McTague
by Vinnie Apicella
Born of a metal-infused hardcore climate – or Florida, if you prefer – Underoath steam up the tempo. Ironically, while many are hailing the imminent return of instrumentality to the narrow-mindedness of rap/rock and nü metal, there’s been an underground rumbling taking place for a number of years, distinguished by guitar-driven dynamics and structurally sound song stability, one which bombards you with an eight-in-one song sequence combining punk, hardcore, metal, pop, and nearly anything else you can conjure up that’s not consumer-driven. Intellect collides with intensity and leaves behind ten tracks of emotional deconstruction, intrigue, and rebirth, far and away from the circuitous motion of today’s pop standards… call it System Of A Down with a spiritually uplifting purpose. Founding guitarist Tim McTague talks a little about the bands’ arrival, their unifying principles, and the potential of an indie rock revolution overtaking the lever-pulling corporate rock communal.
Do you swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Ha Ha… Sure.
The new release isn’t bad for four dumb white trash kids from Florida. In fact, it’s a pretty amazing record…
Thanks. We thought each song kind of said something for itself as well (as well the whole). By the time we recorded it, we realized that it was a really diverse-sounding project, and it reflects the transition period Underoath was in at the time.
You formed four years ago… Any special circumstances involving your forming, aside from the typically-shared interests in BB guns and infrequent showers?
Yeah, basically Underoath was formed under the principles and mission to spread the love of Jesus Christ through our music and actions. Without Jesus, this band is non-existent. That is still our main focus and goal with this band, we’ve just grown into a different form of ministry. We don’t preach at kids or shove things down people’s throats, we just love and accept everyone for who they are and what they believe, and in turn, you show love to people.
What’s The Changing of Times mean? It seems, dare I say, wholesome and pure, where the lyrics are responsible and personally reflective.
The Changing of Times is about people leaving your life, things that you’re used to not being there anymore… That could mean a band member, friend, or family member, girlfriend/boyfriend, etc. We call this record “honest” because in the Christian scene labels and there are expectations on you. And a lot of people who aren’t Christians put a stereotype on you as “that Christian band.” With this record we said forget about hardcore, forget about Christian expectations, forget about non-Christians’ perceptions, let’s just write what we have in our hearts. We wrote what we were going through at that time in our lives and coupled it with an attitude of love and of accepting all types of kids.
I’m not really familiar with your first two records. So how’s this one different?
The first two records were heavy and “metal” sounding. After Corey (ex-guitarist) left the band a little over a year ago, the whole bands’ musical focus changed. We’re all about “poppy” and energetic music instead of trying to be the scariest and most brutal band out there. That’s what happens when a bunch of indie rock kids are in a metal band together; it doesn’t really turn out very metal. Lyrically, the first album was pretty much a praise and worship album. A few songs tackled issues like rape and depression, but the overall feel of the record is very preachy and very forward about Jesus Christ. Now we have the same beliefs but we write songs about what we go through in everyday life.
The first song features clean vocals, then they return to the more “death-like” growl. Why the change?
“When the Sun Sleeps” is pretty much the new vision of Underoath. It was the last song written. We have three new songs for a new record that we hope to record in early 2003 and I can honestly say they don’t have one open chug, or one double bass part, or one breakdown. It’s all upbeat and has choruses with singing and screaming and a lot more keyboard effects. If you like “When the Sun Sleeps,” then you’ll like the new direction.
Who’ve you toured with, and who would you like to tour with?
We’ve toured with a lot of bands: Beloved, Cool Hand Luke, Seventh Star, Point of Recognition, Copeland, The September Engagement, and more. We would love to tour with Further Seems Forever, Brandston, Thursday, Piebald, Norma Jean and others. We don’t really have a booking agent so we can’t tour as much as we’d like to, but I can speak for everyone in the band when I say that when we get to a position to tour full-time, we’d like to tour 9-10 months out of the year all over the world with anyone.
The changing face of rock music… what do we see next?
I think the next big thing is underground indie bands. So many good bands are getting picked up by major labels or getting major radio play: Further Seems Forever, Dashboard Confessional, Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, A New Found Glory and more. I think it’s just a matter of time before the underground scene isn’t too underground anymore.
I think a lot of these “mall” metal bands and alternative bands out now are really good at what they do, but I think kids are getting bored with it. Every band seems to sound like Creed or Disturbed and it’s getting pretty old. That’s why I’m stoked that bands like Jimmy Eat World and Thursday and Dashboard have gotten so big. Kids are finally realizing that there is so much better music out there and they’re getting turned on to underground metal and indie bands much more now. I see at least five Slipknot or Staind shirts at our shows, and I think it’s awesome that MTV kids are listening to us and like us.
Which of the old-timer bands do you want to see make a comeback and what advice would you throw out to younger bands struggling to make it?
Hmm… Well, I really don’t know many old-timer bands, but one band that definitely broke up before their time is At The Drive-In. That band is one of the most amazing bands I’ve ever heard and they broke up right after they started to get radio play.
As far as advice for younger bands, all I can say is keep writing what comes naturally. Don’t try to fake anything and rock out as hard as you can every night whether there are five or 500 kids. Always work hard, but most of all, have fun.