Interview - Unearth

Sean Michael Coale interviews Unearth's Trevor Phipps (vocals) and occasionally Ken Susi (guitar)

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Sean Michael Coale: So how's Mr. Backstabber doing these days?
Trevor Phipps: "Mr. RedChord, in our cellphones we refer to him as Mike RedChord. He's ridiculous, like when we first asked him to join the band. We didn't want to, we saw him at Hellfest and we were inbetween drummers. With Tim Lysik this awesome guy does drums for Sworn Enemy and Core for Life. Awesome drummer, but we conflicted with our personalities. Good friend of ours though. We saw him play and we're friends with the Red Chord. So we didn't want to ask the Red Chord, we didn't want him to quit the Red Chord cause we love them. And we just throw it out there for him to fill in for us for a lil' while and he was totally into it. Then it went from filling in, to him wanting to join the band."
SMC: Ya, I actually found that out at New Jersey Metalfest. I talked to Guy about doing an interview with Backstabber's INC. and he sent me over to Mike. He told me about how just finished a tour with the Red Chord, just finished the record with BSI and now I'm joining Unearth. And that was probably the best set I've seen you do yet.
TP: "What at NJ, oh man we played like shit."
SMC: You should have seen the aerobics going on.
TP: "Oh you mean the crowd, ya we kept the energy up. But we had Ken on guitar, who broke a.......... Hey we're talking about New Jersey Metalfest.
Ken Susi: "It fuckin' sucked".
TP: "On the first note he broke like three strings."

KS: "And then I grabbed another guitar and broke another string."
SMC: Ya, but as soon as you guys hit that breakdown part in "Endless" the crowd just opened up.
TP: "Ya, the crowd was fucking killer."
KS: "It's like my Mom always told me.... "Metal riffs are pretty cool, but if you write breakdowns they'll pay the mortgage."
TP: "All we are is evolved apes we still love the breakdowns and tribal beats."
SMC: So how it working with Adam D. in the studio?
TP: "It was the hardest experience for us ever. A lot of up's and down's. We were in there for about a good month, and when it was time to do vocals I got sick. Really sick, I got a viral throat infection, worst of my life. My throat was filled with what I like to call puss packs, thick white huge things in my throat. I don't know how it happened. It cleared up after about a week, had a whole week of some down time. Went and got some medicine and then I did like about 8 hour days in a row and finished the record. Then flew to Texas to film the Headbanger's Ball thing. And we I got back that night I got sick again, so when we left for the tour on Wednesday I had to get some more to get it cleared up again."
SMC: So you guys ready for Ozzfest, you excited?
TP: "Yes and I'll tell you why, all the bands are awesome."
SMC: Ya, really since like the first one back in like 96.
TP: "Ya, I went to that I was like 17, it had V.O.D, Downset, and Neurosis. Ya, and Pantera. This year's got Slayer and Judas Priest on the main stage along with Ozzy and SuperJoint. But the second stage is like Hellfest. Bleeding Through, Everytime I Die, Atreyu, God Forbid, and you got Slipknot, who are the heaviest in the genre."
SMC: How do you guys feel about the term Metalcore?
TP: "It's probably the best term, that exists for what this music is. Some people refer to Poison as Heavy Metal and you can't refer to anyone in our genre as Heavy Metal. I try not to say it, Metalcore is such a ridiculous sounding term but I really can't think of a better term. What it is, is. It is metal with hardcore overtones and hardcore ethics to it. And that's exactly what it is, back in like the early 90's like '93 - '94 when metal started to die down, the reason it did die down was it got really cheesey. I was listening to Metal Mike from Providence, he said "Man, metal needs to go Underground." And it did, and it underground it got hardcore like 3 years later Earth Crisis was huge. Overcast was probably the first metal/hardcore band but they didnt get big, but Earth Crisis the first big metalcore band. But they were hardXcore. Besides most of the kids like At the Gates, In Flames and Hatebreed, that's where Metalcore comes from."
SMC: Every band that seems to be making it in Metalcore or just hardcore in general seems to be coming out of Massachusetts or New England in general, any ideas why?
TP: "I have a reason for that, I think? It's a big population, first off Massachusetts alone. It took us, we started in back of Aug. '98. We did show after show after show and no one cared. We did VFW halls, livingrooms, basements, no one cared. But a small amount of kids did actually cared, that's why we continued doing it 'cause we had fun. But it wasn't 'till like the summer of 2001 when we got signed to Eulogy. And that's when people actually started talking notice, and the reason why that is, is there's a high competition to get noticed. That bands instead of disappearing they practice, practice, practice. And they get better, better, and better. A band in a state with no big scene or no real area, they're probably the best band."