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The Underwater

Interview von: arne mit Dan, am: 29.10.2003 ]

The Underwater aus Pennsylvania sind dieser Tage auf ihrer ersten Euro-Rundreise, um ihr Impression- Debüt “Bleed Me Blue“ auch live zu supporten. Die Band, aus den Resten von Boywunder hervorgegangen, und um ex Zao- Drummer Jesse Smith ergänzt, spielt locker-flockigen und sehr eingängigen Alternative-Rock zwischen The JulianaTheory, Filter und Placebo; Ähnlichkeiten zu den jüngeren Cave In sind auch gegeben. Genau, hier gibt es moderne Rock-Musik mit ordentlichem Drive und deutlichem Hit-Potenzial. Lasst Euch die Band nicht entgehen, egal, ob nun live oder auf Platte.


Musicscan: are you kind of nervous leaving the states to tour europe in a couple of days? what are your expactations for this first european tour?

The Underwater: well, from what we understand we're going to be playing some pretty decent sized shows in europe so we're expecting some pretty decent shows, which is great. europe is like a dream and i know that alot of people in europe think of america as this really cool place but europe is definately a place that we really look forward to playing. i, for example, have only been to england and to be in the netherlands and germany and these other places is just so hard to believe so i think great things lie ahead- regardless of the turnout- although, i hope the turnout will be great too.

Musicscan: how much attention you put on europe in general? is europe one of your "target-markets"?

The Underwater: europe is definately a target. i think europe is on top of its shit and definately has been for a long time. to be recieved well there means as much as the u.s. and people with such discriminating tastes are not to be taken lightly. if we take off there before the u.s. i will certainly not be complaining. we love alot of european bands and to find success there is a huge compliment to us and if it takes long for the u.s. to come around we can wait.

Musicscan: what's your self-understanding of the underwater - what does your band stands for? introduce the underwaters members and the idea behind your band, please.

The Underwater: the underwater was a band that matt and i started two years ago. we had a vision for music that was poppy and edgy at the same time, somewhere between the deftones and tonic and i think we've kept true to that aim. member-wise we come from several different places but are influenced by all types of music from norma jean to brian mcknight to the dixie chix, you know? we just seek to be true to our influences and to write music that has as much integrity as our influences and that actually has something to say.

Musicscan: what have been your first rehearsels like and how did you get the members for the underwater together?

The Underwater: matt and i started this band about two years ago with a pop-rock vision that we still hold to today. we had been in a hardcore band called boywunder (which is still around today and is incredible) and just decided that we wanted to make a career of our music because we knew we could. we currently are looking for a permanent drummer but have been through about 10 drummers, 3 guitar players and 2 bass players. brandon came along in about march of 2002 and has been such an asset as far as connections and hard work in looking for anything that wiill take this band to the next level. for that reason, brandon has become an integral part of this team because, by believing in matt and i's vision and furthering it with his efforts, he has earned a place in where we are going. aaron is a kid i went to college with who was in the band at its conception, quit, and rejoined about a year ago. he is someone who appreciates where we are and has been willing to make alot of sacrifices to be with us at this stage. we hope now just to find a drummer who shares our commitment and vision.

Musicscan: did you always had people who supported you? right from the biginning?

The Underwater: to be honest, no. not many people supported us when we started out. hardcore kids called us sellouts, and local kids had no idea how far we coudl take this. some of the former members who quit are still in bands trying to make it and passed on our band because they didn't think we would have the success we have had but we just continued to believe in ourselves and our artistic vision and it has all worked out as we had hoped. i think the fact that we have had like 15 members who quit, and a song called "the capricious" demonstrates our difficulty in finding people who believed in us. time will tell.

Musicscan: do you agree to describe your sound as mixture of rock and some hardcore roots? i mean you play some kind of melodic but still aggressive rock sound.

The Underwater: i would agree with this. the underwater will evolve in time. we don't want to be stifled and hope to do some straight rock records along the lines of feeder and third eye blind in time. but for now we are breaking out with definate melodic rock and hardcore roots. i'm proud of this fact and am totally happy with where we are now and where we're going.

Musicscan: i sometimes read something like "The Juliana Theory meets Filter meets Fuel and Placebo" - is this close to what the underwater is playing?

The Underwater: we do listen to filter and juliana theory and from what we've heard of placebo we like them too. but these boxes are still a bit small for us. we just write what hits us at the moment and this can be anything. these bands are great company to be in and we have no complaints with these comparisons, but i think that, both musically and vocally, we are spread out beyond these bands.

Musicscan: has it been a "problem" in the beginning that a lot of people focussed on the fact that jesse of zao is your drummer. have you ever felt like being limited in peoples view? the positive aspect is surely that you got a lot of attention...

The Underwater: jesse joined this band about a year after we started. we knew that jesse joining would give us attention but we were also intent on being true to our vision. 3 of the 5 songs we recorded with jesse we wrote without him, you know? jesse is a great guy and i'm sure he will always find success in what he does but there is more to this band than the couple songs he worked on with us. in fact, i wouild still argue that every song we write gets better, even 8 months after he left. we in no way regret our time with jesse nor that attention we got from his involvment, but anyone who thinks this band was started by jesse or was led by jesse at any point definately has a jaded view of who we are. matt and i loved zao forever so to have jesse in our band was a dream come true, but his fingerprints on the music itself are definately less than some people think. so, basically, if you hate us don't blame jesse, and if you like us don't credit jesse. that's about it.

Musicscan: hearing "bleed me blue" - it's some kind of musical journey between all those emotions life have to offer. what makes you write such wide music?

The Underwater: lyrically, i write in the moment. and in the last couple years i've had alot to say about God, unrequited love and idealistic love. i've also written a bit about friendships and relationships gone bad. nothing makes me write these kinds of songs, they are just the release of what i hold inside. someday it may be war and poverty, but for now i'm wrestling the demons of my past.

Musicscan: describe the songwriting process, please. your songs are incredible interesting and complicated but rarely ever stay in one place for too long...

The Underwater: at first matt and i wrote entire songs musically and would bring them to the table- now matt writes most of the music and i write the lyrics and melodies. so matt will bring a song, teach it to the band, and i will chew on it and bring in lyrics and melodies later. matt, like me, writes in the moment based on his own ideas and what he's listening to- which makes our music very diverse and very cohesive all at once.

Musicscan: is it an intentionell drive to make the songs as varied musically as possible? do you like to challenge your listener?

The Underwater: we don't intentionally write varying music, it just ends up that way b/c we listen to tons of different styles and just write whatever strikes us. if our listeners are challenged in the process- great. we just don't want to be boxed in and won't be as long as we aren't afraid to listen to anything, be it 50 cent, brian mcknight, poison the well, filter, silverchair, third eye blind, beck, whatever. fuck genres- we're aiming for songs.

Musicscan: i also have the feeling that you guys don't take yourselves too seriously. am i right? just tell me a bit about your motivation to play especially this rock sound you are doing.

The Underwater: what makes us a great pop rock band is that we both respect our predecessors as well as have our own demons to fight with. we abuse our bodies, piss of the wrong people, impress the right people at times and piss them off at other times- pretty much just do our thing and welcome anyone who's down with our vision and our music. we're not looking to kiss anyone's ass or piss anyone off on purpose- we just do what we do and put our music and the fans first. we joke around alot and are have no problem making a scene. call us gay, call us stoners, call us sellouts- we don't care. all that matters in the end is our music- and that's a big part of what rock and roll is to us.

Musicscan: what's your main focus creating new songs onto? to have a good melody and a catchy chorus?

The Underwater: for me that's what i look for. matt writes whatever he feels and i try to tie it together with my gnack for catchy melodies. regardless of the style- i'm a sucker for a catchy hook. i think it's fun taking different styles of rock- hard and mellow- and catering them for mass appeal. because i can find pop in hardcore, rap, rock, r&b and whatever else so i try to just bring that common catchy element into whatever i sing with a touch of artiness.

Musicscan: what are you guys doing when you enter your rehearsal room?

The Underwater: as i said before, matt brings in music and i bring in a melody and lyrics. that's about it. just teaching stuff to the other members and getting the overall feel for the songs that matt and i are going for.

Musicscan: what is the thing concerning the band and its music you guys feel especially proud of?

The Underwater: i think we're heavier than most bands with "pretty singers" and our music is alot more indie than alot of those bands as well. this is what i think sets us apart. alot of people, when they see us live, mention how we're heavier than they pictured from the recordings. i love that. i also love how our indie roots have us thinking outside the box while our love for pop keeps us right aiming for the mainstream.

Musicscan: can you take one typical song and explain what you hope people are getting out of it, please.

The Underwater: "to find you" is an easy one because it's a semi-popular one. this is a song that i wrote about my relationship with God that many people think is about romance. many of our songs have to do with the role religion plays in society and how important it is to live our lives by our own instincts and not by tradition or how we were brought up. i hope people hear this song and songs like "disaster", "bravado" and "everyone" and see that we have alot of love for God and seek to know what he wants but fear that the world is too watered down and fucked up to ever really know what God wants. call me an agnostic, but this is the message of alot of what i write these days.

Musicscan: if you would have to summarise the message and atmosphere of the underwaters music in one sentence. what would it be?

The Underwater: our music and lyrics seek to nurture an atmosphere that is dark and poppy at the same time - something you can sing along with and yet something that makes you think about everyday experiences in a new (and perhaps more critical and skeptical) light.

Musicscan: the underwater is a band with christian background. have you ever had problems with intolerant people while playing a show? stefan (lifeforce) told me that some german magazines did cancel planned interviews when they got to know about it. i can not understand it, but it seems to be true...

The Underwater: we haven't had problems with our backgrounds to this point. when this band formed we were intent on it not being Christian. in fact, to say that i, the band's lyrciist, is a Christian would be incorrect. as i said before, i am an agnostic. i don't think that eternal answers can be found on earth anymore and i have no Christian message to send. no good news. i am someone who was a pastor's kid his whole life and who graduated from college with a degree in Bible. box me into my past if you must, but i assure you that time and experience has made me a different man. we are all in different places on our spiritual journey and, i hope that even if we were a Christian band, people could respect our views and beliefs. wherever we end up in time will be a belief system we worked very hard to get to and a belief system not to be taken lightly. religious faith is not a weakness if it is arrived at with blood sweat and tears. anyone who ciritizes us for our past can fuck off. anyone who respects us for always taking a stand for what we do or do not believe in has our respect.

Musicscan: are there any messages that you guys are trying to get out into the scenes?

The Underwater: yeah, give up the scene. live life with the rest of the world because when you reside in a scene you are defying pop-culture while they are ignoring you. this is a useless endeavor. music is music. nsync - hatebreed, it's music. support good music.

Musicscan: what are principles you would never give up to as a band?

The Underwater: good music, respect for those who came before us, staying true to what we believe in and our artistic vision.

Musicscan: your biggest wish to happen for the band?

The Underwater: alot of money because i'm tired of being poor. it would also be nice to get critical acclaim and infliuence people with our music- but who's to say? it would just be awesome to have musicians of the future look to us as we look to our role models. biggest wish, though? u2 meets aerosmith- ha.

Musicscan: something you would like to add?

The Underwater: come see us play and let us know what you think. we want to reach the world one person at a time, so your opinion matters. tell us we suck- whatever. we just want to get under your skin whatever way we can.... ;-) thanks, dan

  The Underwater