A Q & A with Spencer Chamberlain of Underoath

Why did you decide to move from North Carolina to Florida after high school?

Well, it wasn’t really my decision. Growing up super close to my older brother, I was in bands with him since I was about 12 years old. The band I was in at the end of high school included a mutual friend of me and my brother Phil named Tyson Shipman. Tyson went to high school with my brother, but his parents moved back to Florida soon after. Tyson brought up the idea of Florida for us to have a free place to stay and to work for his dad doing dry wall when we were off tour. This seemed awesome, being that we had to quit a job every time we went on tour. So I had to break the news to my parents that I was moving away; that wasn’t very fun at all, to be honest, but now I’ve been in the area since 2001 and couldn’t see myself living anywhere else. St. Pete is where I call home now; when I get homesick, I’m missing St Pete.

You started This Runs Through with your brother, correct? How did that band come about? Why did the two of you part ways after the Until Forever Finds Me EP ?

Like I said earlier, I'd been playing with my older brother in bands since I was about 12 years old. We parted ways because he wanted to move back to North Carolina, which is where he still lives today, and I wanted to stay and give Underoath a shot. We still talk everyday and he is still my best friend. He still tours and we actually have done a lot of shows together.

If you listen to This Runs Through, there’s little or no singing. How did you work both styles into Underoath after you joined? Was it something you discussed prior to becoming a member?

Yeah kinda, it was just a different band, really. I grew up singing before I could scream; about every band prior to This Runs Through was a Deftones rip off, haha. But yeah, they wanted me to join 'cause I could do both and now it’s defiantly paid off being the only one on the new record, and from here on out, that sings on the records.

Can you explain how Christianity and music helped you overcome addiction?

Well, I didn’t really grow up a Christian by any means, and a lot of websites and interviews have their facts wrong. It says I was an addict in high school, but I wasn’t -- I mean, I smoked pot like most kids did but that was it. It wasn’t until 2005 when I found [image-1]myself in a spot that I needed a little help. The band was dealing with new success and actually having enough money to pay rent, people knew who we were and there were enough interviews out that people knew a lot about our lives; it was kind of hard for some of us to get used to. That isn’t what bothered me, though; I was realising I was in a band with a bunch of people that didn’t get a long and weren’t really “best friends” any more, and on top of that, I lived in a place where I had no family around. I felt alone. So, I started to party a little harder than normal and grew further away from my bandmates. Things all came crashing down on Warped Tour ‘06 and we left the tour two weeks early, called it quits for a week or two before we all started calling each other to apologise. Everyone was in the wrong in some way or another but we did what friends do and made up. Having God, friendship, and music to write about what I was going through definitely saved my life.

You have no qualms about stating that Underoath is a Christian band. Does the reaction people may have to this bother you in any way?

No, it never really did. I was never the person to tell anyone what to believe in or what they should or shouldn’t be doing, I just liked to share what made me a better person. Calling ourselves a "Christian band" isn’t really a term we like to use these days. We aren’t going back on our word, we haven’t changed in the last five years or so, but Underoath is not a ministry band. We don’t write songs about Jesus and we don’t sing praise and worship, so I think it’s a term used loosely. We are a band full of guys who are believers but we aren’t fit to be leaders, really. I’m not an ideal Christian but I will never pretend like I don’t believe. It’s for no other reason besides the fact that the term Christian band should be used for ministry type bands.

What were people's response to Aaron Gillespie leaving in 2010? Any insight as to why he chose to leave the band?

I’m sure people were bummed or surprised before they heard any of our new material, but hopefully they don’t feel that way anymore. I mean, listen to The Almost [Gillespie's new band] and listen to the new Underoath record -- you can see the problem right there. He wasn’t into playing heavy music at all really; he wanted everything the five of us didn’t and it started to cause problems over time. It was kind of a mutual decision on both sides. We knew we would be happier writing without him and he would be happier doing his own thing. It was a long time coming and I think the last piece of the puzzle to make Underoath the band it needed to be. Since then, we've been so happy and getting along like best friends and making music we are really proud of. I think it’s the only thing that could of happened and we wouldn’t have gone on as a band if it wasn’t going to be an improvement.

Why was Italy chosen as his last show rather than one last homecoming?

We were on tour in Europe and had actually had the discussion about five days before the last day on that tour. There was no need to drag it out any longer; we needed to get home and find a new drummer so we could write a record. We honestly didn’t want to make a big deal about it; we were all comfortable with the decision and just wanted to move on.

What’s the significance of 777? Besides, of course, it being the title of the DVD and the numbers of its subsequent release date?

Well, when we bought a domain name for our website, Underoath.com was already taken by some law firm, so we went with underoath777.com and just kinda rolled with that, haha.

How important was it that Define The Great Line received so much attention as well as a Grammy Nomination?

Man, it was crazy really, something none of us ever thought would happen, but very flattering. That was the first record we felt comfortable with who we were as a band and I’m glad people liked it and didn’t turn their backs on our new sound. It gave me faith in music and the people that listen to it, but a Grammy nomination was something none of us ever expected.

After the release of 0 (Disambiguation), what’s to come for Underoath in 2011 and beyond?

Lots of touring. We just got home from a six-and-a-half week long headlining tour in the States and in a few weeks, we leave for Europe. After that, we will hit most of the other countries like Australia, Japan, South America, South Africa, and so on and so forth. We try to get to as many places as we can, and I’m sure we will tour the States again before we record a new record. Really we just write, record then tour and then repeat the cycle and throw in some time off in between so we can spend time with our friends, families and loved ones...

I met Underoath frontman Spencer Chamberlain about a month ago when I was DJ'ing at a bar in downtown St. Pete and we struck up a conversation after I played a song by Helmet. Since then, every once in a while we'd see each other out, make friendly small talk and carry on with our respective nights. He was always welcoming and modest, and when I finally asked him about doing an interview, he was more than willing to participate. It ended up being a real treat. [All photos of Chamberlain by Mike Wilson, from their November 2010 and November 2009 shows.]

What led you to becoming the vocalist of Underoath back in 2003?

Well back in the day, I was in a different band touring and playing a lot of shows with Underoath. We all became good friends and prior to joining the band I actually moved in with Chris (the keyboard player). After a while they approached me to join the band 'cause they were parting ways with Dallas. At first I wasn’t too sure, hearing the demo's they'd been working on and being in a band with my brother, I felt obligated to stick by his side. A month or so later, my brother took me out to lunch and told me I should join Underoath, that he didn’t want me to pass up a good opportunity. The rest is history; after a few practices and some shows, we wrote and record and over eight years later here I am, haha.

How important was it for you to emulate Dallas Taylor ... or did you go into it with a clear head concerning your vocal style?

Umm, it wasn't really that important. It was definitely a little strange being in a band where I was “the new guy.” I kinda did what I thought they wanted on the first record. After that, though, I was defiantly doing it my way, from Define The Great Line on, I was finally comfortable.

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