When metalcore megastars Underoath disbanded in 2013, frontman Spencer Chamberlain honestly felt like it was the end of an era.
“I never thought in a million years that we’d ever play another show,” Chamberlain told Revue in anticipation of the band’s reunion tour coming to the Orbit Room this month. “It was a brutal breakup.”
Chronicled in the 2015 documentary film Tired Violence, the band’s demise after nearly 14 years and seven LPs came as a crushing blow to the young singer. He came into Underoath midway on — replacing original vocalist Dallas Taylor in 2003 — as they sped down a path toward mainstream success and internal tension.
“That band went through a lot,” Chamberlain said. “When you’re a bunch of kids at 18 years old and you’re getting your band together, and ten years of time goes by, a lot happens. Life happens. We were ten dudes who were very similar when we got into a band and were very different by the end. I think we never had enough time off to understand that and understand each other.
“We were on tour nonstop and I think we just imploded,” he added. “We were worn out, we weren’t friends anymore. We didn’t really know what was right and what was wrong as far as what to do with the band.”
And, as they say, money doesn’t solve all of your problems. With fame came added pressures.
“With a full touring and recording schedule, notoriety, all of a sudden selling out shows everywhere, being in a bus and having expectations — it does change you,” Chamberlain said looking back. “There’s no way for that not to change you no matter how hard you try. It changes the band dynamics, the way people see each other and the way people get along. We had to take a step back from that and live separate lives for a while and come together again [and] realize we’re all still good people.”
The band’s reunion this year comes on the tenth anniversary of its biggest-selling, and arguably most influential LP, 2006’s Define the Great Line. It debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts and scored Underoath heavy airplay on MTV2 and big-time runs on the Warped Tour and Taste of Chaos tour. The LP arguably earned the band a wider fan base than any other hardcore band on a Christian label at the time.
“I think when we were touring we didn’t think anything of it,” Chamberlain said of how he reacts to now being hailed as an innovator of the scene. “We were just touring and writing records. We just did what we thought was right.”
|Underoath Rebirth Tour
The Orbit Room, 2525 Lake Eastbrook SE, Grand Rapids
April 9, 6:30 p.m. doors
$25 advance, $29 day of show
orbitroom.com, (616) 456-3333
Even with the praise from their contemporaries, three years ago the band decided to give it a rest and move on. Chamberlain has been fulltime with his new band Sleepwave since Underoath’s hiatus. Meanwhile, drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie has toured steadily with alt-rockers Paramore. The other members have invested a lot of time into raising families, running businesses and moving on with their lives. But the passion for making noise didn’t wane for Chamberlain.
“There was no way I wasn’t going to continue playing music. I’ve been playing music my entire life,” he said. “There’s something about music that it doesn’t matter where you are in your life. You can be unsure of yourself, or you can be in a bad spot, or a good spot, and the music you write is going to be a kind of therapy — it’s a better drug than drugs.”
Having struggled with an admitted addiction earlier in his life, Chamberlain has turned to both music and faith to help maintain his sobriety and follow his own path. Though, incorporating faith in music isn’t a clear-cut option.
“Even when we started, I never thought we should bring religion into music,” he said, discussing the group’s difficult decision to no longer be called a Christian band. “Once you put in the word Christian or straight-edge, or Satanist, or whatever — you’ve already limited your audience. I don’t want to isolate anybody with my music.”
Looking forward, Chamberlain said the future isn’t clear after this reunion tour, but added they’ve already written new segue and interlude music for the upcoming live shows.
“I think it’s insane to think we won’t write anything because that’s not the kind of people we are,” he said. “No one has to force us to write. We’re the kind of guys that write all the time. So I think it’s not a question of whether we’ll write more stuff — it’s a question of, ‘Will it ever come out?’”