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Underoath Interview

A Conversation with Bassist Grant Brandell

By

Underoath

Underoath

Solid State Records
Updated November 01, 2012
After 15 years and seven studio albums, Underoath is calling it a day. The Christian metalcore group made a decision to disband after a farewell tour in early 2013. Fans do have a chance to hear a couple new songs, which are included in their compilation album Anthology: 1999-2013. Bassist Grant Brandell, who has been part of Underoath since 2002, talks about their decision to hang it up.

Chad Bowar: What led to the decision to end Underoath?
Grant Brandell: Honestly, a combination of many reasons led to Underoath not being able to be a full time band, which in-turn led to the decision to end it. Different reasons for each of us, but nonetheless we all felt that Underoath isn't the kind of band we want to just do occasionally or when it's convenient for our schedules. It's not what this band has been to us or fans of it.

With families and other careers beginning to blossom in our lives it was clear it was slowing down and heading towards an end. Underoath has been a huge part of our lives and there was a mutual respect in deciding to end it rather than let it linger on and fade away. 

Is this an amicable or acrimonious split?
The decision was definitely amicable. It wasn't an overnight discussion and decision either. There had been talks of the future of Underoath and to possibly stop touring since the last time we were in Europe, back in 2011. Of course no one really knows when things like that get mentioned that it will be over for real.

I've been in this band over a decade and I can think of at least five different conversations over the years where I was pretty positive things were done. You just never know. This was different though, there was no catalyst to engage these discussions. Everyone was open to talking about it too and we all knew a decision had to be made. 

What has been the reaction from fans?
I'd say bittersweet, but that seems the phrase of the last two months for me. A lot of fans are upset, but at the same time have been very understanding and shared what the band has meant to them. It's very humbling.

  Was the anthology album already planned, or was it a result of the  impending dissolution of the band?
The anthology album was already planned, ironically. We had agreed to release it during our last renegotiation with our record label Tooth And Nail during the recording of Disambiguation. 

How did you decide on which songs to include on Anthology 1999-2013?
For the newer records it just kind of seemed appropriate to do the fan favorite songs. The singles more or less. The label obviously had say in that part as well. I believe Chris picked out the songs from the first EPs. Myself, Tim, and Chris are the only current members that toured with the band while we still played those songs, Chris being here the longest, it just seemed fitting. 

Are the two new songs leftovers from previous album sessions, or did you record them specifically for this collection?
The two newer songs, “Unsound” and “Sunburnt,” were written and recorded just for this anthology. They are the latest and last songs Underoath will ever write.

You have a farewell tour scheduled for January. Will there be any more  dates added to those?
I don't believe so. We obviously would have loved to play everywhere one last time, but with some of the guys not being able get time off from work and having family commitments this was literally all we had time to do. So we tried to make it as feasible possible with those time constraints. A lot of people are upset at the lack of dates and the locations of the shows, but there just simply isn't anything we can do about it. A few guys in the band are using their two weeks of vacation for the year in January for this. That being said, if there is another date that makes sense and we can squeeze it in we will of course try our best to make it happen.

Are there plans to bring back any former members to participate in any of  the shows?
Not at this time. It will be the current lineup from the last record.

What have been your fondest memories of your time in Underoath?
Honestly, looking back now and thinking about what I will be looking back at in ten years from now, it will be my band mates and the music. I've never really been one to care about awards or statuses or recognition. All of those things will fade away, but in ten years when I put on Underoath's music and memories of traveling, recording, writing, playing shows and just hanging out with my best friends will be what last. 

What has been your most memorable Underoath live show (in a good way)?
Hard to pin down one, but in 2004 we had an off show at Alley Cats in VA. It was the first time I really remember hearing kids sing our songs and know all the words. My mind was blown away.

In a bad way?
Probably in Prague the night Aaron (Gillespie) told us he was quitting. It was right before we played and I had about a million different emotions running through me. The last thing I wanted to do was play a show. It was a very angry, dark set.

As you look back on Underoath's catalog, are there any albums you think were underrated or overlooked at their time of release, but have held up  really well over time?
Personally, I love them all. I don't think of any of them as being underrated or overlooked. They all have their own elements I enjoy, attached with memories I associate with them. Even the records before I was in the band I still go back an listen to occasionally.

Back then I was going to shows and watching it live. I think every musician has their own different feelings towards their past material. Usually you tend to dismiss and degrade older work. I won't listen to some of our records for a really long time and then randomly put it on and remember all the reasons I enjoy it. 

What do you think Underoath's musical legacy will be?
Probably different to a lot of different people. To myself and my band mates I think it will be something we did the best we knew how and stayed true to what we wanted to do until the end. We went against the grain in a lot of different ways and for the most part never looked back, even up to the end. 

A lot of bands have broken up and ended up reuniting. What are the chances  Underoath will get back together someday?
I would say 5 percent. (laughs) We are actually breaking up for real.

What are your post-Underoath musical plans?
I'm taking a little break from the music world. Don't really have much interest in trying to join or start a new project at the moment. I've currently been trying to get into screen-writing. It's something I have found I have passion for like I did when I first started music. It's kind of nerve-wracking and exciting, though. It's like I just got out of high school ten years later and am trying to find what's right and next for myself.

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