Trevor Phipps likes tall ships (actually he probably doesn't but it's a good rhyme...)

Unearth's singer Trevor Phipps loves crab core. Fact.

Actually he might like ships; I didn't ask...

Unearth is in the middle of big U.S tour and their fifth album Darkness in the Light is released today (July 5th). There’s a promise that the eleven tracks on it will blow our collective metal minds (I haven’t heard it yet so can’t comment) with the band going for a more extreme sound than on previous albums. Vocalist Trevor Phipps took time out from his hectic schedule for a chinwag about metal, drummers and beer bongs.

For quite some time you maintained that The Oncoming Storm (2004) was the band’s most solid album; how does the new album surpass it? “Right now, we feel that it’s equal to or better than The Oncoming Storm. I think time will tell for sure but the feedback we’ve got from fans so far; they’re all saying a similar thing as well, so it’s a great thing to hear from our fans.” 

Trevor’s hoping that the new album will get the same positive feedback as The Oncoming Storm and further cement the band’s reputation as a leader in the metalcore arena.

My Will Be Done, the opening track from Unearth’s 2008 The March album, is up on the band’s MySpace page and it’s had almost 1,200,000 hits – which is a shit-load (technical term) by anyone’s standards. Will fans embrace the new tunes with equal (or more) passion? Trevor’s response is simple: “I hope so! It’s been almost three years since that record came out; that song got the most acclaim for sure. That one was probably the best song on that record, I think that record is solid but we do have five records and I do love all five.”  Like all bands, there were difficulties trying to recapture the same level of creativity and ‘magic’ from previous albums but Trevor reckons they’ve done it with the new album.

The track Last Wish deals with the painful topic of a friend in a coma; Trevor drew on his own experiences when writing it. Sadly, it didn’t work out well for his mate. “The song is about a person on life support and they’re not coming back, and that’s the person’s last wish; to be set free. Life can be tough sometimes and that’s what we talk about on the latest record. I decided to talk about some stuff that affected me over the years so I think the songs are a bit darker than the last album. But it’s not all darkness and there are definitely some positive songs like Arise The War Cry and Overcome but there are some songs where I just had to get some stuff of my chest.”

Darkness In the Light was produced by Adam Dutkiewicz (guitarist from Killswitch Engage), and the band obviously love working with him as Adam worked on all their previous releases, except III: In The Eyes Of Fire – Does Unearth love Adam’s work? “Yeah, yeah!  He’s local and he’s been on the road.  We’ve known him for over a decade and he did our first full length record – he just knows the band inside and out”.  It’s obvious they’re all pretty close and Trevor is quick to praise Adam’s multi-instrumentalist skills as well as his ability to produce.  Trevor speaks of the level of trust that exists between the band and Adam, and he believes this really helped when the album was being produced. Adam also did some drums for Unearth back in 2003 when the band was between drummers; a situation they now find themselves in again.

Derek Kerswill parted from the band just before they went into the studio to lay down DitL; apparently his drumming style was ‘more rock than metal’ – so was it a case of being more Def Leppard and less Motorhead? Trevor laughs at the analogy but is quick to point out that Derek is a very talented drummer but his style just didn’t fit with where the band wanted to go with the new album. “He’s a great drummer.  He was a fill in but e did so well on The March that we just stuck with him...but we never really announced him as our drummer. He was such a great live drummer too but when we sat down to write the new album, we wanted to go more extreme and that’s just not the most solid part of his playing. He’s a rock guy and he’ll say that too, that he’s a rock and roll drummer. So it just wasn’t working out when we started to write. He understood and we’re still buddies and he’s got some great rock projects on the horizon.”

Justin Foley (drummer from Killswitch Engage) stepped in as replacement drummer and Trevor couldn’t be more happy with the result; “He came up and tracked the record with us in Massachusetts and that guy can play it all. I think sometimes his talents go unnoticed but he really gets to showcase his talents on this record.” Justin will be doing some touring with Unearth but then he’ll be going back to Killswitch Engage so is there a particular drummer that Unearth would like to recruit? Trevor is hesitant to reveal too much – he mentions the almost Spinal Tap record that Unearth has had with drummers - but they’ve been trialling new skins-man Nick Pierce and apparently he’s totally awesome. You can catch him with Unearth on the Australian Soundwave Revolution tour in September/October. The band would love to do some side-shows in Australia but as yet, Trevor is unsure of the band’s touring plans beyond the Soundwave shows. 

In a recent interview, Trevor made some rather scathing comments on the sense of elitism within the metal scene, and he strongly believes the ever expanding list of sub-genres is having a negative effect on the music. Does he have a favourite ridiculous sub-genre?  For me it’s currently math-core...”Yeah, currently crab-core is my favourite one. Hilarious. That one’s actually funny but there are so many variations right now and I’ve grown tired of it.  It lends to making trends big for a second and then those trends get hated on real quick; I’ve seen that with metalcore and lately with deathcore, which was all the rage up till about a year ago but now people are starting to hate it. Why hate on it if it’s good music?  Obviously there are the copycat bands that are no good but the bands that do it well...I don’t give a fuck about the sub-genres – if it’s heavy and aggressive and good then I’ll play it.”  I’m with you, Trevor...

He sums it up well: “I understand the use of labels just to give someone an idea about the music but to hate on a band before you even hear them, just because of the label, that makes me sick. Just listen to it first and then have an opinion.”

There’s an Unearth beer-bong available if anyone’s interested; has the band given it a test drive yet?  “Sadly not. Metal Blade, our record company, came up with that. We got sent one from a fan who had airbrushed our logo onto it. Back in 2006, we had a skull beer bong that we called Craven Morehead and we took him around the world...we took him to Australia and we took him to Japan, to Europe and the States so we’re planning to take our new beer bong on the next world tour. Hopefully it’ll survive...”

The band finish the American leg of their tour in mid-August then it's over to England and Europe for some dates before heading to this side of the globe for the Soundwave Revolution tour. 

OK Trevor – Last question; tell us something that will blow fans minds: “When I was in college I was the captain of the track team.  I threw discus. I think throwing a discus is pretty metal! I was a metal jock.  I had a mullet when I was in eighth grade, back in 1991.  It was still OK to have a mullet back then...”  No, Trevor, it has NEVER been OK to have a mullet.

I did want to ask Trevor if he liked tall ships but alas!  Time's up so I'll save that question for next time...