Fitting into the latter category is Underoath, a band that constantly strives to pave its own road to success, rather than follow the path others have laid out for it.
For band mates Spencer Chamberlin (vocals), Aaron Gillespie (drums/vocals), Tim McTague (guitar), James Smith (Guitar) and Chris Dudley (Keyboards) the most important thing is just doing what feels right.
There's no denying that these Christian kids may have come at just the right time. In the past couple years as swarms of melodic/emotional hardcore bands have emerged from the underground music scene, so did Underoath. But rather than being content with the categorizing and grouping into a certain genre, the Florida-based sextet is constantly evolving, pushing itself and setting the bar for creativity and originality.
“It's so easy to be lumped into that sing-scream-melodic-hardcore, but we're not that band; we are always striving to be one step beyond that,” says McTague.
Coming off the success of its 2004 release They're Only Chasing Safety – to date it has sold more than 350,000 copies – the band is back with Define the Great Line, an album that showcases its progression as a band both musically and lyrically.
“We've all grown a lot since making the last record and with the new album, we really just wanted to make a heavier, more cohesive album,” McTague explains. “We wanted to make the heavier parts heavier and the melodic parts more melodic.”
As Chamberlin spent time writing songs that drew from his own personal experiences, the rest of them took time to experiment musically.
“Taking our sound to the next level took a lot of different elements and depth. We took an abstract look at our instruments and what they are capable of,” the guitarist says. “Once we got in that vibe of recording, we just let it be its own thing.”
The outcome of Define the Great Line , McTague says, is something he and his band mates couldn't be happier with.
“There's not one of the 10 songs on the album that we feel shouldn't be here; they all contain great substance,” he says.
As the new album sees a shift away from mainstream hardcore, McTague explains Underoath has never, and will never be concerned about generating radio singles.
“Bands that make records to be on MTV and produce radio singles are not real bands. Those types of bands work with their heads, not their hearts and that's not what people connect with and it's definitely not something you can feel good about,” McTague says.
One thing people can never claim Underoath to not have enough of, is heart. In fact, the members all wear their hearts on their sleeves. While being Christian is the primary motivation for doing what they do, it's the positive message they convey that their fans really seem to grasp on to.
“Staying positive, believing in the respect of others and generally being open minded is a fairly universal concept, and I think that's what people seemed to get about us.”
Define the Great Line is an album that showcases that idea.
“It refers to searching for what you're really about and not what society tells you to be, or who your friends and family are. It's like where do you fit in? Define the Great Line is all about finding your path,” McTague explains.
On moving forward and stretching their limits, musically and mentally McTague adds, “whether our band lasts another two or 20 years, we will still be pushing ourselves and expanding our minds, trying to do something that hasn't been done before.”
Define the Great Line will be available June 20. Underoath will perform on the main stage at this year's Warped Tour. For more information, visit www.underoath777.com.