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Unearth – Interview – 09/08/06

Trevor sat down with John Maggard from Unearth on September 9, 2006.

RCP: You’re back out on a headlining tour now to promote you new album. How does it feel to be back in the clubs compared the large scale crowds of Ozzfest?

John: I fucking love it. It’s really good to be back in the clubs, and play at a normal time. You’re not playing in the morning. I get kind of bummed out on the festival tours. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong, you do it for two months and you get tired of hanging out in a parking lot in the middle of nowhere with a Miller Lite in your hand. It gets old quick. It’s fun though.

RCP: Is it good to be back out with fellow Ozzfest band Bleeding Through?

John: Of course. They’re good friends of ours and we’re very happy they agreed to do this tour. I think we have a strong package and it’ll go really well.

RCP: You just kicked off this tour last night down in Cleveland, how was the crowd?

John: It was really good. It was the first night and we didn’t screw up too bad, haha.

RCP: I read that you’ll be playing a good amount of the new album at each show, rotating which songs from it are played, did the crowd last night seem to really get into the new disc?

John: Absolutely, I thought the reaction for those songs was just as good as our older songs for sure.

RCP: While a lot bands today seem to have made their albums more melodic trying to show growth, you did just the opposite to grow and made an album even more brutal than the last, what brought on this path of destruction?

John: Well, there’s a lot of bands that are branching off in a lot of different directions, and trying to incorporate more melody and clean vocals. We’re good at what we do. We figured we’d just stick with that and instead of trying to change our formula and change who we are and put out music that we don’t necessarily like and can’t stand behind, let’s do what we do best. Write heavy music and feel good about it. Even if everything becomes a failure because of it, we can go to sleep at night, because we did what’s right for us.

RCP: What influenced your song writing on this record?

John: In some cases percocets , haha Ken had an operation and he was on medication for a while and he was writing a lot of rifs during that time, and he credits some of his song writing to that, haha. Most of the time we were just writing. We just got together and once we got the ball rolling and we got excited that was our inspiration. We were gonna put out a heavy album and I think that made us feel young again. Like when we were back in the day and we were twenty years old and we had no problem writing heavy stuff. We felt revitalized to write again.

RCP: How was it to work with the epic producer Terry Date?

John: He’s a great guy. It’s kind of strange that we can call him a friend. We just hung out and drank a lot of beer. He’s a good guy, and I was honored to be able to work with him.

RCP:This is your second record for metal blade now, did you get other labels wanting to pick you up for your next disc, or is metal blade the label you wanted to do this album?

John: We were already locked into a contract with them, and we just re-did our contract with them to stay longer. We were supposed to be free-agents I guess after this album came out, but we decided to stay with them. So we’ll put out at least one more album with them.

RCP: You guys looked like you had a ton of fun with this record as it showed in your video diaries, what keeps you from going nuts when you’re locked in a studio all the time?

John: What kept me from personally going nuts was internet poker and the Hurricane Café. It was about two blocks away from the studio in Seattle and they had some really kick ass bartenders there and a lot of friend foot that made me really fat. They had a really killer Jukebox selection. We played pool and just hung out and watched it rain for a couple months. It got heated at times in the studio, but for the most part it was really cool. We’d have a day off a week where we’d go hit a movie or something down the street.

RCP: Where did the album title come from?

John: The title came from a lyric in the song “The Devil has Risen.” It just came from that lyric. Trevor has many different viewpoints on why he wanted that to be the album title. To me, I just thought it was cool. That’s usually how we gauge things.

RCP: Your video for Giles is very simple, yet it meshes with the song perfectly and it’s extremely well done. Was this video idea yours or Darren Doane’s?

John: Darren was the forerunner in the treatment for that video. We really didn’t know what was going on. We didn’t really have a song that we wanted to do as the first video. We just sort of picked one. It was kind of a craps shoot that we did that one for our first video. We just threw that at Darren and he came up with the ideas for the video.

RCP: Other than Boston, what are some of your favorite cities to play?

John: I love playing in Seattle, and I’m really bummed out that we’re not playing there on this run. We’re getting a lot of negative feedback, and I don’t blame them, haha. I love playing in California. There’s always good shows there. I love playing up through the Midwest, there’s a really good vibe here. There’s a couple weak points in the South, but they’re getting better. I think it’s just because bands don’t get out there. Most of Europe and Japan is really awesome, and so is Canada.

RCP: You’re headed to Australia and Europe after this US run, how does it feel to play overseas?

John: I love playing for the kids there, but it’s really different. Like in Germany you could want to go get something to eat and everything closes at five, it’s like damnit, I just wanted to get a slice of pizza. I love the vibe over there, but I prefer playing in the U.S.

RCP: What got you into music when you were young, and when did you know you wanted to do it for a living?

John: Stevie Wonder got me into music. My parents bought me this Casio keyboard when I was real young. I grew up with really strict Christian parents and they wouldn’t let me listen to any rock music like Kiss. Stevie Wonder had enough of the vibe where they’d let me listen to it and I’d try to figure it out on the keyboard. I have an older brother who got me into classic rock later on. He’d slip me cassettes that he recorded for me. That’s how I got into Guns n’ Roses and Metallica. He got me into Rush which is still my favorite band today. Believe it or not, I actually thought Rush had a girl singer when I was young. Then I found out it was a girl like a couple years later and I was like, fuck it, I still like it. I knew by the time I was a sophomore in high school that I was sure I wanted to do it for a living. Being able to do it at that point was questionable. It was a long time that I was working at it until I could quit my job and now I do this full time, and I love it.