In an often overwhelming tide of hardcore, it becomes difficult to discern one band of angry headbangers from another. In Underoath's case, the distinction is simple--they're a Christian band, chock-full of God-loving goodness. While the term 'Christian Music' often draws memories of Jars of Clay and Audio Adrenaline, Underoath is part of a new breed of non-secular music geared towards the hardcore and emo crowd, religious or otherwise.
"In the past, Christian music has had these huge walls up against the rest of the world," contends Underoath keyboardist Chris Dudley. "It was almost like if you're not a Christian then you can't listen to Christian music. We're here to show people that that's not the case."
Their sound is definitely harder than one would expect of 'religious' music and there is only one song on their latest album, They're only Chasing Safety, with blatantly non-secular lyrics. While the majority of their songs deal with typical emo-esque situations and dilemmas, their music approaches said situations from a different angle. Many of today's emo artists whine about being victims of their own misfortune, Underoath takes an objective stance, assessing their own guilt in the perpetuation of their problems.
"We write about what everyone deals with, just from a different perspective," says Dudley of their lyrical style. "But for the most part we're just dudes, writing music and writing lyrics."
While their ambiguity has garnered them much success in crossing boundaries, Dudley is fast to remind fans of their religious background.
"We definitely don't ever want to have it be in question what we're about," he affirms. "We're Christians, we're a Christian band, and that's why we're here. We also talk from stage about it."
As many religious bands can attest, crossing boundaries can be difficult. This situation is only exasperated when touring with non-religious bands, often with a greater predisposition to party.
"We've definitely been on tour with bands that party like crazy," Dudley explains. "We're talking stuff that you see on like, behind the music, but we never let it become a thing."
Having toured with secular bands such as The Used, Coheed and Cambria, and Alexisonfire, Dudley and his bandmates have had their share of experience in dealing with different lifestyles. Of course, a good Christian knows how to turn a few cheeks.
"It's about being able to respect people for what they believe and not alienating people if they're not into what you're into," Dudley explains.
Dealing with people who have different moral beliefs on a business level has not, however, been an issue for Underoath. Having been with Tooth and Nail records since 1999, the boys have enjoyed the perks of working with a small, Christian-owned indie label.
"It's like a family thing," Dudley claims, singing the praises of their label. "Any time we're there at the actual label, they'll have like, a barbecue for us and stuff like that."
Not surprisingly, signing to a major label any time in the near future is out of the cards for Underoath. They've found a perfect situation and they're not about to jump ship anytime soon.
"I can honestly say that 99 per cent of major labels, I would never want to sign to," asserts Dudley. "To them, our band and our record would be considered a disappointment. We're not planning on selling millions of records, we just want to keep doing what we're doing."
What they're doing is certainly working, Underoath has made a name for themselves as one of the better bands of their type around, Christian or not.