It's only been a few years since Underoath originally embarked on their farewell tour, and presumably played their last shows ever. It's been a bit longer since last remaining founding member and drummer Aaron Gillespie departed the band in 2010, which means fans have waited six years to see the band in its most famous and prolific incarnation. Most thought they would never get a chance.
Of course, for those of us who have been at this game for long enough, we've seen them many times in that incarnation. This isn't about us. It isn't even about the band members themselves, who have all moved on to other projects. This is about the young fans, who thought they'd never get this opportunity.
When Underoath broke up, they were determined to let sleeping dogs lie, owing to personal and creative differences. After they met up through the course of 2014 and 2015, things changed dramatically, with Underoath announcing a reunion date: the Self Help Festival in San Bernardino, California. That one date turned into a full-blown tour wherein the band will perform their hit albums They're Only Chasing Safety and Define the Great Line. The band plays Houston's Warehouse Live tonight.
“I think one thing led to another after it took two years almost to put the documentary [Tired Violence] out, and we forgave one another and learned how to be friends again,” says lead singer/screamer Spencer Chamberlain about how the whole thing came about.
By the time the DVD was actually released, anniversaries started rolling in. They're Only Chasing Safety, the first record to feature the classic Underoath lineup of Chamberlain and Gillespie as the front men, turned ten.
“We met up and had some dinner and we just kept talking, and someone jokingly brought up the idea that we should play a show when Define the Great Line turns ten,” Chamberlain continues, “and I think it was like, that would be fun, but how messed up would it be if we only played one show and didn't give anyone the opportunity to see it again?”
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Despite the disbelief of his bandmates, Chamberlain elaborated on just how many fans he meets every show he plays with his new band Sleepwave who never saw Underoath. Going out to the merchandise table to meet fans, he swears, “Ninety percent of the people I meet never got to see Underoath play live. They were either too young or missed it, or didn't have the money or whatever. The reasons are from A to Z, but I meet a ton of people who grew up on Underoath and never got to see us play.”
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The only reason this tour exists, in fact, is those fans. “If Underoath fans were not as diehard as they are, there would be no tour," he says. "From the moment that band connected with people, it never died. Kids just loved that band, and I think, for me, the biggest thing about this is it's because of them.”
Chamberlain made sure to confirm, though, that this reunion, while permanent, by no means makes Underoath a full-time band again. “No, Underoath is not a full-time band, but it is a band,” he explains, likening it to the way Incubus will play a show here and there, then disappear for a while. “There is such a thing as touring too much, for yourself and your fans. I think there's a huge fan base there where you can tour once a year and keep everyone happy. I think we're gonna tour when it makes sense.”
Underoath's legacy as one of the defining bands of the emo era is already cemented. If nothing else, the documentary and concert video of their farewell tour, Tired Violence, proved that. Everything from here on out is just for fun, for us and for them. This definitely won't be the last we'll hear from Underoath, but it functions a lot like a bonus track to their career. For younger fans, that bonus track is the difference that means the world.
Underoath performs tonight at Warehouse Live, 813 St Emanuel, with special guests Caspian. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.