Santa Cruz gets its fair share of large scale talent for a small beach town, and not many bands that come through town would consider one of our largest venues, The Catalyst, small. But when you’re one of the largest and most successful metal bands on the planet, it’s understandable.

Metal has long been known for its dedicated and passionate fan base, but back in the late 1990’s the landscape for hardcore music was far more fragmented than it is now. With hardcore, metal, and hard-rock bands all gunning for their own niche audiences with distinctive sounds, fans were forced to choose between bands like Slayer and Disturbed on a regular basis. When Unearth hit the scene in 1998, comprised of veterans of all the aforementioned genres, fans got what they weren’t sure they were looking for: a unique and perfect blend of metal and hardcore music. They soon began to rally under their newfound musical leaders.

Their rise was more grinding than meteoric. From their inception as a band, Unearth has constantly toured and recorded new material, giving their fans passionate live performances along with albums that have redefined the hardcore music scene. This drive ultimately resulted in the group becoming one of the most respected, successful and celebrate bands in their genre. To find out a little more about what it’s like to be at the center of all this madness for the last 18 years, we sat down and had a chat with frontman Trevor Phipps.


Good Times: You guys are on the “Fury Tour” right now, and you’ve been on the road almost constantly since the early days. How has road life changed for you guys?

Trevor Phipps: Well, we didn’t really start touring until 2001, but in that time, we’ve lived the ups and downs of almost every aspect of the road. From sleeping-in-the-van tours to luxury bus tours and everything in between. I would say our routine has always been similar, though. We have as much fun as possible while also remaining professional. It’s what has helped keep us sane and roadworthy for 15 years.

GT: You guys all knew each other for a while and were in other bands before Unearth that ended up breaking up, and in the beginning you guys faced hardships like lineup changes. Did you all have a feeling that you knew it was going to be something special and that’s why you stuck it out for so long or?

TP: We’ve been a solid core of Buz, Ken and myself since the beginning while Nick Pierce and Chris O’Toole have been in the mix for years now. We had a host of fill-ins at certain positions over the years, but for an underground band to stay active you sometimes have to take an opportunity when one member isn’t able to tour. That’s just the nature of the business.

GT: After 18 years of touring all over the world and playing with just about every radical metalcore band on every giant stage, is there one show you can pick that was the most fun?

TP: We’ve been lucky enough to play a lot of great shows and with a lot of amazing bands over the years, so it’s difficult to say anyone was better than the other. I’ll give you two standouts for me personally, though. In 2010, we played the Main Stage at the Download Festival in England to the largest crowd we had ever played to, which was roughly 60,000 to 70,000.  The circle pit was the size of a football field and the energy was next level. Secondly, I would say Hellfest 2004 in New Jersey. It was probably the most chaotic and high energy crowd we’ve ever played to.

GT: You guys were on the first “Sounds Of The Underground” tour with bands like GWAR. That must have been crazy.

TP: That tour was constant good times. Basically, every band on the bill were previously friends, so it was just a summer of traveling North America with your friends and playing to big crowds.

GT: Unearth is known for doing cool side projects like Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s metal movie soundtrack. How did you get involved with Cartoon Network and Adult Swim?

TP: We were all fans of the show and were psyched when we found out the creators liked metal and wanted us on their soundtrack.

GT: When Mike Rudberg coined the name he wanted the band to “Unearth” a new sound in the metal and hardcore world. Do you feel like you have “unearthed” a new sound? If so how would you describe it?

TP: At the time the metal and hardcore sounds we blended together were unique. We were part of a new wave of American bands that all had grown up being influenced by some great American and European bands and we each put our own spin on songwriting. Our formula and sound happened to resonate with people and stick in underground music ever since.

GT: If someone was on the fence about coming to your show in Santa Cruz what would you say to convince them? What’s in store for them?

TP: You can sleep when you’re dead. Come hang.


You heard the man. If youre breathing, grab tickets here and we’ll see you this Tuesday, March 29 at The Catalyst Club.