Interview: Underoath’s Chris Dudley Talks About The Challenges, Freedom, And Honesty Of ‘Voyeurist’

GID: Thinking about the band, Underoath has had its share of struggles and changes over the years, especially as some people have left, some have come back, you guys even broke up at one point. Yet, you guys have persevered and stayed strong. And when thinking about that, you can’t help but think about Every Time I Die’s situation – another prolific band that imploded. What keeps you guys going and growing as a band so you don’t implode?

CD: That’s a weird question because we did break up at one point. We thought we were done being a band. We broke up, sold our equipment, and went off and did other things. That was where we were at one point in time. I was talking to Spencer about this when we found out that ETID was going to announce they were breaking up. We were there. Obviously, the situation is different, but it’s the idea of coming to the end of something you’ve been doing for so long. So, I can’t necessarily speak from a place of persevering where others haven’t. What I think we’re finding as we’re getting older is, it sounds cliche but, we always have to be working on how we communicate. Keeping open lines of communication, having uncomfortable conversations with one another, respecting one another as musicians and as dads and as people.

I honestly don’t know. I don’t think there’s a trick to it. We’re just doing what we think is working for us. It’s like a marriage. Every relationship is different but here’s what we do. That’s what we’re doing, but by no means have we’ve got it all figured out. We have our own issues and we’re always willing to work on them, well not always, (laughs) but for the most part, we’re willing to work on them.

GID: Whenever I think about Underoath, I think about watching Fuse and seeing the “It’s Dangerous Business” video for the first time and thinking “holy shit! What is this? I need to hear more!” and now about 20 years later, the band is still going and releasing amazing new music. It’s crazy because you have fans introducing their kids to Underoath! Do you ever take a moment to sit and reflect on where the band started and how you guys ended up here?

CD: I try not to spend too much time thinking about it. Every now and then I’ll hear someone say something like that or I’ll get a message online like that. That sort of stuff is always really cool but in general, I try not to focus on it because I don’t necessarily think anything good comes from it. Either it’s like “oh man I’m so awesome” or it’s like “man, am I freaking old?” (laughs) It is really cool though. Overall, my emotion is just gratitude. The fact we’ve been able to do this for so long and that so many people care about what we’re doing. It’s not common, especially with a band that has kind of changed its sound a fair amount of times. The fact that people have stuck with us is really cool. Crazy thankful for it.

GID: I think that’s sound advice about not riding the nostalgia train for too long.

CD: Yeah, and the way I look at all of that stuff is I’m just doing the same thing now that I was doing when I was 16. I’m playing music with my friends and playing in front of people. I look at it more like that. I was on the phone with Aaron today mouthing out an interlude idea for our show and it’s like I’ve been doing this since I was 16 years old so I’m just continuing to do it. Not looking back and thinking I love that thing we did at this point in time or looking forward and thinking I can’t wait till we do this or what if we achieve this thing in the future. More like always being centered on where we are. Like I love this record we just put out. I’m very excited about this tour we’re about to go on. And everything before and to come is icing on the cake.

GID: Well focusing on this year, it seems 2022 is going to be a big year for you guys. The new album just came out, you have the headliner tour with Bad Omens and Stray from the Path next month, and you guys are headlining the Emo’s Not Dead Cruise! That’s awesome!

CD: What’s funny is someone announced it early. I completely forgot we had signed on to do that. We got asked to do this a long time ago. I’ve never been on a cruise let alone played on one. I remember being like free cruise? Playing music with friends? Let’s go! Then one of my friends texted me a picture of the lineup and was like you didn’t tell me you were doing a cruise? I looked at it and was like whoa look at this lineup! Followed by oh yeah, we are doing that! I’m stoked about it. That lineup is pretty daggone sick.

What’s funny is the first Underoath record I ever did when I was in high school was recorded in South Florida. We didn’t have any money to stay anywhere, but [Dashboard Confessional’s] Chris Carrabba used to sing for a South Florida band called Further Seems Forever. So, we stayed at his house while recording the record. But we’ve never actually toured with Further or Dashboard, so this will be the first time we play together. It’s like a full-circle thing. We’ve never done a tour with New Found Glory either and we’ve known those guys forever. So, it’ll be sick. I can’t wait.

GID: Sounds like a party with cool people and lots of good music. When that came up it made me think of the When We Were Young Festival, which everyone is losing their minds over. And it’s kind of weird because it seems like that era of music is seeing a resurgence.

CD: I don’t know. Looking at it from my perspective, we’ve been touring and putting out records for the past 15 years straight. So, for us, it’s not like oh we’re getting the band back together. We’re like okay we’re playing. It’s fun to see people having a nostalgic look at these types of shows in general. I think it’s cool. The lineup for [When We Were Young] is so sick. MCR put out some amazing records, Paramore’s an amazing band. If you look at the lineup of that show it’s just chock full of insanely good music.

It’s just going to be a bunch of people getting together for live music and enjoying themselves. That’s literally all we care about as a band. We love live music and people getting together enjoying music. Whether it’s the tour we’re about to go on or this cruise or some fest it’s just people getting together and banging their heads. That’s all I care about.

GID: Especially after what we’ve been going through collectively. We need that excuse to get together and have a good time. If you could put together your own dream package cruise tour, who would you pick to play it?

CD: Oh boy! Um…oh gosh! That is very hard. I would probably pick Radiohead as one of them. Jimmy Eat World. (long pause) Collin Stetson and Nine Inch Nails. All those artists have a very wide range in what they do and they’re some of my favorite of all time. The thing with a lot of those cruises from what I understand is you get different types of sets from different artists. So, the idea of getting a rock heavy set from Radiohead and then two days later getting a stripped-down electronic thing from them and then the same thing with Nine Inch Nails. Collin Stetson is a little more one lane, but he has different vibes in what he does. That would be my dream lineup. And I wouldn’t have to deal with any most pits or anything. I would be able to sit and watch amazing music.

GID: I like it! Are you the type when you go to a show you zero in on the band where you’re not necessarily interested in moshing? 

CD: Yes! There are some bands if they played, I would probably come out and mosh but for the most part, even if it’s a heavy band, I like to sit off the side and get my stank face on for the heavy parts and just feel it.

Underoath’s new album Voyeurist, is out now. For an in-depth behind-the-scenes at the making of the album, check out their “The Making of Voyeurist” series on YouTube. The band recently launched their spring tour with Spiritbox, Bad Omens, and Stray From the Path. See the full itinerary and pick up tickets here.

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Ashley Perez Hollingsworth

Ashley Perez is a freelance music journalist based in Chicago. Her work has appeared on AXS, Chicago Innerview, New City, The Millions, and Illinois Entertainer. She also runs her own music blog at Radio Not Found. Some of her favorite bands include Nirvana, The Cure, Muse, Creeper, and Green Day.

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