(this interview originally appeared as a cover feature for Modern Fix Magazine in 2002)

by bushman

Take east coast hardcore. The breakdowns. The vocal no-nonsense bark. The street-wise idealism. Meld that with some metal. Good metal. Pantera stutters and Iron Maiden leads. What you are looking for is that cross breeding of metal that’s been keeping the genre alive for the past three decades. What you are looking for… is Unearth.

Bred from the Boston area and just hitting their four-year mark as a band, the cohesion is astounding. Having all the technical execution of metal being sustained by the aggression and drive of hardcore is a formidable mix. The band excels in their genre and their hardworking ethics seem to go hand in hand with making a good time a priority. Unearth is one of those bands that is saving metal. And they just got started.

This was the ‘Metal Trivia Pursuit’ Interview. Interlaced throughout the interview, I acquired from a third party source, 10 metal-related questions I posed to this proudly metal unit. Complete answers will be listed at the end of the interview, although the band got a few correct. A few. On their defense, some of these questions are pretty old school for a band that averages 25, but hey, you gotta know your roots. Their drummer Mike was about the only one who displayed the wealth of metal knowledge it would take to impress this interviewer, as I got an 8 out of 10 on this quiz. But the Unearth guys are a phenomenal band and fun guys to hang out in a van and talk metal with. If you like anything that was ever labeled hardcore, and/or anything that was ever labeled metal, you must listen to this band.

John Slo Maggard-Bass

1. What was the name of the last album Ozzy recorded with Black Sabbath?
Ken: “I think we have it right here in the van” (holding up “Paranoid”)
Mike: “I never heard of Black Sabbath… next question”
Ken: “Isn’t that that sitcom star?”

The answer was “Never Say Die”. You’ve failed the first question.
Trevor: We can still get an A if we get a 90%.

Eastern Massachusetts, or more precisely, Boston is what bred Unearth correct? Could it have happened anywhere else?
Ken: No. I think the mix of music that we play, like metal mixed with hardcore, wasn’t really that popular. We were lucky enough to have two bands, Shadows Fall and Overcast, kind of planted those seeds in the East Coast. I am influenced by Overcast a lot.
Trevor: Me to, vocally.
Ken: To me that’s the metal-core capitol of the world.
Trevor: Overcast was the first metal-core band I think.
Ken: During the time we started the band, Converge was super huge in Boston. Diecast, Blood for Blood… like you had the Converge crew, a lot of awesome bands like on that side. It’s like two sides. Then there was the Diecast, Blood for Blood, Hatebreed type of crew. We kind of just snuck in the middle and did our thing.

When I did an interview with Diecast, they dropped your name very quickly as well. I get this feeling it’s a very communal scene.
Ken: Friends, Friends, Friends. Actually, me and Buz (the guitar players) have both filled in for them at times. John from Diecast filled in for us on bass as well.
Trevor: There’s some great young bands in Boston. This band called The Red Chord. Purity’s Failure to is another good upcoming band.
Ken: And that other band that John just signed, On Broken Wings is sick.

Are those Boston gigs still your best gigs?
Ken: Overall, I would have to say Canada.
Mike: For some reason it’s just insane in Canada.
Ken: It’s worth all the trouble at the border.
Trevor: Every single time we get hassled and we are like, “We are never coming back”. But we get there and it’s just an amazing show. Kids line up across the block.

What do they hassle you for?
Mike: They think that every band are drug addicts. They brought the drug-sniffing dogs and held us at the US border, held us at the Canadian border.
Ken: Boston shows are hard to come by now. There has been so many people trying to do the shows and the problems at the shows. Or people just don’t want to book hardcore anymore.
Trevor: Or they throw 18+ shows, so it’s really tough because the scene is aged 13-20.
Ken: As far as Boston and surrounding areas is concerned, there is really only two clubs that have metal or hardcore shows. It’s not like some cities out here, where there is like 5 or 6 venues that will have metal.

Was the local scene very supportive of you guys when you first started out?
Ken: Straight edge. A lot of Earth Crisis style bands. A lot of tough guy bands. Which we don’t mind, we like them all.
Mike: Our first show ever was with All Out War, Diecast and Buried Alive.
Trevor: We started in ’98, and it took us almost two years before any labels would actually take a look at us. There is so much talent in the Boston scene that they kind of ignore you until you get to a certain level. We just busted our asses and toured the Northeast until we got noticed.
Mike: Playing anywhere and everywhere.

So you guys are comfortable that you are at the level now where you can play most any major scene and somebody is going to show up.
Ken: Oh yeah, now is a different story.
Trevor: We toured Europe and everything. We are pretty confident about our draw.

2. Which Iron Maiden song is their longest? Which album is it from?
Ken: “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner”.
Mike: Yeah, I would say that.

And from what album?
Mike: Wasn’t it from “Seventh Son of a Seventh Son”? Is it not?

No, “Powerslave”.
Ken: Oh yeah.
Mike: Yeah you are right.
Trevor: Do we get half credit?

Yeah, no problem. It is safe to say you wear the tag of being ‘very metal’ proudly?
Mike: Yes. That’s from the Young Ones, from Vivian’s jacket.

Score. That was definitely redeeming on the trivia tip. What’s the most metal thing in your life?
Ken: I would have to say the poster in our practice space. It’s one of those velvet posters from 1980. It say’s ‘heavy metal’ and this guy that looks like Swamp Thing with Orange Spiky hair…
Trevor: It’s so badly done he’s got like an arm on backwards…
Ken: And a flying V.
Trevor: …with lightening behind him.
Mike: With a Deep Purple pin-on.

What do you think made you so metal?
(the whole band starts to speak at once)
Ken: We grew up listening to it.
Trevor: Iron Maiden, Testament, Anthrax
Mike: It was a lot of the Clash of the Titans type bands.
Trevor: My first concert ever was Clash of the Titans.
Ken: Being a guitar player, it’s like, Iron Maiden and Anthrax. Those two bands gelling together… it’s just like… Scott Ian plays incredible riffs, like he has the breakdown/metal riffs, and Iron Maiden just did the classic traditional stuff. That’s the full meal for brilliance.
Mike: That’s the album that got me into metal, “Among the Living” by Anthrax. I heard something playing upstairs at my friend’s house. I heard this little rumbling so we opened the door and peeked in and he’s doing the ‘war dance’ around his room, and I was like, ‘what is this, this is so good. I have to go get it’.
Ken: You can’t forget our favorite bands though, like Crowbar.
Trevor: I love Pantera to.
Ken: In Flames.

3. What band was Randy Rhoads part of before joining Ozzy?
Ken: oooh, Slo will know.
John Slo: I know this, I just watched the behind the music.
Ken: I’m gonna guess “Fine Young Cannibals”…
John Slo: Let me think about that one, come back to that one.

Touring with so many bands in such a short time. (Shadows Fall, Zao, Underoath, Dead Poetic, Vans Tour, Bleeding Through, Killswitch Engage, Hopesfall, Nora, The Red Chord, Purity’s Failure) How do you fit in with, get along with and tour so successfully with all these bands?
Ken: Most of the tours we’ve been spinning for, have been requested by those bands. We’ve hung out with them a lot personally. So it’s one of those that works. They call us ‘Funearth’ because we are like a rolling circus. It’s out of control. We are always joking around. People like it when you mix it up on tour and laugh.
Mike: Just having fun. Touring not all about playing on stage, it’s about having fun afterwards and hanging out and making friends. We just are kinda friendly I guess.
Trevor: The whole tour is about having fun with friends on tour. I mean, the shows rule.
Ken: I think of hanging out more than playing shows actually. But musically, I think it’s one of those things where even though the bands we tour with like Shadows Fall, that are completely different, it’s like we have similar elements that kind of intertwine.
Trevor: The hardcore scene is a little more open-minded than it used to be.

‘Endless’ EP is getting pressed to vinyl (Initial run only about 1000 copies). Bands decision to release it on vinyl. Important?
Mike: Yeah. Anyone can make a CD nowadays. But there is some about having a Vinyl. I want to wear it around my neck like Flava Flav.
Ken: That’s the stuff I kind of grew up on. Everything I got was always on Vinyl. And Mike’s more of a Vinyl head than me.
Mike: Yeah.
Ken: But I love vinyl and I know these guys to.
Trevor: “Stings…” (of Consciousness [the bands previous full length]) is available on Vinyl to.

I can’t see it as a critical band decision to make sure it comes out on vinyl or it will never be heard. So it has to be, not necessarily a vanity thing, but something you feel is important enough to make happen.
Mike: There is enough people who requested it. So this just kind of fell into place. I didn’t even know the EP was coming out on vinyl.

I had read that there is a certain number of Red, Blue and limited 100 of White vinyl.
Mike: That’s good. The White’s my favorite.
Ken: A band can always make decisions for themselves to make money. But I think this band collectively likes the audience to be happy. So if the audience has cool new things, vinyl, or DVDs or whatever.

“The Charm” really shows the InFlames comparisons in the soaring dual guitars (before it’s all crushed down into a chunk fest of riffage). Justifiable comparison?
Ken: It’s a compliment. Thank you.
Mike: “The Charm” is my favorite song I think we’ve ever written.
Trevor: We listen to those bands, so it’s gonna come out in the wash sometime.
Ken: When it comes down to actually writing for this band, we just play anything we like. Anything that comes off the top of our head. Even if it’s stupid. We are always open to new ideas. We want to put out stuff that kids are like, ‘Why?…What?’ but it works.

Are those songs going to be on the next full length? (Except the last track “My Desire” which is also on their last full length.) Is that a different version of that track on the ‘Endless’ EP?
Trevor: That is different.
Mike: Right after we recorded our demo, we wanted to record two new songs to send out to labels. So we recorded ‘Monition’ and “My Desire” and sent it out with our press packs. “Monition” ended up on a split 7″ with Undying. Came out on Strike Force Records. Limited to like 500 I think. That was awhile ago. But then we just kind of had this version of “My Desire” lingering around. Actually, I think the whole band likes this version better than the album version. This seemed more raw…
Trevor: It was new. So we had more heart in it I think. By the time we did it on ‘Stings…’ it was years old. It’s a big reason why John signed us to.

Amazon.com wants $10.98 for four songs. 3 of which are new. A bit steep doncha think?
Ken: That sucks.
Trevor: That has nothing to do with us.
Mike: If it was up to us, we would put it out for $3.00. A dollar a song, that’s what I always think. We never over charge for anything. We could charge $12-$15 for a T-shirt every night. But we always charge $10. We aren’t out to make a million dollars.

4. What was the name of the first Def Leppard album?
Trevor: Out of my realm man.
Ken: Is that the one with the truck driving with the bass… it’s ah… damn you, I hate you. Wait, I know this one… It’s called like, “Mental Truck Driving Through Space”. I don’t know.

What’s the ‘top secret’ release you wouldn’t mention on the website. Let’s crack that shit open in Modern Fix!
Mike: Um, I don’t know… should I say it?
Trevor: I don’t know, are we gonna do it.
Mike: Aw, c’mon we’ll do it.
Ken: We’ll do it. We’ll definitely do it.
Mike: Every time we go to Kansas City… The first time we were scheduled to go there, Trevor had problems with his voice and was hospitalized for awhile. We missed that show. Then the second time we went around there, we were so late, because we broke down. We got to run in and play on Zao‘s equipment for like two songs.
Trevor: We were cursed. We broke two trailer tires and then we were almost there, and then a van tire popped.
Mike: So we took a picture of the burst tire, and what we are gonna do for those kids in Kansas, we are going to do a 7″ covering “Carry On Wayward Son” by Kansas. We are only going to make like 100-200. And in order to get it, you gotta send a receipt from a store in Kansas. So save your receipts if you live in Kansas.

I have a 110 CD player. Your disc “The Stings of Conscience” has resided in slot #69 since I got it.
Ken: 69. Damn. That’s our favorite number.
Mike: Do you think that’s funny?

I was about to ask you if you think that’s funny? Is there any witty sexual innuendo and undertones to Unearth?
Ken: Are you kidding me?
Trevor: All we talk about is poop jokes and sex in this van. And sports once in awhile.

Are you a sexy band?
Trevor: C’mon, look at Mike. How sexy is Mike?
Ken: We even indulge in the fruits of ladies.

Do you get chicks with your metal?
Ken: I get chicks with everything I guess.
(much laughs)

5. Which arm did Def Leppard drummer Steve Clark lose in car crash?
John Slo: It was his left arm.
Ken: Yeah, his left arm.

You get half credit. It was drummer Rick Allen who lost his arm. Steve Clark was their guitarist.

“A belief that time is cruelty” from ‘One Step Away’. Please explain.
Trevor: That song is about just living your life to the fullest.

I want to know about that line.
Trevor: I believe you have one life to life. And if you don’t live your life, then you are done. You age really quickly. If you don’t do the things you want to do when you are young, you are never going to do them.

When someone asks me what you sound like, I generally say “Hardcore with visible traditional metal (Maiden / Priest) influences in the guitars”. Is that accurate, or should I amend that?
Mike: I would say our older stuff is more hardcore with metal influences, and I’d say our newer stuff is more metal with hardcore influences.
Ken: We called ourselves neo-classical metal-core.

The dual guitars are quite distinctive, yet have such a firm grasp on traditional melodies. You all must extensive metal history?
Ken: It is. Me and Buz both have never taken a lesson at all. I’ve always watched by other people, and watching TV. Watching Scott Ian. Watching metal guitar players, how they play and their riffs. You put a piece of music in front of me, I can’t read it right now. I can’t tab. I can’t do anything. It doesn’t make me a bad player, but me and Buz take the guitar and write stuff that’s weird. And whatever sounds good, you just kind of go with the flow of how you feel and how you write.

But there is a certain technical level to Unearth. You are guitarist’s guitarists. It’s not just riffs. I can tell the guitar kids in the crowd, because they are just transfixed on your hands when you play.
Ken: It’s funny because kids walk up to me and Buz at times like, “How do you do this.” And I’m like, (shrugging) “I don’t know”. But watching people that came before us…
Mike: Michael Angelo
Ken: Yeah, Michael Angelo, Paul Gilbert, Jason Becker… people like that. You watch some of their riffs. We can kind of intertwine stuff. Even though it shouldn’t be in metal or hardcore, I will just do it anyway.

6. What was the name of the live album by Black Sabbath with Ronnie James Dio singing?
Ken: Y’know what… Did Black Sabbath exist without Ozzy?
Mike: Is it eight letters? Two four letter words. First one begins with ‘L’. Second word begins with ‘E’.

Yeah, you’re on it.
Mike: I just want 9/10th’s credit. I don’t want the full. We’ll leave it at that.

Any other guesses from the band?
Ken: Ask me an Anthrax question. I’ll tell you what underwear Scott Ian wore in 1986.

What’s the average age of the Unearth band member?
Trevor: Probably around 25 is the average.

We talked back in January 2001. Almost two years later, what’s changed in your world?
Trevor: We’ve toured a whole lot more.
Mike: Constantly touring.
Trevor: I think we’ve put 170,000 miles on this van.
John Slo: Most of my friends are outside my area now.
Mike: Many kids have come and gone. Things have changed that way. We’ve gained a lot of new friends. But some kids dip out of the scene to.
Trevor: We have more friends in New York and New Jersey than we do in Boston because I love playing there.

How has Unearth weathered the events of the world?
Trevor: Well, last year after 9/11, we were going to go to Europe in November, and then we postponed it until March/April.
Ken: And when we did go, we all sweated on the plane because we were all nervous about bombs. We were all ready to throw down if we had to. We were all like “What’s Up!!??” anytime anyone got up.
John Slo: There was one point I had my belt in my hands.
Mike: I had Slo’s belt in my hands to.
Ken: The way I see it, is if we are all gonna die, I’d rather die on tour. Just because I’m doing what I love.

Does Europe go off for Unearth?
Trevor: It was awesome. We couldn’t believe it. We were like, “you guys like us over here???”
Mike: You had kids singing the lyrics, but then you’d go talk to them and they wouldn’t speak English, and I’m like, “but you know our lyrics”, and that’s so cool.

7. Old School question, what was the name of the last Led Zeppelin album recorded in 1982?
Ken: See, if our other guitarist was here…
Trevor: Yeah, he could answer all of these questions.
Mike: Is it… ah… “Coda?”

Right on. Correct. Where do you see the hardcore scene moving? More acceptance, less acceptance?
Ken: I think a lot of new haircuts. A lot of new pants and clothes. That’s about it.
John Slo: Obviously the hardcore and metal and everything else scene is so blurred together that everyone says that all the time.
Mike: When I think of hardcore, and I think of like old school real hardcore bands, those are the true hardcore bands. As far as what’s accepted as hardcore? Any band from Shadows Fall to like whoever. Straight up metal bands being accepted as hardcore. And then a band like Hope Conspiracy
Trevor: They have more of an emo/rock meets metal hardcore.
Mike: I just think the whole genre is expanding and encompassing more and more everyday.
Trevor: As far as different music, it’s just the ideals of hardcore that’s gonna make it hardcore.
Ken: As far as what we do, there is a lot bands that try to do like metal hardcore, but at this point, I think that we… a lot of people say “Oh, there’s a lot of people that kinda steal your formula, and this and that, but you guys have a distinct sound.” So when it comes to doing this stuff, I think, like Shai Hulud. Put in a Shai Hulud album, you’ll always know it’s Shai Hulud. Put in a Shadows Fall album, you definitely know it’s Shadows Fall. With Unearth to, we are trying to grasp that means of becoming a band that people will know when put in the CD.

8. What band recorded “Trapped Under Ice”? What album is it from?
(without hesitation before I even finished the questions)
Trevor: Metallica, “Ride The Lightening”.
Mike: That was pretty quick, he gets like bonus points.
Ken: He’s got the side burns, look at that.
Mike: He looks like a certain someone in that band.

Outside of the band, what occupies your time?
Trevor: We just started a label. We just signed a band from Canada called Rise Over Run. They are really good. Metal meets hardcore type band.
Mike: Ebay. I write for MetalJudgement.com. I sell mostly like vintage metal shirts. Figuring maybe I can buy a house with a couple of carcass shirts. Keep bidding everybody.
Ken: I basically do what I’ve always done, hang out with my best friend, the lead singer of the Sweat Pant Boners. I hang out with the steamer and play guitar. And hang out with friends.
John Slo: I just play cards. I go to the casino. I play cards and win money.

Single most significant, life-changing event of you have experienced?
Ken: I would say my birth. No, one time we were driving down the road with Poison the Well in this particular van, with this trailer, and I flipped it. Almost killed everybody in the van. I really got out of the van and just said to myself, “I should be dead right now.” Cause I fell asleep at the wheel driving. I almost killed all my friends and myself. I got home and called everybody I knew. And people I had problems with and people that I hadn’t talked to in awhile and told them that I loved them and cared about them.
Trevor: That’s very deep.
Ken: I’ll get even deeper on you!
Trevor: Life changing events? Aww man I got a series of those. My life changes everyday.

9. What was the name of Van Halen‘s 4th album?
Mike: Wait, wait. There was “Van Halen”, “Van Halen II”, then the one with the thing (alluding to “Diver Down”), the one with the songs “humans being” on it. It wasn’t “1984”, it was the one right before it. It is the one with the brown cover? It’s the brown one, and I can’t remember the name.

I’m feeling particularly lost this holiday season, what is the meaning of life?
Mike: This movie made by Monty Python.

Search within the Monty Python, and you will find meaning. Heh. What’s the coolest present you’ve ever received because of being in Unearth?
Ken: oooh. Brownies!
(the band starts to chirp, ‘Brownies’ in unison)
Ken: For the band, I would say Brownies. For myself personally, we have endorsements from guitar companies. VHT, ESP, (I’ll name drop know), Calzone and Blue Steel (Dean Markley Strings). But, ‘Brownies’.
(again, the band echoes ‘Brownies’)
Ken: There’s a girl named Brooke who lives in PA. She gives us boxes of Brownies that are just sick. Aw, we just eat them and play Playstation and yell ‘brownies’ all day.
Trevor: I get demos a lot from kids. And they tell me how much they like our band. And how much they respect our band. And that means so much. They created it, and they tell us that we influenced them so much. And I’m like, “Oh my god, we influenced another person to write music”. And that’s amazing.
Ken: You know what else is pretty cool, is when girls are like, “I love you, because you are Unearth”.
Mike: Derek from Poison the Well gave me a nice pair of new Reeboks that I like that I can never find. My shoes were wearing out, and I was like, “You know what, I need another pair shoes.” And he just threw them at me. He had the same exact size that I had.

10. Who would win in a fight? God or Lemmy from Motorhead?
Ken: C’mon. “Lemmy. No, God. No Lemmy IS God!” That’s from Airheads dude.

What does Unearth wish for the Earth?
Trevor: World peace. A clean environment.
John Slo: There’s so much selfishness. All the answers and all the solutions are there, people are just ignoring them. Ignorance is preventing people from seeing the solution.
Ken: Damn, that’s like a Queensryche lyric.
Mike: That’s our next albums concept right there.


1: ‘Never Say Die’
2: ‘Rime Of The Ancient Mariner’ from the album “Powerslave”)
*420 bonus – Ade Edmonson ‘Vivian’ (The Young Ones)
3. Quiet Riot
4. “On Through the Night”
5. Trick question: Steve Clark was their guitarist, and it was drummer Rick Allen’s left arm that was lost in the crash).
6. “Live Evil”
7. “Coda”
8. Metallica, “Ride the Lightening”)
9. “Fair Warning”
10. (Trick question: Lemmy IS God)