eGigs meets Unearth's Derek Kerswill

during the Defenders of the Faith tour on Thu 19th Feb 2009

As Unearth prepared to take to the stage at the legendary Brixton Academy as a part of Metal Hammer's 'Defenders of the Faith Tour', eGigs was lucky enough to steal drummer Derek Kerswill for the lowdown on the tour, the band's bitchin' new album and why the Academy holds such a special place in his heart.

Hi Derek! Pretty swish lineup you've got going on here, enjoying it?
Dude it's been sick. Last night, Manchester was awesome – it was like 3,500 kids! All the shows have been sold out, and tonight for me is a monumental moment because I'm a Faith No More Freak, and they did a video called 'You Fat Bastards' back in '92/'93 which was a live show from Brixton Academy. I've watched it so many times that I have chills right this second, and everyone that I've bumped in to today from the tour have all been like "This is the greatest day, Faith No More!". Anyone that's aware of it is really stoked to be here. I feel like I'm getting ready to live classic London. But the tour is one of the better ones I’ve been a part of in the UK...

Plus it's Valentine's Day!
I know man, my wife's at home. She's always been pretty cool about celebrating whenever we can, and her birthday is the 12th so we always do like a weekend before or after, so this time last weekend we went out to dinner and it was awesome.

That's nice to hear. So what does this whole 'Defending the Faith' thing mean to you?
I think the whole idea for this tour is to have a lineup of diverse metal bands, because right now I feel like there's such a division in the subgenres of metal. Back in the late 80's or early 90's, if you were a metalhead then you were a metalhead; you were into Priest, Maiden, Metallica, but then you'd get into Death and Cannibal Corpse and bands that were pushing the element of what was meant to be heavy in metal.

I think when nu metal came into the equation it ruined a lot, and that's when stuff really started breaking apart in terms of the 'subgenres', and now we're just trying to bring it back. I love the fact that on this tour you have Five Finger Death Punch, who are like a radio metal band, we're always coined a metalcore band – but our new record is a fuckin' metal record! – and then you have Dimmu who are like panda bear metal, and then Lamb of God are like a modern Slayer. So you've got four completely different bands, but all of us are out here for the sake of metal. We're defending the faith of what's metal!

What do you think it is about metal that drives people to be so passionate about it?
It's just because it's underground. Anything underground is always going to be close to the hearts of the kids. It is like a religious experience for people, because we're in a really shitty time in the world right now, and the one thing we can look forward to is live music or anything else that can just make us feel alive.

You earlier mentioned the impact of nu metal on the genre as a whole, why do you think that it had such a negative effect?
Well first of all rock radio never gravitated towards heavier bands, but then Nirvana changed everything. Nirvana came with something edgy and pretty progressive for how it blew up like that. And that paved the way for Metallica to get a little bit more into the mainstream and stuff, but then the nu metal thing came along, and I just personally believe that it was such an ignorant genre of music that preached violence and negativity.

People kinda bought into it for a while because you could relate to it at the time, but then people started to get sick of listening to all these second rate versions of shitty bands, and it alienated anything that had to do with metal. Now you get these radio stations back home that play Nickelback and all this crap like that, and they gloss over anything to do with metal. The good thing about that is that it's ridiculously underground again, but nu metal was the catalyst for it getting pushed away.

Let's talk about your latest album 'The March'. It's done incredibly well in the US and even broke the top 50 in the Billboard 200!
Yeah that's just incredible, that would have never happened ten years ago. It was one of the best days of my life, I just ran out and told my wife that I was on the Billboard, I never thought that would happen.

Where did the idea for the title come from?
Well in terms of metal, we're taking the dedication that our fans have to us and taking a stand and pushing forward with any progressive thought process right now. There's a lot of weird stuff going on right now, and I think we're bordering on a Depression, but nobody wants to recognise it because people don't want to freak out. But sans that idea, it's just about empowering a young generation of people to think for themselves and question authority and power figures, and just walk with confidence. We were all sitting around trying to think up a name for the album, and obviously there's titles of songs that are already born at that point, but I think it was me Trevor [Phipps, vocals] and Ken [Susi, guitars] that were sitting in the studio, and one of us said "What about 'The March'?". It's open to interpretation - you can take it any way you want.

Thanks for your time Derek!
No problem man.

Check out eGigs' take on the show in the reviews section, here.

article by: Merlin Alderslade

published: 19/02/2009 16:12


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