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Interviewed by Arnold Hablewitz
Interview with Ken Susi of Unearth From 2004


This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2004 Year Book Volume 3 at

The new album rocks! What did you guys do different?

We actually wrote it within 6 months versus taking time to write things. (laughs) It just sorta came out all in 6 months before the recording date. We set the recording date and then wrote the album. So that was kinda different. Music-wise, we just wanted to write it with more structure and heavier breakdowns, more metal breakdowns.
MSJ: I was wondering about your particular style because most bands that you could probably consider your immediate peers appear to be more thoroughly rooted in hardcore while you guys tend to be more rooted in metal.
I would disagree. I mean, metal is a very prominent piece of our music, but we all grew up going to shows that were more hardcore. Earth Crisis, Blood for Blood, all that. We all listen to great older bands. I mean, me personally I liked All Out War, Buried Alive, most of the Victory (hardcore label from Chicago) bands. It's just the other style has the Unearth flow to it, but we try to incorporate both. I think the next album might even have a little more hardcore to it as opposed to metal. We try to do something different with every album just to try and break up the monotony.
MSJ: One of the particular things I liked about the new album was that you guys finally have a production job that does your band justice. How did you come to work with Adam D (guitarist for Killswitch Engage)?
Well, before Killswitch Engage was a band, Adam used to be in a band called Aftershock. We played their last show, and that's where we met Adam. He ended up doing our first full-length for a really small budget. We wanted to use Adam again because he's a good friend; he's probably one of my best friends. We feel real easy working with him; he's almost like a 6th member of the band. We wrote all the material we wanted to write for this album, and like any good producer would do he threw in his own suggestions to hopefully get this album to sit in a better place. We did a lot of fidgeting and had a lot of time to work on it as opposed to having to rush in and out of a studio. So, yeah, bigger budget can really give you a better product.
MSJ: Was he really easy to work with? I've heard some horror stories that suggest he can be one of those guys that is really pushy in the studio.
Not at all! Adam is one of the coolest dudes that I've ever worked with. Being a producer as well, he's taught me a lot of stuff, and I think he's a very talented guy. Never pushy. I think if anything he just wants to try to take what the band wants to do and make it better. With every producer, he's gonna try to throw out ideas and different approaches just to give you a sense of - well, bands listen to their stuff for so long and just get accustomed to it, and then an outsider sometimes will bring a song to life because simple things that you wouldn't normally see at the beginning. They usually see it and offer their advice.
MSJ: You just said that you are also a producer. Is this something that you are dabbling in or is it something that you are very serious about?
Whenever I'm not on tour I work on albums. I just did Beyond the Embrace, and I hope I'm doing a few more for Metal Blade pretty soon. I've done one for Iron Clad records. And I just finished one for Prosthetic called Invocation of Nehek, all of which I feel like I'm learning and getting a feel for.
MSJ: How did the deal with Metal Blade come into the picture?
A bunch of labels like Century Media and Roadrunner were in contention to sign us and we were going to sign with Roadrunner, because it seemed like the best option, but in the late stages of the game we met Brian Slagel, he was coming out to our shows and being very supportive. When we really assessed the situation, it just seemed like that label really wanted to push us.
MSJ: How are they treating you?
So far so good. They let us put out the album we wanted to put out with no interference and no interruptions. Most of the other labels we would've signed with would have tried to put their two cents in every 5 seconds, but Metal Blade really gave us 100% creative control, and we put out the album we wanted to put out.
MSJ: With regard to your touring plans you are obviously on Ozzfest at the moment. With this year's lineup (Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Slayer, Slipknot, Hatebreed, Lamb of God, blah blah blah), how does it feel to be doing this tour?
It feels awesome. We've done a number of tours with smaller bands, hardcore bands, metal bands; we bounce back and forth. This particular Ozzfest is better than any other Ozzfest as it has the most cutting edge bands on one bill, and I'm very surprised. All the bands here deserve to be here, and they have worked long and hard to be here, and these bands ARE the underground scene. They are what represents metal and hardcore music, and it is an honor to be a part of it.
MSJ: Any bands you're looking forward to seeing?
I never got to see Priest because they broke up before I was ever going to shows like that, and I've seen Slayer, but I wanna see Slayer in an atmosphere like this. I'm also really excited to see Sabbath. I saw 'em in '97, but it wasn't the same. This is it; this is the original lineup. Something I've always dreamed about seeing. I've seen them already and they are like the heaviest band on the whole thing. It's always cool to see the bands on the second stage; they are all good musicians, but to go to the main stage and see how the veterans really put on a show and present themselves is truly magical. It's like going back in time and learning the ropes. These guys paved the way for all these bands to come. They're the grandfathers of metal and Jesus, they're still playing and they rule!
MSJ: Anything else you wanna say to your fans?
Just check out our new album "The Oncoming Storm." It's selling real well, and as far as music goes I feel it's the best we've ever written. We hope you check it out.
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