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Interview with Trevor Phipps of Unearth
By: Mike SOS

When speaking to Unearth’s Trevor Phipps via telephone from The Rockstar Mayhem Fest on August 13th, we touched on a number of topics, like the band’s new drummer, how their summer on the solitary American metal festival had been so far, and how he keeps

It’s safe to say you guys are one of the veterans on the Mayhem tour. What sets you guys apart from most of the Mayhem bands?

So I'd like to think that we bring high energy and an entertaining show to the people. We have our fan base but there's also a bunch of people who have no idea who we are. So our job this summer is to try to set ourselves apart and get the crowd into our set as much as possible, and that's what the band's been doing all summer.

You now have a very formidable drummer behind you guys this year.

Yeah, Justin (Foley, Killswitch Engage), he's amazing. He's still with Killswitch, but they're taking a short break right now. He's playing on our new record. He's been killing it live each day. It’s just awesome to have him here. He's actually going to Europe with us in two weeks. We're headlining out there for about a month and he's doing that tour as well.

It looks like you guys are having a blast on stage too. I saw the beer pong come out and everything.

Beer bong…Yeah, Buzz always shotguns a beer when he first takes the stage. Justin's solid. You know, he's just a great drummer and he's a good dude so it's been fun…it’s been an entertaining summer.

Talk a little bit about the production of the new album. What similarities and differences have you had in the studio this time around?

It’s called DARKNESS IN THE LIGHT, just came out July 5th on Metal Blade. Justin played drums on that record for us 'cause we fired our drummer last October. We got Justin in the mix 'cause he was taking a break, that that was a great thing for us that, you know, he's on the mix. We went back with Adam D again to record. I think the only difference this time around is he had to split about halfway through the recording, Adam went to Times of Grace. Ken actually took the controls this time. It worked out well having Ken track the vocals. He knows my voice so well from being in the band with me for the last 13 years, I think it actually brought out a certain type of performance because of that.

Both those guys combined spent a whole lot of time in the studio. So—

Yeah, Ken put in countless hours. Actually, Adam gave Ken co-producer credit on the record, which meant so much to us.

How has the response been to the new material from the crowds?

So far it's been amazing. At the live shows it's been doing great. People are starting to catch on to the words and the songs. From our Facebook and Twitter and stuff, people say this is their favorite one of ours so far and that's awesome. It’s important that the fans say that. It made us feel very good knowing that people are digging the new record.

What's some of your fondest summer rock and roll memories?

As far as performances, I think it was Ozzfest 2004 when it was Sabbath and Priest and Ozzy was sick one day. I think it was the Jersey show and Rob Halford sang for Sabbath. That was a pretty unreal moment…I don't think that's ever happened before. It was pretty amazing to see that. That sticks out for me as far as performance. As far as partying and stuff, there's a party each night and it's hard to separate each one for the other. We're all getting hammered in a parking lot, but it's always fun. There's some crazy shit that happened. One time with Buzz, we stole a golf cart and he went off the grounds. He actually got pulled over by a police helicopter…I guess he was trespassing on some private property and he didn't know it, and an actual police helicopter came out and pulled us over. It was pretty amazing.

Pulls a lot clout to get the guys up in the copter. That's for sure.

Yeah, I guess it was a place he shouldn't have been, big time.

What are the plans after Mayhem?

We go to Europe for the Hell On Earth tour that we're headlining. After that, we had Australia, booked for that Soundwave festival. But, that got cancelled last week, so now we're kind of scrambling to see what we can do. I think we might try to do a couple gigs just to keep playing. There was a Japanese tour booked for right after Australia which might get blown out now because of the whole thing with Australia, but we're trying to keep it right now. And after that, we're planning to do headlining shows here in the US, we’ll be back for sure!

What do you guys do in down time during the Mayhem Fest or on tour in general? And how do you keep your voice so vibrant throughout?

Well, for the throat, I take a bunch of lessons for the voice and I did the Melissa Cross program lots of years ago. I took five or six lessons from her and she really helped me out with the breathing and just trying not to lose your voice. I haven't lost it since, you know? I'm gonna go knock on wood right now, but it stays strong. Plus, you have to drink Gatorade and water. You've got to keep those chords fresh and lubed up. If you're not hydrated, then those vocal chords don't work right. They get real brittle. As far as downtime, some of us work out. Watch movies. Hang out. Play tunes. I mean that's about it. We stay busy. But Mayhem is a very busy tour. Each day we get up, do the load in, then we go get lunch, then we have press. We come back. We play. After that we have interviews and then dinner and then party time at night. You know, it's a pretty scheduled day. But on club tours, that's when we try to walk around the city and kill time.

Be sure to pick up DARKNESS IN THE LIGHT on Metal Blade Records and keep up to date with Unearth by going to www.metalblade.com