Revolver has teamed with Underoath for exclusive, limited-edition vinyl variants of Lost in the Sound of Separation, Define the Great Line and They're Only Chasing Safety, plus an Observatory Box Set featuring all three plus a T-shirt. Each option is limited to 500 — order yours now!
Florida-based metalcore group Underoath were riding high after dropping their watershed 2004 record They're Only Chasing Safety. The album — which featured classic screamo bangers like "Reinventing Your Exit," "It's Dangerous Business Walking Out Your Front Door" and "A Boy Brushed Red Living in Black and White" — was met with critical acclaim and quickly became a fan favorite. (The album even received a special re-issue later that year with four bonus tracks and new cover art by Converge's Jacob Bannon.)
Despite the proven success of They're Only Chasing Safety, Underoath decided to go in a radically different direction when it came time to work on its follow-up. They unveiled their new sound in 2006 with Define the Great Line — a monster statement packed with dense riffs, rich ambient textures and a more fluid interaction between singer-screamer Spencer Chamberlain and drummer-vocalist Aaron Gillespie.
The approach worked. Define the Great Line debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 (selling almost 100,000 copies the first week) — and earned the distinction of being the highest charting Christian album on the Billboard 200 since 1997. Its lead single "Writing on the Walls" was nominated for a 2007 Grammy award for Best Short Form Music Video. Today, the Gold-certified Define the Great Line is considered by many critics and fans to be an absolutely essential metalcore album. (In fact, Revolver ranked it as the band's best album).
We recently caught up with Killswitch Engage guitarist and Define the Great Line producer Adam Dutkiewicz (who shared behind-the-board duties with genre veteran Matt Goldman) to discuss the "guts" Underoath displayed making the album, his favorite song and why the LP stands the test of time.
SO TAKE US BACK TO 2006 — HOW WERE YOU ASKED TO PRODUCE THE ALBUM AND WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO TAKE ON THE PROJECT?
ADAM DUTKIEWICZ My God — I don't exactly remember to be honest, since it was so long ago. I'll assume that I was contacted through my management? It seemed like a different type of record for me since I was mostly associated with doing metal and hardcore records at that point, but I was excited about doing something different, and I knew these guys were a wicked talented band.
THE ALBUM IS A STYLISTIC JUMP FROM 2004'S THEY'RE ONLY CHASING SAFETY. DID THE GUYS HAVE A CLEAR VISION OF THE NEW DIRECTION GOING IN? HOW DID YOU HELP STEER THEM INTO WHAT THEY WANTED TO ACHIEVE?
I remember asking for pre-pro before I got down to Atlanta, and those jerks didn't provide me with much! When I got to the studio, I was finally able to hear all of the song ideas. My first reaction was that they were not traditional structures, which scared me at first, because I was going into it thinking we were going to make some big, poppy choruses. It's almost expected for a band to have to do that to "move to the next level." But, after we began getting into the song and vocal arrangements, I was loving how unconventional a bunch of the stuff was. I wanted to understand what they were striving for, and it was clear that the last thing they wanted to make was a "poppy" record. And it's definitely not my job to convince them to make something that they don't want to.
BEFORE THE BAND'S OBSERVATORY LIVESTREAM SHOWS EARLIER THIS YEAR, SPENCER CHAMBERLAIN SAID HIS FAVORITE SONG FROM THE RECORD WAS "IN REGARDS TO MYSELF" BECAUSE IT WAS THE FIRST TIME HE PICKED UP THE GUITAR AND WROTE RIFFS FOR THE BAND. DO YOU REMEMBER HIM COMING IN WITH GUITAR PARTS AND HOW DID IT GO OVER WITH EVERYONE IN THE STUDIO?
If I remember correctly, he did that beforehand with the band at a rehearsal space. It was already a part of the song by the time I heard it.
THAT SAID, "IN REGARDS TO MYSELF" HAS BECOME A STAPLE IN THEIR SETLISTS. WHY DO YOU THINK THAT SONG HAS AN IMPACT?
I think it just has attitude. It's a kick in the balls.
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TRACK FROM THIS RECORD (AND WHY)? OR MAYBE ONE YOU REALLY ENJOYED RECORDING/PRODUCING THAT FELT REWARDING? DID YOUR "FAVORITE" FROM THEN CHANGE TO LOOKING BACK AT IT NOW, TODAY, IN 2020?
I think this band really developed the ability to take the listener on "journeys" on this record. Having said that, I really love how "To Whom it May Concern" came out — textural, vibey, heavy, layered. A lot of bands don't have the know-how or guts to do something like that.
YOU'VE SAID A PRODUCER'S JOB IS TO HELP NAVIGATE THE ARTISTS WHEN THEY GET STUCK. DO YOU RECALL ANY CHALLENGES DURING THE RECORDING? IF SO, WHAT ADVICE DID YOU GIVE THEM?
I don't remember major challenges, actually. I do remember how much fun we had experimenting with sounds, and structuring the vocal parts/arrangements. I really enjoyed working with Spencer and Aaron... very creative dudes.
I'VE ALWAYS WONDERED FROM A PRODUCTION STANDPOINT ABOUT HOW "SÁLMARNIR" WAS CREATED. DESPITE ITS ICELANDIC TITLE, IT'S A BIBLE PASSAGE, BUT SPOKEN IN RUSSIAN. WHY DID THEY WANT TO USE A DIFFERENT LANGUAGE AND HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT FINDING WHAT YOU NEEDED TO MAKE THAT HAPPEN?
This track was all Chris [Dudley, keyboardist] and Matt Goldman. Chris comes up with some really cool moody soundtrack-style music. It's a nice addition to the record for a break in the intensity.
FINALLY, MANY FANS AND CRITICS CONSIDER THIS ALBUM TO BE ONE OF THE GREATEST METALCORE ALBUMS EVER. WHAT MAKES IT SO SPECIAL? WHY DOES IT STAND OUT SO MUCH?
I think it could be the fact that they were able to combine attitude, with that vibey, textural, layered sound that I was saying that I loved. Also, I feel like Spencer really found his voice on this record. All of the vocals have such conviction and direction. The two of them really did sing their asses off. The entire band stepped up to create something unexpected and cool, and I think that's why it ended up being one of my favorites that I've ever done as well.