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Undeath's Alexander Jones: "When we set down and write, we follow our own compass. We do right by ourselves and try to make a death metal album that we would want to listen to as fans.”

Interview with Alexander Jones & Kyle Beam from Undeath
by Justin "Witty City" Wittenmeier at 03 April 2022, 5:09 AM

After receiving the promo for UNDEATH’s new album, “It’s Time…For Death To Rise,”  Metal Temple writer Justin "Witty" City" Wittenmeier had an opportunity to speak with guitarist Kyle and vocalist Alex over a zoom call. 

I was sent your promo about a day ago but I got lucky and was on my way home from a 200 mile drive so I was able to jam your new album “It’s time..To Rise From The Grave” five times back to back! So congratulations, it is a great record and the next logical step from your previous album.  Were you trying to go for a classic death metal album?

Alex:  Thanks!  As for making a classic, I wouldn’t say purposely trying to make a classic record but just really trying to write some good shit (laughs)

Kyle:  I think we were trying to make as good of a death metal record as we could personally make.

You wanted to focus on the song writing itself more?  A sort of “verse, chorus, verse,” type of sound?  I’d say it works pretty well, the songs are very catchy and memorable. You definitely succeeded in respects to the vision you had for the song writing.  Did either of you worry about how a more catchy and streamlined extreme metal album might be perceived?

Alex:  I thought about that but I didn’t think it would be the majority and, besides, Who doesn’t love a good a song?  Anyone who doesn’t is lying to themselves.

Kyle:  I definitely had some anxiety about that too but ultimately we trusted our own process.  We knew if if anyone would complain about the songs or the structure then it would be a minority of people.  If you like Lesions then you’ll definitely likes this album.

My wife, who likes very little metal, and even less extreme metal actually picked up on what you guys were going for with this album.  I can’t stay she liked it per say but she could definitely pick out the chorus and found it catchy.

Kyle, Alex: Hell yeah, that is great!

The press kit said you were influenced by Judas Priest on this album?

Kyle:  Totally, dude.  Obviously they are a huge band with millions of fans but we got into them a lot over the past two years and definitely had an influence on us for sure.

That’s so cool that you can take influences from outside death metal.  There is such a misconception that death metal bands just sit around and listen to nothing but that genre.

Alex: All five us have varied tastes in music, we listen to all kinds of shit all the time. We aren’t going to pretend we listen to nothing but brutal death metal. Some people are like that but that just isn’t us. We love death metal but we take a lot of influence whether it’s consciously or unconsciously from all different types of music, not just death metal. It’s all in there somewhere.

I could definitely hear a NWOBHM sound in there, especially some of the galloping riffs.  Were there any other bands that influenced the album, metal or otherwise?

Kyle:  Not really anything specifically, everything we listen to just kind of helps us out and gets soaked in to our style.

So many death metal bands have an old school sound, bringing back that style from the 80’s and 90’s.  UNDEATH have some of that sound but it has such a more modern package.  When you first started writing this album, did you go in with the mindset to purposely put your own spin on the genre?

Alex:  For our new record, I think we just tried to be the best UNDEATH we could be, the best version of ourselves, you know?  We look up to a lot of the classic bands and our peers in modern, contemporary bands that we exist at the same time with but when we set down and write, we follow our own compass.  We do right by ourselves and try to make a death metal album that we would want to listen to as fans.

I feel like so many death metal bands are heavy for the sake for it, you know, let’s play death metal for the sake of it but you guys definitely focus more on the song writing aspect and just want to make good songs.

Kyle:  That is definitely the thoughts process for us.

Alex: Yeah it hearkens back to what we listen to…we have more hook oriented stuff in the back of our bands while we are writing.

Do you think death metal could ever become mainstream?

Kyle: Hmm…bands chart all the time pretty high, even some extreme ones, but I’m not sure if we will ever see a time where a majority of people are listening to death metal that has all growls and no clean vocals.  But I think we will see metal albums continue to make it to the sales charts higher and higher.

Alex:  It’s a good question…I do feel like there is an initial ceiling on how popular metal bands can get but at the same time I think that ceiling gets higher and higher every year.  I don’t see a world in which a world death metal band is as popular as a pop band or whatever..I mean, there is a barrier of entry to it.  But like Kyle said, more and more people listen to metal every where.  There is a real resurgence in creativity not just in death metal but in metal in general right now.  It won’t make top 40 but, yeah, more and more people like it.

Especially with streaming services like Spotify and YouTube making music so readily available.

Alex:  Definitely and on top of that, social media has changed preconceptions.  In the early days of death metal, there was a mystique about it.  But now people are more cognitive about that we are just people who are playing music like anyone else who would play other kind of music.

You guys are based in New York state, that has always had such a tight scene.  How is the scene today?

Kyle:  I think these days its more like a few bands here and there, at least where we live.  But New York is a pretty big state, the areas/scene where a lot of the big old school bands are from are six or seven hours from where we live.

Alex: We are about 7 hours from the city.  We are about as far up as you can go in the state, very close to Canada but there are still tons of death metal bands.  Cannibal Corpse and Baphomet did start up here but these it seems to be more spread out.

Are you guys cognitive of the buzz around your previous album, and going into your new release?

Kyle: We don’t ever really notice shit like this but with this record coming out it does feel like more people know about us this time around.

Alex:  When the first record was coming out we were pretty unknown as a bad.  But I think all the attention we got from people in the area was them being surprised “Lesions” did as well as it did.  Now because we are a little more established because we have gotten out with touring, like Kyle said, there are definitely more people hyping us around here.  It is crazy, I’ve been recognized at the gym and the grocery store…it is very strange to me and I never really know how to respond to stuff like that.

With releasing your sophomore album and the world still going through the pandemic, was there any fear that you might not get to tour as much for “It’s Time…”?

Alex:  For me personally, that fear was more prevalent with the release of the first album. With “It’s Time…” we knew that we wanted to put the record out and not sit on it so we just did what we had to do.  This time around, I feel a lot more stable and comfortable with this release.  We know we will be able to do a lot of shows around it, I feel like we are in a good place.

You have two new people in the band, Tommy and Jared.  What was the decision to go from a three piece to a fuller band?  Out of necessity or you just found some like minded people to jam with?

Alex: Honestly, both really.  We just kind of operating as a three piece because we couldn’t find anyone else to play with.  But we knew we wanted to be a full band when we found the right people and thankfully Tommy and Jared both became available and committed to being full time members of the band.

Did either of them have any participation in the wrong writing?

Kyle:  A lot of the record was already written when they joined but there was definitely collaboration between us for the rest we had to.

Just having more members though probably helped change and boost the song writing though? Bouncing ideas around to more people?

Kyle: Definitely.  And the ability to different harmonies and stuff like that.

Perhaps a bit too early in your career to ask but do you guys have a certain vision from the band going forward?  Are you going to progress the sound over time or just kind of keep doing what is working and maybe add elements here and there?

Kyle:  I think we will keep doing what the hell we do.  I keep working on stuff that is both similar and different in ways.  Whatever elements we add, we will always be a death metal band.

Alex:  Yeah I trust Kyle and the other guys in the band.  They are all seasoned and creative musicians and inspiring people.  There isn’t been any moment were Kyle has presented us with a song writing idea or a riff and I’m just like, “No, that just sucks!”  From day one, we have been stoked about everything we have worked on.  I feel like we will always be consistently moving in a cool direction—who knows what the future will bring though?  I mean, we will always be a death metal band but a band we look up to, Cannibal Corpse, has changed over the years, adding little variations here and there but they are always unmistakably Cannibal Corpse.  That’s how I envision UNDEATH in the future.  I’d like to for people to hear our music or a piece of a riff and say, “Yep, that is UNDEATH.”

Well a lot of buddies that are into death metal preordered your new album soon as they heard that first single so I’d definitely say your vision is coming true.

Alex:  That is awesome.  That is fucking sick, we are super honor and grateful for the positive attention we have received and we just want to keep rolling as long as we can.


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Edited 06 July 2022

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