For more than a decade, Spencer Chamberlain was the shrieking hellion fronting the metalcore fulcrum known as UNDEROATH. But when the band chose to adjourn after a brief tour at the beginning of this year, the singer had some big decisions to make. Chamberlain was making demos of songs before Underoath had determined their fate, so he was already preparing himself for his next musical chapter. SLEEPWAVE is the singer’s new vehicle for everything from straight-up rock to atmospheric intentions. Sleepwave’s debut track, “Rock And Roll Is Dead And So Am I” sounds closer to unbridled alt-rock , harkening back to the amped-up mania of classic songs by Smashing Pumpkins and Filter.
Chamberlain spoke with Jason Pettigrew about post-Underoath angst, scrambling for fast-food money and his steadfast dedication to make music his first priority. Some of the singer’s mythology is pretty grim, but if his new song is any indication, Sleepwave will be hoisting the modern-rock flag high in 2014.
SLEEPWAVE will stream and offer free download of their first song, “Rock And Roll Is Dead And So Am I” this Friday exclusively on AltPress! Stay tuned!
What’s the significance of the name Sleepwave?
SPENCER CHAMBERLAIN: You would think the process of writing 40 songs, picking a new team, recording, hiring a new band—all that kind of shit—would be the hard parts for starting a new band. For me that’s all the easy stuff. The hardest part was to name this band. Every name is already taken; everything you could imagine. I had a list of 200 band names at one point, and my lawyer sent me back four that weren’t taken. I picked that one out of the short list that I got back because it’s basically another name for REM sleep and how you would document the actual waves on paper when your brain is sleeping. A sleep wave is when your brain’s at complete rest, but I made it one word and kind of made it my own thing.
“Rock And Roll Is Dead And So Am I” is a full-on rock track. It’s definitely not the type of power Underoath put out, in terms of density, but there’s still acceleration and velocity to it. What type of aesthetic are you going after here? Are you being blatant or ironic with the title?
That track in particular isn’t really about me thinking rock music is dead. It was just an afterthought that there’s no honesty left. It’s hard to find honest music, new music—especially in rock. Rock is what saved my life. When I was a kid, the only things I had were those songs I listened to. As I’ve gotten older and listened to different styles of music, I’ve always gone back to the same songs that I love.
Being in this industry—at least successfully—for a decade, and then I was sitting down in all of these offices with people I haven’t met, to have them look me in the face and go, “We really love what you’re doing, but there is no market for rock.” Rock now is Mumford & Sons, Fun. and the stuff you see on Warped Tour. I’m not talking shit on either [category], but we don’t need another Warped Tour band, and we don’t need another indie-rock band. As far as rock radio goes, there’s the butt rock: the Shinedowns and the Nickelbacks. You know how you hear the honesty when Dave Grohl plays a song? That’s great. Foo Fighters are one of my favorite bands, but they’ve been around since the '90s. Where are those bands now? Where is the next generation of Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Alice In Chains and bands that actually sang about something other than partying and girls? I just feel there’s so much missing from rock ‘n’ roll that even the businessmen are like, “What do you want us to do with this?” It’s just weird to me how people give up and change so fast. It’s just kind of disheartening. So the title of that track is a middle finger. It doesn’t necessarily have too much to do with the song, itself.
In terms of the song itself, it seems like you wanted something a bit more streamlined. If Underoath were dropping a bomb on somebody, the Sleepwave song is like cutting someone with a single knife stroke.
I think Underoath were a heavy, somewhat metal or hardcore band—however you want to put it. I’ve been playing in bands since I was a little kid. I got paid to play at parties when I was 12. I’ve been doing it forever, it just happened to be the metal band that I was in stuck. You enjoy it; you ride it out; you do your thing. But that’s not all I am. I won’t do Underoath Pt. II or continue the saga with another heavy metal band; a band with screaming, in particular, is what I’m not going to do. That song is probably one of the heaviest that I have. There’s a lot more rock stuff, you know, there’s some piano-driven stuff. The people who are paying attention right now are my Underoath fans, so I’m going to give them something heavy to listen to.
A Foo Fighters track is heavy in a different way than a Slipknot track is heavy. Are Sleepwave going to be stripped-down rock music?
There’s some experimental stuff happening, but a lot of the songs are more straightforward, as far as structure goes. And there are some songs that start at point A and end at point B, like a Sigur Ros song. I have a couple of those, and I love that. But the thing that really gets me going, the reason why I always go back to certain songs, is because that’s just what a normal ear wants to hear, that familiarity of a chorus or a verse. I wanna hear that chorus for the first time and be so pumped that it happens again, and then by the end, you know it and you’re riding in your car, and you’re super-pumped. I like that feeling. >>>