[Photo: Dan Newman]

On July 17, world-acclaimed rock force Underoath begin Underoath: Observatory, a livestreamed concert series. As the coronavirus pandemic has stopped live music performances, it’s also made us accustomed to “rock from home” offerings from bands and artists. While those gestures are great for fan service, it still wasn’t enough for the members of Underoath.

Underoath are launching Observatory as a regular tour. The shows will take place at a Florida rehearsal facility the band have used over the years. All the events will have full production values and will be dedicated to a specified album’s full performance. Ticket bundles will feature other merchandise, including vinyl pressings of the records being performed. All you need is a ticket and a reliable ISP. 

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Underoath’s fans will be treated to performances of Lost In The Sound Of Separation (July 17), Define The Great Line (July 24) and They’re Only Chasing Safety (July 31). Likewise, many bands and industry professionals will be logging on for the next three Friday nights. Underoath are known for being creatively restless, but Observatory is a look at the bigger picture. While we wait for science to help us define “the new normal,” Underoath seek to address the future. 

AltPress spoke to lead vocalist Spencer Chamberlain and drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie about the Observatory series. From the preparation involved to their psychic intentions, all eyes will be on the band for the next few weekends. Underoath want to play so bad, they’re down to be your favorite cover band.

You’re going to do these full-album shows the next three Fridays, and this is all going to be in your rehearsal space.

AARON GILLESPIE: Before we go on tours, we rent this place in our hometown that’s like a large, carpeted warehouse. That’s where we rehearse, so we’re literally just going to set up a production there. 

Obviously, you have to make it safe. There’s not a crowd, but you have to worry about social distancing and all those precautions. 

GILLESPIE: I think we’re all getting COVID tests. Some of us have already had them because what we do isn’t sanitary—sweating and spitting on each other. I think it’s going to be easier. I’m pretty sure everyone is going to get a COVID test. That’s the plan. 

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SPENCER CHAMBERLAIN: We’ve all had them and gotten negative results, but I think we’re probably going to take them again before each show. 

GILLESPIE: I actually just ordered one. They do home delivery now. Everyone in my household has tested negative, but I just ordered one anyway. 

Earlier this year, Aaron was saying that the band weren’t sure what to do next for their fans. This seems like both amazing fan service and an industry necessity.

CHAMBERLAIN: The Observatory is us playing albums front to back, and we’re starting with three albums. I would love to play all the albums and all the rarities and the B-sides. It just depends on how much longer we’re going to be in this situation that we’re in. I feel like we’re starting with our older albums. 

We wanted to start with Lost In The Sound Of Separation because we’ve never played that record front to back. Just to see how these things go. We’re just excited to play in a room together again and share it with people. You can buy a ticket and watch it from your house. I know it’s not going to be just a camera sitting there with dudes playing. We’re going to have production just like a show. As much of a show [as] we can make. There’s going to be five different camera angles.

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GILLESPIE: It’s gonna be a full thing. It’s like going on tour without going anywhere, I guess. It’s going to be super-cool for people, I think. You know, it’s cheap. It’s like 15 bucks to get a ticket. And it’s the kind of production that we would take on the road. It’s not just us on some nondescript stage. We’ve been talking about this for how long? Like, since March. And we decided if we’re gonna do it, we’ve got to actually do it. We’re not going to just get on a stage and play acoustic guitars and sell tickets. We’re doing a full production. So for that, I think it’s economical, as well. 

CHAMBERLAIN: I’m excited to see how it goes. Potentially, we could keep jamming for people throughout these locked-down, strange times, Hopefully, we’ll get to be on the road again one day. 

GILLESPIE: It’s a big gear shift for the band because we had started to write for the Erase Me follow up. We were meeting in Florida in the studio and writing. And that all stopped after COVID. So it’s like a big gearshift now. It feels strange in some ways to shift your brain back to performance mode. That’s what I’ve been dealing with this week and learning some of these songs.

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Does the lack of a live audience create some challenges in the performance?

CHAMBERLAIN: The weirdest thing for me is the crowd is a huge part of an Underoath show. If you’ve been to an Underoath show, you understand that is what makes us. When we practice, we’re not sitting there banging our heads and jumping off shit. We just practice. We just play our music. There’s something about when we get in front of a crowd—the adrenaline and the energy you get from how excited people are to be in a room is what makes you just like, “Yeah!” That’s a weird shift for me to think about. 

We are performing as Underoath, but what Underoath do isn’t fake. It’s a real feeling. And without the crowd, that’s gonna be hard to wrap my brain around. But I think we’re just so excited to play because we haven’t played. We haven’t even been in a room together. Me and Aaron will write music through FaceTime and Zoom and stuff. It’s just being in a room together. I’ve been locked in my house for months. I haven’t seen anyone. After my COVID test was negative, I got to see my older brother, like once, who lives right down the road. I think we’re gonna get some of that energy [from] just being able to play together in a room. 

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GILLESPIE: That’ll do it. [When] we all show up with negative COVID tests, it’s gonna be so fun. I think it’ll feel like an Underoath show because we haven’t played together since November of last year. Because we took off after our Thanksgiving shows to write a record. We started writing a record after the holiday and then stopped because this all happened. We’ve done some Zoom writing and stuff. But this is gonna be really cool, I think.

CHAMBERLAIN: Yeah, it’s exciting. I just want to play. We could play covers. I don’t care, just so we fucking play.

GILLESPIE: I’ll do a full Nirvana set. [Laughs.] It would be fun. Whatever you guys want. We could do all the music we listened to in high school. We could do Nirvana, Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, Korn, a bunch of weird, old punk rock. Just put it all in one set. It’d be great. 

Tickets for the Underoath: Observatory concert series are available here.