While writing for a local street press magazine last year, I had the chance to interview quite a few artists and review quite a few albums, films and games. So instead of just writing up about gaming, I figured there may be some other metal admirers out there who would like some different news, interviews and reviews from time to time.
I had the pleasure of speaking with Unearth drummer Derek Kerswell
, for those of you who are not familiar with Unearth, check this out:
Unearth - Sanctity of Brothers
Unearth are a metal band who emerged from Boston, USA. They have gone through the hard yards and some line up changes but have made a name for themselves, even in Australia (which is no easy task). They recently came through for the Soundwave tour with acts such as NINE INCH NAILS, ALICE IN CHAINS, BLOODHOUND GANG, SCARS ON BROADWAY, LAMB OF GOD, ALKALINE TRIO, IN FLAMES, EVERY TIME I DIE, DEVILDRIVER, FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND, LESS THAN JAKE, POISON THE WELL, NEW FOUND GLORY, LACUNA COIL, 36 CRAZYFISTS, EVERGREEN TERRACE
and HORSE THE BAND. Cutting sick with a full face of raging red hair! Moses Time: 10 AM, Melbourne, Australia Derek Time: 4:40 PM, Boston, USA Derek, how you doing mate?
Moses...as in parting the read sea Moses?(Laughs)
(Laugh) I already like where this interview is going mate!
(Laughs a lot)
How you been?
I’ve been great man, the tour is going off and we are only 2 and half weeks in. New record came out yesterday…its like electric what’s going on right now.
Had a good listen to the new one, very intense, liked it a lot.
Thank you man, thank you so much. I really proud of it and so are the rest of the guys. It’s a really awesome time for the band right now and we are talking about a band that is 10 years into their career. I mean, I’m obviously fresh blood but I’ve been around for a while and I’ve known em for a long time, and this is the most excited we have ever been in a LONG time.
Being fresh blood, as you said you were, did you have much of an input in terms of the writing process for the new album?
Yeah, it’s very evident that the sound has changed a little from the last record. I love music as a whole, I love playing guitar and playing bass but I have always been a drummer and I always will be a drummer man. With that being said, I was able to contribute to different areas of the album, and the only thing I wanted was to help write the best songs possible.
Was there anything in particular that helped you do that along the way?
Funny you ask that because what I did was I wrote the letters W.W.V.D on each of my drums, which stands for ‘What would Vinnie Do?’ The sound that never gets old... So you’re inspired by the classics man? Pantera…I love it.
Dude…I don’t care what anybody says and I’m sure you wont disagree, but we are at a time in Metal where we cannot get any heavier, its impossible to get heavier than all those Death bands out there right? I’m sorry man, but they may want to be heavy by trying to get the deepest, darkest sound…but none of them even come close to Pantera. I dunno man, I went to catch Meshuggah last night and they were fucking off tap.
Yeah, but its still draining to listen to sometimes, if you know what I mean. I love Meshuggah
, they are masters of their craft…but, the average metal listener and for me in general, I listen to 3 to 5 tunes of theirs and I tend to want to listen to something else. But, I could listen to Pantera
for hours on end.
Let’s go back to applying yourself into the new record.
Not a problem, well…In my head I had a little bit of a selfish approach at the start, where I wanted to write the album that I would want to hear them write. But in the end it worked out well because that was the mind set of everybody in the band so we ended up meshing that together and created a much better product. And we put this album together quickly man, I did all my drumming in 5 days because we knew what we wanted as soon as we hit the studio because of what we planned before hand.
Were the other members of the band accepting and accommodating?
I have known the band for quite some time and I have built up a reputation through working with other bands of being very easy to work with and easy going, while still wanting to get the best results that I can. Having said that, I tend to stray away from egotism in terms of input, so I just throw out ideas and if they like them, we try them out and see if they fit. It was different when I first came into the picture because I still had a few other projects on at the time so it made it hard for me to commit. But once I committed myself to it all, it all came together a lot easier and we had a lot of fun.
Tough little sons of bitches with a tough sound Tell us about how you came to fill in for the bands loss
Once I came in, the band seemed to be so happy. They even told me on a few occasions that they feel like a band again and it feels a lot more natural and there is no separation. I just think there was some internal conflicts with Mike
and it caused him and the guys to separate a little bit. Which is a sad thing, watching a band separate, but I came in when they asked me to and attempted to glue the band back which wasn’t as hard as people would expect because we have been friends for a long time now.
So the transition was smooth then?
It was ridiculously smooth. You know, I spoke to the band. And I discussed it with my wife and she just told me to do what I think is right and do what I need to do and I did.
I’m looking over your resume at the moment, and it seems you have been a busy man in the past with a few bands which include: * Unearth - "The March" (2008) * Kingdom of Sorrow - "Kingdom of Sorrow" (2008) * Unearth - "Alive From The Apocolypse" DVD (2008) * Seemless - "What Have We Become" (2006) * Icepick - "Violent Epiphany" (2006) * Seemless - "Seemless" (2005) * Stryper - "Reborn" (2005) * Robby Roadsteamer - "Okay Computer" (2004) * New Idea Society - "You Are Awake Or Asleep" (2004) * Twelfth Of Never - "Things That Were" (2003) * Shadows Fall - "Fear Will Drag You Down" (2002) * Medium - "Terra Firma" (2002) * The Rise Park - "The Rise Park" (2001) * Long Distance Runner - "s/t" (1999) * Scattered Remnants - "Destined To Fail" (1997) Are you still working on any of these or is it just Unearth for now? Seemless
is like my baby which includes myself and the ex-vocalist of Killswitch Engage
Jesse Leach. We are like a blues rock band, its like the polar opposite to what Unearth
is. I’m still working with Seemless
and Kindom of Sorrow
. But at the moment Unearth
is a priority to me because I have joined them and I have commitments to them now we have done the new album. But having said that, the same goes for the other projects I am involved in. I’ll just need to even myself out I guess.
So you and the Unearth boys have built something solid here, besides the album?
Oh yeah man, its seems to me like we are family, they have become like brothers to me. Which is more than what I ever thought possible.
That is great, but how are the guys from Kindom of Sorrow taking all this? Are they accepting or are they a bit taken back by it all?
The thing with Kindom of Sorrow
is, that it consists of three members of three bigger bands, you know you have Kirk Windstein from Down
, Jamey Jasta of Hatebreed
and myself from Unearth.
And because they have bigger priorities within their other bands as well, it all plays out smoothly.
(Laughs) Far out man, you are like the Mike Patton of drummers.
I love Mike Patton
, he is a legend.
I masturbate over this man from time to time...does that make me gay? So do I mate!
He is so diverse, and that’s one thing I learnt from him. I love all kinds of music. I love listening to blues, 1930’s and 40’s tunes, power metal…fuck man, even Bjork.
You can’t limit yourself man, because the moment you start limiting yourself, it limits what you can achieve. Another thing with Patton
is that he always seems to try and progress further, whether it be style or popularity, he has always raised the bar. And that’s what I try to do with any of my projects, I try to progress and in saying that I believe this is the best record I have being able to contribute to. And it feels great!
Fantastic man, seems like you are progressing with your traveling too, with coming to the Australian shores to do The Soundwave Festival 09, for which the line up is killer.
Its going to be my first time there and dude, when I was in my early 20’s I remember saying to other people the 3 places I want to travel to and check out are Iceland, Alaska, but more than any other place…Australia. And the main reason being is because I have heard by many people than Australia has such great people to converse and chill out with, and I can’t wait to experience that.
Well we cant wait to have you guys down, Soundwave looks like its going to dominate the summer festivals. Before I go, what advice can you give to people wanting to get to where you are now?
Just do what you love and never give in guys, no matter how far you get, as long as you are doing what you WANT to do…you’ll be happy.
Thanks for your time Derek
Take it easy brother