Unearth

author PP date 02/08/07

Meeting the Unearth guitarist Ken Susi wasn't a conventional experience. First off, we were sitting at the lower bar of Pumpehuset, where you could more than clearly hear the other bands sound check upstairs, while the rest of the crew were playing poker, chatting loudly or just being loud drunken bastards, forcing me to take extraordinary measures to make sure I'd be able to hear Ken on the recording. That meant actually holding the player instead of lazily laying it onto the table, and together with the surroundings the interview had a rather hurried atmosphere and was over much sooner than I expected. That's not to say that Ken didn't have much to say, but he simply just spoke so fast that I had some trouble understanding him at times. Whether he was drunk, high or just naturally 'high on life', I don't know, but it turned out to be quite a goofy interview as some of his answers show.

RF.net: Hi and thanks for doing this interview with us. Can you please introduce yourself to the readers and what you do in Unearth.
Ken: I'm Ken, my first name is Ken, last name is Susi, and I play the lead guitar in Unearth.

RF.net: You've approaching the end of a month long tour together with Lamb Of God and Chimaira, how has the tour been going?
Ken: No, it's only been ten days. We came here just to do the festivals. The other bands have been out for about a month. We just came and did our own headlining tour.

RF.net: Okay! So how's the tour been going?

Ken: Awesome. We've known Chimaira for a long time and we're bussing with them right now and we're bussing with them right now. We're both splitting a bus and just partying every night. Lamb Of God, we go way back with those guys, so it's really been fun. It feels like I never left America. It's all my friends here, so it's not a big deal.

RF.net: How have the fans received you then on this Lamb Of God stint?

Ken: Great! The fans have been really responsive, and everything's been really awesome so I can't say one bad thing about it.

RF.net: How would you say it differs to the last time you've been here, you were with Hatebreed right?

Ken: Ahh yeah, I mean they're all really good tours there's no tour that's better or worse or anything. There's no real way to compare and contrast. Every tour is completely different, every tour has chemistry and some tours are amazing, some tours suck. Both of those tours have been amazing.

RF.net: So you didn't play any of the club shows in the UK?
Ken: No in England I think we just played Download. I think we played in front of something like 8,000 people or so, it was a huge huge festival, an amazing show.

RF:net: So what's been your favorite show so far on this tour. Would it be a festival or a smaller show like this one?

Ken: Umm.. I don't know. I would say.. we've only played one club show so far on this, and I'd say the best show so far was.. [pauses to think] Norway last night was really good for us, and the night before that was really good as well. I can't remember where it was. But fuck man, we've been playing really well. We have a guy playing drums with us that's filling in who is unbeliavable and his name is Derek, and he is making our time here really great so we are playing well every night.

RF.net: You're known to deliver a killer show almost every single time you guys take on the stage.
Ken: Thank you!

RF.net: Does it require some sort of mental preparation just before the set, do you have any rituals of any sort etc?

Ken: Yeah, I need at least two virgins, two girls that are virgins. I need to thoroughly go through them before and after the show. I usually.. what else do I do? I usually drink a lot, sleep a lot, play some video games, maybe some online board games on games.com, shoot some heroin, worship satan and then worship Jesus, and then fucking hit the stage. It's great. That's usually my ritual. But the virgins are very very important. Because the way I see it is, you know if they are 18, girls that are 18 add years to your life. So I'm looking for the fountain of youth, and I found it in girls that are 18-17-18, that's great!

RF.net: It's now been almost a year since you released your latest album "III: The Eyes Of Fire". Looking back now, how do you feel about it?
Ken: It's a completely different record from what anybody else is doing right now. Still to this day I'll back it. It's fast, it's heavy, it's dark, it's not... there's no studio pro-tools tricks or anything in there, it was just us playing our music. And that's the way bands should make records. Because nowadays you can take a really shitty band and put them through pro-tools, and have people like fuck with tracks and stuff like that and make them sound amazing. And that's unfair because that takes away from the quality of real bands playing and capturing the live essence. So we decided to make a bold statement and we did.

RF.net: So how do you feel about that in comparison to the earlier albums that you have?

Ken: The earlier records are more produced, more epic and kinda triggered and playing to a grid and stuff like that. We wanna go backwards and prove to the world that we can play our instruments. Nobody else has stepped up and done a record like that. I can say people can talk shit if they want but to a record like that, put yourself on the line and then we'll see how good your band really is.

RF.net: You recently contributed a track for the Sick Of It All tribute album "Our Impact Will Be Felt", where you covered "Clobbering Time / What's Going". I think you did a great job at transforming the NYHC song into an Unearth form. Are you guys big SOIA fans or how did it come about?
Ken: Huge Sick Of It All fans. We toured with Sick Of It All over here a while back when we did the Eastpak Resistance tour and it was fuckin' awesome. Those guys are really amazing, they're probably one of the best bands to ever exist as far as hardcore goes and they are the nicest guys too. And when we got asked to do it, we were all honored because we all grew up listening to Sick Of It All. And I was lucky enough to be able to produce my own band's recording so I recorded that with the band.. and it's been amazing. It was.. fucking complete honor.

RF.net: Related to that, how would you say SOIA has influenced Unearth over the course of your career?

Ken: When we were first starting, we had more hardcore influences in 2000, when we were playing with the "Stings Of Conscience" record. But come on, they're someone who inspired us to play music as well as Iron Maiden as well as anybody else. Sick Of It All is a reason why we went to shows proactively when we were younger, and even currently I'll still go and see them. It's always a pleasure to see them fucking kill it. Man, if it wasn't for them, a lot of bands wouldn't exist.

RF.net: So when you go to Sick Of It All shows in America, have you ever encountered that someone has actually recognized and said "check it out, that's the Unearth guy"?

Ken: It happens here and there but lets be honest I'm just like anybody else. I like to go see music and like to watch it for what it is. I like to shake hands and meet people. If someone recognizes me that's fucking killer, it's cool for the ego but for the most part I'm just there to hang out and meet new people and just see what's going on, you know? I like the scene, so.

RF.net: Would you consider yourself as scene, then?

Ken: Ummm... I don't know. I just consider myself as an average guy who plays in a band. I'm no different than some guy that plays in the VFW hall every week. It's just that I happened to get to a certain place in my career and I'm fortunate, I'm lucky. But you have to remember that there's a lot of bands and a lot of talented musicians out there that are far better than you, and you have to treat everyone with respect. Because even if the band sucks, who knows, they might be better than you in a certain way, I don't know. I have no clue. I don't care man. My thing is that everyone is cool by my books, I like to stay friendly with people.

RF.net: You recently parted ways with your drummer Mike. What kind of role did he have in your songwriting process?
Ken: He didn't write anything on the new record but.. no actually no he did. Derek helped us write "The Oncoming Storm", our filling drummer right now helped us write a lot of "The Oncoming Storm", as well as our old drummer Mike Rudberg before Mike Justin. Mike Justin entered the band, maybe helped with one or two songs on "The Oncoming Storm". And this new record was predominantly written with Mike, but I spent a lot of my personal self writing with Derek. I wrote a song called "March Of The Meads" with Derek, and I also wrote a lot of the stuff with drum machines. I love Mike Justin as a musician but I didn't groove with him. We didn't really.. personalities clashed just a little bit. I felt more comfortable bringing the guy's riffs on pro-tools and stuff because I felt like I was getting more stuff accomplished. But you know. Derek has had a lot of influence in this band as far as writing goes and we hope to get him in the band some day.

RF.net: Would you say then that his absence is not going to affect your songwriting for the next album?

Ken: No, me and Buz musically write pretty much everything 50/50. Derek has always been there to help. We're gonna write an unbeliavable record with him. If anything, we're way more confident. It's gonna be ten times better than anything we've ever put out.

RF.net: So is he actually gonna write a record with you?

Ken: Yeah, he's doing this next record with us and it's fucking awesome. The kid is.. he is the next Vinnie Paul. He plays just like Vinnie Paul, so much groove, so solid, he's one of the best drummers I've ever heard play.

RF.net: So have you had any ideas on new songs? What is it going to sound like?

Ken: We wanna do.. we wanna go back to.. you know, write something that's like... as heavy as "The Oncoming Storm" but have all that raw.. we wanna write something truly epic. Something that's.. epic. Epic's the word. We wanna write an epic record.

RF.net: Any idea when you'll have this out or any songs or anything?

Ken: We haven't even written anything for it yet. But I know that there's a lot of riffs coming around, floating around, and it's sounding really good, we're really excited.

RF.net: What are you guys listening to right now?
Ken: I listen to a lot of Rock N Roll. As far as metal goes, pretty much the only band I'm listening to right now is August Burns Red. I think they are a really amazing band and they're the only band now that I've heard that I've actually liked. The other day I saw a band called Parkway Drive play, and live, they were awesome. I don't know how good their record is, I'm sure it's good but... they caught my eye. So I think those two bands right now I'm listening to but I listen to a lot of rock N roll, a lot of Beatles, lot of Muse, lot of demos and stuff like that, that I've made for my Rock N Roll band.

RF.net: Last question, where do you see Unearth in two years?
Ken: I say two to three years from today, we'll be hopefully in the middle of our next album cycle. I think we're gonna take a year to write a record. So that'll put us up to like a year after the record's been out. Hopefully successful, hopefully kids still enjoying our music. I hate people who typecast and say like this music is this and this music is that. We're a heavy metal band. That's all we are. We're not a metalcore band, we're not a fucking new wave American band. We're not this and that. We're just single handedly a heavy meatl band. Just because we are influential doesn't mean that we have to have a label attached to us. We just are who we are.

RF.net: But yet on your biography, you aren't afraid to use metalcore to describe yourself?

Ketn: I don't even know who made that term up. It's cool to be one of the originators if that's what people are saying. But I don't think we ever throw the same type of song at people every time. So people with typecasters and stuff say 'oh because we play breakdowns we are metalcore'. That doesn't make sense because Slayer plays breakdowns. Is Slayer metalcore? I don't think so. So I think we're a really talented metal band and we're gonna be here for years.

RF.net: Thanks for the interview! Any last comments for the fans and readers?
Ken: Yeah, if you are at least an 18 year old girl, virgin, who wants to meet Ken Susi, I'll meet you anytime!

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