Warped Tour Band Underoath Aren’t Into Crazy Hooker Parties

Christian rockers are more concerned with new album, summer shows, video shoots.

Underoath keyboardist Chris Dudley is standing outside the band’s Los Angeles hotel room, where his bandmates are going over some last-minute details with their manager concerning Define the Great Line, their forthcoming third album.

That evening, they’ll be headlining the Warped Tour pre-party at the Key Club, and a few hours later they’ll be on a plane bound for Sweden, where they’re shooting two videos. So these lingering, unresolved matters need to be sorted out pronto.

It’s hard to hear him over all of the noise going on in the background — the laughter, the chatter, the yelling that pours out of the room every time the door opens. “It’s no crazy hooker party,” he says into his cell phone. “Trust me — we’re not much into that.”

What the Tampa, Florida, Christian band is into these days is its new album, due June 20. Dudley said the disc exemplifies “the best that Underoath can do.” And the band owes a huge debt, he said, to Killswitch Engage guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz (All That Remains, Unearth), who co-produced the album with Matt Goldman (As Cities Burn, Copeland), a founding member of the Blue Man Group.

“The thing with Adam was, he has been on tour with us before, and he has seen us live and knows the kind of energy we wanted to get into the recording,” Dudley said. “He knows exactly what we’re going for. He gets it and he knows what we want to do, and he’s all about doing what we want to do. He didn’t try to change our songs, and he didn’t try to get us to do something we don’t want to do.”

The end result, he said, is “one of those records where you drive down the street and bang on your steering wheel.” Underoath, who began writing for the effort two weeks after the release of 2004′s 300,000-plus-selling They’re Only Chasing Safety, spent about two months in the studio with Dutkiewicz, who sings backing vocals behind frontman Spencer Chamberlain on the album’s closing track, “To Whom It May Concern.”

“It’s definitely the most ambitious record we’ve ever done,” Dudley said. “We’ve tried things we’d never tried before, and it’s just going to be completely different. This album’s way heavier, with more energy to it. It’s more technical musically — it’s not a bunch of verse/chorus songs.”

This summer, Underoath plan to promote the new tracks as one of the headliners on the Warped Tour. They’ve been part of the annual traveling punk-rock circus three years running. But before Warped kicks off June 15 in Columbia, Maryland (see “Warped Tour Kicking Off A Day Early — Dates And Venues Revealed” ), Underoath will headline a club trek that launches May 3 in Columbia, South Carolina, with Poison the Well and As Cities Burn. Spitfire will warm up the crowd through May 17 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Since by Man will take over through the tour’s finale in Memphis, Tennessee, on May 30.

While they’re touring, two videos will be working to expose them in the few areas they’re not hitting this summer. On April 21, Underoath went to Sweden, where they hooked up with the Popcore Films production team (Norma Jean, From First to Last) of Anders Forsman and Linus Johansson to film clips for “Writing on the Walls” and “In Regards to Myself.”

Before the flight, Dudley said he didn’t know much about the videos, but according to the treatment for “Writing,” the album’s first single, the video will be “inspired by the theatrical films from the 1960s” and “will depict a murder mystery in a surrealistic gothic-tinged setting.”

“They’re going to be bad as crap,” he said. “They’re going to be really cool and very artistic. They’re both going to be really high-energy videos and more intricate than any video we’ve ever done.”

Dudley said Underoath recently re-signed with Tooth & Nail Records after being courted by major labels for several months. The band ended up finding the whole experience quite rewarding, though.

“Major labels, I think, as a whole, don’t really get it a lot of times,” he said. “They don’t understand how bands like us work. They understand how Madonna works and how 50 Cent can sell 8 million records. But they don’t get heavy bands. We don’t really agree with a lot of the business practices major labels employ sometimes. We weren’t feeling what they wanted us to do. But we got a lot of free dinners out of it. We told our manager to set up meetings with whoever asked, because we like free food. Free dinners are always a good thing.”

Underoath tour dates, according to the band’s Web site:

  • 5/3 – Columbia, SC @ Headliners Music Hall
  • 5/4 – Richmond, VA @ Alley Katz
  • 5/5 – Richmond, VA @ Alley Katz
  • 5/6 – Allentown, PA @ Crocodile Rock Cafe
  • 5/9 – Towson, MD @ Recher Theatre
  • 5/10 – Greensboro, NC @ Greene Street
  • 5/11 – Winston-Salem, NC @ Ziggy’s
  • 5/12 – Gainesville, FL @ Common Grounds
  • 5/13 – Orlando, FL @ Central Florida Fairgrounds
  • 5/15 – New Orleans, LA @ House of Blues
  • 5/16 – Jackson, MS @ Capri Theatre
  • 5/17 – Fayetteville, AK @ Music Hall
  • 5/18 – Fayetteville, AK @ Music Hall
  • 5/19 – Tulsa, OK @ Cain’s Ballroom
  • 5/20 – Springfield, MO @ Oasis Convention Center
  • 5/21 – Wichita, KS @ The Cotillion
  • 5/22 – Omaha, NB @ Sokol Auditorium
  • 5/23 – West Des Moines, IA @ Val Air Ballroom
  • 5/24 – Green Bay, WI @ Riverside Ballroom
  • 5/25 – Grand Rapids, MI @ The Intersection
  • 5/27 – Kettering, OH @ The Attic
  • 5/28 – Lexington, KY @ Oleika Shriner’s Temple
  • 5/29 – Nashville, TN @ Rcktwn
  • 5/30 – Memphis, TN @ New Daisy Theatre