Unearth Interview With Ken Susi
I had the chance to sit down with Ken Susi, the guitarist from Unearth, and do an interview with him. This took place at the Trocadero Theater, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; on February 28th. Here is how the interview went:
Mike (CorrosiveMind): How’s the tour going so far with Atreyu, Norma Jean, and Scars of Tomorrow?
Ken Susi (Unearth): Fucking sucks, every day sucks. All the dudes from Atreyu pick on me, Norma Jean just yells at me and the drummer from Scars of Tomorrow washed my dick in the shower. That’s not a great way to start a tour! I’m very not having a good time. Tour’s great, all those are lies, minus the dick washing.
Mike: With The Oncoming Storm how did the writing process differ from when you guys wrote The Stings Of Conscience?
Ken : On The Stings of Conscience, we really were a young band and we had forever to write it. We were just trying to voice our opinion and to make sure it was heard. This record we were more aware of what we were capable of so it made it quicker and easier to achieve that. The funny thing is about The Oncoming Storm is that it was written in about six months. It sounds really amazing for being put together in such a short period of time.
Mike: When you started writing and recording the new album, did you go into it all having your mind set on “this is the sound we want, this is how it’s going to be done” or did you go in and just start playing and piecing things together?
Ken : We just put riffs together that we liked; it was the first time we ever really pre-produced before a record. We’ve never really had the chance to pick and choose what we liked before we recorded anything so it made the record turn out better. The album sounds a whole lot better because we had more money to do it. Anybody could really make a better album with more money to work with, but Adam gave us a great price on it and worked really hard to make it sound like it does. Everyone always asks “What’s it like to work with Adam D.?” and honestly, it’s great, he’s one of my best friends and it was really cool. The thing is, we went and did all of the dirty work and everything, and Adam just made it sound like the greatest thing we could do. Everything turned out really cool.
Mike: You guys played Ozzfest last year, is there any chance you’ll be back for another year this year?
Ken : No, no band really ever places two straight years there. We’re going to be doing a better tour called “Sounds of the Underground Tour” and it’s going to be all big name bands you won’t see on Ozzfest. It’s definitely going to be something you’ll hear people talking about for the next few years.
Mike: There’s rumors out there that this may be the last year of Ozzfest, which isn’t surprising due to Ozzy getting older, getting injured and probably more reasons other then that if it were to be done. How do you feel about that?
Ken : Probably, fuck it, whatever.
Mike: You really can’t have Ozzfest without Ozzy either so it makes sense.
Ken : Yeah, you can. There are other bands out there that can carry the torch, like Iron Maiden. So we’ll see how it all works out in the future.
Mike: What is your ultimate guitar you’d like to own, if not the one you already own.
Ken : I just received a guitar from Ibanez, which is THE guitar of my life. I’ve always been playing seven strings ever since I was like 11 and always looked up to Steve Vai and all. They put out an S-Series a long time ago which I waited years and years for. Ibanez just made me a custom Ibanez S, seven string, with sharp-tooth neck, and many other awesome features. This guitar is definitely, like, my pride and joy. It’s my signature model. It’s probably the best guitar for me to ever exist.
Mike: Are they going to market it, or did they just make one?
Ken : Nah, they just made one. It’s real cool to have and it’s an honor to have been playing their guitars for all these years and them to have them say “Hey, we made you your own guitar.” Now I have a custom guitar from a company I’ve loved my whole life. It’s pretty amazing.
Mike: It’s like saying, “My favorite band is Metallica” and then one day you’re joining the band, right? (laughs)
Ken : Yeah, exactly. Or it’s like saying your whole life “I always wanted to get pussy” and then I do (laughs). It’s like the same thing, these analogies are excellent.
Mike: What bands would you like to tour with that you haven’t already had the chance to do so?
Ken : I’ve toured with everyone I’ve ever wanted to. I’d love to do more tours with my friend’s bands. A lot of people get this misconception, a lot of people are like “Who would you like to tour with the most?” I don’t fucking care about anybody’s band or any of that shit, I care about having family when I’m out on the road. I’ll be honest with you, Killswitch, even before they were Killswitch Engage, when they were Aftershock, and when they were After Shock, Over Cast, Brian Fair, and Shadows Fall. All these guys, we never talk about the music when we’re done, we never go “Hey, you guys sounded awesome” and all that shit, it’s more like “Hey, lets go drink together, let’s have a good time” it’s like that. It’s like the same thing everyone does with their friends, you just go out and have a good time.
Mike: Well you guys mostly were all from the Boston area so I’m sure you’ve had years of playing together prior to doing world-wide tours.
Ken: Well the only two bands who sort of fall into the same thing, well not the Massachusetts title, but the two bands would be Every Time I Die, or Lamb of God they’re all like family to us. The ultimate tour in my mind would be Every Time I Die, Lamb of God, Shadows Fall, Killswitch Engage, and then fuckin’ The Beatles for christ’s sake.
Mike: The Beatles really wouldn’t fit in there though, would they?
Ken: Yeah, sure they would man, they’re like the originators of everything. They’re the best band to ever exist in my mind.
Mike: What’s the funniest story that happened on this tour so far?
Ken: This tour? Aw, man, there has been so many stories, almost at least one every night. I guess I’d say the other night. Wait, fuck it, I’ll just say last night because I’m so wasted every night. Every night we’ll order pizza, or hot wings. We’ll put in a shit cd like Judge, or real bands like Sheer Terror or Youth of Today. We’ll put that shit in there, and all of us, the crew and bands. Everyone would think we’d be well behaved, and we’ll be all moshing and going crazy and smashing each other. Buzz actually head-walked on-top of a pile of dudes laying on the floor the other night it was insane. We have a crew, and we have a chonger-tech ( beer bong tech) who feeds us beers on stage every night, we got him from Throwdown, even though they’re straight-edge they always come out and hang out with everyone. We even got Durst who was the Every Time I Die roadie, so we’re all in on it and he’s a fucking mental case. So we’re all just freakin out, drinking, finishing like bottles of Jim Beam every night. So it’s like this is it man, we’re all partying our fucking heads off and it’s great.
Mike: One last question, if you could give any emerging artist, or musician advice to help them get better, or to get signed or at least recognized, what would it be?
Ken: Be more like Crowbar, they’re fucking awesome, there needs to be more bands like Crowbar because they’re the best band to ever exist. I guess touring-wise, it’s not about spending a lot of money on a demo or cd and getting your shit out there, it’s more about hard work, determination, playing show after show after show. Paying your dues, like, everyone has this misconception, that “we’ll shoot for this, we’ll get signed to a major record label and skip the middle steps.” But its bullshit, no band that has been made up of nothing ever gets signed on a major label. The only way to do it is to pay your dues, be on a small label, then bigger one, and then a bigger one then that and so on.
Mike: Except if you’re a pop star. (laughs)
Ken: Well, yeah. If you’re set up to be the next Ricky Martin or Enrique Eglacious so be it. But we’re all dudes here, work your ass off and put in the hard work. Most kids are like “We’re going to write some songs and be picked up by a major label.” Well what’s that going to do for you? Nothing. 9 times out of 10 half of these cock-suckers from major labels tell you what to do anyway. That’s why we signed to Metal Blade, because we got to write what we wanted to write, we wrote our record, and that’s how we always try to be, which is keeping it real. Other labels would approach us and be like “We want to sign you and we’ll give you a shit-load of money and we’ll help you write your music, we need hits.” And it’s like “fuck you, dudes”.
Mike: That’s like Lamb of God, when they got signed by Epic, they told they that they weren’t going to change their sound and there was nothing they could do about it.
Ken: Exactly, and we’ve got the same mentality. The only band out there in this whole entire world that I love and appreciate and hasn’t sold out is Killswitch Enage. Killswitch, by all means, started out with fucking killer metal riffs, beautiful singing, writing melodic choruses and everything. They do it because they love it. There are all these dudes who are sucking their balls off. Everyone is either a Killswitch Engage wanna-be or an Every Time I Die wanna-be or Lamb of God wanna-be. And you know what, there’s already a Killswitch Engage, there’s already a Lamb of God, there’s already an Every Time I Die, there’s already an Unearth. So just fucking be yourself don’t try to be something you’re not, don’t try to sound like some one else.
Mike: Thank you for doing this interview, go have a good set!
Ken: Thank you, man.
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