An Interview With Todd Underwood
A new full album release from Todd Underwood brings out a refreshing and somewhat complex brand of alternative pop rock that touches on an almost nostalgic and underground feel at times as it grasps at a progressive tonality that breaks into heavy riffs and anthemic soundscapes.
The color and contrast album has a way of intertwining an outstanding array of what seems like emotionally driven but very radio friendly singles that each have a way of standing on its own two legs but listening to the album all the way through is a much more vast experience.
This record has a very particular tightness to it that is so perfected and so polished but never loses that feeling or emotion.
There's a lot of surprises around the corners of this record and the riffs are just outstanding because they break into so many different layers and levels of heavy music from melodic metal to progressive, that classic old rock chorus, and into this bright but edgy world.
There are things about this album that makes it feel like it's a concept record although it might not be of course.
The energy of the songs almost flow into each other naturally and he manages to pull together such a massive and just large scale sound while giving you a somewhat fresh perspective with each new track.
Some really cool type signatures and belting melodic vocals that sometimes are accompanied with screams in the background adding to that slight aggression and edges.
So, the record does have these little dark edges that show face here and there but all in all it does have this much more colorful energy to it and kind of gives nods to a much heavier more hardcore style at times.
Vast and ambient clean sections break out here and there and burst back into these drudging riffs that are done with such cool swagger and the whole album has a way of kind of taking you to a different place altogether.
The whole record is almost like an escape and music like this is somewhat fantastical and is supposed to be almost like a form of escapism which all adds to that cinematic undertone that this boasts.
All in all these songs are super lush and have wonderful layers to be peeled back but you always have that opportunity to head bang or mosh around your living room because it's definitely not holding back from any of those brutal heavier guitar tones.
And that's part of the coolness of this record really. That combination of the brutal and heavy along with the colorful and the lush creates gigantic melodies and landscapes that you get to jump in and out of.
One thing is for sure, this record has a ton of heart and was built and woven by someone that clearly has a love for the craft.
With the release of such a killer album we wanted to have a sit down with Todd Underwood to find out where it all actually came from and what might be coming up next for the artist.
Here's what happened.
Buzz Slayers: Okay Todd, let's start with the Color and Contrast album! This record had a vast hard rock and alt-rock style to it! How did this album come about?
I wanted to do something a little different from my previous album “When I took my watch off”. On that album I was trying to stay within a specific genre but I’ve always enjoyed different styles of music. So with Color and Contrast I didn't care or try to stick within one style of music. Years ago I was in a rock/metal band and we had a review in a big music magazine and they said we were too eclectic, too many different sounds/styles etc and I remember hating that. So with Color and Contrast, since I’m release my solo stuff on my own I can do whatever I want and thats what I did. I don't like being stuck in a box, I like to let the music take me where it wants to go! Buzz Slayers: How did this all start for you musically?
Ive been playing over 40 years now and have a lot of influences and styles over the years that I’ve played and recorded so when I start an album, I feel like I have a blank slate and it can go wherever it wants to go. Sometimes if theres a specific purpose for an album I will try to steer it but with Color and Contrast I just let it go where I wanted which is one of the reasons its my favorite of my solo albums. I had no direction the album had to go so I just started playing around with some different time signatures and drum beats and then picked up the guitar and starting playing the first things that came to mind and it kind of went from there. Buzz Slayers: What kind of things really inspire songs for you?
Passion inspires me. Whenever someone is passionate about something theres a lot of emotion behind that and that inspires me, no matter what it is. Ive written a lot of songs that are about things that people are passionate about even if it’s something that Im not passionate about. I also get inspired by things that happen in my life, my faith, my relationships etc. I’m always learning and trying to grow and all those struggles end up in my songs too. Buzz Slayers: What are you performing on the record aside from vocals and guitars?
I do everything on my solo albums with rare exceptions. On Color and Contrast I played everything, drums, bass, guitar, percussion, all the vocals etc. Buzz Slayers: This album has some great styles combinations on it! Can you give us some of your biggest influences musically?
When I was young I liked anything with guitar. Back in the 70s I liked things like the Beatles, Jim Croce, ELO, Fleetwood Mac. One day while sitting in school the teacher left the door open and a car drove down the street with the stereo blaring and all I heard was this driving staccato guitar like I hadn’t heard before. It was 1979 and the song was Roxanne and that started my love affair with reggae and of course The Police which are one of my biggest influences. In the 80s I liked U2, AC/DC, the Chili Peppers, Fishbone, Kings X, The Fixx, 24/7 Spyz among other bands. Fast forward to now I enjoy most everything but I like music with guitar still and that defines genres… I love Saosin, Knuckle Puck, BMTH, Jimmy Eat World, Edison Glass etc. Buzz Slayers: What are you doing when you're NOT working on music?
I enjoy surfing, mountain biking… outdoor stuff. I have been doing a lot of traveling lately and that is also inspirational so gaining experiences that will definitely come out in future songs! Buzz Slayers: Who's in your headphones right now?
I just listened to the new Paramore and before that Blue Oyster Cult because I just happened to see them live a few days ago! Buzz Slayers: Are you doing any live performances right now?
No. It’s not out of the question to perform live but it hasn’t been a priority. The biggest issue I have seen with this is the lack of interest in guitar oriented music anymore. The people that generally liked guitar music seem to be stuck with the same old classic rock and wont listen to anything new and today it seems most people are more interested in rap and electronic music so I haven’t found an outlet where performing live would be worth the time. Buzz Slayers: Did you record yourself or hit a big studio for this?
I have a commercial studio and do mixing/mastering (loadfactorstudios.com) so of course I just use my studio to record so yes it was all done in my studio.
Buzz Slayers: What can your fans expect from you in the near future?
With my last album, Extraordinary, I started experimenting with more sounds and also started doing some things that took me back to my more funk roots. I also resurrected a song I did back in the 80s. With my next album I want to continue that path, more experimentation, resurrecting a song or two from a long time ago, not being afraid to play slap bass etc… I also changed or rather expanded my guitar gear and have been doing a lot of things that are more organic and raw with some more vintage sounds. Buzz Slayers: Before we go, what would you like to say to fans of the music?
I would say support the music you like. If you like a band or an artist, tell other people about them. There's so many artists and bands today it's hard to find new and good things so the more you spread the word about cool music you find the better!