When Underoath set out to release what would be their final studio album Ø (Disambiguation) in November of 2010, I knew we had to do something different. The band had long been known as a genre-defining act and had completely changed the way that many people perceive heavy music. Additionally, this album marked the first without one of the most notable longtime members of the band, drummer and vocalist Aaron Gillespie. There was a great deal of anticipation about how the band’s sound would change with the addition of new members.
In the content driven era, I’ve made it my goal time and time again to take a single piece of content and recapitulate it in as many ways as possible. Many consumers have a “one and done” mentality in regards to music consumption. If, for instance, a new song or piece of content doesn’t satiate the desire of the fan or meet their expectations, they’ll write off the project completely. In a landscape filled with noise, attention became the commodity. Therefore, finding ways to creatively present the same content more than once is important, not only because it has the potential to be more impactful upon successive impressions, but also because we can reach new people all together each time its presented.
When we unveiled the first new song from the band’s album, “Illuminator,” we sold the band on the idea of creating a week long event out of the song premiere. To truly capitalize on the inherent interest in the band’s sound, we broke the song up into 5 layers. Each layer was a different instrument from the mix. Starting on a Monday, we released the first layer on the band’s website. On Tuesday, the next layer was unveiled combined with the previous day’s layer…and over the course of five days, the song began to slowly take shape. First was the drums, then the drums and syths, then the drums, synths, and bass, then the drums, synths, bass, and guitar, and finally the drums, synths, bass, guitar, and vocals. On the 7th day, we released a fully mixed version the song in all it’s glory.
The effort was a smash because we created a spectacle out of what could have easily been a much more underwhelming effort. Press outlets joined in daily announcing the progress that had been made with the song. We had given fans the rare opportunity to be involved with how a song takes shape and the comments from fans substantiated what I knew all along: that this was a very cool concept worth pursuing.