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A Dirty Dozen with AUSTIN VISSER from THE UNDERTAKING! – April 2021

| 2 April 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Solid State Records welcomed San Diego quintet The Undertaking! to its roster last year. Now, the band is gearing up to release its label debut, Funeral Psalms, on April 30. Pre-order the record, produced by The Used’s Joey Bradford. The Undertaking! have just shared the gloriously frantic song “No Friends,” which crackles with dirty and dizzying, in-your-face energy. The Undertaking!’s founding members — Brent Jasperse (drums), Keith Butsko (guitar), and Austin Visser (vocals) — were in the band before they even knew they’d created it, having spent their youths playing songs in each other’s childhood homes. It wasn’t until a revelation in early 2018 that the trio realized they’d been crafting something for decades: legitimate music. They invited James Moyer (bass) and Johnny Mercuri (guitars, vocals) to the party and formally established The Undertaking!.” We get vocalist Austin to discuss new music, influences, and more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets you put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Great question! I try to throw as many pop culture references into the songs as possible! They can be heavy handed references, like “Cowabunga” or “Sometimes dead is better” from TMNT or Pet Semetary, or subtle – a song called “Holy Smokes” is semi-inspired on the FX show DEVS. The title for “No Friends” is a reference to Russell Westbrook and his quote about having “no friends, just Spalding.”

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

I never thought I’d be a musician after I cried myself out of piano lessons when I was 7. I ended up picking up the Saxophone in Jr High and eventually made my way to guitar/bass. Growing up, my family always sang and had music on, but I really fell in love when I started learning how to play stuff on the guitar. Fast forward to now, I’m a terrible guitarist so now I just yell into a mic.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Everyone in The Undertaking! has a wide range of influences but for this style of music, mewithoutyou – Norma Jean – The Chariot – Every Time I Die, all of those bands have had massive influences on what and how we play. For me as vocalist – Josh Scoggins from the heavy scene. Sufjan Stevens and Matt Berringer from an emotional standpoint.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

See above!

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

We would love to feature someone like Sherri Dupree from Eisley! To get her vocal expertise on a song would be legit.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

Give us a listen! We are chaotic and heavy but very much rooted in pop/punk/ rock n roll. We try to have something for everyone. If someone made a comparison, that means they listened to our song… and we’ll take what we can get!

7. When your band is hanging out together, who cooks, who gets the drinks in, and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

I’ve established a reputation for grillin’ but I’m not necessarily good at it. We love tacos from Kennedy’s though.. so we’ll take that over grilling any day. We’ll all be pretty quick to get our drink orders in. James will be the first to grab a guitar and play some pop punk from the early 90’s.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Nicole Kidman, Jason Mamoa and the cast of Aquaman walked past me at Comic Con a few years ago. They are all very beautiful.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Intentionally creating something that is meant to be shared with people. There’s nothing like it. It’s also very frightening because once you release something into the wild, it’s no longer yours! Honestly, this started as a passion project so doing music is currently the icing on the cake, because we all have careers.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Feel free to ask any question and we’ll answer! Let’s go!!

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over,” even if it didn’t change your current situation?

Not really! We love learning and adapting and one of the best ways to do that is experience. We over analyze every decision we make so each time we do something we’ll mull it over and see how to do it better. There are obviously times we wish we could restart a song live, but that all comes from preparation and knowing how to play our songs!

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would have loved to watch Queen record “Bohemian Rhapsody.” 1) its one of the greatest rock songs of all time and 2) Imagine how bonkers it would have been to watch their brains spinning on each section of that song!

BONUS QUESTION – Due to the current world situation with COVID-19 / quarantine / shelter in place, what have you discovered you miss the most from your life before the pandemic struck?

We definitely took shows for granted. A lot of us have gone a full year without hearing live in-person music! We’re stoked to get back in the rhythm of doing shows again. Personally, little things like having my kids in school, being able to go to the movies… seemingly normal things that were taken away from us.




Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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