Editors’ Notes Code Orange vocalist, drummer, and bandleader Jami Morgan says his band’s fourth album is all about duality. “It’s about societal introspection and looking at where we’re at as a youth culture,” he tells Apple Music. “But it’s also about looking at yourself as a person—and what you present to the world in this digital age versus what’s inside.” On Underneath, the unclassifiable Pittsburgh band—equal parts hardcore crew and groove metal enthusiasts, punk rabble-rousers and industrial technicians—imbue their hyper-modern musical style with cold-eyed sociological observations and deep existential malaise. “There’s a journey down this rabbit hole of anxiety and fear and all these regrets and pain,” Morgan explains. “You’re looking at the world and looking at the bitterness and negative stuff you have and trying to work through it and see where it’s leading us in this very noisy world where it’s very hard to stand out but everyone’s constantly talking.” Below, Morgan and guitarist/vocalist Reba Meyers guide us through their new underworld.

(Deeperthanbefore)
Jami Morgan: “This intro is a trailer, in some ways—or the scene before the opening titles. It’s introducing a little bit of our narrative voice and setting up a feeling of dread. And it starts off with the theme from the end of our last record, which we continued on some of the EPs that came in between. It’s the theme song, in a lot of ways, for the last era of our career that phased out and this new voice phased in.”

Swallowing the Rabbit Whole
JM: “This is about taking that first step into the realization that you're going to have to go on an internal journey—going down the rabbit hole of success and hurt and envy and self-worth. And you can continue to live in shame, or decide to confront this monster that's been depicted in our last three albums, and that's on the cover of this album as well.”
Reba Meyers: “It took us a really long time to put this song together. It was like we were trying to figure out what kind of album we wanted to write. But once we were able to put that song together, it was the centerpiece to everything. It made everything else fall into place. It was almost a testing ground for a lot of the glitchier guitars and layering and overdubs and bringing in the pianos and synths and everything that would really take the main stage on a lot of the verses and everything of the song. It gave us a place to work off of for the other songs.”

In Fear
JM: “In some ways it’s about this culture we have of throwing each other to the wolves, where the jury of public opinion is almost the most important thing. We have to live in fear now of what we do and say and how we behave. And that’s good in some ways. But in some ways you can be stripped of what makes you an individual. So this isn’t anti-callout-culture, because some of that is important. It’s about how important social currency is, and how it’s our most important currency in a lot of ways.”

You and You Alone
JM: “‘You and You Alone’ is the first real touch of bitterness and anger on the record. We find ourselves at odds with all this hate and resentment we have towards those around us. It's looking at this bitterness and saying, ‘Is it totally justified, or in my mind? Or even if it is justified, is this something that I need to hang on to?’ But on the other end, I’m saying this to myself: If I have to carry this burden, what’s my part in it?”
RM: “Creating this was like bringing back the old-school chaos of the style of writing we did in our riffs. But we then took it to another dimension almost with bringing in all these digital clippings and glitches. The verses started out as a simple chaotic guitar riff, but we gave it to our keyboard player, Shade, and he looped them and added all these accents and spit it back out. Then we went back and relearned the riff that way. So it was a very cool, very modern back-and-forth process.”

Who I Am
JM: “This is an observation on obsession through the lens of stalkers, and how that was looked at in the past, versus how people present themselves through social media. It's this unrequited idealization. In the past—and still, obviously—it’s driven people mad and they've done horrible things. But now it’s something that's just totally normal: constantly looking at people; stalking them. And using that new media to make excuses for our shortcomings.”

Cold.Metal.Place
JM: “‘Cold.Metal.Place’ is like the environment of the record. It's where I'm envisioning the birthplace of our main character—or our main antagonist, if you're thinking of it that way. It's like this merciless, barren, glass world—a machine world. This world we're depicting inside the record layout and on the cover. It's this environmental embodiment of our own self-destructive thoughts and ideas. We’re abused by this echoing noise of criticism that is sometimes necessary and sometimes just pushes you deeper into your own head. And you go into the cold metal place.”
RM: “We, as a unit, have all felt like we’re in that landscape and we’re able to relate in that way—which made it so much easier to connect on writing these songs. It's almost like being able to see it visualized has helped me, especially, be able to get through that trial of pointed fingers at all of us. And it's a very special thing to feel and have gone through that as a unit through our whole journey of all these albums and coming to this one.”

Sulfur Surrounding
JM: “This is about how we manipulate each other without even meaning to. And sometimes, people mean to. Are you corroding your group by making everyone so connected and having to go on? That’s something I’ve struggled with. Is this the wrong thing for these people who are my friends? I want to do the right thing, but these feelings take over. And I feel everyone can relate to that in a way.”

The Easy Way
JM: “This song is like the bridge between the two halves of the album. We had a song called ‘Only One Way’ that we put out a year or two ago, and this is the sequel. And there's a part at the end of ‘Only One Way,’ melodically, that actually is the chorus of this song. Reba sings ‘Only One Way’—it's awesome—and then at the end, I creep in with this vocal melody, and that's the chorus of this song.”
RM: “I think all of us knew when we were writing ‘Only One Way’ that it was going to come back around, just because of how strong the melody was at the end. It didn’t feel like it got its full time in the spotlight. And we always like having things connect and weave together so it doesn't just feel like a bunch of songs slapped together on an album. We always try to make it more of a journey—not just through this album, but through our whole trajectory as a band. And I think a lot of people who like our band like us because of that. We're all very obsessive about music that has more of an overall vision to it. And obviously, you can see Jami has planned all of this out.”

Erasure Scan
JM: “‘Erasure Scan’ is probably the darkest song on the album. Lyrically, it's about the school shooting epidemic, and maybe the events and brain trauma that turn people to committing these horrible atrocities. It gets into some light, probably bullshit, very poorly researched psychology, but I was just looking into the Triune Brain theory—about how the three brains can become rigidly locked. That's been seen in a lot of school shooters under psychological evaluation. They become very fixated on the external goal and mission that they're unable to divert from. We also talk about this parasite that we get deeper into later on ‘Back Inside the Glass,’ but it’s this aquatic worm that exists in grasshoppers, fucks with their brain and controls them and influences their behavior. So I was relating that to these shootings and talking about the government swaying public opinion with pointless gun and freedom debates, but nothing is really done to help reduce it.”

Last Ones Left
JM: “Other than ‘You and You Alone,’ I would say ‘Last Ones Left’ is pretty much the most bitter-ass fucking song on the album. It's about pride and it's about social climbing. It's pretty much saying we're the last ones left on the surface of real bands that have worked and climbed that fucking ladder through hard work and not through bootlicking.”
RM: “We've always needed to have that song on every record that empowers us. And for me, and I know the other guys, when we play that song, it definitely has that feeling to it—even at shows when we feel like it's us against the world, and no one there even cares or wants to see us—we can use that as an empowering song, and we're almost screaming it and singing it to ourselves at times.”

Autumn and Carbine
JM: “On the surface, the song is about the quick lives and deaths of these flavor-of-the-year new artists that are being propped up by corporations. They're told to be bombastic and loud, and their demise is very similar. It's quick and it's loud and then it's gone.”

Back Inside the Glass
JM: “Sonically, this song is very sci-fi hardcore in a lot of ways. Our main character, the monster on the front cover that we call The Cutter, is trapped inside this glass shell of how the world sees him—and how maybe even you envision yourself, for better or worse. And it’s that monster trying to get out. It’s your own mania getting the best of you. So you want to kill this thing inside you, but it’s going to come out like that monster. So you want it to go back inside the glass.”

A Sliver
JM: “Thematically, ‘A Sliver’ is the culmination of years of overexposure and noise that almost leads us to become deaf to the cries of everyone around us. Because we all watch these tragedies like they're a TV show. But it seems in the past, everything matters only for a sliver of time, and then it’s on to the next thing. We’re lost in the rat race, and it’s all been engineered by corporations for this exact purpose. So we all keep posting; we keep promising. But it's really for nothing. We're not heard at all. You're just a dollar or another voice in a sea of voices. Even that only matters for a second, and then people move on.”

Underneath
JM: ‘‘Underneath’ is really about being in that final, most important moment, facing this monster—whether that be proverbial or inner self. It’s the most positive song on the record, I think, because a lot of it is about redemption. It doesn’t really give you a clear ending as to what happened, but there’s a truth and you’re going to find out what it is. So we have to shed who we are and remove that machine inside. We either stand up to it or just disappear and become it.”

1
1:13
 
2
3:47
 
3
3:21
 
4
3:06
 
5
3:46
 
6
3:04
 
7
3:47
 
8
4:25
 
9
2:32
 
10
3:08
 
11
3:27
 
12
2:34
 
13
4:37
 
14
4:39
 

Music Videos

More by Code Orange

Featured On