Kanawha Valley rock band Under Surveillance is back and has a new album—Savanna Moon—waiting in the wings.
WRITTEN BY JACK BARONNER
Published: November 26, 2014
PHOTO COURTESY OF PHILIP HATFIELD
Every band has a story of how its members met and connected through music. Some know it right away—the feeling is undeniable. Others form new partnerships from the ashes of old ones—two bands die and a new one is born. The birth of Charleston/Kanawha Valley-based rock band Under Surveillance is a bit more complicated. It all starts with a lifelong friendship, something you might say is a rarity in the modern music industry, and that’s where it ends.
Philip Hatfield, guitarist and vocalist for Under Surveillance, says the musical partnership of himself and drummer Randy Brown took shape during the second grade, with something as simple as show and tell day. And in high school their mutual passion for music evolved into Image, a project that called for bassist, Phil “X” Crace, to enter the picture as the fledgling band’s sound guy.
In the 1980s, the friends formed their second band, The Score. “We started playing all over the area,” Philip says. With the help of singer Roy Clark, the band saw a meteoric rise in popularity. But the road was arduous at best. After firing several bass players and worrying whether an album would ever be finished, The Score finally got the coveted recording contract all bands desire. Soon, “There were 5,000 radio stations playing one of our songs, which they played for about three months straight,” Philip says. This was their big break. National recognition came soon after their vinyl release. But it was short-lived. “We were really looking at that point to get a little larger, but we kind of went our separate ways,” Philip says. By 1985 it was over and the band members split to pursue other careers and projects.
See Under Surveillance live:
December 13, 2014, at 9:30 p.m., Millstone Bar and Grill, Arnoldsburg, WV
But after a more than 20-year hiatus, in 2012, that desire to perform sparked back to life. “We just reached a point where I was like, ‘We need to do this.’ It was like coming back to my first love,” Philip says. In the spring of that year a knock at the door was all it took to get the band back in the studio. They later met vocalist John Mullins who brought an edge to Philip‘s already melodic sound. In a few short years the friends managed to get the ball rolling again, creating a brand new recording studio in the process.
Under Surveillance is now a household name gaining airtime across the nation and internationally. Having been influenced by many artists—from Beethoven to Deep Purple—the sound continues to resonate with rock fans of all stripes. “There are actually a couple of indie radio stations in Valencia, Spain, that have played our music,” Philip says. This exposure has earned them the sort of international recognition most bands only dream of. The band’s music has been heard on Sirius Radio. Butterflies, an all-girl group out of Valencia, has been promoting Under Surveillance’s most recent release. And Future Magazine, also in Valencia, gave the group a rave review in October 2014.
Under Surveillance is currently in the studio working on its next album release, Savanna Moon, set for summer 2015. “This album is going to be a lot different than the first one. A lot of these songs were written in a different era. A lot more aggressive musically than our first one,” Philip says. “We are kind of going back to our original roots.”