With an album title like “Grindcore” you pretty much know what to expect musically yet UNREST manage to surprise. Answers by Chris Grigg, drums/lyrics/vocals. ©2015 Anders Ekdahl
To me grindcore is the A side of “Scum” or “From Enslavement To Obliteration”. What is grindcore to you musicallt as well as ideological?
-It’s a broad term, especially these days, and we don’t any time thinking about what it is or is not because that always turns into an argument. Our grindcore started with Nasum’s template. We like grindcore that cares about the core as much as the grind; bands that write songs and prioritize riffs and feeling over speed for speed’s sake.
As far as I remember Philly has always had a great punk/hardcore/metal scene. What is the status of it today?
-I couldn’t really say, I’ve lived in the NYC area for three years now, but it’s still extremely strong from what I can tell. It’s a small, relatively inexpensive city with a few large colleges, so there’s a constant stream of fresh blood coming in. The abundance of warehouses and large properties with basements makes it ripe for DIY show venues, something I wish Brooklyn had. I think that the lack of a “Philly sound” keeps it from being as recognizable as many other cities/regions in the world, but maybe that’ll change in time.
What was it that made you wanting to be in a band? How has it been so far?
-In a band? We’ve all made music since we were very young, it’s in our blood. As for THIS band, Steve and I really wanted to just write music in the style of Nasum. Over time, we diversified our sound a little bit, especially where vocals were concerned, but the focused songwriting, overall vibe, and tempos stay true to our roots. Unrest hasn’t really functioned as an actual band in at least 4 years, so there isn’t much to say about it… It certainly hasn’t caused much stress. Haha!
When you name your album “Grindcore” you leave little to imagination. Is there a risk that you won’t attract those that have the wrong idea of what grindcore is all about?
-We are completely unconcerned with attracting fans. Our label might feel differently. 😉 We decided on the name because it felt simple, straight-forward, and appropriate. One of the nice things about music in 2015 is that you don’t really have to buy an album to hear it, so something name isn’t a barrier to entry the way it was back in the days of album shopping based on artwork, album title, and record label. As long as people who want to find it are able to spell it correctly in Google, I think it’ll find its way in front of those who want to hear it.
Do you adhere to a specific aesthetic? Do you have a graphic look?
-I think that a band’s aesthetic should feel appropriate for its sound. If we adhere to anything, it’s the pursuit of this ideal. Brooks has been in charge of that and between the logo and artwork, he’s done a fantastic job. Eric from Unspeakable Axe did the album layout and completely nailed it, too.
How important is it to have a message? How important are you lyrics?
-As far as music is concerned, I think that’s only for a songs creators to decide. Unrest’s lyrics are extremely important to me, though. I find it completely impossible to scream about things that don’t matter to me; conversely, I find it extremely easy and fulfilling to really get into a song when I can feel its message.
7. Is digital downloading killing music as we know it?
Yes, but “as we know it” is a crucial qualifier for that statement. It is killing music as we know it: it is killing the notion of the music industry, it is killing the ability for labels to control artists, and it democratizing the distribution process and, to a lesser extent, the promotional process. But is it killing art? Of course not. Downloading is giving people options, it’s giving them opportunities, it’s giving people the ability to share and connect in ways that were never before possible.
The downside to this is that downloading devalues the intense financial, time, and creative strain that goes into music production. The churn rate of new bands and albums certainly feels faster. The thing to be said for having to research bands, take time to find someone who has an album in stock, parting with that $10-$15, waiting for it to arrive in the mail or driving an hour to pick it up, then listening to it intensely, is that the listener is more connected to the music. This was a big part of being into underground stuff when I was a kid. When I’d meet other punks or metalheads, I’d at least know that we shared that commitment, and it helped build a sense of community. Now, you can download every new release on or before its release date, listen to it casually on your phone, trash it or hit “Like” on the band’s Facebook page, and never think about it again. It makes us all way more likely to shit on an album that someone worked on intensely. Everyone has an opinion of everything without actually having to sacrifice for it. There’s a song on the Unrest album, “Identity in the Information Age,” that is about this specifically.
Does it feel that internet has made the world smaller and more accessible for spreading your music?
-Yes. On one hand we all have a greater reach than ever before; on the other, we have to cut through more noise to be heard. As expressed above, it feels like the churn rate is higher, so strong reach and good press matters less than it did in the past, since there’s so much out there.
What kind of touring/live scene are you part of?
-Not much anymore. Unrest hasn’t played live in years, I’m working on getting back up to speed on drums but it’ll be a few more months before I’m ready to go. My band Woe used to play very regularly but we’ve been on a bit of a break since the beginning of 2014, though that will change soon. Brooks and Steve are pretty active with Crypt Sermon.
What do you see in the future?
-We’re not thinking too far ahead. If we can play live again, that would be great. I’d love to do a follow-up, if the opportunity presented itself. We all have a lot of pots on the fire so for now, we’re just happy that people are hearing this album and responding strongly.