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Interview: Unholy (Issue #1)

January 17, 2010

Unholy has been hard at work for many years creating their own sound and unique style, finally that are starting to get the credit they deserve. Their new record on Prosthetic records titled “New Life Behind Closed Eyes” showcases their unique style of metal influenced hardcore.

So to start off, how’s everything been with unholy lately? How does it feel to be home from a long tour this past month?
JD: Everything has been good. Started writing some new songs, they’re coming out awesome. Trying to keep busy to avoid going stir crazy while being home.

How did unholy come about? Who all was in the original lineup and how did the name ”Unholy” come about?
Unholy has been a long work in progress, i won’t go through all the line up changes. The line up now is the line up that it was meant to have. The name unholy was inspired by a fictional piece an author named Thomas Ligotti wrote called Unholy City, something about it really hit me.

Your new record “New Life Behind Closed Eyes” just dropped on Prosthetic records, how did the deal go down with Prosthetic?
A long story short, between our management and knowing people at the label things happened to get us signed.  Prosthetic is one of the few labels out there in metal that still respects bands that have there own identity.

Knowing that this record was going to be put out on a major label,was the recording process and production for this record a lot more intense and nerve racking than previous records?
Not really. If you think too much while song writing it gets too easy to have them sound unnatural and forced.  New Life Behind Closed Eyes was pretty easy going in the studio.

I know on previous records there was a concept behind the lyrics and art, what is the concept for this new record and how does the art tie in with the lyrics?
The story in a nut-shell is about a curse that has been placed on humanity from a burned out sun, a curse of immortality. The human species at first saw it as a gift from the heavens, but later after time has passed they realize that they have no purpose in life and they want to die, but can’t. Finally someone figures out a way to bring and end to the madness, a hole is ripped into the sky where a disease outbreaks. The towns people drink the blood and eat the entrails from above, they wait for death but only a lust for blood prevails.  You will have to buy the record and read the rest for yourself. I think the art really captured the tone of the record.

The artwork for the new record is very intense and depicts the story behind the lyrics and concept very well, who is responsible for doing up the artwork and the layout for the record?
An artist named Aeron Alfrey from Indiana. He went above and beyond for the end result, I couldn’t be more pleased about the turn out. A graphic designer named Carson Slovak threw together the layout and brought it to another level as well.

You guys just recently got back from a tour with Earth Crisis, how was that experience? What were some of the best shows/moments from that tour?
The tour was great. Met a ton of fans and made some new ones. Some of our better shows were ones that we didn’t have any expectations for.

I know that you guys are good friends with those dudes and I’ve been hearing people talk down on them a lot recently for coming back and doing a new record. What are your thoughts on their return and the new record?
Earth Crisis in my book are the single most important band that has ever come out of hardcore. They are the only band in hardcore history that still hold to their values just the same as they started off. They are the only band that promotes a message that rivals mainstream life to the fullest extent, without veganism and straight-edge you are no different than any other participant in any trend.

What are your thoughts on the current state of Syracuse hardcore and hardcore in general?
Hardcore for me has died years ago. I still love bands like Madball, Death Before Dishonor, Death Threat and Terror… these bands are played by musicians who are well grounded in their roots. There are no roots with many bands today.  Current hardcore is much like a recycling center of re-hashed riffs and lyrics.  The hardcore I was brought up into was not influenced by other hardcore bands with the exception of maybe Bad Brains or Cro-Mags, bands just kept it fast. At one time a band had to incorperate some originality to stand out. Don’t get me wrong, hardcore is something that will always run through my blood, I am hardcore.  Simply put there’s nothing to get excited about anymore.

For Syracuse the only band in years that is worth a dime is Forfeit. Syracuse hardcore is a ghost of the past.  There’s no difference on what we have here and what anyone else has in their small town anywhere in the U.S.

What does unholy have going on for the rest of the summer/early fall?
We hit the road again in July with Acacia Strain, Evergreen Terrace and more, it’s going to be awesome. When we get home we’re going to work on a music video and more song writing, then tour again.

I know you are a big fan of H.P. Lovecraft and other exotic horror films/stories, do you incorporate that with Unholys overall message and theme?
To a certain degree. HP Lovecraft is one of a few characters that i am inspired by. Other important visionaries are: Thomas Ligotti, Joe Coleman, Al Columbia, Suehiro Maruo, and Toshio Saeki to name a few, all of these named have created beautiful nightmares.

What are some bands/artists that you listen to that most people would not expect you to be into?
Oh man… there’s a ton. One of my favorite bands is Jimmy Eat World. I love a lot of rock stuff like: The Hellacopters, Turbonegro, been listening to a ton of Failure lately. I think the new Guns And Roses record is awesome too.

Musically, where does unholy come from? where do get your influence from when writing?
I would say my roots stem from bands like Carcass, Entombed, Testament, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Crowbar, Metallica, stuff like that. The 90’s was the peak of metal for me.  As for song writing I keep my head clear of outside music and try to let the music come out on it’s own.

Everyones music taste changes over the coarse of their life, what were you listening to when you were 15, then at 21 and currently?
Good question. In my teens I loved Youth Of Today, Agnostic Front, The Accused, Napalm Death, Carcass, Cryptic Slaughter, Killing Time, lots of West Coast hardcore, anything Revelation put out. Now days I can’t listen to much older hardcore that doesn’t have a rock edge to it.  When I wrote the Promise stuff the big influences on that was later Turning Point and Bold – Looking Back.  I still love much of the stuff I grew up on with the addition of lots of rock.  I can’t listen to Youth Of Today anymore, Earth Crisis took their place.

This might come off as a vague question but i know you are a political person to some degree, what is your opinion on our current economical and political state that are country is in?
Since so many americans can’t look past our biased/ liberal/left-wing/ mainstream media system and can’t read between the lines, there is not much hope. To say the least we have a media made president pushed in office by dirty people and dirty money. Our trouble with our economy is just as real as poison in Halloween candy, another media scare.  Not to say there isn’t trouble, let failing businesses fail.

What do you look forward to the most when going out on the road? Putting aside playing shows and having a good reaction, what sort of activities do you enjoy to do as a band and on your own?
It’s a chance for me to think, read, be creative. I love seeing old friends and seeing new places. It’s fun being a vagrant. You truly live for the moment on tour.

Musically unholy and your previous band santa sangre have similar qualities, both being more metal than the other bands you were in. Is unholy a continuation of the music you were writing playing in santa sangre? or did you go for a new approach when starting up unholy?
Unholy is what I Santa Sangre would have progressed into had it still been around. Santa Sangre was my proudest band from that time and Unholy is who I am right now.

Most important hardcore band in the past 20 years?
Earth Crisis

Through my observations over the years I feel like with some exceptions that the only good metal bands are the ones from overseas (manly Sweden) could you attest to this?
For sure in recent years I think The Haunted is one of the better bands.  I still enjoy In Flames, Entombed died when Nicke Anderson left. For America there’s not too much, I think Soilent Green is a great band.  The new Mastodon record is also awesome.  Oh, and I can’t wait for the new Crowbar record.

Carcass recently did a reunion tour, i know you were their along with a few others from syracuse at the boston show, how was it and was it what you expected?
They played awesome. I was lucky enough to see them a couple times during the Heartwork album cycle, I remember them being darker live. I saw them in New York recently and they played all the hits, it was not a let down.

Like you stated before there are few hardcore bands out doing their own thing right now and being original, but are their any newer bands that have struck you by surprise lately?
Absolutely not.

Haha fair enough, well the record is finally out now on CD format, any chance of releasing it onto vinyl?
For sure. A label called Closed Casket Activities just release a limited picture disc of only 666 copies made, it looks so good!

I know you are a big fan so i’ll go ahead and ask, what is your favorite Alejandro Jodorowsky film?
Santa Sangre

So to close this up thank you for doing this interview, any shout outs or final comments?
Thanks for the interview. If you haven’t picked up the new Unholy record yet, get that shit!

– Awaken the Sleep – Closed Casket Activities
– Blood of the Medusa – Lambgoat Records
– New Life Behind Closed Eyes – Prosthetic Records


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