EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PROSTHETIC RECORDS’ BRUISERS UNHOLY
Shortly after their new-asshole-rippingly good set at the 2nd stage of day two at the New England Metal and Hardcore Festival last month, I caught up with Unholy, the latest in the continuing stream of unbelievable bands to release records that have “Prosthetic Records” stamped onto them. Seeing them perform live just an hour or two prior was actually my introduction to the band aside from a brief pre-show MySpace listen, but it proved to be all the introduction I needed. Guitarist/band-mastermind Jonathan Dennison (right) and vocalist Billy Price (center) spoke about how their deal with Prosthetic came about, what it’s like to be a new band that doesn’t necessarily fit into a specific trendy “scene,” their musical influences, life on the road, and the misery of unavoidable day jobs. Our quick chat, after I say “jump.”
So, I’m here with Unholy. Fucking great set!
Jonathan Dennison: How did it sound?
Really fucking good. So you guys just signed with Prosthetic Records. How did that come about? What’s a little background on the band as far as you guys getting started and getting signed with Prosthetic and everything?
Jonathan Dennison: Unholy has been actively around for about 2 years. We were getting the record ready with the addition of Billy Price on vocals. We were shopping it around and trying to figure out where we could really fit in as a band. We’re not really following a lot of sounds that are trendy today. Prosthetic was definitely a label that is well respected for individuality with that very first roster. Our management has ties with them as well. Everything sort of worked out. We’ve been talking with some of those guys at that label for over a year with just kind of throwing it out there. Everything became reality not too long ago. About May 12th we’ll have a new record called New Life Behind Closed Eyes [It’s fucking awesome. -Ed.]
Where do you guys fit in in the whole scene of things? Do you guys see yourselves aligning with a specific scene, or not really?
Jonathan Dennison: Not really. We don’t really want to pigeonhole ourselves in any specific genre. That’s one of the beauties of being the kind of band that we are. We can pretty much tour with hardcore or metal bands alike. We have a pretty interesting way that we cross the music over.
Billy Price: The new album had cross over appeal. I think we could do well at more of a hardcore show and still play a metal show the next night and get just as good of a response.
Do you think that’s more of an asset for you guys or do you think that it hinders your progress? Certain bands get attached to scenes like deathcore or whatever and all of a sudden there are automatic fans, but you guys don’t really have that.
Jonathan Dennison: No, we don’t really care. We play what we know. Unholy is not a contrived sound. We don’t try to sound like anybody. This is what we know how to write and this is what we like playing. We’ll make a way for us to fit into the world of heavy music.
What are the influences that inspired you guys to create the Unholy sound?
Jonathan Dennison: A lot of ’90s metal – Entombed, Carcass, Testament Low-era, Sepultura Chaos A.D., and then going far back as Black Sabbath, Corrosion of Conformity, lots of classic/groovy, head-bangable music.
Is that all of you guys or do you all come from different backgrounds?
Billy Price: Same background for me. Yeah, we’re all fans of those bands. They’re influences on us. Everybody is kind of in the same school of thought with music that way and it shows up in the music on the new album.
That record is coming out in May. Are you doing tours in support of that? What’s the plan?
Billy Price: We’ve got the whole month of May where we’ll be out with Earth Crisis and Walls of Jericho on that tour promoting the new album. Then just taking off after that and pushing the album from the summer into the fall on the road.
As a new band, are you finding yourself running into obstacles that you have to overcome? Have you guys been in other bands before?
Jonathan Dennison: Some of us have. We’ve pretty much have the lineup that we do because we picked from people we are very compatible with personality-wise. We’ve really built the band to last the coming years of touring.
Is touring hard for you guys? Have you ever been out on the road for a long period of time like you’re about to do?
Billy Price: We’ve done some stints. It’s been pretty much 4 weeks at a time. This will be our third tour.
Jonathan Dennison: Once you’re on the road, you forget what it’s like to be home. It doesn’t even matter after awhile. Nobody playing in this band thinks differently otherwise they wouldn’t be in it.
Billy Price: Everybody is on the same page with the tour mentality. Just be ready for the road because that’s what we want to do. We become like a machine when we hit the road. We just keep going.
So you like the road?
Billy Price: Love the road.
It’s hard for some guys. Some guys don’t take to it. Do you guys all have day jobs when you go back home?
Billy Price: Yeah, they’re awesome. (laughs)
I was talking to Cattle Decapitation yesterday, I don’t know if you’re into those guys, and they were saying that they prefer to have day jobs as sort of the grind, and then this as their careers as musicians. They’re a pretty established band by this point. The band is their art so that it doesn’t have to be their primary job, so they feel they don’t have to compromise their art to make money at it. Do you guys agree with that?
Jonathan Dennison: Completely. You should not jeopardize your sound based on trying to make money or appeal. You should play what you enjoy playing. That’s all you can do especially in this day and age. Anybody who is a seasoned musician has enough self respect to push themselves as a musician regardless of trends. So yeah, I definitely respect what they do and we follow suit with that as well.
I feel like more and more of the bands that I talk to are just regular guys who have day jobs and have very successful bands even though those bands can’t pay all of their bills.
Jonathan Dennison: We hate work. We don’t really want to work. (laughs)
Billy Price: Nobody wants to work, but that’s the reality of it. Anybody who knows the music industry at this point knows the shot. There’s a very slim chance of being able to live off of something like this. If that’s why you’re doing it, it’s for the wrong reason. We do it because it’s a hobby and we love doing it. Having a day job let’s us go out and not be completely broke on the road, at least for the first couple of weeks. It also makes you look forward to going out and hitting the road because you’re at the grind of your job or whatever and you know it’s not forever [but only] until the next tour comes around.