We only scream these days when we feel like it
Sometimes it drives them crazy. Unwound makes experimental guitar-noise but the press keeps asking them about grunge, and if they knew Kurt Cobain ("Met him sometime, nothing more"). And only because they're from Washington and because they were active on the Kill Rock Stars label shortly after 1991, which was known together with Sub Pop (Nirvana, Mudhoney) as a grunge-breeding pool. Not that Unwound didn't make gritty noise. Thanks to their punk-like approach this trio from Olympia sounded even meaner and harder than their #1 source of inspiration Sonic Youth. But as well as for SY as Unwound the #1 goal was to stretch the sonic limits. Singer/guitarist Justin Trosper: "We loved energy, speed and screaming; and we still do that, but these days only when we really feel like it. We used to just do it all the time." "Furthermore punk never really appealed to me. Politically as well as musically they're not my kind of people. I'm not an instrumental miracle, but I like to be creative with my instrument. To get sounds from it that you didn't know were in there. But I'm rather punk than art. Imagine you'll be seen as an avant-garde art band. Arghhhh."
The development of the band is nicely recorded on Further Listening, a recently released compilation which combines songs of the five oldest Unwound records. Such a compilation comes on the right time since the band's best records (Fake Train '93 & The Future of What '95) are hard to get. Trosper: "In the first place I thought: Jezus, a compilation, we're becoming an old people band." It isn't that bad, because Trosper and bass player Vern Rumsey started the band then called Giant Henry when they were in high-school. Nine years later they're only 26, just like drummer Sara Lund, who entered when the name of the band was already changed in Unwound. "Then everybody thought we were like some sort of Silverchair",Trosper says. "Little kids impersonating Black Flag. That's why Seattle bands didn't take us seriously." But in the meantime Unwound has outlived many of these bands and can they enjoy lots of respect from these famous collegues. Kurt Cobain was one of them. Trosper: "A while ago I saw that James Hetfield of Metallica had our record in one of the top positions on his yearlist. Then you don't know what to think, right?" Unwound just keeps on going. On their most recent studio-record Challenge For A Civilized Society (1998), the sound that was longed for from the beginning seems to be reached. Trosper: "Our musical approach will change. Recently we've set up our own studio so that we'll be together more often and we can record longer. Because we don t have to pay by the hour. Like this many new ideas will arise."
To realise these ideas a fourth band-member could come in handy, but after all these years couldn't fit in. Trosper: "I'm afraid that we have become a too scary little club for that."
Unwound plays tonight in Entrepotdok, Amsterdam. Tomorrow Effenaar, Eindhoven. Tour
Translated from Dutch by Robert Inpijn, from the Dutch newspaper de Volkskrant (which means "paper for the people"), published Tuesday, 22 June 1999
This document was last updated on 25 June 1999