New York City's Unsane assisted in pioneering a more aggressive, less studied
version of noise rock, one that blended the scum/art industrial sturm und drang of
Foetus, the Swans, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Sonic Youth with a decidedly more
straightforward hardcore idiom. While developing the blueprint for noise bands to
follow, Unsane cut a remarkable swath through underground music, inspiring a
devoted, cult-like following around the globe. As a power trio, Unsane relied upon a
hammering, power-press rhythm section, a searing Telecaster howl, and distorted
vocals that resembled a chainsaw cutting a steel beam.
Chris Spencer (vocals, guitar), Dave Curran (bass, vocals) and Vincent Signorelli
(drums) are responsible for well over 2 decades of aural ruination, with no intention
of letting up anytime soon. With a new full-length album in the bag, the band will be
touring the globe starting summer 2017.
The early days of Unsane began in the late '80s. The original incarnation of the band
-- Chris Spencer, Pete Shore (bass), and Charles Ondras (drums) -- crawled larvally
out of the practice space in 1989 and began playing New York's seediest haunts. It
was these graveyard slots at clubs like CBGB's where the band developed and honed
their trademark sound and delivered the goods with due intensity and volume.
Unsane piqued the interest of numerous small indie labels and began issuing a
series of singles and EPs before recording their self-titled debut with Matador
Records. Using the photo of a decapitated man lying across train tracks, Unsane's
album cover set the tone for the admixture of seething aggression, naked fear, and
barely controlled noise chaos contained within. But the band's devastating
maelstrom contained more than enough tunefulness and rock propulsion to quite
easily surpass its more affected Lower East Side peers.
During 1992, Unsane's daunting schedule was cut devastatingly short by the
untimely drug overdose of drummer Charles Ondras. Former Swans and Foetus
drummer Vinny Signorelli climbed aboard the swiftly moving train in the fall of
1992 and the band began composing its next album. In the interim, Matador
compiled and issued a collection of Unsane's early singles and compilation tracks,
appropriately titled Singles: 89-92. It is perhaps Unsane's defining moment. The
following year found the band recording its first for Atlantic Records, Total
Destruction, a menacing, dark collection of songs driven by Signorelli's hypnotic
drumming and Spencer's man-pushed-to-the-edge vocals. More touring followed
and Matador released the Peel Sessions disc almost concurrently with Total
After being discharged from Atlantic in 1994, Unsane found both a new bass player
in Dave Curran and a home for their next album, Scattered, Smothered, and Covered,
on the independent noise rock label, Amphetamine Reptile Records. While
maintaining the band's signature sound and volume, 1995's Scattered... showed the
band opening their rhythmic approach, with most songs inhabiting a more rockoriented
4/4 pattern, granting the album a more spacious and controlled feel.
Scattered... also contained the unlikely MTV hit video for "Scrape," featuring a series
of skateboard accidents intercut with footage of the band performing live. Created
for 270 dollars, it was ironically named one of MTV's Ten Funniest Videos.
The band toured relentlessly and managed to secure an opening slot with metal
behemoths Slayer on one of their North American headlining tours. Shortly after, the
trio made another label switch to Relapse Records and began constructing the
ironically titled Occupational Hazard. While on a press tour in Europe only a month
prior to the disc's release, Spencer was brutally attacked by street thugs and left for
dead on the streets of Vienna, Austria. After emergency surgery, he returned to the
touring arena. They then released the compilation "Lambhouse", continued to tour
and wrote the ballistic urban commentary "Blood Run". After more touring, and
some introspection, they proceeded to issue "Visqueen" on Mike Patton's Ipecac
label. March 20th 2012 sees the band's 7th full length 'Wreck' out on Alternative
The new album 'Sterilize' will be out in September 2017, with touring to follow.
Chris Spencer: Guitar, Vocals
Dave Curran: Bass, Vocals
Vincent Signorelli: Drums