Interview: Unloco

by james wright

Some people believe that great art is created from intense pain. In theory, the pain will fuel the fire to create something passionate. There is no better example of that theory then Unloco’s sophomore effort, “Becoming I”.

The band was signed to Maverick Records in 2000 and just like any other band with a record deal, they set out to conquer the music industry. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm quickly ended when the band released their debut and instantly hit a brick wall. The band’s debut, “Healing”, fell upon deaf ears and mixed reviews. With little to no promotion to support the record and without the benefit of good tours, it seemed like Unloco was doomed from the very beginning.

Mere months after the record was released, the band was taken off the road by their record company and “Healing” was considered a commercial failure. Soon thereafter, many industry insiders speculated that Maverick would drop Unloco. “There’s nothing worse than having someone tell you, a record you put your heart and soul into is done and that you pretty much have to go home and take it in the ass,” explains Unloco vocalist Joey Duenas.

Fortunately for the band, Maverick Records believed in Unloco enough to give them another chance. As the band quickly found out, that second chance came with at a high price. The relatively rough times the band faced during their debut record had taken its toll on the band and their confidence, especially Joey Duenas. “I just felt bad about everything. I felt as though we had failed. There were a lot of bands on the road last year that got that way and went through similar situations. Those bands know exactly where we stand.” Unloco was forced to sit on the sidelines and watch as bands, like Disturbed, went on to become International superstars. “I remember going to shows after we got pulled off the road, like the first Music As A Weapon tour, and I’d walk down the street with people honking their horns and throwing up the metal sign to me,” remembers Duenas. “It was kind of like you really didn’t want to show your face around town ya’ know? It was heartbreaking for us, almost like breaking up with your girlfriend.”

After isolating themselves from the outside world, the band started writing songs for what eventually surface as “Becoming I”. “We decided we weren’t going to make up any stories and just be honest with everything and ourselves. We figured if we wanted to start being honest, we first have to start being honest with ourselves.” That honesty is what bled from the band. With a year’s worth of anger, contempt, restlessness and disgust to draw from, the band headed into the studio.

The pressure to deliver a great record was on. “It was do or die, of course the pressure’s on,” points out Duenas. “We had to make demos of the new songs in order to renew our deal and even those were nerve racking. We didn’t know what the label was going to say or what was going to happen.” The band stepped up and delivered a record, chalk full of emotion, intensity and most importantly, passion.

” This record is kind of like our guide to recovery. If you can sleep on a couch for the past year with 32 cents in your account and you make it though that, it shows that you can survive anything,” explains Duenas. “This whole record is kinda depressing, but what I realized is that, once something goes bad in your life, you need to get rid of it. This record was a learning experience for me. I was learning to deal with life, and being in the gutter.”

After a hard two years, the future finally looks bright for Unloco. Great support slots on tours have given the band a reason to be optimistic. “Look at our track record, we went from Sevendust to Kittie to Papa Roach and now we have the Disturbed tour and then Ozzfest. That’s all because we’ve got the label behind us and our new management is out there kicking ass,” explains an excited Duenas. Despite the great tours, Duenas remains realistic about the opportunity of success, “We realize we do have a very, very, long road ahead of us.”

Whether or not success comes for Unloco, the band has created a truly inspiring piece of art. Born from pain, drenched in emotion and fueled by fire, “Becoming I” is an artistic statement few bands will ever make.