joey duenas - vocals
brian arthur - guitars
victor escareno - bass
peter navarrete - drums
On paper, Unloco's story reads like a script straight out of Hollywood. It began this past summer when the band's guitarist, Brian Arthur, went to see one of his favorite acts-Goldfinger-play a local club in Austin, Texas. He brought along his collection of 'Finger CDs, hoping the ska-punkers would sign the entire batch following the show. After waiting outside their tour bus, Brian was eventually invited aboard for a brief meet 'n greet. Upon securing the autographs, he presented GF guitarist Charlie Paulson with a copy of Unloco's demo and called it a night.
Weeks later, Duenas received a surprise phone call from Goldfinger lead vocalist John Feldmann. It turns out that Feldmann moonlights as an A&R scout for Maverick Records and was quite impressed with the Unloco demo.
Up until that point, Duenas and his bandmates-guitarist Brian Arthur, drummer Peter Navarrete and bassist Victor Escareno-had spent two frenetic years juggling day jobs, songwriting, rehearsing, recording, and playing all across the Lone Star State. During this time, they shared stages with such disparate acts as System of a Down, Pimpadelic and the Kottonmouth Kings. As word of their adrenaline-charged live show and speaker-shredding sound began to spread, their following ballooned from handfuls to sold-out, packed-house crowds. This past spring, they released useless, a blistering six-song EP that garnered local airplay in Austin, and was also featured on "Wrecked," an ESPN X-Games show. Although the band did a great job of covering a lot of ground in a short time, they never expected the speed at which the following events took place.
A mere four days after speaking with Feldmann, an astonished Arthur and his equally shocked bandmates signed with Maverick. The ink on their contracts had barely dried when they were flown to Chicago to record a song ("Nothing") for the Little Nicky soundtrack, where they found themselves alongside bands such as Deftones, Filter, P.O.D. and Powerman 5000. After that, it was off to begin work on their full-length debut.
"It all happened so fast," laughs Arthur. "I always made sure to bring copies of our demo with me whenever I went to a show, but I never expected this. As a matter of fact, when I handed Charlie our demo, he thought I was giving him another Goldfinger CD and he started signing that, too. When I explained that it was a copy of my band's disc, he said, 'Oh, uh, thanks' and sorta tossed it on the side. I thought, 'Oh man, he's not even gonna listen to it.' Everything after that is a blur." Adds vocalist Joey Duenas, "You always hear stories about an A&R rep turning up at someone's show unexpectedly and offering them a deal and things like that. We never dreamt it would happen for us like this. It was like something out of a movie."
Unloco's self-titled debut is the perfect soundtrack for their saga. Like all great rock records, the thrill of their Maverick debut is that it lets you tune out everything but the moment. Working with producer Johnny K (Disturbed), the Austin quartet has combined dark, flowing melodies with meaty rhythmic surges to create a thick, heavy album worthy of repeat plays.
The disc hits the ground running with songs like "Useless," "Panic" and "Face Down," each track a boiling mixture of Duenas' raging vocals, Arthur's coiled-up guitars and the bone-crunching rhythms of Escareno and Navarrete. The album bristles with elements of the band's various influences-Deftones, The Smiths, Tool-yet maintains a raw singular sound that's theirs and theirs alone.
"We've got a heavy sound," says Deunas, "But it's melodic enough that anyone can listen to it and get into what we're doing. We weren't interested in just bashing people over the head with a numbing beat. There's a strong sense of dynamics in our songs."
Truth be told, it's not the sort of sound one associates with Austin's infamous music scene. But according to Unloco, that multi-flavored music community has played a big part in their success.
"The Austin scene is amazing," says Duenas. "All the bands are totally supportive of one another no matter what kind of music you play."
Adds Escareno, "We've done shows with country groups, pop bands and punk acts-sometimes all in one gig-and we've always gone over really well. The whole community is like one big creative family."
"To be totally honest," says Arthur, "We're just as influenced by local Austin bands like Mumbletypeg and Rubberhead as we are by established groups. We might not even be here if it weren't for their support and inspiration."
It's only fitting, then, that Unloco is one of the first hard rock bands to be signed out of Austin in several years-a feat they're quite proud of. "We've worked really hard to get here," says Navarrete. "Everything has taken a back seat to this band since day one and now we're finally getting the opportunity to bring our sound to people on a much larger level. What more could you want?"