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UNSOUND HISTORY

unsound ad“Unsound Music” was a creation of necessity.  When the bands first got together, of course we dreamed of getting signed, but didn’t have the cash for any decent studio time.  Then, through mags like “Maximum Rock&Roll” & “Flipside,” we discovered a whole network of people getting their stuff out there fast & cheap via the good old humble cassette.  So we figured, well, Jeff’s got a TEAC 4 Track.  There’s already all these independent labels serving the scene; why not be our own?  “Unsound” was just a moniker to give us some legitimacy.  

After that, whatever garage we were practicing in became our recording studio.  SC recording BTFFSound-proofing was supplied by the Styrofoam packaging Jeff’s mom brought home from the cosmetics company where she worked,  plus old mattresses stuffed against the door.  Jeff hooked up with this guy Ralph Scull, an old-timer who had worked for CBS as a recording engineer.  Ralph went around buying cassettes in bulk from area hospitals, where they were used to record the heartbeats of cardiac patients, & then usually discarded, & we ended up buying them off him for something like a dime a pop (& you can still probably hear the heartbeats @ the end of some of our recordings, BTW).  Plus, Ralph offered to dupe our tapes @ high speed on the cheap, too.

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The first ID & SC releases got rave reviews from “MR&R”.  We placed a cheap ad with them, & pretty soon, the fan letters started trickling in.  We were charging rock bottom; only $2 or $3 each.  Then, after about a month or so, Jeff went to collect our mail from the single PO Box in Centerport, NY that was “Unsound Headquarters”.  He found his mailbox stuffed to the brim, with a note saying, “Please See Post Master.” Thinking he was busted, Jeff was instead handed a bin overflowing with even MORE fan mail.  

We used to get requests for our stuff from Japan, Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand, Hawaii; all over the world. Often, SChalloweenAdthey came in broken English, with their own country’s currency, which was hardly worth the exchange rate over here.  But we’d send them out on our dime anyway, since we were so touched.  Eventually, we got distribution through places like “Dutch East India,” “Rough Trade” & “Systematic,” among others, but we still answered the fan mail & got all the orders out ourselves.

So, with what success we had, we wanted to turn “Unsound” into something more;  a venue & platform for other LI HC & punk bands...

FATAL VISION:  Ric Clarke was a British ex-pat guitarist with a bunch of songs but no band, so he and Jeff built one from scratch. Pete Coffey had blink-and-you'll-miss-it frontman experience --- perfect! Jeff would play drums (which he happened to be learning at the time), & the bass was played by….um, God.  At this one gig at “Anthrax,” the infamous Connecticut punk club,  Jeff played in all three bands (ID, SC, FV) in a single night---& boy, were his arms tired!

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SFN (STANDS FOR NOTHING):  ID & SC were interviewed a bunch of times by Steve Kaye, an influential DJ on WUSB, a local college radio station, who helped us give a voice to the whole “Unsound” thing.  We would always ask, “If you have any stuff, send it in!”  One of the items we ended up with was a strange little cassette simply labeled, “Abstract Sock Hop.”  This led us to SFN, a band based out of Stony Brook, NY.  whose drummer, Ben Erikson, was only 12 years old @ the time---so you gotta love that!

GLEN HEADS:   Jeff doesn’t even remember how he met Tom Gerardi, but he’ll sure never forget him!  Tom was a one-man electro-noise band, making these incredibly elaborate home recordings (that in retrospect, sound a lot like techno—but were being done in 1983!!).  Jeff felt that Tom represented “Unsound” in its’ truest form:  He was a mad genius, who marched to the beat of his own muthafuckin’ drum machine & that was truly “punk” (BTW, the name came out of Tom not having one for his “band.”  Jeff asked him, “Well, what town do you live in?”  Tom replied:  “Glen Head.”  & there you have it)!

Insanity Defense Maximum R&R“Unsound” brought in enough cash to put out ID’s next release, “Pilgrim’s State” on vinyl in 1985, which ran us about $3000 to $3500 (Cheerleaders also produced an album’s worth of  new material, but it never got released).  By that time, however, both bands had already evolved very quickly, going beyond just doing straight thrash.  ID was becoming more metallic & melodic, & exploring lyrics of introspection, rather than social protest.  & Cheerleaders?  Well, they just kept getting weirder & weirder.  This turned off “MR&R” & SC maximum r&rthe more militant wings of the HC scene.  Plus, the scene itself was changing, becoming more fractured.  Soon enough, the jocks started showing up @ gigs, & turned slam-dancing into a winner-take-all contact sport, instead of the communal catharsis it once was.  Suddenly, we felt like we didn’t belong anymore.   With that (& the fact that we were all getting on each other’s nerves), the bands broke up, we folded, & “Unsound Music” was gone.