Just who is this band going by a name as ambiguous as its arsenal of former members? After nearly half a decade, the group that now makes up The Unknown is a finely attuned group of musicians who are after the same goals, and every member has the talent to get them there. Meet one of Louisville's most underestimated talents: The Unknown.
The group has similar roots and beginnings as many other bands do: listening to MTV, classic rock of the '70s and '80s and the like. Major forces such as KISS, Pink Floyd, Phil Collins, Metallica, The Black Crows, Motley Crue, etc. all had some impact on the band's desire to play music while growing up. As the members of the band came together, they realized that their music fits somewhere in-between the spectrum of Louisville's current scene. Not thrash, not folk. Somewhere in the middle. A semi-radio-friendly sound. This sound has brought the band much attention over the past few years.
However, many people have thought over the years that this band was just a really good cover band that played in bars on the weekends. Little did they know that if they had just paid a little closer attention, they would hear some original music stacked between the lines of the musical text during these weekend performances. That's right, there are some things that people don't know about The Unknown (who would have guessed?) that may spark your interest in them. The fact that they have an awesome CD just released by Cellar Records is a good place to start. (A side note to the band's label is that manager Scott Frazier responded to a Louisville Music News story about local artists on Cellar Records, The Rumors, who then gave the contact information to Scott for The Unknown to use.) This may come as a shock to those who believed that the band was only accustomed to playing bar room cover tunes. The fact that they played a show a few years back with Collective Soul here in Louisville couldn't hurt their reputation any, could it? Do I have your attention yet?
The band has been devoting much of their time playing at such Louisville and regional clubs as The Toy Tiger, Phoenix Hill Tavern, T.K.'s Pub, A1A (Lexington), and Indiana venues Bailey's and Kilroy's. This, in combination with private parties such as one fraternity party at Murray State, has been enough to keep the band plenty busy. Not to mention the fact that they have been composing original material in their "spare" time. You see, despite the previous reputations of the band, The Unknown never wanted to be "known" as a cover band. They explain the fact that when people go into a bar, they usually want to hear songs that they are familiar with. Hence, the covers. The upside to this story is that by intertwining their originals with the cover tunes, they slowly introduced audiences to their own music, and now can see the crowds singing along to what they may (or may not) know to be the original music of The Unknown. Oh, did I mention the fact that everyone has jobs and/or schooling on top of the day-to-day responsibilities of being in a working rock band?
After introducing original music to their fans, a CD was necessary to complete the turnaround. The self-titled debut of The Unknown hit stores earlier this month. You can pick your copy up at Ear-X-Tacy and other local record stores. Best Buy (a major record store chain with over 60 locations) has also taken interest in carrying the band's new album. The CD was recorded from November '98 to April '99 at a cost of around $9000! This, in addition to travel expenses for the six-hour journey to and from the Illinois studio made for quite an expensive endeavor. All members in the band agree that when all 3000 copies of the CD sell, it will be well worth it. If you want to see the band before making a blind record store selection, you can pick up a copy of the new release at live shows too, and save a few bucks in the process.
The cost of recording was not the only obstacle standing in the way of the group. One week before the band was supposed to begin recording, the drummer quit. With obligations to meet, the band came to the decision that lead singer/keyboardist David Frazier would fill the shoes of the former drummer until a replacement could be found. So the recording went on as scheduled with "E's" work on drums. The finished product was outstanding and the group now has a full-time drummer to keep the ball rolling.
There has also been some stir about a subsidiary label of Sony Records that has shown interest in taking over the band's contract. Sony 550, label to such national acts as Fuel, Celine Dion, Ben Folds Five, and a host of others, has been in contact with the band's manager about a possible deal to take over the band's contract with Cellar Records. A new promotional pack is in the works, including the mastered version of the CD just recorded. Good luck to the band on this move.
The band hopes to be picked up by a major record label and make music their career, at the expense of quitting their day-jobs... wouldn't that be nice? More importantly, the group wants to continue entertaining crowds with their talent here in Louisville and start some touring. Promoting the new CD is going to be the number one priority for a while. Guitarist Chris Allen says that he feels that Louisville in its best position ever to promote its original bands.
When I asked the band what they thought the strongest point of their music was, the answer was that each live show they put on is just as good, if not better, than their recordings. They assure the audience that they will get their money's worth at every performance, as this is showbiz, after all.
As always, I love to hear feedback from you, so get in touch with me via e-mail at Jkslacker@aol.com, page me at (502) 672-3153, or write me at the LMN office. If you or someone you know has a band that would like to be featured in my column, send me pertinent information and I will do my best to get you in ASAP. Next month, look for Two Ton Groove. Rock on!