Unit 731 – Interview

Wie wir euch bereits berichtet haben, waren diesen August No Zodiac gemeinsam mit Ablaze und den Jungs von Unit 731 zu Gast in Europa und haben sich die Finger wund gespielt. Nachdem ich sechs Tage mit auf Tour war und mich super mit Dan, Gitarrist von Unit 731, verstanden habe, war klar, dass da noch ein Interview im Nachhinein gehen muss. Gesagt. Getan. Und so könnt ihr hier noch bisschen was über ihre Zeit auf Tour, die neue Platte und den ganz normalen Bandquatsch lesen. Let’s go!

What’s up Dan? Hope you had a safe trip home and could finally relax a bit. I’m really happy you agreed to do this interview for our fanzine and share some thoughts about your tour in Europe and your new album. Let’s start with a short introduction about your band. What’s the bands history and current line up?

Unit 731 is a 5-piece band out of Pittsburgh, PA USA. The band was started in 2005 with most of the originals gone by now, except Eric (vocals) and Chris (guitar). In 2006, Jeremy joined the band on drums and I joined in 2007 on bass for a short time, then moved to guitar where I’ve been since. Eric, Chris, Jeremy and I have been the core of the group for the past 7 years but our friend Tim joined the band on bass shortly before the euro tour.

I know you heard this question before, but could you please tell me in a few words the meaning behind your name. I think a lot of people over here don’t know and might get it wrong seeing it on flyers.

Definitely. Unit 731 was a secret Japanese human experimentation camp during World War 2. Chemical and biological weapon testing, torture and murder were common. We chose the name in defiance of that camp and other types of crimes against humanity. Our lyrics deal with a lot of political and social issues aswell. I understand why the name causes some controversy, I just wish people would look into our lyrics a little bit before they become internet warriors and start attacking us for it. That shit is played out.

Let’s talk about the tour. What were your impressions about the shows, people and different countries? Please share some thoughts that come to your mind thinking about those two weeks.

First I need to thank Christian and Lucas of Built To Last Booking. They set up absolutely everything for us and made it so easy, we can’t thank them enough. Shows were great, we had big, small and everywhere in between and all of them turned out well for us. We got to drive around Europe with some of our best friends while we made new friends along the way. We had some pretty wild reactions at shows. There were so many friendly people at the shows, bands and crowd included. It’s quite an awesome feeling to travel so far and have people who owe you nothing welcome you in and make you feel at home. That’s not taken for granted.

What countries or shows did you enjoy the most? How did you like Ieper Hardcore Fest and Still Cold Fest specially?

Prague was a favorite for all of us, as far as the tourist part of tour. Definitely a feeling of, “oh shit…nothing here is familiar to me,” but so many amazing sights and pretty much everyone was beautiful. Germany is always great. Germans always have a great sense of humor and are a blast to hang out with. Some are fucking crazy too haha. Ieperfest…what an honor to play that. The weather was not our friend but we still had a lot of loyal people check us out in the rain, respect to those people. The lineup was incredible so after we played we got to watch good bands all day long. Still Cold was totally insane for us. We played the smaller of the two rooms and it was (too) full. The crowd was full of wild animals that day. I remember towards the end of our set looking towards the bar and people had stopped moshing and just starting throwing punches. Maniacs. That was a great way for Germany to send us off for our last show.

Since I joined you for six days, I know there have also been some problems. There were several hospital visits, problems with the van and equipment and maybe some other things. Can you tell us more about that?

Haha, you’ve asked the right person. I had emergency surgery in Augsburg after the show from getting kicked in the leg which led to internal bleeding and a blood clot. I think we had 5 people total go to the hospital? One broken hand, one broken finger, one destroyed ankle, one person puking and fainting and then myself. All of that considered though, nothing too terrible in the end. Any one of those injuries could have been enough to end tour for someone but we only had to cancel one show along the way.

But all in all everything went out well and I guess you had a good time in Europe. Last question about the tour: How was the relationship to your touring partners in Ablaze and No Zodiac? It’s not always easy to spend so much time together with no chance to have some time for your own I guess. Or is there maybe even a funny story you want us to tell?

For having 17 people constantly crammed together, everyone did surprisingly well. Everyone got along with no real problems along the way. Of course with that many people over 16 days, patience will get short, but everything ran pretty smoothly. Definitely more good times and laughs than anything. A few drunken antics scattered around too, and a few other stories that aren’t safe to publish haha.

Ok. Let’s speak abour your new album „The Hive Mind“. Since it has just been released I wonder how the people in Europe reacted to your new songs? Did you get any feedback?

We had a few people buy it earlier on tour that we ran into towards the end and all had great things to say. “Great, angry, nasty, heavy” were all common reactions. A lot of people heard the songs for the first time at our show, and people told us how much they liked them. We are all extremely happy with the record. We wanted to put out something raw, agressive, heavy and creative and we think we achieved that with „The Hive Mind”.

You released your first album „A Plague Upon Humanity“ via FWH records, „Res Ipsa Loquitur“ on your own and now you have a new label again. What was the idea behind working with the label Harm Reduction Records and where can we get your new stuff?

A couple things that lead us to Harm Reduction were that we had never done a US release before and our friend Jami (from Code Orange who co-runs HR with Patrick of Self Defense Family) was very eager to put out this new record. They are a new label but already have a solid line up with bands like Purge, Drown, Torn and upcoming releases from Steel Nation, Eternal Sleep etc. Definitely a label to keep your eye on. Harm Reduction is affiliated with Deathwish, so you can get the new stuff on the Deathwish site.

What can we expect from your new album? Is it similar to your older records or did you chose some new paths? Can you describe the new record with one sentence and tell us where your influences come from?

We all bring different influences to the table, and we all write songs together so it makes for a successful blend of styles for us. Influences would be Irate, Built Upon Frustration, Dying Fetus, Crowbar to start. It is more straight forward and less, I guess you could say “experimental.” Heavier and more aggressive than anything we have done in the past. One sentence: „The Hive Mind” is 7 relentless tracks of heavy hardcore brought to you in a style you’re familiar with but in a way you haven’t heard before.

Pittsburgh is really famous for its hardcore scene and brought up many really hard hitting bands like No Retreat, Built Upon Frustration and End Of Humanity just to name a few. How important is this background for you as a band?

Built Upon Frustration is a big influence for us and definitely a band that took our personal interest in heavy music to another level. No Retreat had quit playing by the time all of us were actively going to shows but no one can deny those records for being insanely heavy in a way no one was ready for at the time. Built Upon Frustration is one of the most underrated bands in the realm of heavy hardcore. I see so many people in love with bands who are only half as good and wish I could hand them all Built Upon Frustration records and blow their minds.

Let’s talk about the lyrics. Is it more personal stuff or different topics such as politics, religion and other things like that?

Sort of a mix of all. Songs like “Level Four” and “Ascension” are very personal where “Immolation” is a song about people like Edward Snowden who say, “something’s wrong and I’m not going to keep quiet,” and the big brother type societies we live in today. The common trait between all the lyrics is that they’re an outlet for us.

On tour you told me, that you don’t listen to hardcore that much. So I’ve got two last questions: What non-hc interprets should we check out and is there a hc record, not older than six months, that we must check out?

I never understood kids who only listen to hardcore. We are all into music on more levels than just hardcore and there are way too much amazing musicians outside the world of hardcore. We all are really into bands lately like Washed Out, Neon Indian and Phantogram. As for HC records, how old is the new Ringworm? Definitely check that out and I AM KING from Code Orange. It will blow your mind.

Ok, that’s it. Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions. The last words are yours.

Thanks to Ablaze and No Zodiac for taking us along on their tour. Thanks to everyone reading this who came to our shows, talked to us, bought merch etc. We will never be a full time, touring band but the support we get from everyone is much appreciated. Thanks for the interview, it was nice to meet you on tour and we hope to see you the next time we come back. Danke schon. Ich liebe und vermisse Deutschland.

Moritz Kappler

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