Philadelphia-based grindcore band Unrest formed in 2006, but are only now releasing their debut album, the helpfully titled Grindcore. (It will be out March 24 on Unspeakable Axe—pre-order it from the label.) We’re exclusively premiering the track “Protest Culture”; stream it below.
Drummer/vocalist Chris Grigg answered a few questions via email.
You’ve cited Nasum as the major influence on Unrest’s sound. What do you think vaulted them out of the grindcore pack, for you?
What always stuck out for us was that they didn’t use speed as an excuse for shitty songwriting. Every song has a real “Oh shit!” moment where something important happens so you remember it later on. They weren’t afraid to really dig into the hardcore side of things. It speaks to us on every level.
From a lyrical standpoint, grindcore is highly politically engaged music, but musically it’s extremely alienating, so paradoxically you’re sharing your message mostly with people who already agree with you. How can music this aggressive be used to push a message to a broader audience?
That might be true for adults who get into heavy music late in life, but…won’t someone think of the children!? My friends and I all got into punk and grindcore when we were around 14. Every one of us was drawn to it for the music and the attitude, none of us were extremely political, but that changed fast. It’s never really gone away, either. I still know every word to [Crass‘s] The Feeding of the 5000, man! But I don’t think that music this aggressive needs to be used to push a message to a broader audience. Ideally, it’d be used to send messages to the audience it already has…if that’s what the people making the music want it to be. Sometimes, a song is just a song.
Is there any expectation that this will be an ongoing project now, or have you sort of gotten it out of your system with the release of this album?
I think we’d all love to do some live stuff. I’d definitely jump at the chance to start working on new material. God knows we’re pissed off about enough stuff that we have things to say. Time is going to tell, though.
What is the message of the song “Protest Culture”?
I always worry a little that the name might be unclear, so to start, “Protest Culture” is intended as “the culture of protest,” not “you should be against culture!” It’s about reactionary politics and the way cultures develop around them. The song calls bullshit on people whose politics are motivated by a desire to belong. I guess a lot of us find ourselves there at some point or another, especially when we’re young. The problem occurs when belief systems become too dogmatic. They create feedback loops of confirmation bias, the kind of thing you mentioned earlier that can happen within message-focused punk or metal, and that kind of group-think can stand in the way of real change.
Stream “Protest Culture”: