Members of some of the most celebrated bands in the noise-metal underground have united for a new group called UXO. Unsane frontman Chris Spencer and Today Is the Day's Steve Austin share vocal and guitar duties in the group, which creates a staticky wallop on "Trauma," a strident track off their upcoming self-titled debut.
"'Trauma' is basically about taking all the shit we've got to take, realizing it hit you and still pushing through with a kind of internal strength," Spencer tells Rolling Stone. "Working on this record with Steve, there had to be a song like this. We've both been through a lot of shit."
"This song is exemplary of what Today Is the Day and Unsane stand for: the struggle, the battle and the fight against everything that tears your heart out," Austin says. "But instead of the lethargic 'I'm so fucked and there's no way I am gonna overcome this' attitude, it's all about taking on these things and doing something about it. It's about personal convictions of truth, independence and freedom."
Both lead members of the group, which also includes bassist Aarne Victorine and drummer Patrick Kennedy, were well aware of each other before the collaboration. Austin recalls seeing an ad for Unsane in a magazine and being struck by the band's "tough, hard edge." Later, his band shared a stage with Unsane at CBGB and their "furious intensity" live made him a lifelong fan. Spencer recalls hearing Today Is the Day's 1993 debut full-length, Supernova, and how he later became friends with Austin on the road, when the bands toured together. "I have always admired his 'all out' attitude," the Unsane singer says.
Austin remembers something else about Today Is the Day's tour with Unsane, an event that fueled a deep respect he had for Spencer. Prior to one of their tours, a gang jumped Spencer in Vienna and brutally cut his chest. Doctors stapled him back together, and the bands hit the road together a couple of weeks later. "I will never forget seeing him onstage with his shirt off looking like a horrific Frankenstein, with big staples literally holding his insides in," Austin says. "He was going berserk and screaming his brains out. At any minute, I thought for sure his chest was just gonna explode open and his guts would be all over the stage. It was one of the bravest and most insane things I have ever seen. Scary as fuck."
UXO came to fruition when a friend of Spencer's invited him on a trip to Maine, where Austin has a studio. He called the Today Is the Day singer and discussed making an EP but things went better than expected. "There's an ease to working with Steve," Spencer says. "He has a ton of conviction and commitment to what he does, which makes writing and recording with him effortless. We're both into the dirtier, nastier, more aggressive aspects of music, so combining our two styles worked out amazingly well."
"When we jammed, I was blown away by his speed and creativity," Austin says. "He gets on a roll and the ideas just keep flowing. His confidence and drive are something to behold."
The group will release UXO on January 29th via Reptilian Records and head out on a short tour next month. The record is available for preorder now.
UXO tour dates:
February 25 - Baltimore, MD @ Metro Gallery
February 26 - Brooklyn, NY @ St. Vitus
February 27 - Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
February 28 - Boston, MA @ Middle East