The last third of 2021 is about returns and new starts as the music industry cautiously makes its way back to the stage. For Unto Others it's about something else. Previously playing under the name Idle Hands and recording their 2019 debut Mana, the Portland band are now signed to Roadrunner for its appropriately-titled follow-up Strength. And a sound that sets them apart in heavy rock and metal right now.
"I've been working as hard as I ever have on the band's forward momentum and direction since we began in 2017," explains mainman Gabe Franco. "So it feels more like another massive challenge rather than a new beginning. It's hard to know what the big picture looks like sometimes though, when you are on the inside looking out."
Franco's big picture is a fascinating vision. Unto Others draw from classic '90's Roadrunner lineage that feels familiar, but the blend feels distinct. Type O' Negative's deceiving concoction of melancholic euphoria, bursts of prime Sepultura thrash rhythm guitar, with shimmery clean Cure-esque lines alongside NWOBHM twin leads. There's also otherworldly sense of identity Sisters Of Mercy created that feels like its own scene. And it could much bigger with Roadrunner's support.
"They're a massive label with global promo reach so we are gonna be in front of quite a few eyeballs," notes Franco. "And it of course adds to the legitimacy of us as a new up-and-comer. Kinda like when the UN recognises a new country, a big label like RR having us on their team is going to help people understand we are serious about all this."
After have Strength on rotation, we don't doubt that one bit. We talked to the singer / guitarist about the creation of Strength and his refreshingly simple gear for creating.
How would you describe your sound to a new listener?
"Uplifting. While it may be a bit melancholic on its cover, our music is anything but sad. If you understand it, it wont bring you down, it will be an affirmation that there are other people like you in the world."
What artists do you think you could potentially share fans with?
"At the risk of sounding pompous I'd say we have a pretty wide potential spread, given we are pretty much a standard rock band, it just depends on who we are exposed to, and if they can 'get it' on first listen."
Which of your songs best represents you and why?
"They are really all over the place to be honest, I cant choose just one. I would say Nightfall, Jackie, Little Bird, Why, and When Will Gods Work Be Done. They run the gamut of my emotional expression."
Is there a particular album that had a big impact on you growing up and how?
"I never listened to full records when I grew up, this was the age of Limewire as a teenager and singles ruled the game (07-09 era) the few albums I did listen to in full during that period was Thornography by Cradle Of Filth, and Slaughter of the Soul by At The Gates. They’ve definitely worked their way into my psyche, and I'm sure the music as well."
If you could steal the production off one album/track, which would you take and why?
What has inspired the creative process for Strength?
"It's just an everyday thing I do, I had to write another record, because that’s what I do. My chosen profession. I don’t get inspired to start a creative process, the creative process produces inspiration in itself. If that makes sense."
What is your favorite musical experience/memory with the band so far?
"The entire thing, every tour we’ve been on has been an absolute blast. From our first west coast run with Haunt and Hellfire, to riding on a bus in Europe with Uada, Tribulation and Gaahls Wyrd, our 50 day solo run across Europe, and opening for King Diamond, its all been amazing, but I would be lying if I didn’t say I just love this being part of my everyday life.
"I like riding my bike to band practice and feeling accomplished, I like having a beer with the dudes, it’s the simple things. Just chasing that feeling of, 'Wow I really did something today.'"
Do you have any go-to gear for songwriting and demoing ideas and why is it important to you?
"GarageBand and my $160 Fender Strat – that’s it. It's been that way since I started writing music seriously about eight years ago. I understand how to use it. It's my eight tracks, my notepad, it's all I need. The rest is gravy."
What instrument or piece of gear would you like to get next and why?
"I would like to own a 12 string guitar again, and a violin. I have always wanted to learn the violin, it’s a beautiful instrument."
Where would you like to take your sound next?
"I’m moving in yet another weird direction already, softer and heavier at the same time it's hard to describe. The next record will be different, in a familiar way."
Strength is out now via Roadrunner: buy or stream.
For more info on Unto Others visit: