Unified Action is a new UK hardcore band you should check out featuring Lins Cuscani, former vocalist of Tied Down. "One day I was walking on a local beach near yo my home and I saw a dude wearing a Gauze shirt," the singer tells me about the way the project got started. "So, as is the norm when you clock someone in hardcore attire, I spoke to him. We chatted briefly then arranged to meet properly for coffee and that's how I met Dan, Unified Action's guitarist in the making."
Dan previously played bass in Aussie band Extortion, but I'll let him tell you about his background: "I moved to the North East from London at the end of 2014 at a time where I was pretty jaded on punk and hardcore. Actually, I was fed up with myself more than anything, but that’s another story."
"Then the pandemic happened and I realized how much I missed shows and knew that once things got back to something like normal I’d have to get over my hermit phase and start going to gigs again. Lockdown meant I also had way more time on my hands, so I started playing guitar again and writing a few tunes, and the idea of starting a band occurred to me for the first time in years.
"He was in Tied Down at the time but they were on a lockdown induced hiatus. Once they started practicing again, I briefly joined as a second guitarist but the band broke up before I got to play any shows with them. After that Lins asked if I was interested in doing something else. I had all these songs I’d written over lockdown that I wanted to do something with, so I was super keen."
Unified Action was completed soon after, according to Lins. "Next up was getting Max the bassist from Tied Down on board and the final piece of the jigsaw was UK scene vet Pacey on drums. "
Last month, Unified Action released their debut, a nine-track EP of to-the-point hardcore with no single song reaching the two-minute mark:
"When I started writing songs I didn’t really have a plan for them," Dan tells me. "I hadn’t played guitar in years, so it was just a case of playing for the sake of playing and writing whatever came to me. Most of the bands I’ve played in over the years have been fast hardcore ones, so that was what felt most natural. I didn’t set out to replicate the sound of Detroit, New York, LA, or Boston or anything, it was just basically throwing all the different varieties of '80s hardcore in a blender and hoping there was some sense of continuity in the overall sound of the songs.
"The bands that most inform the Unified Action sound would be Negative Approach, Infest, D.R.I., Poison Idea, and the early Rev stuff. The latter was a product of me listening to a fair bit of Youth Crew while quitting drink and drugs in the year before I started writing [laughs] The newer stuff we’ve been writing that we haven’t played live yet is probably heading more in the Infest direction, with maybe even a bit of Cryptic Slaughter and some doom metal influences thrown in."
Next, Lins talks lyrics: "We made a conscious effort to write lyrics that are sociopolitical and meaningful rather than sing about nothing at all. I mean we live in a world where shit is happening and where our angst and opposition need to be heard. On this release we cover diverse subject matter like the worsening climate change situation, the disaster that was the withdrawal from Afghanistan and subsequent problems it has caused the people in that country.
"We also cover the current financial crisis affecting us here in the UK and the total disgust we have towards the government it's cronies. Another subject matter is depression and how sometimes you need to start helping yourself rather than just throwing every bit of help you get back in people's faces.
"Also, our title track is as it seems a call for unified action to achieve whatever you are wanting to achieve. Whether that is protesting, or building a scene, sometimes a unified approach can be beneficial. I mean we aren't a unity band per se but action in numbers can be a powerful medium."
I ask both Lins and Dan to give me their thoughts on the English hardcore scene of the moment. The singer chimes in first: "The local scene in the northeast of England is pretty healthy, to be honest. There's a big younger scene that is more about meta core/beat down stuff, which isn't my thing but they seem to have embraced the hardcore ethics without actually playing the music, so fair play to them.
"There's also an older scene which gravitates around the UK82 thing and seems to be older guys and bands reliving their youth. Finally up in Newcastle is a new DIY venue/space called The Lubberfiend that has just opened and it's hosting a lot of varied hardcore shows and other events. We played there recently with Scarecrow (USA) and they've also had Axe Rash on too, so watch out for more killer shows there in the coming months.
"As for local bands on the hardcore punk end of the spectrum we have Diall, Spit. The more metallic stuff from Wise Up, Bloodfury, XdeliveranceX, and Dischord/indie stuff from the likes of Onlooker, Ballpeen. Oh, and nearly forgot The Diaz Brothers, which is basically HDQ mark II. Really great melodic hardcore punk with an LP out on Boss Tuneage Records."
Though he's newer to the local scene, Dan has some positive thoughts to share. "There’s a good mix of younger kids and lifers, different people putting on shows, bands playing a variety of styles, labels like Conviction Records (who did a limited run of our EP on tape), and a brilliant new DIY venue called the Lubber Fiend in Newcastle which we played at for the first time a couple of weeks ago. Places like that are crucial for scenes.
"The North East feels similar to where I grew up in Perth, Western Australia, in that it’s kind of geographically isolated, doesn’t give too much of a shit about what the rest of the country thinks of it and just does its own thing. It has its own identity and that’s what hardcore should be all about."
Dan wants to say something important before our conversation concludes. "I’m probably preaching to the converted here, but this country and planet are being ravaged by the continued predominance of right-wing lunacy. Corporations are recording record profits and paying out dividends to shareholders while regular people are being forced to food banks and can’t afford to heat their homes.
"Real wages have been declining for decades. The planet is dying before our eyes. Migrants and other minorities are used as scapegoats for problems they didn’t create. This shit needs to fucking end. Fight back any way you can. Smash racism, sexism, homophobia, and transphobia. Fuck the Tories!"
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Tagged: unified action