THE UNKNOWN Currrent lineup 2006
Ken Blaze- Vocals
Wayne Roscoe - Drums
Brian P. McCafferty - Bass
Pete Woodward - Guitar
By Matt Damn Kuchna
The Unknown must be familiar to you by now, as the group has been producing its ultra-adrenalized, fun-packed, rainy-summer's-night thoughtful (s)punky powerPOP! for the last 17 years.
It did take them a while to get there, however. The Unknown began way back in 1989 -yeah, that's right, cheesedick, when Op IV was still a band and not a suburban legend, or when Green Day was only 39 smooth years old - and, despite circumstances, immediately established a reputation for creating quality original angst-ridden music.
In their defense, I will say hey, man, this was back when Metallica lauded Faith No More and still played metal, "classic rock" still ruled the airwaves, and all the kids wore black.
The Unknown soon outstripped their original limitations and rose head-and-shoulders above the pack. Strangely, few people paid any attention to their riveting pogo-perfect la-la punk. But then again, hardly anyone wore wallet chains back then either; the vanguard is often ignored by the dullard masses. Stalwart vocalist Ken Blaze was now ably abetted by the insane firecracker drum sound of Wayne Roscoe; the corps was rounded out by the combination of Peter Ahn and Mike Vaughn. The Unknown grew stronger, garnered some critical praise from publications as diverse as Cleveland's Scene, Jim Testa's Jersey Beat and Maximum Rock N' Roll, and eventually embarked on a summer tour ('93) in support of their hellzapoppin' full-length debut "Change."
Immediately after this successful trailblazing, with the new "Seems So Real" 7" in hand, the band almost broke up. Okay, they sorta broke up. Okay, Ken and Wayne were now joined by guitar hero Chris Roscoe, and, with Chris doubling on bass a` la Greg Ginn, they recorded a stunning testimonial of their staying power, the "On Our Own" 7". After yet more endless gigging and rehearsing in the Roscoe Rock Hall, and with new bassist Thom Janini in tow (and Mike Vaughn back in the fold), they began to tune up to record a second full-length.
The result was a sometimes dark, often zippy, full-on contemplative dual-guitar strong pop onslaught, the CD "Rocket Pop," a true watershed moment for a genre still garnering notice but in dire need of a spark. It was a masterful achievement. And then the first sign of the Unknown's cosmic mandate became a reality. Brian McCafferty -who basically BUILT the friggin' Clevo punk scene, fer Chrissake-stepped into the bassman's shoes. With his energy and harmonic back-up vocals, the band shifted into overdrive and began conjuring up harder and somehow even catchier material in a sort of frenzy.
From then on a new band emerged, and new more diverse popcore sound became the staple of the Unknown. With producer Jerry Jones (of the Fiendz) the four-piece set out to Big Blue Meenie Studios in New Jersey to record with a new crunchier heavier sound. 1999's "Still Unknown" was the result. The Unknown's first album with the four-piece of Ken, Brian, Chris and Wayne, was regarded as their best effort yet, and it finally started to show the world the true sounds of Cleveland's hometown heroes.
With the new CD recorded and released, the Unknown began to tour and play shows more regularly and began to build a bigger fanbase. The band was doing better than ever, and now the guys were set to record more music and to find a label for the future records. One of the main supporters of the Unknown was Boss Tuneage records in London. Through a series of events, Boss Tuneage began to distribute all of the Unknown material to Europe, the UK and Japan. And through this partnership, Boss Tuneage and The Unknown decided that the next Unknown album would be a Boss Tuneage release. After a releasing a one-sided 7" with songs from Still Unknown and Rocket Pop, Boss Tuneage re-released the Change CD and got the Unknown, known -- at least in the UK.
So with the new label in tow, the Unknown began again to record the new set of songs they had been working on over the course of 1999 and early 2000. It was agreed that the new album would be supported by a UK tour! The band decided they wanted to go back to their roots and record again with Magnetic North Studios in Cleveland. The result was POP ART, the absolute best thing the band has ever done. The new sounds garnered by the band were bringing in more comparisons to Big Drill Car and ALL and the Doughboys. The sound of the new record was an achievement in itself, as Chris Keffer and the band finally recorded an album that makes the band sound exactly as it does live.
The band toured the UK in July of 2000 to support the album and has since been playing all over to try and make the new sounds known to the world.
And the story continues.....
The Unknown kept a relatively low profile in 2001. Other than winning the Best Punk Band Award from the Free Times here in Cleveland, the band played out regionally and started gearing up to record a new full length in 2002. 2002 saw the release of THE REAL THING, a mini CD that took the Unknown to a new plateau in their quest for the perfect pop and punk record. The EP showed that the best Unknown material was still yet to come. Soon after the release of the Real Thingg, the Unknown was awarded as Best Punk band by the Free Times for the second year in a row. The band hunkered down and began writing for the next full-length CD. The rest of 2002 saw the band writing and gearing up for the recording of RADIO LIED TO ME.
The recording and writing of RADIO LIED TO ME was finished up in early 2003 with Tommy Rich at Closerlook Studios in Cleveland, Ohio. This would be the 4th and last album with Chris Roscoe at the guitar helms. On January 11, 2003, Chris Roscoe played his last show with the Unknown. He picked up his things, and he and his wife left for Japan to live out their lives in the land of the rising sun. Past members Peter Ahn, Mike Vaughn and Thom Janini joined in on the festivites and sent out Chris with a party/show that saw the Unknown play over 30 songs in 2 hours spanning 4 different line-ups and 12 years. That night was also the introduction of the new member of the Unknown family, Pete Woodward. Pete has stepped in to play guitar as as the band plans to tour the UK and Europe in early 2003 to support RADIO LIED TO ME.
2003-2005 found the Unknown hunkering down at their home base in Cleveland, OHIO. The band worked out a new licensing deals and found themselves getting airplay on all sorts of extreme sports shows and DVDs. The Unknown has been featured on FUEL TV, FOX Sports, The WB and many many other projects.
As 2005 comes to a close the band is finishing work on new songs for their sixth studio release UNPOPULAR due out in Fall of 2006. The Unknown has shown that you don't have to get signed by big labels to make in the music industry. They have stayed independent and have made a niche for themselves in the underground music scene.