Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Unit Breed Interview with Las Cruces Sun-News

Tunes: From music to art to air guitar, The Unit Breed has many forms of expression

By Carlos Lopez/For Pulse

Music and art will collide Sunday, when the Portland, Ore.,-based band The Unit Breed makes a stop at El Patio in Mesilla to promote its new album, "Always Distance The Lonely."

Known for progressive, psychedelic punk music, The Unit Breed has been entertaining crowds on both coasts and everywhere in between since 1998, with

Joseph Demaree, center, is the one constant in The Unit Breed. The band's show incorporates projection art, which fans can see Sunday at El Patio. (Courtesy photo)
original music and art.

Founder Joseph Demaree is the band's constant. More than 30 members have played parts in the band in the past 10 years, most of whom Demaree said were friends from other Portland bands.

The current lineup includes Demaree, lead singer and guitar, David Wolf, drummer and Casey Costello, bass.

"This is the most solid lineup we've had," Demaree said in a telephone interview with Pulse. "It feels a lot better, and there are no personality conflicts."

The Unit Breed has released six-full length albums, all self-produced, along with original music videos and paintings. The band's latest album, "Always Distant The Lonely," is the culmination of several months works.

"Compared to our previous records, this album

is more vocally powerful than our other efforts," Demaree said. "I'm pretty happy with how it turned out, all the songs are great."

Also included in the album is a book of art by Demaree, who attended the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Citing similarities between music and art, Demaree says he always felt the two were one and the same.

"Art, like music, is storytelling and putting on a show," Demaree said. "Painting and drawing require the same fundamental melody as music."

In terms of performance, The Unit Breed sets itself apart from other bands by integrating projection shows into music sets, making the experience more visual. With footage shot by the band, video collages take concert-goers on visual ride that bring the music to life, Demaree said.

Demaree said he is excited about the growing music and art scene in the Mesilla Valley, where the band band has played four times before.

"Las Cruces is one of our favorite places to play. We love Las Cruces, and its Mordor-esque landscape," Demaree said of the Organ Mountains, comparing them to Mordor, J.R.R. Tolkien's fictional, imposing realm in "The Lord of the Rings."

Aside from producing music and art, Demaree, Wolf and Costello are also known for their profound air guitar abilities. The band recently competed in the U.S. Air Guitar Championships in Minneapolis, Minn., where they placed individually.

"It's a bizarre experience, pretending to play guitar for minute. That minute feels like 15 minutes," Demaree said of his experience competing in front of 1,200 people.

After the band's tour wraps up in July, Demaree said members will be taking a three- to four-month break, and then will resume songwriting and recording in February.

Carlos Lopez is an intern for the Las Cruces Sun-News and can be reached at or (575) 541-5453.

If you go

Who: The Unit Breed

When: 8 p.m., Sunday

Where: El Patio, 2171 Calle De Parian

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