Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Unrestrained interview with vocalist: Justin Sitner. March 12th. 2012

Vista:  Can you give us brief history of Unrestrained? Year started, ex and current members. Who actually started the band & what has been released so far and what is still in print?

Justin: Unrestrained was started at the tail end of 2006 when myself, Poop and Andy Foote realized that the three of us had never been in a band together. We had been friends for a very long time, and we were each going through significant transitioning periods in our personal lives, so this band was a great way for us to express ourselves amongst those changes. Gus Bowman moved to Portland and took control of the bass position, and Dwizzle took to the drum throne shorty thereafter.  At the time of conception, Unrestrained was ex-members of The Dead Unknown, The Physical Challenge and Pulling Teeth.  So far, our releases have been:
Demo 2007 (OOP, but available from various places in mp3)
Screaming For A Life Worth Living 7" (SA MOB -
At Both Ends zine/2x7" comp (
Split 7" w/Rebarker (
To Us It Was So Much More - Chain Of Strength comp (
Split 7" w/Incendiary (
Casa De Diversion Vol. 2 comp (
Current members are:
Justin - vocals
Poop - guitar
Jon - drums
Raf - bass
Ryan - guitar

Vista: Talk a little bit about your influences. I hear a lot of Undertow in there, would that be a safe guess? I love that you guys seem to be embracing 90's style hardcore. To me, you guys sound like a mix between: Undertow, Strife and a bit of Judge. Enough of my guessing...Who are some of your influences & motivations that are running through the band? Also, speak a bit on behalf of the other guys in the band...Who are some influences for the guitarist, bassist and drummer?

Justin: We have a pretty wide range of influences, but we all have a middle ground with 90s hardcore. You can definitely hear plenty of Undertow, Threadbare, Harvest, Strain, etc. in our songs, but it's our other influences that I think allow us to put our own twist on that style. Poop listens to tons of Napalm Death/Bolt Thrower, Raf is into reggae, Ryan is the resident Moz guy, Jon doesn't seem to mind listening to the poppier side of hardcore, and I tend to run the gamut from classic rock/blues to black metal.

Vista: I've only had one chance to see you guys live. It was at the New York City show with: Unbroken, Indecision, Damnation a.d. and many others! That was over the summertime & quite a bit of time has passed now, but looking back on that show...What are your thoughts on the show & the reaction you guys got? I thought you guys did really good. Was it your first time at that club {Santos Part House} ? Also, did you guys do a bunch of East Coast dates or just that one NYC show over the summer {2011} ?

Justin: As I said during our set at that show, if you had told 15 year old me that I would be in NYC playing a show with Unbroken/Indecision/Damnation AD, 15 years later, I probably would have laughed at you. I think we got a pretty good reaction for a band that many people on the East Coast had probably never heard of before. With all of our weird schedules, we weren't able to put together a tour, but we did play a show this night before in Brooklyn with Indecision and Incendiary.

Vista: Have any of you guys been in any previous bands prior to Unrestrained? If so, any recordings?

Justin: Jon was in Backlash, who put out quite a few recordings in the 90's and had a discography come out recently on 1124 Records. Poop and I played in a band called The Dead Unknown from 2000 - 2007 and the entire discography is available from . Raf played in a band called Cooperstown back in Hawaii, among a few others, but I can't remember if they had recorded or not. Ryan played in a couple of bands back in California called Feel Bad Now and Regress. I'm pretty sure that there's a Feel Bad Now demo floating around out there somewhere.

Vista: How did you guys end up doing the split 7inch with Incendiary? How did it come about & what has the response been? How many were pressed & for the collectors out there...What's up with the color vinyl & different covers for the 7inch? Wasn't there Vision of Disorder version as far as the cover? Who's idea was that?

Justin: Chris from Trip Machine seemed to love our demo, and had floated the idea of doing a release with us at some point. I'm pretty sure that Tom from Indecision is the one that suggested the split be with Incendiary. I think the response has been great, and Trip Machine has already been able to move the entire first press with a second press now on the way. If I remember right, the pressing plant might have been running a deal on mixed vinyl, so that's why there are so many variations out there.  Here's a breakdown:
5 Pea soup.

6 Blood orange.

9 Raspberry grey.

12 Clear yellow (with limited color).

15 Creamsicle.

38 Slate blue.

98 Army green.

114 Clear orange (stamped and hand numbered for mail-order only}.

228 Refried bean (70 came with V.O.D. ripoff record release weekend cover).

The VOD cover was Incendiary's idea (which I fully backed). We both had shows on the same weekend on opposite side's of the country to coincide with the release of the 7".

Vista: Lyrically, what are some of the songs dealing with? Is it a mix of personal & political thoughts? Also, do you write all the lyrics for the band or is it a group effort? If you're the main lyricist...Are you the kind of guy that has tons of lyrics written in books or do you just take it song by songs as far as the words for songs?

Justin: In the beginning, the lyrics were heavily personal. My old band was pretty much all politics, so it felt really good to get a lot of things off my chest. Politics are slowly creeping their way back into my lyrics, but in a broader sense for the time being. Although I'm not opposed to other members of the band helping out with lyrics, I prefer to write them because it feels like my one opportunity to contribute to the creative process since I don't write any of the music. I tend to have a rough list of ideas that I keep hanging around, but I don't truly write out lyrics until I hear a song. The lyrics should fit the mood of the music, and it's definitely easier for me to write while I'm actually listening to the song.

Vista: What's up with the scene out there in Portland, OR. there days? Is the scene big or small? What styles of bands are doing stuff out there & what bands should kids check out?

Justin: It's fairly small, but it's always been that way as far as "new school" hardcore is concerned.
There are so many sub-genre scenes around here that just never seem to intermingle at all. Two Hands, Young Turks, Grayscale and Cast Out are some of the bands around here that are doing good things.  Anne just put out an LP through A389 Records for anyone that's into shoegaze.

Vista: I had no clue until recently when I was emailing you that you are involved with the "Stuck In The Past" website! Can you give us information & all the details behind the ideas and origins of this site?

Justin: I started doing a blog in my spare time under the name of x43x, and my friend Chip from Miami had started a blog about hardcore shirts called Stuck In The Past. We were talking one day and just decided to join forces. Stuck In The Past is a more memorable name for most people than x43x, so we just merged everything over to that URL. I think we've been at it for almost 5 years now. It's a nice hobby to keep some of these bands and releases alive in the digital age, and also expose some younger kids to some great bands that might get swept under the rug of time otherwise.

Vista: How did you get involved in the hardcore scene? How old were you when you first took an interest in it & what were the first bands to grabbed your attention? Also, what was the very first hardcore show you attended & where was it?

Justin: Well, I first got into punk when I was 12 and I found my Dad's copy of Nevermind The Bollocks.  Hardcore came into my life just after I had turned 13 while I was reading a copy of Guitar World that listed the top 25 records of various music genres, and just after the Punk section, they listed the top 10 Hardcore records of all time. I was instantly intrigued when they described hardcore as something to the effect of "the pissed off, bastard child of punk". That article got me into Minor Threat, Black Flag and I think DYS. From there it just snowballed as I searched out more bands/zines and all kinds of information. I got into the early Revelation releases next and then got into the stuff that Victory was putting out around '94 or so. I started going to local shows with bands like National Guard early on in high school, but the first legitimate hardcore band I ever saw was Sick Of It All, who had Korn and Orange 9mm opening for them at the time. I think that was January of '95 at the Roseland Theater here in Portland.

Vista: Give us your top 10 all-time favorite hardcore/metalcore bands. Just your personal favorites, not no pain in the ass "essential/crucial" blah blah blah's! Just 10 bands/albums that you'd need if stranded on a deserted island {that had electricity}! Ha.

Justin: Ok, if we're talking strictly hardcore/metalcore bands, here's my top 10:
Morning Again
Minor Threat
Born Against
Gorilla Biscuits
Poison Idea

Vista: As a band, are you guys able to tour full-on or are you guys in school and working jobs? Is the band able to tour heavily or is it more as a hobby? Also, have you guys done full U.S. tours at all? Have you gone up through Canada? Where are some of your favorite States, so far that Unrestrained has played?

Justin: We all have pretty crazy schedules that involve wives, careers, school and children, so touring hasn't been a real option for us. We get out for weekend trips here and there, but aside from that, we've only flown to San Diego and NYC for shows with Unbroken. In 2009, we did do a week long West Coast tour with Parasitic Skies. As usual, I think Salt Lake was probably my favorite place to play. However, that tour also showed me that my body doesn't enjoy being cramped in a van as much as it did when I was 19.

Vista: Do you guys do any cover-songs while performing live? If so, what have you guys done so far?

Justin: We do covers from time to time, and have done these ones in the past:
Undertow - Control
Black Flag - Police Story
One King Down - More Hate Than Fear
Inside Out - Burning Fight

Vista: I know that the "Stuck In The Past" site features a lot of bands from the 90's that many kids have never even were aware of, as well as a bunch of well-known bands, but I'm wondering...What three or four bands out there do you think of that were really over-looked for whatever reason? Whether it is a early, mid or late 90's...Just some bands that flew under the radar?

Bands from the 90s have been seeing somewhat of a revival in recent years, so here are a few bands that I just think don't get quite as much attention as they really should:
For The Love Of
Kiss It Goodbye

Vista: What are some plans for Unrestrained in the near future? Are there any plans for new recordings? Any plans for a label that you guys are working with?

Justin: We're currently writing for a 10". It's tentatively set to come out on a label from the 90s that is supposed to be resurrected soon, so I don't want to say too much just in case that all falls through. We just have two more songs to finish and then we'll hit Camp David to record them.
Aside from that, we're kind of guns for hire. We love doing splits with various bands on various labels, but I think we would definitely like to do a full length at some point.

Vista: You guys have done a bunch of recordings & many shows...What advice would you give for a young band just starting out?

Justin: Don't rush things. I think a lot of bands get too swept up in the notion that they have to get a record out, have to get on the road, have to...
This leads to a lot of bands that just sound forced. Let things flow naturally, and your band will have the best output possible.

Vista: What are your thoughts on the entire world just swiping albums/songs off of the internet? Does it piss you off or is it just the way it is? Does it affect a band at your level or is it something not even worrying about?

Justin: I download a decent amount of music, but I also tend to spend a good chunk of money on records, so I think there's a happy medium in there somewhere. While I don't think that downloading affects us too much, I do have concerns for the labels that spend money to put the records out. We tend to offer our music for free download in the hopes that people will like it and want to support both us and the label by buying a physical copy or even mp3s from a site like Limited Run or Bandcamp.

Vista: What are your interests and hobbies outside of doing the band stuff ? Also, what are the other guys in the band into?

Justin: Aside from record collecting and Stuck In The Past, I spend a lot of time watching baseball and playing softball in the Summers. Poop and I are both Howard Stern junkies, so we end up talking about the show a lot throughout the day while we're at work. Raf is big into record collecting as well, and he's usually busy taking his kids to karate and things of that nature. Jon seems to do a decent amount of traveling, even outside of his job that takes him all over the place. Ryan is an enigma.

Vista: How do you guys go about the process of writing songs for Unrestrained? Which members are the main contributors? Do you guys all have a say in the writing process or does it become "too many cooks in the kitchen" type of thing?

Justin: We're at a really great spot right now where everyone contributes to the writing process.  Riffs are usually brought to practice and then assembled by everyone while judging what fits best where.  It's really nice to have members that are bringing something to the table and giving spark to the creativity of the other members.

Vista: Unrestrained really embrace the 90's style of hardcore, which I love...So when the hell are we gonna see some Unrestrained basketball jerseys!? If you guys haven't thought of it and I have given you the idea...I want one!

Justin: I've actually looked into jerseys before, but the problem is that it's really difficult to find old style jerseys anymore.  Most of the ones I come across these days from print supply companies have a v-neck and super wide shoulders. If we're going to do jerseys, we're going to do them right, and they better have the look and feel of the old Champion style jerseys of the 80s and 90s.  Maybe that style will come back around with the manufacturers and suppliers, and then we can jump on it.

Vista: Justin, thanks so much for your time. Best of luck with the band & outside of all this hardcore stuff that dominates all our lives! Hahah. Is there anything else that you'd like to say?

Justin: Thanks for asking me to do the interview and thanks for putting up with how long it took me to get all of these questions answered. If anyone out there hasn't heard us, they can check us out at and our webstore can be found at . Baba Booey to you all!

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