Love classic 70's Genesis? If so, be advised that there's a new band on the scene that warants your immediate attention. They are called Unifaun, and have a brand new self-titled release out now on Progress Records that combines many of the rich qualities of beloved albums such as Foxtrot, Selling England By the Pound, The Lamb Dies Down on Broadway, Wind and Wuthering, and Trick of a Tail. Hammonds, Moogs, Mellotrons, acoustic & electric guitars, bass pedals, and of course, vocals that bear a strong resemblance to both Peter Gabriel & Phil Collins, are all part of the characteristics of this debut. Sea of Tranquility Publisher Pete Pardo had a chance to speak with Nad Sylvan of Unifaun, who talks about the formation of the band, their love for Genesis, the new CD, and the future of the band.
SoT: Can you talk about the initial meeting between you and Bonamici, and how the early seeds for Unifaun were originally planted?
Nad: Well, it was very much by coincidence. Around 2003 I was being quite active
on the Genesis forums. I discovered "The Musical Box" (which I am actually about to see
again this coming sunday here in Stockholm, doing "A Trick of the Tail"!) and so
I travelled to London for their renowned rendition of "Selling England by the Pound".
Mindblowing! I think I had just got back home when I realized that another fellow Swede,
"Bonamici" had put a song called "Tribute to Genesis" up on the forums for Genesis fans to listen to and for some critisism. I simply loved it! Having finished my third solo album (Sylvanite), I had plenty of time on my hands and suggested a collaboration. The song became "Maudlin Matter", basically written by Bon but with my lyrics and lead.
SoT: How did the both of you originally get involved in music? Who were some of your early influences?
Nad: One thing we have in common is that we both started playing the piano at five!
This was in the 60īs. I loved The Beatles and the Stones - but was totally fascinated
by Jimi Hendrix and Motown. My mom gave me an album called "Tamla Motown is hot hot hot" when I was nine or ten and I believe that has always had a great impact on my view on singing. As for Bon, I know he got intrigued by Errol Garner and Edward Gieg while being very young. Later, groups such as Focus and Steppenwolf were really a big inspiration. I kind of like them too. And weīre both are great fans of Otis Redding.
SoT: Many bands over the years have taken the 'classic period Genesis' framework and made that their sound. Was that the initial plan for Unifaun?
Nad: Oh really? I didnīt know that. Well I think that Marillion sounded a lot like
Genesis in the early days, and The Watch (that we are being constantly compared with)
sure captures that soundscape as well. We had no "initial plan" I think. It all grew and grew because of just one song. People wanted to hear more in the same vein, which gave the project a spark and so we just continued. We had at that time no idea what was to come. We just had a lot of fun!
SoT: Speaking of Genesis, a band beloved by many, what are some of your favorite songs from them, and your favorite albums?
Nad: I must immediately say "The Lamb". That was my first encounter with the band in
1975. The absolute highlight for me is "Fly on a windshield/Broadway melody of 1974".
Other than that, I love the whole album and itīs hard to just pick out songs at random.
As for other albums, I hold "Selling England", "Trick" and "W&W" as a close second.
Songs from these albums I can say always stood out a little more than perhaps others
would be "Cinema Show", "Firth of Fifth", "Dance on a Volcano", "Squonk", "Los Endos", "Eleventh Earl of Mar", "Blood on the Rooftops". I donīt know, again - I love these albums on the whole and I always play them through from start to finish. I regard the rest of their albums as "a third".
SoT: Tunes from the Unifaun CD like Birth of Biggie, End of Fin, Maudlin Matter and
Rehacksis are fine examples of 70's styled progressive rock. What are some of your favorite tunes on the CD, and why?
Nad: Correction! Itīs "End-or-fin"!!! Say it and youīll get the message. Also read it and
it will say something else. One half written by me, one half written by Bon. Itīs two
ways of saying "bye bye for now"! Anyway, this is one of my favorites. I also like "Birth of a Biggie", ReHacksis", "Swingers Party" (love the story!) and of course "Quest for the last Virtue" a lot. Why? They all came so effortlessly and sounded so good very early on.
We felt sheer excitement - like being teenagers again while recording them! But then again, I enjoy the whole album. I like the build up and the balance between longer and shorter songs, the easier- and the more complex ones.
SoT: Ah, thanks for the correction on that piece! Do you follow any of the current crop of prog rock bands? If so, any that you like?
Nad: Very little. I like Porcupine Tree a lot. Especially "In Absentia". And I recently discovered another Swedish prog band, Anekdoten, who I must say are very good. The Flower Kings released "Paradox Hotel" in 2006 I think, and that has also been spinning quite a bit.
SoT: How did you come into contact with Progress Records?
Nad: I met Hansi Cross (of prog rock band "Cross") in 2000 I think, when he still had a record shop in "Old Town" of Stockholm. We swopped cdīs, he got one of mine and I one of his I remember. I knew he liked my singing, and maybe a collab could have been possible, but the right vehicle and timing was not obvious at that time. When Unifaun was a fact, I contacted him on Myspace basically just to say hi. I think he started to notice us back then, and when the album was almost finished he simply asked if we were interested in signing with PR. If he wouldnīt have, we had thought of releasing it ourselves. Glad we didnīt!
SoT: Are there any plans to do any live shows with Unifaun?
Nad: No. But we are toying with the idea. We live far apart and to see this happen, it takes quite an effort. But we would love to.
SoT: Have you given any thought to expanding the line-up of the band?
Nad: Yes we have. I am not that great on guitar you know and would like to work
with somebody really versatile and who also writes well. Also, a very good (and very
young!) bass player has hung around the Unifaun-camp for quite some time now, and I would like to hear him have a go at one point.
SoT: Have your vocals always had a sort of Collins/Gabriel flavor to them, or is that something you have had to work on over the years?
Nad: I have different "gears" to my vocals. When I was about 19 I sounded so much like Collins it was scary. But as time progressed I developed my own singing style (I hope!)
which is quiet evident on "Sylvanite". But as for Unifaun, it was like going back in
time in more ways than one! I just shifted into the Genesis-gear and it all came back to me quite easily.
SoT: Do you use vintage keyboards to get all those wonderful sounds on the CD or are those created by digital synths?
Nad: Bon has that exact same Hammond T222 that Tony Banks used in the 70īs.
Other than that itīs all software synths and samples.
SoT: Even though the CD has only just been released, there have been lots of fans who are obviously very happy with the results and are wanting to know what the future of the band is. Are you both planning on writing material for a follow-up in the near future?
Nad: At this stage we have no plans at all. We just finished a four year long recording
process, and for once, I actually took the whole summer off to persue other things. Letīs see where this first album takes us. If another demand comes along for another
album, I really cannot see why not. It sure doesnīt stop here..
SoT: Great, well thanks so much Nad and best of luck with the CD!
Nad: My pleasure!