Unit F interview for Highwire Daze
1. Introduce yourself, what you do in the band, and where you are based out of?
Mel Schantz: Vocals- My name is Mel Schantz, the vocalist and one of the song writers of Unit F, an Orange County, California band. I basically jump around and make dramatic faces, and when the guys come up with some sonic madness that makes sense to me, I am inspired to use my worldview to craft words into lyrics, which hopefully become songs worth listening to. I grew up in Orange County, traveled a bit and am back here in this well located suburban hell.
David Costa: Guitars- My name is David Costa, I play loud electric lead guitar in UNIT-F for 7 years.
UNIT F is based out out Orange County, California.
Guillermo Santacruz: Bass, vocals- My name is Gui, and I play bass. From Santa Ana, Ca.
Ryan Hadley: Drums- My name is Ryan Hadley and I am the drummer for Unit F. I am based out of south Orange County.
2. What are you looking forward to the most about the It’s Not Dead Festival?
Mel Schantz: Vocals- Well, it is an amazing event, a true punk rock festival on a scale that probably only Kevin Lyman and his team could make happen, Punk Rock Bowling not withstanding.
The line up of bands ranges from some of the ‘founding fathers of punk rock’, to those who kept punk rock alive from the 80’s, into the 90’s and through the 2000nds. Bands that have come from some of punk rocks originators, like OFF!, and the Wraths, bands like GBH, the Buzzcocks and The Adicts and Channel 3. ‘Newer’ bands like the Wilhelm Scream, Me First and others, and of course those bands that have kept it going and are still doing great: Unit F, the Grim, Rancid, Spider, the Voodoo Glow Skulls and The Casualties.
Ska bands, rock bands. So much variety that really shows the diversity of Punk Rock. Four stages featuring bands that made music history, and are still making Punk Rock what it is today: vibrant, non-conforming, and certainly NOT DEAD!
And of course, of enormous importance, the other events like Arts Not Dead, showcasing the artists of Punk Rock…from the photographers to the artists: Jenifer Finch (L7) Bad Otis Links and more. And how about those punk rockers who have turned into author, featured at Punks Well Read with Jack Grisham (TSOL-American Demon, The Principals of Recovery ), Jim Lindberg (PunkGuru.com, The F Word), and Keith Morris (Off!, Circle Jerks, Black Flag and author of Damaged).
So cool. So diverse. Oh, and we are looking forward to playing! All Ages baby!!
David Costa: Guitars- I am looking forward to play live on the Vans off the Wall Stage at It's Not Dead Festival & I am happy to see & meet new life long friends.
Guillermo Santacruz: Bass, vocals- Playing this festival and seeing bands that I have never seen.
Ryan Hadley: Drums- Playing with a lot of really great bands.
3. What could one expect from your live show at the It’s Not Dead Festival?
Mel Schantz: Vocals- Well, Unit F will be delivering a similar set to that which we have been playing from 2016 through this year. The setlist starts out with Same Ol Story, from our 2013 EP, and then goes into Direct Action Now from Comes the Day (2015). We then deliver with an old crowd favorite Ride followed by a couple of tunes from our new album Ecocide.
Unit F is a punk band, both in attitude and in a sonic sense…but we expand the envelope as far as punk is concerned especially in terms of the song writing. Not as fast as some bands, but still hard hitting…and intense. Some say we sound like an OC band, some say we sound like no other band. I think fans and people who have never seen us can expect an intense, well played set: lots of guitars, some tongue in cheek humor, some direct messages about making a difference and whole lot of passion delivered with great guitar riffs, a churning bass and rocking drums.
David Costa: Guitars- UNIT F will be playing some of our newest songs off our new album called ECOCIDE. The album title name is because the world is in such turmoil.
Guillermo Santacruz: Bass, vocals-Playing good songs with lots of energy!
Ryan Hadley: Drums- Solid music with a lot of energy
4. What is the name of your latest or upcoming CD or EP and what inspired the title?
Mel Schantz: Vocals- The name of the new 9 song album is Ecocide: Songs of Dysfunction. The title is derived from a lyric in our song Blacksnake (“we’ve committed, Ecocide/damn, we all lost our goddamn minds”), a song about oil pipelines (Standing Rock, the XL, etc) and our addiction to extraction industries. It is about how we mindlessly continue to destroy the earth in favor of greed, material benefit, and the destruction of the living system of this amazing, living earth. Its about what we are doing to ourselves; where we are, and how we got here.
5. Select two songs you may be playing in your set and what inspired the lyrics.
Mel Schantz: Vocals- One of the songs is Bad Monkeys. Again, its about how we, as humans have become parasitic, if not suicidal, how we have quickly usurped balance for dominion (“Bad Monkeys/Good Planet, We’re a plague!”)
Another song is Raven, which Mark Bolton wrote. It has a goth/gothpunk feel to it. And I use the Raven as a totem of magic, seeing and change, as the symbol that “eats the mouse” of the corrupted priesthood which has been the scourge of the Catholic Church. The viewpoint is that of the native American tribes…and how they suffered under the genocide of the Church and Christanity in general, which, ironically, was not limited to the Native Americans. In the name of salvation, the destruction of culture and its wisdom ensued. It is about the exorcism of that dark influence which is the corruption of a religion. (“For you…are not forgiven/A pox back to your house. Sancti Nex/Sancti Interitum/The Raven is in the house).
David Costa: Guitars- One of the songs UNIT F will be performing is called Horrifying written about all the horror in the world, and how we just keep ignoring it. Another song UNIT F will be performing is called DECAY written about dysfunction surrounding us all.
6. Any strange or unusual happening in the past while out on the road or at a show?
Mel Schantz: Vocals- Hard to pinpoint one event. We have been playing for over 15 years, including stints on the Warped Tour. Some of those stories….cannot be told, if only because they may or may not involve ‘retribution’ for rookie band violations of the unwritten Punk Rock code.
On the other hand, during our last show of 2016….we were performing our last song of the night, Decay…which is another song that ties the esoteric past to the present. Before we started, and right after we played Raven, this guy wedges through the crowd and sticks his hand toward me, holding this black object while I am doing the spoken word outro.
He continues to hold this object, thrusting it at me as the final chords ring out…and the first chords of Decay rev up. I finally take it…and it is a huge, worked piece of obsidian… blackrock, which is used for many spiritual purposes. I was amazed….and so I take it…holding this big piece, and finish the song…and afterward, I am looking at it, kind of stunned. It was, to say the least, significant…and I still use it in my rituals. But I could never find the guy afterwards…he disappeared! So random, but so cool. A co-incidence or an incident?
David Costa: Guitars- One of the unusual happenings out on the road was in Las Vegas our home away from home. Something that sticks in my mind is when we were having technical difficulties with our bass rig during our set. Knowing we had a gig next night, I was thinking what are we going to do? Before I had my guitar put away, our Las Vegas friend Cody Leavitt who plays for New Cold War and People's Whiskey asks us what we needed? I told him what we needed & the gear was delivered to the club next night, UNIT F had another great show. thanks to Cody & the punk rock brotherhood that Las Vegas has & the love for all bands.
I will never forget that.
Guillermo Santacruz: Bass, vocals- Dave breaking a string then having it fixed by the time his solo came around. Another time my old drummer and I left for a gig in Santa Barbara over an hour before the band just so we could hit as many record stores we could in between, and still got there over an hour before the rest of the band.
Ryan Hadley: Drums- I played a warehouse show in East LA with my old band, and suddenly it just started pouring rain. Everything started shorting out, the PA and the amps, and I just kept playing. A moment where I was like almost playing by myself. Its a drummer thing...
7. What is favorite punk rock record of all time and why?
Mel Schantz: Vocals- Too many: Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegtables (Dead Kennedys)? Fear of Life (Channel 3)? The New Dark Ages (Bad Religion)? Wasted Years (OFF!)? or the latest from Jello Biafra and Guantanamo School of Medicine. Hmmm, might want to include the obscure TSOL Who is Fucking Who in there as well. Bad question man. Unanswerable! (for me).
David Costa: Guitars-I enjoy all Ramones albums. They are the godfathers of punk rock.
Guillermo Santacruz: Bass, vocals- Group Sex, the Circle Jerks. It was my first punk rock album…I had no clue you could legally write fast songs of that material subject. Yeah
Ryan Hadley: Drums-The Subhumans, Ep-Lp. I listened to that record so many times in my teenage years, that I know all the lyrics.
8. If you could open up for any band, either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
Mel Schantz: Vocals-Oh, again a tough one. Unit F has been honored to play with so many such asr Bad Religion, the Circle Jerks and TSOL, played on bills with Pennywise and Shattered Faith, Channel 3, Electric Frankenstien,DRI, Legal Weapon, Rikk Agnew and D.I. those were nothing short of great…and I would love to play with them again. Now we get to play with Rancid, OFF!, the Adicts, GBH and a bunch more.
So, going forward, hmm, perhaps Jello and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, The Damned, Saccharine Trust, Iggy Pop, The Adolescents. The Subhumans. Going back, the Doors.
David Costa: Guitars-I am going to enjoy opening/playing on same bill as RANCID, when I saw them play back in the early 90s (93) "Lets Go" tour at the Hollywood Paladium. that show changed my life.
Guillermo Santacruz: Bass, vocals-Circle Jerks. Cream. Oh, and Woodstock (all of the bands!)
Ryan Hadley: Drums- The Subhumans, again. I toured with them in my old band in 2016. My favorite band growing up, and still today.
9. Do you have any messages for It’s Not Dead Festival attendees this year?
Mel Schantz: Vocals
Sure: Let’s rock this. Let have fun, and make sure to see all the bands. Don’t forget to take the time to check out Arts Not Dead and Punks Well Read; some true punk rock heroes will be displaying the photographs and art, and signing books that show who we are. Remember, these experiences we have today, will be music history some day. Let’s make some memories, discover new bands and rock out with the ones we all know!
David Costa: Guitars-
would advise all the punk rockers to dydrate/drink lots of water. it's going to be a long hot day. have fun & be safe, help your fellow punk rockers that need help. Lets do this "It's Not Dead festival" again next year.
Guillermo Santacruz: Bass, vocals-
No speeches! (that’s for my singer)
Ryan Hadley: Drums-
Best get to the show early...take advantage of the opportunity to see all these great bands.
see you at the show!