Tuesday, December 7, 2021 
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Neumu = Art + Music + Words
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THE UNWOUND SOUND // Ten years on, the Olympia, Wash.-based punk rockers have delivered an epic album that finds them... well, artier than ever.
Interview Jenny Tatone Photography Jim McGinnis
Justin Trosper


Signing to a major label is sort of a test for certain people: "Are they really a good band or not? Is money going to ruin this band?" It will if they don't have a strong basis for the band. — Justin Trosper
Jenny Tatone: What do you feel gives music its power?

Justin Trosper: Besides playing the actual instruments, it's really intangible. The actual thing that happens, you can't touch or see.

Sound keeps going until it hits something. Music is the most immediately emotional art. You can just be sitting there in a catatonic state. Sound is even physical, especially loud music. I guess that's why people go see live bands.

Tatone: Artists seem to be driven by particular forces and emotions — whether it's politics or a broken heart. Is there something specific that drives and inspires you to make music?

Trosper: Not specifically. Everyday life, I guess. I'll intellectualize things a lot, try to challenge myself, more than any emotional aspects, really.

Tatone: So it's more making the music itself, rather than the subject, that drives you?

Trosper: Yeah, the process. I like to play, work out things, try to figure out how to record. It kind of just stems from that, like "Oh, this is going into this territory," mood wise, and the lyrics always come after, at the end of the process.

The lyrics always have to fit into the musical puzzle. We write all the songs, and then the singing part just kind of fits in. The stuff I write is pretty confining so, yeah, I usually come up with song titles first and go from there. Sometimes the songs make sense and sometimes they don't. I don't usually go for a subject, just word play.

Tatone: Does having an audience influence your music? Did you consider how people would react to the new recordings as you were making them?

Trosper: It's hard to say what kind of influence people's reactions had. If you're gonna put out a record and play shows, you're definitely thinking about an audience. I think we were really self-contained from the beginning, playing together in high school, always in our own little clique.

Tatone: Did you go to high school here in Olympia?

Trosper: Yeah. After we started meeting people outside of our group of friends, that was initially pretty inspiring, that we could reach people in different parts of the world.

Tatone: Do you feel like there was a point where your band crossed a line into suddenly feeling like "We're not just playing around anymore — people are starting to pay attention"? Did you ever experience that?

Trosper: We played in a lot of different bands in high school, but when we started Unwound we decided we were gonna try to tour. We broke out pretty quick, but it took a few years before people would show up at shows — I would say until '95.

Tatone: Did you react to that?

Trosper: We tried to tour as much as possible, keep the ball rolling. We probably got burnt out; you kind of lose perspective. It took us awhile to put out a new record. It took a certain amount of time to get back our perspective. Now everything feels really fresh again. I'm all excited about playing shows and writing new material.


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