UNWILL’s sophomore album Can’t Kill Me is set to be self-released on November 16th. The Rochester, NY trio is comprised of Roc Tracy on vocals, Ethan James on guitar, and Jeffrey Jean on the bass. Can’t Kill Me is Unwill’s follow up to their 2017 release Past Life.
Music Madness caught up with Roc to discuss the band’s upcoming release and life as a young band.
Roc: Yeah, thank you. November 16th is the set release date right now for Can’t Kill Me.
Music Madness: Awesome. You guys have been busy with back-to-back albums, 2017 and again this year. Looks like you are setting the bar high.
Roc: We’re trying to really just get this out. It’s hard right now ’cause the most recent thing anyone can really listen to is “Sometimes”, and it’s just like we want to get this new wave out so bad. It’s coming soon though, it’s coming real soon.
Music Madness: Have you guys noticed a big difference from your initial album last year to this sophomore one?
Roc: It’s been a completely different experience. We traveled for the last record and did the producer thing. Right now, we’re all just hanging out in the bar and we’re just having a good time cracking some Miller High Life and just making music that we really connect with, which is awesome.
It just seems like we’re all part of the process and we’re just making just some real stuff that we don’t really see out there. We want to bring this shit out there and make it a thing that people can connect with that’s classic, but also in a new light.
Music Madness: Taking what worked in the past and just making it your own version of it.
Roc: Absolutely, man. We’ve been in various projects before this, and we just always stuck it out with each other. That’s just what we planned to do. That’s why we really wanted to make a statement with this album after the label collapsed and the management team left and we lost a member. It seemed pretty freaking hopeless. It sucked, but I think we really are gonna come back gunning with this. We’re really excited about it.
Music Madness: You have to take the positives and build on it.
Roc: Right. You start to see it all fall in, like all right. Life’s just playing a little trick. That’s a big concept on the record, too. Don’t let that voice creep up in your head. We all feel that pain, we all know, we all recognize that same pain we all got. We just really want this whole Unwill experience; you come to a show, we just want everybody there, no cliquey mentality, we just want everyone to be rocking out and having just a killer time.
Music Madness: Tell me a little bit about the inspiration for Can’t Kill Me.
Roc: We just got together and made it happen. For us now, we’re all self-produced, we’re all just doing it, doing what we have to do to make it what we need it to be. We are trying to really attack this as independently as we can. We had a little label interest here and there, but not right deal fell on, so it’s like well maybe that’s just what it’s supposed to be. I don’t know, maybe we’re supposed to just start doing this on our own and start building our own momentum and start getting a wave behind it with this new light.
Music Madness: What has been the hardest part of doing it as an independent on this LP versus the first record? What’s been the biggest hurdles that you guys have had to come over?
Roc: I’d have to say sometimes in the air of just having a whole time around you, you have all these strict deadlines. For us, it’s very up in the air, so I’m on the phone with those dudes 10 times a day ’cause we’re always like, “Oh, we got to do something.” There’s a lot going on all the time. It’s weird ’cause you don’t really have a management team trying to get things going. Having just the press access, even being able to talk to you has been a great benefit that we didn’t really have before. It really is different because we’re not in a studio. We’re not away from home for a month; we’re just getting together and making this happen.
Music Madness: That’s cool. Maybe that is what you needed to gel together to make this thing happen.
Roc: Right. No, that’s definitely, what we’re feeling. We just want to get out and start playing shows, but we don’t want to be left in a stranded position. It’s definitely difficult, we want to really try and get this fire going with the vision ’cause I think with Past Life out, there’s definitely gonna be a lot of, “Whoa, what’s going on with these guys?” It seems like a lot of different noises coming from that area than what was going on before with us.
Music Madness: Right on. So what is the plan now? Once the release hits, are you trying to put together a tour and promote Can’t Kill Me?
Roc: Yeah, we definitely are. We want to get out of here as soon as possible. We just got to get all the pieces to the puzzle set. We’re gonna use Can’t Kill Me to just really push. We got a pretty solid release for the first song and the video for “Keeping Goals” is gonna be coming in October. I can’t really say too much about it just yet, but when that comes, we’re just hoping to start really building some momentum and getting that Unwill, Can’t Kill Me vibe out there, and then see what people feel. We just want to get people riding with the vision.
It’s really just us kicking again because it fell off man, it really did. I can’t sit here and pretend it didn’t. We were in a dark spot ’cause we thought we had it all set up with the deal and we were gonna hit the road. We got that Warped Tour slot and it seemed like the energy was always there and we were always pushing to really just knock it out. It seemed like there was this weird undertone of something trying to douse us. It seemed like the team didn’t really do their part and flipped it on us, “Oh well, you guys didn’t do this.” It just seemed like maybe we are better on our own, maybe we’re better off just not letting it kill us. That’s it, we just got to ride out and do this to the fullest. We don’t plan on quitting music. It seemed like that was there for a while.
Music Madness: Well sometimes dude, shit happens so fast, you have to take a step back and go, “This is the good shit and here’s the bad shit. Let’s take two steps backwards, fix the bad shit and then blow it up again.”
Roc: Right. There’s been a lot of pressure to produce this new image. We just wanted to hone it and really take a step back and be like, “All right, what are we? What are we trying to put out there? What do we stand for?” ‘Cause before it just seemed like with the team, with what was going on, it was this whole idea of forcing this, “Oh, you got to act this way. You have to talk this way.” I just want to be a good person; I just want to spread love through the music. I don’t want to be caught up in the politics, I don’t want be caught up in the clique-iness. It seems like doing it on our own is the only way to really get that out there and try to gravitate our own audience that understands that this is just an open, free world to dive into.
Music Madness: Nice. Let’s talk about the new music. Do you have a favorite track on the new album?
Roc: I’d have to say there’s a song called “Big Dog” on there, and it has to do with them snazzy fellas, those big wig kind of guys, the Harvey Weinsteins maybe, the Bill Cosby types who just abuse their position of power to manipulate really. That one, I think it’s rock ‘n roll, it’s really accessible music. I really think that one’s gonna be a hit. It just really, exploits living that life, living that, “Oh, I get to just control people and manipulate people.” I don’t know, I think that’ll be the one that hit home for me.
Music Madness: Cool. We will have to look out for that. Do you have a favorite part of the creative process?
Roc: Without being corny or cliché, I just love hanging out with my dudes. It’s a great time. We’ve been through so much, so it’s nice to be able to sit there when the vibe comes, you just know and you just attack, and you just start writing those songs. It’s like the songs write themselves, it’s like the video idea concepts, it’s like they come out of outer space almost. It’s like this world that gets tapped into and it’s just a beautiful thing. That’s all I really love about this. I think they’d agree as well.
Music Madness: Some of your videos from the first album, I had to check myself a couple times ’cause I felt like I was tripping out a little bit. The visual effects on ’em, man that was trippy.
Roc: We love messing with that stuff. We plan to always implement some sort of stuff like that. That stuff really makes the music speak, I feel, having that visual just in your face, bringing you to the world of that song. That’s it. It’s all about that feeling.
Music Madness: What was your biggest influences as far as getting into music?
Roc: Growing up I was a huge Eminem fan. I had older brothers who are in their 30’s now, and they gave me the unedited Slim Shady LP when I was like five years old. I was always going to be a little bastard. That one really drove me to push the boundaries of society’s expectations and I always backed that. I loved Korn. I know the other dudes, they’re into Nine Inch Nails, and I know Jeff loves Zeppelin and Rolling Stones. Really, we like that classic routed, just to the heart, to the soul.
Music Madness: Very cool. A lot of bands do covers. If you had to pick the perfect cover that just screams Unwill, what would it be?
Roc: We’ve done a couple covers. If I were to pick two that I really loved that we did, we did “Paint it Black” by Rolling Stones and we did “Change” by the Deftones. Those were definitely two of my favorite things. We never really did much with them; we just jammed them out and had fun with it a few times. Those are just awesome songs.
Music Madness: All right, man tell everyone what they need to know about Unwill.
Roc: Unwill is just a band that just we went through so much and we’ve been forced to be so much, and I felt like there was pressure to always be this idea coming from where we are and just what we’re doing. It seems like there’s always something behind us, like a shadow, like some sort of thing just trying to just pull us out of this world. I won’t let that thing kill me; I don’t want that to kill you. It seems like it’s everything, like the trick of the universe, like every instance, that we live through is deeply embedded in some sort of joke that’s being played on us. It’s up to us to not let that joke fall and trick us. It tricks us over and over again. Sometimes that trick even causes us to say, “Fuck it.” And I just will never say, “Fuck it.” I think that’s what we want to get across, is Unwill, you don’t say, “Fuck it.”
Music Madness: Awesome. I love it.
Roc: Thank you, man.
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Interview by Steve Carlos