Q&A with Luke Rayson of Unifier

North Carolina's Unifier have reinvented themselves once again with their new EP, Gutted. The EP, which dropped on March 24th via Spartan Records, marks a new chapter for the band, and a chance for them to push themselves and refine their sound, all while rediscovering what drives them as artists. With the EP out now, we had a chat with Bassist Luke Rayson about the band's journey, the importance of reinvention and what the future holds for Unifier.

You can pick up Gutted now, and check out the band's single "Break" below! 

Interview by Shannon Shumaker

Now that your new EP, Gutted has been out for about a month now, how do you it has been received? Do you feel that you’ve accomplished with it what you wanted to be able to?

We think it was received as well as any other band's music at this poor, underexposed, dive-bar end of the swimming pool we are currently swimming in - but we are perfectly happy treading water for now with our friends, fans and fellow musicians who tread there with us. As far as accomplishing everything we wanted to, yes-and-no. Yes, we accomplished everything we set out to do in releasing this new music and rebranded ourselves in sound and mentality. No, because we want the message to be about more than OUR music and OUR struggles. We want it to be about all of the musicians out there who struggle with the same issues we have for the past 4 years and we want some honest light to be shed on these struggles—instead of the cliché, cookie cutter, bullshit image that the media boasts is what it looks and feels like to be a "starving artist." 

You’ve been pretty open about the theme of Gutted, which is reinvention, both as individuals and as a band - why do you feel that it’s necessary to constantly keep growing and reinventing yourselves?

Change or die. Everything is constantly evolving and changing. Not just in the music industry, but in everyday life, so it's important to allow for change to survive. I don’t mean that in the sense of the band surviving, I mean it in the sense of our friendship and bond through music. Being in a band is a lot different than just playing music with your friends.

Was there a specific moment where you guys sat back and thought, “Yeah, we need to do something different”? How did the decision to change the band’s sound to something a little bit darker and more creative come about?

It was’t really a specific decision to do something different, or be darker or to try to be more creative. We were in our practice space (Aslan’s basement, where we've spent a lot of our lives over the years), and we had a long conversation about letting our true selves come through more in every aspect of the band. What we did on Colorado felt right at the time and we all still love that music, but it just didn’t feel like we were being honest with ourselves anymore if we continued down that same path. That’s when we came up with our new mantra, "Not Dead, Not Cool." It really sums up our underlying feelings on where our lives are now, personally and as band. Despite it’s dark connotation, it’s honest.

What has been the most challenging part of this new journey? 

Not being able to devote our time to touring and playing as much. A big part of the struggle we discuss on Gutted is shouldering the burdens of everyday life while watching your passion and music become more of a delicacy than a lifestyle—which isn’t all bad, just an adjustment.

On the flip side, what has been the most rewarding part?

Seeing and hearing the overwhelmingly positive response from new and old friends about our new music. It definitely reassured us that we're heading in the right direction.

I feel that the songs on Gutted are a journey in themselves - would you say that the EP should be listened to in order to get the full effect of the songs? 

I think people should listen to whatever songs make them feel something more than the mundane everyday. Music should make you inspired to feel something.

Was there one song in particular that you felt really encompassed the story, sound or the message of the EP?

"Break," the single we released first. It has so many references to our time together as a band and friends, as well as the other friendships we have made and still have today because of our adventures together. Those friendships and memories are why we hold onto making music as best we can, any way we can. Letting go just simply isn’t and option and never has been for Mike, Aslan and myself.

What, if anything, would you like listeners to be able to take away from you music or live performances?

That it felt real. There is so much wrong with the perception of “rock bands” these days. TV, movies and media perpetuate a false, corny image of what it is to be a musician or “ rock star”. Some young musicians have gripped so tightly to that image that it has become the norm, which sucks because it’s not real. It’s a shell of what used to be something unique. The image of being a musician has become a caricature of itself. A copy of a copy. I think things are starting to change though.

With Gutted out now, what does the future look like for Unifier? You’ve started this incredible new journey as far as sound, so how would you like to continue to grow both as a band and as individuals? 

We will be releasing more music we love and continuing to be friends for as long as time will let us. How we grow is to be determined by what is thrown our way as far as challenges to overcome personally or as a band. For now we're planning to keep testing the limits of what we can do in this new direction, but ultimately our experiences and inspirations are going to dictate where the music goes.

Do you have any other big plans for 2015?

Play some shows, write some more music. We'll have a few singles that we wrote alongside Gutted coming out later in the year, and we're slowly writing and recording our next full length.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Thank you for the feature!

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