Ken Leighton 5 p.m., Jan. 24
Sound description: Hardcore punk
RIYL: Some Girls, the Vows, Stabbed By Words
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- Blurt · June 1, 2006
Inception: San Diego, 1995
Influences: Struggle, Swing Kids , Kill Holiday, Some Girls, Smooth Man Automatic, Johnny Angel, Over My Dead Body
Hardcore punk band Unbroken chose the name Unbroken because they wanted to emphasize their dedication to the straight edge philosophy of drug abstinence. However, like many such bands, most of the members have since given up this belief.
The band's members were also in the groups Struggle, Swing Kids , Kill Holiday, Some Girls, Smooth Man Automatic, Johnny Angel and Over My Dead Body before, during, and after Unbroken's existence.
According to Rob Moran in an interview with Justin Pearson of Three One G records, "I didn’t know Eric [Allen, guitarust] or Todd [Beattie, drummer] very well at the time when the band started. It was a chance encounter at Balboa Park’s Earth Day that we ran into each other. Once it got rolling and Steve started playing with us, he happened to be another guy that Todd and Eric knew that just happened to be straight edge and into British pop music like we were. From what I remember, there was never a mission in what we did or how we dressed, it all came about on its own as the years went on."
Straight edge wasn't immediately popular. "People hated what we did then and do now," says Moran. "Back then, we were 'fags' for dressing nice or playing more metallic hardcore, or we weren’t straight edge enough for some people. Pretty ironic, considering the scene is supposed to be open minded to new avenues of expression. We clicked with some people and bands, and that was where we shared our ideals. I don’t think we were the first in anything, really. Perhaps we provided an opening for people that felt and looked like us to express themselves."
Eric Allen was also in the band Swing Kids with Justin Pearson (Struggle, the Locust), who ended up forming a new record label, Three One G, to release music by both bands. “Unbroken was Struggle’s sister band, and was easily one of my favorite bands at the time,” says Pearson. “Eric suggested I release two new tracks that they were going to record while on tour on the East Coast. He said I could use the material for the first release on a label that I should start, and jokingly called it JP Records.”
"Using the two tracks that Unbroken recorded, I paid the band back $50 for the recording session, scrounged up some left over financial aid from community college that I hadn’t used, and contacted the cheapest record pressing plant in the U.S., better known as United Record Pressing. Their vinyl was thin and worth every penny as far as I could tell. I also figured out how to successfully scam covers thanks to some of my skater friends at Kinkos, who made everything for free. Ironically, I wanted to have the single look nice and slick, but Eric was dead set on making it look like most of the stuff I was trying to avoid doing."
Allen's approach was decidedly low-tech. "He wanted it to be photocopied and appear very lo-fi, or DIY as people were starting to call it. We taped up some cover ideas and Eric hand wrote the lyrics and liner notes. We borrowed the rubber stamp idea that our comrades were doing and had the first record ready for JP Records. The only issue was that there was no way in hell I would call the label that. Since Swing Kids had just recorded and released our S/T 7” EP as well, I wanted to come up with an obscure name for my label. Somehow Three One G came to mind, which was the chorus for Joy Division’s 'Warsaw,' a song Swing Kids had covered. I had no idea what the meaning of Three One G was, but it just seemed strange and, well, fitting."
Eric Allen committed suicide three years after the break up of the band. The band reformed soon after Eric's death for one show, as a benefit to Eric's family. "Eric took his life, leaving a legacy of inspiring music behind," says Pearson. "He still lives on in me and obviously in his music. The music and records he was part of have retained an underground following and have influenced so many bands and artists over the years. Eventually, Unbroken played a benefit show for Eric’s funeral costs and for a plaque in memory of Eric that was placed in San Diego, at the rose garden in Balboa Park. For the show, which also doubled as a proper modern funeral, we pressed a limited number of pink vinyl 7-inchers and hand numbered the ones that were sold at the show. There was eventually a couple last adjustments made to this release as we pressed a limited number of grey vinyl 7-inchers and a following black splatter vinyl pressing, letting Three One G’s first release go out of print."
Rob Moran played in the hardcore group Some Girls and moved to Seattle for awhile before returning to San Diego. He then started a band with John Pettibone (former member of Undertow and Nineironspitfire, currently in Himsa), Ryan Murphy (former member of Undertow, Ten Yard Fight, Ensign) and Aram Arslanian (guitarist of Champion and vocalist for Betrayed). That band, the Vows, is a straight-edge group musically influenced by the old-school hardcore band Judge. The Vows released a CD on Indecision Records in 2006.
Moran next joined hardcore group the Narrows, playing alongside Seattle-based duo Dave Verellen (Botch/Roy) and Ryan Frederiksen (These Arms Are Snakes, nineironspitfire), along with San Diego drummer Sam Stothers (Makeout Boys, Quarantine) and London-based guitarist Jodie Cox (Tropics, Rohame, Bullet Union). Their debut full-length New Distances was released in 2009. That band released a new full length was released in 2012, Painted.
Dave Claibourne went on to Stabbed By Words.
In summer 2010, Unbroken announced it would reunite to play the Fuck Yeah Fest. The formerly straight edge punkers also reunited in early September to play for some band-supported causes (an art community in Mexico and cancer treatment for a band associate).