Over the past few years, one bandname always seemed to come back in zines, catalogs, my most-wanted list,... Unconquered.... Unwho? A powerful and straight forward SxE band from Reno, Nevada. I never really checked out the band, something I seriously regret now. Anyway, I was very happy to discover them live, first at the Noizz-Eastpak-Fest in Maastricht and afterwards at the annual Ieper-fest. Eventhough the sound and the reaction of the crowd weren’t perfect, I realized I searched for a band like Unconquered for ages. A mix between Integrity, Earth Crisis and Machine Head with awesome and die hard SxE lyrics... I spoke with their vocalist Jason and I must say he’s one of the nicest and most helpful guys I’ve ever interviewed. I really hope you get the chance to check them out live on their European tour and that you enjoy this interview.
So who and what is Unconquered about?
Jason: Unconquered is a straight edge hardcore band with metal influences, we’ve been around for almost seven years. It’s basically the message we portray: we don’t compromise anything we believe in. Our band has vegetarian and vegan members so... We also had a lot of line up changes but there are three solid members, which are me, Jason Glines, I sing, Mike Schmidt, our drummer, and Glenn Lemon, our guitarplayer. The newcomers are Kelly Dow, who plays guitar and Brandon Mc Grath, who plays bass. They are relatively new. Kelly has been in the band for like one year, Brandon for about six months.
How are the reactions on your new mini-cd called ‘The Program’?
The reactions in America are great. I feel it’s the best thing we’ve ever put out musically. The kids are into it a lot more. It’s a lot more active, there are a lot more danceparts. Vocally and lyrically it’s a lot better too. So yeah, the response, overall, is pretty good. We haven’t had a lot of negative response so...
You’ve been playing with Unconquered for almost seven years now but this is only your first European tour. Why didn’t you come over earlier?
It’s the first time we come to Europe because Lifeforce Records, which is our old label from Germany, really screwed us over. They had a lot of empty promises, they still owe us $10.000. Basically, what is was is that Rüdiger Mann, the guy that did Lifeforce Recs. before he sold it and went bankrupt or whatever, promised us a tour, pressed 5000 records and sold about 4000-4500 of those. Basically, he took the money and ran... He just quit talking to us and we were never able to find him again. Basically, that’s why we didn’t get to Europe. We got screwed out of a lot of deals.
What are your expectations of this European Tour?
I can’t say I’m expecting a whole lot... Mainly, I’m here to see everything and to take it all in. It’s more like a vacation plus music, what we love to do. I mean, our new cd has just come out so there hasn’t been a huge push on it. Also, a lot of people came and went in the scene. I mean, there are a lot of people who used to know who we were, because we’ve been around for a long time. The Lifeforce cd and also the Life Sentence cd ‘You say moderation, I scream prohibition’ were pretty big here. A lot of the kids that know those cd’s have gone out of the scene, you know? It’s almost like a reinvention, it’s almost like we’re a new band to a lot of people. Hopefully we can do it again and will it be better. I mean, this is only the second week of tour, and the real start of our tour was yesterday actually. We’re going to play for the next month straight so it should be alright.
How did you get in touch with Hans from Sobermind Recs.?
Actually, Hans has been following our band since day one. I mean, he’s so active in hardcore and the scene. You know, I am straight edge for thirteen years and he has been straight edge for fourteen years already. He’s so active, with the American scenes and stuff, that he followed our band since day one. He approached us and told us he wanted to do something. We were a little wary because it was another European label. It’s makes it harder to do everything, you know? Loads of e-mails, phonecalls and so we never really talked in person. It’s very hard but he has been doing really well for us. He has been very straight forward and honest. All the promises he made us, he fulfilled so... we are very happy.
So you’ve been straight edge for thirteen years, what attracted you to this lifestyle?
There has always been a pretty big punkrock/hardcore scene in our town. I used to skateboard and everything... But what it was is that, when I was like ten years old, my father passed away. He committed suicide and I started to get really heavily into drug-use, alcoholism and different things... When I was like thirteen, this girl I liked, started to care about me. I had serious feelings for her but she got murdered by a drunk driver. The hardcore scene was really going on around me and basically, I had older friends who were in bands and they brought me to this huge festival with bands like Youth Of Today, No For An Answer, Gorilla Biscuits, Chain Of Strength and a few other bands... That really opened my eyes to it. I realized then that drugs and alcohol weren’t for me.
Which straight edge bands mean the most to you?
It’s sad to say because the bands that I really used to like and who wrote all of these inspirational lyrics, are no longer around. They were great bands but it’s just very disappointing. You know, I used to love Judge and even older bands like SSD and DYS, all the bands that really got it going. To us, bands like Agnostic Front, Cro Mags were great bands but the ones that portrayed themselves as SxE bands, sold out. Now you’ve like old bands reforming in America, doing like shows again. They are just making money off the scene and it’s pathetic. It’s very disappointing and a lot of kids, that are younger, don’t know this. They are like ‘Judge is back together, that’s great!’ but they don’t know they sold out and came back for the money. It’s fake... A band I love today is Integrity...
What are you most proud of?
I have done a lot of things. I graduated high school, I have gone to college, I have been in the Air Force. I have travelled all over the world. I also travelled a lot with the band. Also, a lot of kids have come up to me and told me like ‘This lyric or that lyric changed my life’ or ‘Your band got me clean and got me into straight edge.’ Those are like the things I’m very proud of.
What do you regret the most?
I don’t live a life of regret. I have no regrets, whatsoever. Because you can learn from every situation, whether it’s good or bad. So I don’t have any regrets. I mean, every day is a new learning experience. You learn from your mistakes so...
I have seen you twice on this tour already and on every show you ask the crowd ‘Who of you has a broken heart?’ and then play ‘La Que Quebro Mi Corazon’ a song about heartache. Can you please explain the background of this?
Everybody in the band has gone through a lot of heartache, with girlfriends and stuff... It’s something everybody can relate to, whether you’re a boy or a girl. Everybody has love and compassion, whether it’s man and man, woman and woman or man and woman...Everybody can relate to that. I went through a very hard break up with a girl that I was going to marry. It broke my heart. That’s something... You can’t explain that kind of pain to somebody because it’s different for everybody. And yet it’s not physical pain but it almost becomes physical. It’s more overwhelming than anything and it really hurts.
Yeah and everybody is like ‘You’re a nice guy, you’ll find somebody else, there are so many people out there...’
Yeah, and that doesn’t replace what you had...it’s sad...
What’s your favorite song of the new album?
I would have to say that one... La Que Quebro Mi Corazon. That and 1000 Kids, One Heart, Same Blood. That’s about being straight edge and the straight edge scene.
How big is the straight edge movement in America on this moment? Because overhere, this festival is like a turning point. I have been straight edge for five years now so I saw many people drop out but now, you see a lot more people getting into it again. Pretty strange because I had the feeling that this wasn’t the case...
I would have to say that I find it strange too. You see, in America it’s the same way. For the last two years, it’s been very bad. A lot of kids sold out. But I went to the Hellfest in Syracuse, NY right before we came over and I saw a lot of kids getting into SxE again. So whether or not it is about SxE or just hardcore, I can’t really say. So many bands are popping up now, they are not SxE but have SxE-members in it. They hardly talk about SxE anymore. Seriously, in America, we are one of the few bands that profile themselves as a SxE-band. We are all SxE, talk and sing about it... So it’s hard to say whether or not it can bounce back, like through the years, a lot of kids dropped out and a lot of kids came back. I think it’s slower this time. Hopefully, they will pick it up again and kids will get interested again. Hopefully the kids will have a lot more integrity and heart about it.
What do you think of the break up of Earth Crisis, one of the ultimate SxE-bands?
I was there, I saw it and I can understand it. I can appreciate it too...They’re getting older. A lot of them are getting married, have children on the way. Karl has kids... It’s sad to say but they weren’t self-supportive. They couldn’t support themselves and their families by being in the band. Being in a band like that means a 100% devotion, touring nine months out of a year. And if you’re not making enough money to live, I can understand why they had to break up.
Also, a lot of kids thought they were arrogant and full of themselves but I interviewed Karl three times and I must say he was very friendly to me...
Yeah, it’s a nice guy, one of my good friends. We toured with them and Merauder for like a month. They’re great people. Me and him always had a really close connection. We always used to hang out and talk, just keeping in touch. Also with the other guys like Bulldog and his brother....There has always been some sort of connection between our two bands. It’s sad they broke up but I can definitely understand it.
What are the bands you would like to tour with one day?
I don’t know... The band I wanted to play with most was Integrity and we did that during the first three months of our existence so...that was what I always wanted to do. We did a West Coast tour with them. We also played with bands such as Napalm Death... We played with every huge American hardcore band but also with the little bands so...
What do you think of the commercialization of hardcore?
I think there are good and bad parts about it. At the end of the day, somebody is obviously making a lot of money out of it but they’re not going to put it back into the hardcorescene, which is a bad thing... As far as promotion and getting out there so people can see you, that’s great but the people that are doing it and the big companies only see the money. They don’t see the heart, integrity and soul that kids put into it. Like a lot of the DIY kids that are here.... The companies don’t see that and they don’t understand it either. So that’s definitely a bad point. Attracting more kids can be positive and negative. I’m not really into the commercialization of hardcore but it seems as if it’s almost inevitable. It’s just like anything else. If something catches on and big companies see big money is being made, they want to get their hands on it. You have that with everything. Do I have the answer to keep it out? No, because there are a lot of people who want that big money....
What would you like it to say on your tombstone, how do you want people to remember Jason Glines?
Hahaha, I have no idea. I can’t really answer that... I just want to be remembered as an honest guy. I never gave in and never quit believing. There are so many kids in my town that hate me and who are jealous at me or whatever. Because they have sold out and I’m still straightedge. I have been around the longest in our town. I’m actually one of the oldest guys in SxE... I just want people to know that I never compromised what I believe in. I always believed in SxE...
What’s the biggest misconception people have of you?
Everybody thinks I’m a jerk. They think I’m really mean because I look pretty big. That’s very intimidating, you know? People think I’m very unapproachable but I’m not.. I’m a nice guy and easy to talk to. I talk to everybody and have fun doing this... So I think that’s the biggest misconception...
Oh yeah, before I forget...one small question... I read in the booklet that your nickname is Lord Warball, how on earth did you get that name?
Hahaha, I don’t know how to answer that. You see, it’s given to me by all my friends back home. They say that I’m like a bundle of fury because I’m so crazy like everywhere: on stage, amongst people or whatever. So they call me Lord Warball...
Thanks a lot for the interview. Do you have any last comments, shout outs or thank you’s?
Thank you and thanks to everybody that has given all their support over the years. Thanks to Europe, thanks to America and all the kids... Thank you for your time. You approached me and that’s really cool...
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