United Nations' Geoff Rickly
Geoff Rickly is best known as the front man/vocalist for the emo outfit Thursday who stunned the post-hardcore world with their sophomore release, Full Collapse. Now Rickly is working with what has been touted as a "supergroup” of musicians whose identity cannot be confirmed but have been said to encumber Daryl Palumbo of Glassjaw and Ben Koller of Converge. Although no official line-up has been released, Rickly opted to take the fifth concerning this issue. When United Nations’ music first surfaced it was labelled as grindcore, which was not an apt description of their style, and Rickly helped to clear things up on this genre confusion. In a voice of utter satire, Rickly spoke to Exclaim! from an undisclosed location regarding the making of United Nations, the contentious cover art that set the Beatles’ Abbey Road on fire and what’s so super about this group.
How did the making of United Nations come about?
We were taking a break from tour in Oklahoma and ended up getting hammered in an Applebee’s (we like to support our Friendly Neighbourhood Grill TM). The members of the band ended up getting kicked out for their drunk and disorderly behaviour, which sparked our interest in politics. United Nations was decided as the name and we talked about it for a long time because talking is much easier than action.
What comes to mind when United Nations is described as a supergroup?
It's really embarrassing. What's so "super" about a few people from bands playing in a band together? Like, "Holy shit! That guy is playing music and it's with new people! WOW!” When a plumber quits working for one company and starts working with a different company you don't usually refer to them as a "plumber supergroup.” It is helping to sell our record though and since we self-released it we might actually make enough money to buy a guitar pedal or two so we can shift to prog rock like you're supposed to after your second release.
I found one of many line-ups for the band. It was listed as yourself, Daryl Palumbo (Glassjaw/Head Automatica), Ben Koller (Converge), Chris Conger (The Number Twelve Looks Like You), Eric Cooper (Made Out of Babies) and Jonah Bayer (The Lovekill).Is this the current line-up? If not can you please tell me who is in the band and what they do?
No and no. I'm sorry.
I’ve read a few times that this is somewhat of a secretive group. Are you trying to create a certain mystique with the band and all of its potential members?
We're trying to dismantle some of the identity politics involved with music. If this band continue after I'm no longer involved, I'd be thrilled. I'd also love to see someone release a similar record with common goals and be completely unrelated to us that'd be a real thrill.
Tell me about the problems you encountered with the United Nations’ album cover where you’ve taken the Beatles Abbey Road and set fire to them.
The Beatles apparently don't like being on fire. We've worked with some exciting artists that I've loved and supported for years. Even the artists would say things like, "Well, I'm not sure if you're going to be able to do this... I have a hard time and my stuff isn't even mass produced." All the trouble has been a lot of fun though. It's like you know you're on the right track once you start getting a ton of hate mail.
Why did you only press 1,000 copies?
We repressed additional copies with a black glossy cover to be distributed to major retail outlets. Although we are not looking to tour, release singles, videos or engage in any attempts to actively market this record... this band is reserved for the joy of acting on impulse. We'll probably get sued and lose the rights to all of this stuff eventually but in the meantime we want to explore the boundaries of copyright control, free expression, political commentary, satire, identity politics and generally anything that causes people to engage with each other.
Was it due to the contentious cover art?
What other problems did this bring up?
One major store ordered a couple thousand and then didn't even put them on the shelves. It was a kind of corporate cock block.
Is it true the band plans to follow up this self-titled release with a seven-inch on Deathwish Inc.?
Will it be titled Never Mind the Bombings, Here’s Your Six Fingers?
It will be "Six Figures” not fingers - although that could be a cool genetics research type thing.
How come you decided to take this approach of release?
The inspiration came from an Australian artist, Ben Frost.
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