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First Tyranny Is Tyranny Single Released

10 Jun

“Manufacturing Truth” is the first song from the forthcoming Phratry Records release Let It Come From Whom It May, Fall 2013.

Recorded and mixed by Russell Hall and Jason Jensen at The Dock and House of Men, December 2012 – May 2013. Mastered by Martin Defatte at Guerrilla Digital, Milwaukee WI.

Moving on

20 Nov

USoT is in the rear-view mirror and we’re month out from our last shows, but we’ve got a couple of things in the works…

Jason and Russell have started another band (as yet unnamed) with a our friend Jeff Samuels (ex-Hat Party) on drums. This time around Jason is playing baritone guitar through a bass amp and Russell is still torturing throat and abusing guitar. We’re writing songs now, but so far it appears as though it’s going to be more mathy and angular and Unwound-like. Much more akin to the first USoT record than the last. Yes, we plan on touring.

Jason and Russell continue to play guitar in Tyranny Is Tyranny. It’s more straight forward than USoT — more post-metal/post-rock, with a focus on repetition and dynamics. The songs are, admittedly, still filtered through AmRep noise though.

In addition, Russell keeps threatening to start a solo drone/doom project — just him and a laptop. His recent obsession with Nadja, Earth, and Mamiffer  should indicate the direction this thing will go.

Stay tuned. Thanks for all your support and enthusiasm.

Retrospective

10 Oct

Two of our biggest supporters in Madison, Joel Shanahan and Scott Gordon, bid us a fond farewell on the October 1o installment their Madison Arts Extract podcast. They accurately describe Russell as grumpy and Bill as a brilliant bassist. We appreciate your continued support and enthusiasm. It was one reason we kept going…

Farewell

4 Oct

After much thought and many personal struggles, we have decided to put an end to USoT. It is with heavy hearts that we look towards the future without this important part of our lives. USoT was so much more than music and it will be nigh-impossible for us to replace this passion, activism, and community going forward. Thanks everyone.

We are playing two final show in the next few weeks:

  • Friday October 19 @ The Dragonfly in Madison with our good friends Knife The Symphony, Nonagon, and Dick The Bruiser.
  • Saturday October 20 @ Quenchers in Chicago with KtS and Nonagon again.

Forces Of Production: Remix

17 Sep

At long last, Forces Of Production is available to the masses. We’ve been working on this for over a year, but we’ve been talking about doing something like this for even longer — since our first record came out in 2007. As fans of experimental, dub, and electronic music, we appreciate the recontextualization of art in our current cut-and-paste culture. Who’s to say that the only versions of our songs are the ones we’ve released?

So we imagined the individual tracks as raw material — merely starting points for new compositions. We enlisted friends and fans and assembled radically different versions of songs drawn from all of our records. Some of these songs are unmistakably United Sons of Toil songs; others bear little resemblance.

Download or purchase Forces Of Production at Bandcamp.

Like all our records, Forces Of Production is available for free download. In addition, the Super-Deluxe Limited-Edition CD Package includes an exclusive bonus 4-track disc, mini-poster, and over-the-top packaging including riveted asset tags, ribbon, and a custom wax seal. Limited to 100 copies.

Pussy Riot

24 Aug

The Pussy Riot sentencing sent a chill up my spine and not just because of the echoes of both Stalinism and McCarthyism. It served as a very real reminder that free speech is in jeopardy wherever governments seek to control dissent.

As someone who speaks out against the US government, Obama’s National Defense Authorization Act could technically land me in much greater peril than even Pussy Riot. The characterization of Pussy Riot’s church performance as hate speech is flimsy to the point of being laughable. If pointing out an organization’s hypocrisy and history of exploitation means inciting hatred and is therefore illegal, then virtually any sort of substantive protest is effectively banned. The eerie similarities between the Russian charges and the provisions of the NDAA’s definition of “supporter of terrorism” should not escape anyone.

Let’s be clear though, Pussy Riot is an activist group using performance art as a means of protest. As they themselves admit, if they operated purely as a band and worked within established channels (playing clubs, releasing records), they would not have as great an impact or have become as great a target.

Tyranny Is Tyranny

9 Mar

Tyranny Is Tyranny is a side project helmed by Russell and Jason of The United Sons of Toil. The band is simpler and heavier than USoT —  focusing on dynamics, repetition, and the dismantling of capitalism. Tyranny Is Tyranny is the title of the fourth chapter of Howard Zinn‘s A People’s History of the United States.

Like USoT, Tyranny is influenced by the 90s noiserock of Amphetamine Reptile but also draws inspiration from the post-rock/post-metal hybrids of bands like Cult of Luna and Fall of Efrafa. As hinted at by the titular homage to historian Howard Zinn, the lyrical themes are an excoriation of capitalism.

Line Up

  • Russell Emerson Hall: guitar, vocals
  • Jason Jensen: guitar
  • Ben Aldis: drums
  • MDF: bass

First show: Saturday April 14, 7pm
Project Lodge, Madison WI
Perhaps a bit premature, but nonetheless…

We play first and we play five songs, so don’t be late.

Update: Remix Project

10 Feb

AbletonAs you may remember, we’ve been working on a remix project that we announced way back in September. Here’s what’s going on.

We’ve recieved 11 remixes so far and are waiting on an additional 9. The deadline for submissions is still March 1 and will not be moving again (not this time). Thanks to everyone who has already contributed. We’re looking forward to hearing what the rest of you are working on.

After March 1, the band will listen to everything we have and decide what we’re going to use. We will likely have too many songs so we’ll have to try and maintain some semblance of quality and continuity. Once we decide on the final tracklist, our friend Martin Defatte will master the monstrosity and we’ll begin work on the packaging.

The record will be given away through Bandcamp and available for purchase as a super-deluxe limited-edition CD (probably limited to 40-50? 100). We’re also considering having some sort of listening/release party as well… If you have ideas in that regard, let us know.

Interview: Punk Rock Politics

11 Jan

E-mail interview with Rockstar Journalist blog.

Photo by Michelle Damitz

Do you feel that the style of music reflects the lyrical content?
There is a lot of rage and desperation in both our music and our lyrics. We try to tie all of our political themes to the human experience — how societal and economic pressures affect the individual. That said, we primarily operate as an instrumental band when we’re writing songs. After a song is more or less complete, we try to figure out how to fit some vocals in. We tackle some fairly heavy themes because there’s nothing worse than a good song with dumb lyrics.

I ask because songs like “ILO Convention 169 and the line “ancestral lands now have to earn” are certainly both stark in terms of throbbing music, and political discourse.
This song has always had a sort of a mournful and desperate cry to my ears. The song is about how indigenous peoples around the world are facing more and more pressure by governments and corporations to allow their homelands be exploited. In particular, this song deals with a 2009 clash in Peru. When face-offs turned violent, 23 police officers and at least 10 indigenous people were killed. Riot police used tear gas and shot 82 protesters.

The musical influences are little easier to parse (I certainly hear a lot of Fugazi in “The Concept of the Urban Guerrilla”), but from what sources do you draw lyrical inspiration?
Musically, Fugazi has been more of idealistic influence but certainly part of our musical world view. (Our bass player has some beautiful nods to Hoover’s Fred Erskine.) I’ve always seen the songs as based on Amphetamine Reptile noiserock filtered through chaotic hardcore and more recent post-metal textures. Lyrical inspiration is primarily drawn from current events, historical research, and authors like Chomsky, Zinn, and Marx. The expert wordplay of Jawbox’s J Robbins has long been a roadmap about how to map concrete ideas into more abstract language.

What sort of response does United Sons of Toil receive in Madison? I know it’s a pretty liberal town, but it’s still the Midwest.
We have a small but loyal audience here in Madison. Sometimes we feel a bit like we’re preaching to the converted, but we try to push people away from the passive left-leaning liberal Democrat mindset towards more of a radical reconstructionist viewpoint. But we don’t lecture on stage. We try to draw people in with the rock and let them discover what’s behind it later. We do try to keep our politics in the foreground through our social media presence though. It may turn some people off, but we don’t really care. In our experience, people who are attracted to extreme music aren’t really willing to accept reactionary politics or feel comfortable with the status quo.

Is When The Revolution Comes, Everything Will Be Beautiful your first release? If not, what else have you put out?
Actually, it’s our third full-length. Like our first two records, this one was tracked live in the studio and then completed at home with guitar and vocal overdubs. We mixed the records ourselves and sent them to Carl Saff in Chicago for mastering. All our records are available as name-your-own-price downloads at Bandcamp or can be purchased on vinyl.

Any plans for an upcoming tour?
We’re still recovering from a pretty grueling European tour last summer. I think we’re going to start writing new songs soon and if that happens, we’ll be touring regionally in the Midwest for most of the year — possibly East and West coast tours in 2013?

Advice for aspiring musicians

18 Nov

Shamelessly lifted from an interview with Conformists singer Mike Benker. Words to fucking live by.
  1. DO NOT PLAY LONGER THAN 35 MINUTES, TOPS. Leave people wanting more not less. The first Black Sabbath record is just under 38 minutes. Are you better than that record? Nope.
  2. GET THE FUCK OFF OF THE STAGE. Grab your drums and move out of the way. When you set up, take as long as you want. You are burning up your 35 minutes. When you are chit-chatting about how you just weren’t “feeling it tonight” while you remove wing nuts from cymbal stands, know that a band is ready to run you over. If you see another band helping you off the stage, that is a bad sign. Figure it out.
  3. STOP FORMING BANDS AND TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO SOUND. Get in the basement and play your asses off. Write ten songs and play the shit out of them then plays some shows. Scrap seven of the songs and write more before you dare record. The first ten songs a new band writes are usually not that good. Keep the best three. Not all of your ideas are good, numbnuts. Stop recording and releasing everything.
  4. IF SOMEONE SAYS “GOOD SHOW” SAY “THANK YOU”. If you complain about your set to someone who liked it, you look like a douche. Don’t be a whiner. Take the compliment and try harder next time.