2017-01-25 / Front Page

An Interview With Uniform

Interview By Hannah Page

(L. to r.); Michael Berdan and Ben Greenberg of UNIFORM.Photo Samantha Marble (L. to r.); Michael Berdan and Ben Greenberg of UNIFORM.Photo Samantha Marble 1. You say that "Killing in America" is your way of speaking to gun violence in America. What were you initially trying to say? How has that message maybe evolved or changed over the course of realizing the song?

We're not saying anything new or profound here. The song was modeled after the themes presented in Leonard Schrader's 1982 documentary 'The Killing of America', which was all about the high volume of gun violence in the United States at that time. We wanted our song to speak as a continuation of that theme. In the 35 years since that film was released, the numbers haven't exactly gone down. We don't want this to stand as a statement about gun ownership or gun control in general. This is more about cold figures. (Michael Berdan)

2. Can you speak to the reasons behind your pulling inspiration for titles from the horror genre? How does horror inform your sound?

Horror is my first love. As a kid it was a healthy place to channel my fears about death and loss. As an adult, I've found genre cinema to be somewhat analogous to my real life anxieties. What we've tried to do with our titles is to use a lot of the themes from the source material (vampires, ghosts, murderers etc.) as somewhat of an allegory for real life, common experiences. 

I can't say that there is a conscious correlation between our sound and horror. Things might have worked their way into our music, but it's not deliberate. (Michael Berdan)

3. How was the experience of performing/filming "Tabloid" in the back of a box truck driving through Queens? What was the most exciting thing about it and what was the most difficult? Why did you choose Queens for this endeavor?

​Cold! But fun. Berdan was smart, he left his jacket on, I was absolutely freezing hahah. Jim (the director) killed it though, it was a really good time and I'm happy with how it turned out. When they initially approached us about doing a video together we were kinda surprised, like we're not necessarily the kind of band that you'd assume was going to do this kind of video, but they let us do pretty much whatever we wanted with it. We wanted to shoot somewhere desolate, abandoned, creepy and mechanical feeling. Queens! (Ben Greenberg)

5. How big of an endeavor was it to pull sounds from, for instance, foley packs? Did you limit yourself at all in terms of where you would find sounds to include in your songs or was there a lot of thinking outside the box? What was the strangest or most unexpected sound you included in a song?

​It was a huge endeavor, it took forever! I was still pulling new samples as we were putting together the final mixes. There weren't any limits at all, pretty much anything and everything was fair game, as long as it sounded right. The strangest sound we used was probably a foley sample ​that was supposed to sound like a blade from a wind turbine crushing a sheep. Don't ask me what movie it was from.. (Ben Greenberg)


UNIFORM hit us with "The Killing of America", their second single from the NYC duo's upcoming full-length, Wake In Fright. The track debuted via BULLETT who sat down with UNIFORM to dig in and discuss the concepts and creation of their sophomore album. "The title is taken from this Leonard Schrader movie called 'The Killing of America'.  It's a documentary about gun violence in America in the early '80s. We started writing it around the time the Atlanta shooting happened, and we were hearing about a new mass shooting every day. This was just our way of speaking to that," Berdan explains. Read the full interview here and why they think it's the "one of the best albums of this year." 

Michael Berdan (ex Drunkdriver, York Factory Complaint) and guitarist/producer Ben Greenberg (ex-The Men, Hubble) return with a new batch of eight songs that incorporate elements of industrial music, thrash metal, harsh noise, and power electronics.  Wake In Fright is a harrowing exploration of self-medication, painted in the colors of war.

The characters Berdan brings to life in his lyrics quit using but have ruinous relapses or struggle as their resolve crumbles; they use alcohol to ease their insomnia but and are helpless when they get sober and stop sleeping again; they're existential misanthropes trapped in dead-end lives. While the titles have been largely culled from the world of horror, thematically these songs have more in common with the works of Hubert Selby, Jr than Lucio Fulci. 

Greenberg sets these stories to menacing guitar and samples of literal sounds of war - the kick drums are bombs going off, the snares are gunshots. He drew the record's immense sample library from action movies, Foley sound packs, field recordings and more.  The guitar is as crucial as ever and now as indebted Slayer as it is to Big Black.  The inner monologues of Berdan's characters and Greenberg's martial sonic palette collide, Wake in Fright finds its wrecking-ball power.

Before the holiday break, UNIFORM joined forces with Pitchfork TV to perform their last single "Tabloid" in the back of a box truck speeding through Queens, NY.  Filmed all on GoPro cameras and directed by Jim Larson, the footage pulls you in for an exhilarating ride; watch "Tabloid" here. Check out a full list of west coast dates below along with their NYC record release show with Black Marble on February 9. More dates TBA.


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