Unsheltered Stages an ‘Uprising’

Local Metal Band Reunites After Twenty Years

    icon Oct 13, 2016
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After a nearly 20-year hiatus, local heavy metal band Unsheltered has decided to reform in a big-way, having written several new songs and polishing off newly recorded versions of older songs that will be showcased on their new album entitled Uprising, which they will unveil to the public on Middleground Island at Scotty’s Sandbar on Saturday, October 29th.

Rory Dinsmore and Joshua Jacobs, who would become the future guitarists of the band, first met when very young.  Each are half a set of twin brothers and their mothers’ would frequently get them together as children.  Once they were older, Rory and Joshua ended up going to different schools and would not see each other again until later in life.

Upon transferring to Bangor Schools in third grade Jacobs met and quickly became friends with Seth Heckerthorn.  Heckerthorn, who would originally play guitar and eventually bass in the band, bonded with Jacobs over their love of Nintendo and late 80’s rock and metal bands. As kids they began to hatch schemes for creating a rock band, which eventually went as far as Heckerthorn getting an electric guitar and learning to play.

A few years later in eighth grade Jacobs met and became friends with Mike Schweinsberg. Schweinsberg, who had already been playing both drums and guitar began jamming with Jacobs in the garage after school.  Jacobs, who had just begun playing guitar, would put his guitar and case on the handlebar of his bike and make the twenty-minute ride to Schweinsberg’s house.  “Mike taught me to play the riffs from heavy metal songs like Iron Man and Crazy Train,” note Jacobs. “This formative heavy metal education combined with our share love for KISS proved to be the seed our musical partnership.”

By high school Heckerthorn, Schweinsberg, and Jacobs were all close friends and had their freshman-year English class together where they would all focus on discussing their favorite rock and metal bands with classmates instead of paying attention to the daily lessons.  The two decided to form a band and when Jacobs was asked to join the band as the second guitarist they obliged.  This band, along with a couple other initial members, formed the basis for what would eventually evolve into Unsheltered.

After writing songs and spending time rehearsing, the band found themselves in need of a new singer.  Mike Lavigne was Schweinsberg’s cousin and was also two grades ahead of the others at the same high school. He asked to come by for rehearsal and try to sing a few songs.  The band and Lavigne found themselves to be a perfect match for each other and they set about scheduling their first of many gigs around the Bay City area during their high school years.

After two years of performing, the departure of their original bassist coincided with a very interesting event – the chance resumption of the friendship between Jacobs and Dinsmore.  They encountered each other again through mutual friends at the same high school and upon discovering their shared appreciation of heavy metal music and guitar playing, Jacobs decided to draft him into the fold as the band’s new second guitarist.  

With this change Heckerthorn switched to playing bass and the band’s lineup was complete.  They spent the next couple years playing around the Bay City area before disbanding the group near the end of high school.

Since that time the entire band had gone their separate ways and kept in touch sporadically over the years before Dinsmore, Jacobs, Schweinsberg, and Heckerthorn all met up at Tri-City Brewing Company in Bay City for an event one night, where they discussed the possibility of reuniting per Lavigne’s suggestion.  

It was immediately apparent that all five members were on board with the idea and they set about making plans to get equipment and begin rehearsals.  After rehearsing for a few months and writing a couple new songs the reformed band had their first performance back in April at a private show for a couple hundred people at Arbeiter Hall in Bay City. 

When asked what they feel distinguishes their sound the most, Josh points to several factors. “We’re probably one of the heavier bands you’ll hear that has one foot planted firmly in thrash and groove metal while having mostly clean, melodic vocals. Most of the songs aren’t terribly complex and we try very hard to keep them listenable while still being very heavy.”

“We usually go for riff-based guitar and bass arrangements, powerful & steady drums, mostly melodic vocals, and lots of lead guitar in the tradition of the metal bands we grew up listening to like Slayer, Pantera, Metallica and Megadeth.”

In terms of how their sound has evolved over the past 20-years, the band references a maturation of sound that happens over time and improved ability that comes only from time and experience. “The combination of maturity and the fact we are much better at getting around on our instruments has resulted in tighter arrangements on the newer songs, more emphasis on melody, and a better sense of what makes a song ‘good.’  I think you can hear a certain self-assuredness in our newer songs like Damned and Endless Souls, plus there’s also a little bit of unavoidable influence from more modern rock & metal styles that came along after we stopped doing this the first time.  It’s cool to hear how they wind up in our newer songs,” continues Josh.

“One of the most exciting parts about reforming was discovering that the unique chemistry we originally had is still there,” he concludes.  “The creative process has been pretty effortless. As far as band dynamics go we've all been very close friends for a very long time and a lot of our dynamic is defined by that: Seth and Mike Schweinsberg are the ideal heavy rhythm section in that they both play very directly and powerfully and know where the sweet spot is between serving the song and adding embellishments in just the right places to fill in the gaps.”

“Seth also adds a unique touch with his distinctive backup vocals on some songs. Rory has been the main creative force for our newer material and is able to draw influence from a place that makes our songs heavy and aggressive. As our frontman, Mike Lavigne leads the live performances. He also puts together all of the vocal arrangements and contributes most of the lyrics. I'm kind of the "details" guy and focus on most of the lead guitar and refining the arrangements of the songs as we're writing them. It works out very well for us and keeps the creative process fresh and exciting.”

It’s an exciting time and a great new album, so be sure not to miss the wonders of Unsheltered when they perform live on stage at their release party for the new album ‪on Saturday, October 29th at Scotty’s Sandbar on Middleground Island in Bay City.





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