BY DEV GILLESPIE
Listening to some of Union Pulse’s tracks on FULL BLAST will give you the feeling of a fresh breathe of air. This energetic group has been rocking and rolling their way through the independent music industry since 2002. James Redding has built a strong foundation for the thirty something group members who have come and gone and for the lucky few who have managed to keep up, Tad Unold and Mike “Duffy” Murphy. Union Pulse is now a trio that brings a mixture of a young indie band, elements of alternative, rock, blues, pop, and country. In other words, nothing short of musical genius.
Boston native guitarist and singer James Redding began writing his authentic lyrics in the 1990’s. Now Milwaukee based, the 3-piece is drawing in listeners from all over the country. Given the raw and relatable lyrics Redding has been delivering, it is not a surprise that everyone is jumping on the Union Pulse band wagon. Just completing the “South by Southwest” music festival Union Pulse left a lasting impression on the state of Texas. Their latest project “Between Love& Addiction” has received great feed back and it is considered some of their best work to date by the people who mean the most to them.
All in all, Union Pulse is defiantly a group to be checking for in 2010! Union Pulse loves to meet new people so don’t hesitate to come check them out if they’re in your city or surrounding areas. Their current tour schedule is always posted online on their website: www.unionpulseonline.com. They’re currently working on new material for a fifth studio album. Don’t miss their release of their live album from one of their concerts from the South by Southwest musical festival. Union Pulse has a lot to offer the music world, but I’ll let James tell you what they’ve got in store!
FBM: Being the founder of Union Pulse, we read that you’ve seen at least thirty musicians come and go. Who does Union Pulse consist of these days? What does each person bring to the band?
Union Pulse (J.R.):At present, Union Pulse is a 3-piece group, consisting of myself on guitar and vocals, Tad Unold on drum set, and Mike “Duffy” Murphy on bass guitar. I write the original material we play, which is influenced by the pop, alternative rock, folk singers, blues, and country that I listen to, but Tad and Duffy often bring their own flavor to the live performance. In addition to being my bass player, Duffy is actually a very good guitarist, and has played with some other great Wisconsin bands over the last decade (most notably, Hoi Polloi). His influences are diverse, but center around high quality classic rock and sometimes blues. Tad is not only the most accomplished drummer with whom I’ve recorded or performed, but also one of the most well-rounded musicians I know. He has a great intuitive sense of rhythm and form, as well as a great ear for recording and mixing, and a rock solid feel for tempo. He listens to a lot of different music as well, but focuses mostly on country-rock and folk music.
FBM: How was the South by Southwest 2010 music festival in Austin, Texas? I know you also visited Springfield,Topeka,Oklahoma City, and Dallas recently. Which city did you guys enjoy yourself the most in and why?
Union Pulse (J.R.): I can’t really pick just one favorite, because we’ve met wonderful people in every city we’ve played. But of this last batch of tour dates, having done the most gigs in Austin, we definitely got a strong feeling for the city’s personality. And I have to say, it seemed to agree with our aesthetics very well! The music scene is always present there, as far as I can tell, but especially during South by Southwest, everybody just comes out of the woodwork to show off their best work. There was electricity in the air all week, which energized us in a great way.
FBM: What are some major plans for 2010? Did you set any goals you would like to accomplish as a band this year?
Union Pulse (J.R.): Absolutely – unlike last year, I am determined to reach both coasts at least once in 2010. There are also a number of cities where we have a few friends but not a lot of industry contacts, so setting shows up in some of those places has been difficult (and we’ve often put it aside for other, more immediate goals). This year I am working very hard to reach those cities, see our friends, share our stories with them, and get out all around the country by any means necessary. 2010 is a year of touring for us.
FBM: What type of feedback did you receive from your fans on your latest project “Between Love & Addiction”?
Union Pulse (J.R.): Many of our fans and friends are calling our latest album, “Between Love & Addiction,” our best work yet. I am flattered to hear that, because not only did we record it ourselves (every step of the way, from bed tracks to vocals, engineered and mixed by the three of us) but it’s also my most recent and relevant songwriting. I have a tendency to write, as my musician friends say, “story songs” (in particular, I’m quoting Brandon Payton-Carillo, the singer and founder of another Milwaukee band, the Blackberries) and our listeners seem to feel that our latest album tells the best stories. I’m inclined to agree, too, because I think I’ve come a long way since our first album, 2003’s quirky, indie/alternative effort “Eine Kleine Rockmusik.” It was a fine beginning, but our latest work seems to be much more deliberate.
FBM: I believe all music sends out some type of message to its listeners. What message do you want your fans to hear when they play your music?
Union Pulse (J.R.): I want our music to connect people with each other, to help us all relate with our friends and neighbors. None of us are so different from each other that we can’t understand the good and bad in our friend’s lives, nor in the lives of those we’re less willing to call friends. I want to inspire people to be honest with themselves, I want to encourage a willingness to be emotionally strong while also admitting our own weaknesses. The better we know ourselves, the better we can treat those around us.
FBM: What other cities have you toured this year?
Union Pulse (J.R.): Thus far in 2010, we have visited Oklahoma City, Austin, Dallas, Topeka, Springfield (Illinois), East Troy (Wisconsin), Chicago, Lexington, Memphis, Jackson, New Orleans, Tampa, Jacksonville, Athens, Columbus (Georgia), Nashville, St. Louis, and Madison. Since New Years’, we’ve only played one real concert in Milwaukee (although we did a one-off, 3-song gig with our former second-vocalist, Chelsea Muench, and I had one solo job) but we have a couple of hometown shows coming up, which should be a good time.
FBM: How difficult or easy has it been to replace musicians that have been left in the dust? Is it like starting all over again every time?
Union Pulse (J.R.): It actually gets easier to welcome someone new into the band every time I do it. At first, it felt like a crushing blow when a bassist or drummer would quit, after we had spent so long rehearsing and getting things “just right.” But it’s like any relationship, whether the flavor is professional, romantic, or musical: if all parties involved aren’t getting what they want or need out of it, something needs to change. And there’s just no sense in wasting time with people who aren’t headed the direction you want to go!
FBM: Do you think that your sound has changed or evolved since you first started the band? How so?
Union Pulse (J.R.): Without intending it to, yes, our sound has definitely evolved. We began in a thrown-together, do-it-yourself manner I like to refer to as “on a wing and a prayer.” Early on there was a lot of experimentation with keyboard, second guitar parts, harmony vocals, a few guitar effects, several cover songs (some of which were intentionally related to each other), and often funny stage antics (for instance, we used to fence, or kind of “sword fight,” with the guitar and bass necks; I also used to use full beer bottles and/or microphone stands to play slide guitar). Now we’re a lot more driven by well-written lyrics and songs that make people either think and/or chuckle a little bit. And as we’ve learned, gradually, the hard way about the business side of things in the music industry, all the advice we’ve received over the years has started to make much more sense! But of course, growing up musically is just like growing up emotionally. Nobody can do it for you, and it just takes a lot of time and experience.
FBM: What is it that you want Union Pulse to be known for? What do you want your music to represent?
Union Pulse (J.R.) I don’t know that I can present any kind of fancy mission statement for my band or our music, but if I were to attempt a concise purpose for us to keep doing what we do, it would center around reliable and entertaining live performance. Our albums are kind of keepsakes for anyone who likes our music, but in my eyes, the real point is how it feels for us to perform together in concert…and, in turn, how it feels to see and hear us live, for the first time, and every time. We aim to make consistently good music about real, human things.
Union Pulse is defiantly becoming the pulse of the “unsigned hype.” Having Union Pulse in your playlist is a must if you’re looking for something easy on the ears. We recommend you have them on FULL BLAST!