United Nations (band)

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United Nations
Origin New York City, New York, USA
Genres Screamo, emoviolence
Years active 2005–present
Labels Eyeball Records, Deathwish Inc.
Associated acts Thursday, Glassjaw, Converge
Website Official site
Members Geoff Rickly
Lukas Previn
Jonah Bayer
David Haik
Zac Sewell

United Nations is an screamo supergroup whose roots go back to at least 2005.[1] They consider "screamo power-violence"[2] as their main influence.


United Nations was started by Geoff Rickly, the vocalist/lyricist of the band Thursday. Other artists involved in the project possibly include Daryl Palumbo, vocalist of Glassjaw and Head Automatica, and Ben Koller, drummer for Converge. However, all members except for Rickly are under contracts with other record labels and are not legally permitted to work in projects released by another label, making it difficult for the official lineup to be well known.[3][4] Since Rickly is the only member whose primary band is currently not under contract, his name is the only one that can legally appear in press materials.[5] Press photos of the band released in 2008 depict four people wearing Ronald Reagan masks.[6]

The idea of this side project can be traced back to the early 2000s,[3] but it was not until 2008 that United Nations took shape. In 2008 the band recorded enough material for two studio albums, two extended plays, and one parody album that would be released at some point.[5] The band is uncertain if these will be the only releases by the band, or if the band will regroup to record more songs.[3]

United Nations released their self-titled debut on September 9, 2008, through Eyeball Records. The band was ready to release the album with essentially the same photo cover for the iconic cover of The Beatles' Abbey Road, with the exception of The Beatles engulfed in flames and walking to the left rather than the right. When stores began refusing to sell the album, pressing was halted with 1,000 albums already made. These were sold exclusively through the Eyeball Records webstore,[5] and it was later released with a different cover. The album received minor success and while it didn't chart on the Billboard 200, it did chart at number 44 on the Billboard Independent Albums and number 14 on the Billboard Top Heatseekers.[7] The vinyl pressing of the album (also limited to 1,000 copies) was intended to include a Kidz Bop version of their self-titled album, titled United Nations Plays Pretty For A Bunch Of Fucking Babies. However recordings of this album were lost and had to be rerecorded for a later release.

Poster for United Nations' first show. Darkest Hour was added after poster was made.[8]

The future releases already recorded from the band include a 7" EP on to be Deathwish Inc. titled Never Mind the Bombings, Here's Your Six Figures, which may potentially face similar copyright issues due to the title and cover's parodying of the Sex Pistols' album Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols.[5] Also a 10" vinyl EP titled Music For Interchanging Parts to be released on Temporary Residence which features one song in many parts, and a second studio album titled Dark Side Of The UN have already been recorded and await a release.

United Nations played their first show on January 20, 2009, the day of Barack Obama's presidential inauguration. They played alongside Anti-Flag, Darkest Hour, Ruiner, and The A.K.A.s in Washington DC.[9]

Exactly 4 years after their first show, United Nations performed live on January 20, 2013, in Washington DC with Old Lines and Black Clouds.[10] In October/November 2013, United Nations toured the eastern US with Pianos Become the Teeth and Circle Takes the Square. The lineup for this tour featured Rickly, Jonah Bayer (Lovekill), Lukas Previn (Acid Tiger), and David Haik and Zac Sewell (Pianos Become the Teeth).[11]

Influences and genre[edit]

Musically, United Nations takes influence from mid 1990s screamo,[3] hardcore punk, powerviolence,[3][12] and post-hardcore bands such as Refused,[13] Nation of Ulysses,[13] Orchid,[3][12] Majority Rule,[3] Fugazi,[13] Reversal of Man[12] and bands signed to Gravity Records[14] or Ebullition Records.[14] Their genre is also often described as grindcore.[4][5] United Nations pays tribute to the band's from which they take their influence from in their albums. On their self-titled debut album, the song titled "The Shape of Punk that Never Came" pays tribute to Refused's album The Shape of Punk to Come – most notably in the lyric "Dennis, are you listening? Is there something that I'm missing?" which is directed toward Dennis Lyxzén, the lead singer of Refused. The album United Nations Plays Pretty For A Bunch Of Fucking Babies was inspired by Nation of Ulysses' album Plays Pretty for Baby.

Lyrically, United Nations has songs that feature both comical songs with assistance from comedy group Stella and comedian Kristen Schaal, and also songs that about social and political values. More specifically, United Nations was inspired by bands that "raised questions about political corruption, social inequity, personal responsibility and artistic freedom"[13] in opposition to bands that are more concerned with pop culture. Geoff Rickly commented on his vision for the band:

To me, it was like, maybe speaking sincerely about things isn't enough to make people pay attention. Maybe you have to make fun of people — and be a mirror — to show them how stupid they look, to get their attention. That's the idea. Punk is just way too safe these days, so we're hoping by making some audacious claims and doing some strange things and breaking a few laws, we can get people to think at least. It's the idea that you need to embrace the absurdity or it will fucking kill you. The world doesn't make sense, and trying to make sense of it is a fool's errand.

—Geoff Rickly, [5]


Original controversial cover art.

Before its release, stores refused to sell the band's debut self-titled album because of trademark issues. As a result, only 1,000 copies were made with the controversial cover, and later copies were made with an alternative cover. The one thousand original copies were sold exclusively through the band and Eyeball Records.

The actual international organization, United Nations, after which the band is named, discovered that a musical group had formed under the name of United Nations, and ordered Facebook to remove their official page.[15] After deleting their page, Facebook informed the band about the removal and also stated, "The use of the name 'United Nations' by the Band and the use of its Logo which resembles the UN emblem has not been authorized and violates international and United States laws..."[16] The band's record label comically responded the situation stating, "The United Nations, an international organization of some kind, has been taking issue with the band that shares its name. Who had the name first remains open to debate, but the problem exists nonetheless."[15] Their label also hinted at the possibility of no longer being able to release their debut album. In December 2008, a little over a month after the band's Facebook was deleted, their MySpace page was also deleted.[17]


Due to the nature of the band, it used to be unclear who exactly is a member of United Nations. Promotional images of the band depict four people wearing Ronald Reagan masks, and all contributors are contractually obligated to remain anonymous.[6] The only member not under contract is Geoff Rickly of the band Thursday, for press and media purposes. Many sources claim that Daryl Palumbo, Ben Koller, and also members of various bands signed to Eyeball Records contribute to United Nations.[18] In an interview with Rickly, he discussed the inclusion of non-instrument playing members, such as the comedy group Stella and comedian Kristen Schaal who helped write lyrics, and the creators of Homestar Runner who acted as "directors" for the band.[3]

Current lineup[discuss][edit]

Name Related bands Notes Refs
Geoff Rickly Thursday Only member not contractually obligated to remain anonymous. [3][19]
Lukas Previn Acid Tiger Plays guitar for the band, has always been a member. [11][19][20][21]
Jonah Bayer Lovekill Plays guitar for the band, has always been a member. [4][11][19][21]
David Haik Pianos Become the Teeth Rounded out the lineup a few years ago, appears on Russian releases. [10][11][22]
Zac Sewell Pianos Become the Teeth Rounded out the lineup a few years ago, appears on Russian releases. [10][11][22]

Former/tour members[discuss][edit]

Name Related bands Notes Refs
Daryl Palumbo Glassjaw, Head Automatica [3]
Ben Koller Converge, All Pigs Must Die, Acid Tiger Played drums for the band for at least one performance in 2009. [19][23]
Christopher Conger The Number Twelve Looks Like You [4]
Eric Cooper Made Out of Babies [4]
Ryan Bland Home 33 Provided vocals for the band for at least one performance in 2009. [19]


Studio albums[edit]

  • United Nations (2008, Eyeball Records)
  • United Nations Plays Pretty For A Bunch Of Fucking Babies (TBA, UN/Collect Records)
  • The Dark Side Of The UN (TBA, TBA)[3]



  1. ^ "Daryl Palumbo talks Glassjaw, Head Automatica and grindcore side project United Nations." Punknews.org. July 22, 2005.
  2. ^ United Nations FAQ. United Nations' official site. Retrieved August 27, 2008.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Heisel, Scott (August 25, 2008). "Web Exclusive: A conversation with United Nations' Geoff Rickly". Alternative Press. Archived from the original on February 2, 2009. Retrieved April 22, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d e "United Nations - Biography" allmusic. Retrieved on January 16, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Thursday Frontman's United Nations Side Project Might Not Make It To Stores." MTV.com. September 5, 2008.
  6. ^ a b "United Nations Look Similar To The Bank Robbers From Point Break." The Syndicate Blog. August 26, 2008.
  7. ^ "Artist Chart History - United Nations" Billboard.com. Retrieved on January 16, 2009.
  8. ^ "Demand in DC: E-Card /Limited Edition Screen Printed Poster/ + DARKEST HOUR" anti-flag.com. Retrieved on January 16, 2009.
  9. ^ "Anti-Flag, United Nations, The A.K.A.s, and Ruiner plan "Demand in DC" for Inauguration Day" anti-flag.com. Retrieved on January 16, 2009.
  10. ^ a b c Whitt, Cassie (December 19, 2012). "United Nations book show; add members of Pianos Become The Teeth to lineup". Alternative Press. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  11. ^ a b c d e Szymanski, Aime (October 21, 2013). "United Nations announce east coast tour". Alternative Press. Retrieved October 29, 2013. 
  12. ^ a b c "United Nations - Frequently Asked Questions" United Nations. Retrieved on January 16, 2009.
  13. ^ a b c d "Power Violence Band United Nations Frontman Geoff Rickly Urges Followers to Drop Cameras, Pick Up Rocks, Get Active" Headbangers Blog. Retrieved on January 16, 2009.
  14. ^ a b "United Nations = Thursday + Glassjaw + ?, full stream, MP3" Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved on January 16, 2009.
  15. ^ a b Sailer, Ben. "UNITED NATIONS FACEBOOK PAGE SHUT DOWN BY THE REAL U.N." Alternative Press. Retrieved on November 11, 2008.
  16. ^ Tate, Jason. "United Nations versus United Nations" AbsolutePunk.net. Retrieved on November 11, 2008.
  17. ^ Tate, Jason. "They Can Keep Their AP Profile." AbsolutePunk.net. Retrieved on December 23, 2008.
  18. ^ Kaufman, Jared. "United Nations (feat. Rickley and Palumbo) To Release Album" AbsolutePunk.net. Retrieved on January 16, 2009.
  19. ^ a b c d e Ambrose, Anthony. "inTuneMusic Online: United Nations / Acid Tiger @ NYC 5/23". Retrieved 2009-07-11. 
  20. ^ "Lukas Previn". Seymour Duncan. September 22, 2010. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  21. ^ a b https://twitter.com/TheOfficialUN/status/398188056316248064
  22. ^ a b https://twitter.com/TheOfficialUN/status/398188510928457728
  23. ^ "Thursday's Geoff Rickly Spills About Side Project, EP, More." Buzznet. April 25, 2008.
  24. ^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQLLnBT6Q-E

External links[edit]