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Unsane playing live on October 16, 2007
Background information
Origin New York City, United States
Years active 1988–2000, 2003–present
Labels Matador, Amphetamine Reptile, Relapse, Ipecac, Alternative Tentacles, Southern Lord
Associated acts A Storm of Light, The Cutthroats 9, J.J. Paradise Players Club
Members Chris Spencer
Dave Curran
Vincent Signorelli
Past members Pete Shore
Charlie Ondras

Unsane is an influential noise rock trio that formed in New York City in 1988. Their music also touches on elements of hardcore punk and metal. Writer Patrick Kennedy writes that "while developing the blueprint for noise-metal bands to follow, Unsane cut a remarkable swath through underground music, inspiring a devoted, cult-like following around the globe."[3]


In 1988, singer/guitarist Chris Spencer, bass guitarist Pete Shore and drummer Charlie Ondras were students at Sarah Lawrence College when they formed as Lawn-Chair-Blisters[4] before changing their name to Unsane. The band signed to Circuit Records and recorded tracks with Wharton Tiers for what was supposed to be their first album Improvised Munitions, but the label ended up never releasing it.[4] Chris Spencer revealed in an interview that around this time, Unsane didn't play in front of audiences until 1990.[5]

Unsane became part of the scene of loud, noisy, like-minded rock groups in New York City's East Village in the early 1990s. They often played gigs with bands like Pussy Galore, Cop Shoot Cop, Surgery, Helmet and the Reverb Motherfuckers. Members of Unsane concurrently played in other bands such as Boss Hog and the Action Swingers.

The band's self-titled debut album was released in 1991 and was known for its harsh music and gruesome cover art which was a photo of a decapitated man on a New York city subway track wearing a Members Only jacket. The band obtained this photograph from a friend who was working with the local police department at the time, who were investigating the scene of the accident.[6]

In 1992, drummer Ondras died of a heroin overdose, and was replaced by Vincent Signorelli (formerly of Foetus and Swans). In 1994, Shore departed from the band for unknown reasons and was replaced by Dave Curran.

The band toured heavily, and released Total Destruction in 1993 on Matador Records/Atlantic Records. Their third album, 1995's Scattered, Smothered & Covered, was issued by Amphetamine Reptile. The music video for the song "Scrape", made for a mere $200, got significant play on MTV. The video alternates between lo-fi rehearsal footage of Unsane, and a series of serious skateboarding wipeouts.

The band continued touring heavily (including a stint opening for Slayer). Their next album Occupational Hazard was released by Relapse Records in 1998. Later that same year - in seeming fulfillment of the album's title - Spencer was attacked by four people after playing a concert in Vienna, Austria.[7] He ended up in hospital suffering internal bleeding and underwent major surgery. As a result of Spencer's injury, and touring over ten months of the year, the band decided to take a long break in 2000.

Unsane regrouped in 2003 and released the CD/DVD compilation Lambhouse: The Collection 1991-1998 the same year. This was followed by their fifth album, Blood Run, in 2005. Ipecac released the band's sixth studio album Visqueen in 2007.

Their song "Committed" was featured in the Activision/Neversoft video game Tony Hawk's Pro Skater. Another Activision title, True Crime: New York City, features the song "D Train".

Unsane released their seventh album Wreck on March 20, 2012 and toured with Melvins through April and May of that year.

Unsane released their eighth studio album Sterilize on September 29th, 2017.

Activities outside the band[edit]

During the band's break between 2000 and 2003, Spencer moved to California where he formed a new band with Dave Curran called The Cutthroats 9 and released an album on Man's Ruin Records. Curran formed J.J. Paradise Players Club and Signorelli opened a tattoo shop in Middle Village Queens.

Signorelli later formed A Storm of Light with Josh Graham (Neurosis, ex-Red Sparowes, Battle of Mice, Blood and Time) on guitar and vocals, Domenic Seita (ex-Tombs and Asea) on bass, and Pete Angevine (Satanized) on additional drums and percussion. A Storm of Light spent most of the spring touring with Neurosis and they released their debut album in 2008.

In 2008 Spencer formed the band Celan with Ari Benjamin Meyers (Redux Orchestra), Niko Wenner (Oxbow), Roeder (flu-ID), and Xavi (flu-ID), and in 2009 they released the well-reviewed album Halo on the Berlin label Exile on Mainstream Records and toured Europe.


Current members[edit]

  • Chris Spencer - vocals, guitar (1988–2000, 2003–present)
  • Dave Curran - bass guitar (1994–2000, 2003–present)
  • Vincent Signorelli - drums (1992–2000, 2003–present)

Former members[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

Live albums[edit]


  • "Scumbait #1" split with Cows, Pagans, Bastards (Unsane - "Burn") (Treehouse) - 1989
  • "This Town" single (Treehouse) - 1989
  • "Concrete Bed" single (Glitterhouse) - 1990
  • "Vandal-X"/"Streetsweeper" single (Sub Pop) - 1990
  • "Jungle Music" single (PCP) - 1991
  • Split 7" with Slug (cover of Slug's "Breathe the Thing Out") (Matador) - 1992
  • "Body Bomb" 7" red vinyl single (Matador) - 1994
  • "Sick"/"No Soul" single (Man's Ruin) - 1996
  • "Committed"/"Over Me" single (Galaxia) - 1998
  • "This Plan"/"Ha, Ha, Ha" single (DC Records) - 2001
  • "Fix It"/"Wrung" single for Bash 17 (Amphetamine Reptile Records) - July 2017

The Peel Sessions[edit]

The band recorded three sessions. The first two were released as an EP in 1994,[4] while the third session remains unreleased.

  • May 21, 1991[8]
  • November 26, 1992[9]
  • June 7, 1994[10]


  1. ^ "Explore: Noise-Rock (Top Artists)". Allmusic. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  2. ^ "Explore: Post-Hardcore (Top Artists)". Allmusic. Retrieved April 4, 2011.
  3. ^ Unsane's Biography on Allmusic.com
  4. ^ a b c Unsane Biography on Matador Records website Archived 2011-03-05 at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ http://www.spacecityrock.com/features/unsane1.shtml
  6. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (2015-10-29). "Exclusive: Have A Religious Experience With Unsane In Clip From Amphetamine Reptile Doc 'The Color Of Noise'". indiewire.com. Indie Wire. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  7. ^ ::: LOWCUT No. 28 - Interviews :::
  8. ^ BBC - Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - 21/05/1991 Unsane
  9. ^ BBC - Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - 26/11/1992 Unsane
  10. ^ BBC - Radio 1 - Keeping It Peel - 07/06/1994 Unsane

External links[edit]