By Nicholas Jason Lopez
With their makeup and sharply-dressed attire, “theatrical metal” five-piece Unimagined use their explosive stage presence to ensure their local St. Louis scene that nobody else is like them.
Unimagined is Caleb Freihaut (vocalist/guitarist), Jarrett Clark (vocalist), Jake Morgan (guitar/vocals), Nathan Simpson (guitarist) and Patrick Reuben (bass).
Bored by cookie-cutter “heavy verse, clean chorus, breakdown” formula metalcore at the time the band was formed, Freihaut sought to thrive on theatrics to create the kind of pizazz that got him into that type of music to begin with. Compared to the likes of post-hardcore acts like Pierce The Veil and Crown The Empire, Unimagined have a style all their own that screams, “Fuck what the cool kids are doing.”
“We wanted to do something different,” said Freihaut. “We wanted to add some flare. We wanted to be over the top. I see big touring acts and they would all just be wearing band t-shirts and jeans. We all loved the dramatics, the theatrics, wanting to make something new, inspiring, fresh and cool and so ‘Unimagined’ seemed like a good mission statement of what we wanted to do.”
Best described as “unapologetically loud and violent, yet heartfelt,” Unimagined stray from tradition and have nobody to impress but themselves. They have no need to make friends, but want to represent the weird kids left out of the rest of the scene. In fact, Freihaut takes pride in the fact that his band could be called unorthodox. They want to have a space where people can feel it’s okay to be different. Weirdness is embraced in every aspect at their shows.
“At the end of the day, I want people to have fun,” Freihaut said. “I want people to connect to our lyrics, but if they don’t, as long as you guys are having fun listening to our music and seeing our band, that’s really like our endgame, you know what I mean? I want you to have a good time. It’s so nice to go see a band and see a show that takes you ‘out of it’ and you get to just enjoy what you’re watching and I think the more boisterous and obnoxious we are as a band, the better we are at helping people do that.”
St. Louis is largely known to be a scene notorious to break out of, but with success stories such as Story Of The Year and Ludo, it’s not impossible. Freihaut, Clark, Morgan and Simpson all went to the same high school. They’d meet up, shoot the breeze and jam out together. The group believes its organic chemistry gained from years of close friendship and a modern ear for a past sound will be what ultimately works.
“I love [2000’s post-hardcore], but that sound’s not as cool anymore, so I wanted to not just sound like a band from 2007, but I wanted to take that influence and make it more modern – a better production, more almost like ‘pop sound’ production, tighter songwriting, because I think a lot of bands [like Chiodos] have really unhinged songs,” Freihaut said. “I’ve heard their first couple of records, some of their songs. I love that band, but some of those songs are like ‘What the fuck were you even thinking when you wrote this?’ Like it’s cool, but it’s like, ‘What is this?’ Structure-wise, it’s hard to follow a lot of that kind of music and I wanted to write something that was a little bit more song-focused, more riff-focused.”
They got together in May 2018 to begin the process of recording their debut EP. At that time, they already had four to five songs, but those ended up scrapped. They opted instead to go for a lighter, more post-hardcore influenced sound established in two other songs “on the side” which deemed a better fit.
“She Was Scared Of Storms” was released with a video on Feb. 25, 2019 via YouTube. It was regarded softer than their other songs to convey to fans not to get too comfortable with one specific sound. The track is also the band’s most popular song, as it has their highest Spotify stream numbers.
“We didn’t want to right out of the gate, I guess, pigeonhole ourselves into like being a heavy band and then have to go lighter if we changed our minds,” Freihaut said. “If we wanted to make lighter music or if we wanted to make ballads, I didn’t want to ‘Bring Me The Horizon’ our fans, and everyone is like ‘What the fuck is this?’ You know what I mean? I want it to be like ‘We’ve always done this.’ I’d rather just like be a post-hardcore band and whatever direction we go, it’ll be fine either way.”
The group teamed up with The Noise to premiere their single and music video for “Too Dead To Dance” on May 30, 2019. The video was directed by Nathan Mowry of Kind Punk, who made their bizarre vision come to life.
“If you watch [the video], there’s all these clips where it cuts back and forth, it’s like sped up and slowed down, so for the sped up bits, we actually had to record it at half-speed,” Freihaut said. “As you know at full-speed, it’s already a four and a half minute song, so we record that at half the speed, it’s like 10 minutes of a slowed-down song that you have to headbang and react to, so it was fucking exhausting to record that, but the dancers in that video were both very very professional, talented women and we were so lucky to have them come in as extras.”
The debut EP ‘Friendless’ was released a day later via Standby Records. Since then, the band has been on tour to support the release. They’ve hit new cities never before visited. Drummer Kai parted ways with the band in early September, but they’ve still committed to their tour dates and are working on new music they hope to put out soon.
“I think it’s a fun record,” Freihaut said. “That’s my whole thing. I want people to listen to it and whenever it starts, have a good time, and by the time the last song is ending, I want you to go ‘Fuck, that kicked ass. I think that was a ride. That was fun.’ That’s always been my goal since day one, because that’s what I chase.”