When researching and aspiring to find the meaning behind any assortment of artwork, there is a journey to undertake. A challenging mind alteration and possible expansion that could transform one’s perception. But during this testing artistic expedition, the investigator may uncover a knowledgeable and justified theory to what inspired the artwork presented; this could however, be completely incorrect and possibly due to the complexity of what the observer has speculated. Believe it or not, there is both a positive and negative outlook to this interpretive failure, although for the best definition of what an artist could be portraying with their work, it takes arguably the world’s greatest scientist to capture a brilliant insight:
“Art is the expression of the profoundest thoughts in the simplest way.” – Albert Einstein.
Drew Gardnerr, vocalist for NSW’s mathcore lunatics Totally Unicorn, had a number of profound thoughts to express when writing and recording the band’s sophomore album Sorry. His art, lyrical messages and story involved were not disguised with metaphors and ulterior meanings – in fact it was the opposite. Drew Gardner portrayed his thoughts simply, he was suffering from a life turned upside down: Divorce, dishonesty, substance abuse and an overwhelming sadness and remorse for his actions and actions made by people around him. Although these were topics of extreme privacy and an exposing of mental and emotional distraught, this unveiling was the best medicine for Drew in a time of suffering, as he explains:
“I guess for me I am a pretty shit communicator especially if I am going through a hard time, I will bottle shit up, I guess in reality it is like most males do. I would talk to certain people about stuff, mostly close friends which was helpful. The real therapy though, came from expressing the suffering I underwent through creativity; in a sense putting it out there for everyone to hear was the best remedy.“
He continues: “Recording the songs did put me in a different place, for the better, I think – it was good. Some songs are certainly rough and we have played a few of them live and I go to a different state when we do. I mean, when we play as Totally Unicorn, it is always fun, always. So that does a put lighter side on the darkness of the songs, if that makes sense?”
The “lighter side” is an incredibly accurate description of the musical output Totally Unicorn perform. The quartet’s formula is abrasive and intense with notable similarities to the titans of the genre such as: The Dillinger Escape Plan, Botch and The Chariot; but, there is a “fun” attitude included with TU, especially with their live show. Nudity, obnoxiousness, tomfoolery and a genuine good time is their “standard” performance and it is one many marvel at constantly; but with this new LP, that musical formula is still exhibited and at the four-piece’s absolute best, this time around however, the tale is of heartbreak and the struggles involved. The impact, as Drew describes, was far more comforting than distressing.
“The band for me has always been a good thing in my life, I would never want to take away from that. Don’t get me wrong, what happened did slow the progress with the band; but it is always a happy thing for me. I guess it is what gave me the comfort of saying what I wanted to say with the songs.”
The ten songs which make up Sorry are an insightful exposure to a man in a mentally and emotionally unwell state and this disclosure is not only courageous, it is inspiring. By uncovering his turmoil, Drew Gardner has become a leading supporter of sorts to the idea of communicating one’s issues. As aforementioned with the statement “bottle shit up”, which is a tendency many sufferers worldwide do, Drew’s honesty will most likely have him as a supporter in more ways than he could imagine to people who face similar problems.
“I am totally fucking terrified and especially for people to hear what I have expressed with this record. It did help me in a way; I learned to talk about these issues. In a weird and stupid way that I never thought it would be like this until more recent times, I do hope people listen to it and maybe it helps them talk about their issues. It isn’t something I have thought about in great detail, but after doing numerous interviews about the album, I have opened my mind to that idea. Maybe some people will listen to it and recognise that they have some issues they need to talk about.”
He elaborates further: “I never thought of that side of it until now. From even playing these songs at the last two shows that we have done, people have already latched onto the lyrics and are actually singing along which has never happened ever! Mostly because people cannot hear what I am saying; but they are relating and more than ever.”
While the topic of the interview has been a bleak one for the most part, Drew’s sunny disposition is still thankfully more than evident. In reality there is a lot to celebrate for him (and the ‘Unicorn), with a new partner in his life, a successful tour of Japan (“Oh man it was fucking amazing, I feel like Japan is just the perfect place for Totally Unicorn; first of all I mean everyone is so fucking nice. More-so though, all the bands we played with were all so weird and crazy, they put us to shame – really all of it was fucking great.”) and a beyond remarkable new release on the horizon with more of the band’s favourite thing to do, touring, this next chapter is one the world should be excited for. Not forgetting the band’s incredible past, especially on the touring front, it seemed necessary to ask Drew from his hazy touring memories vault, if there were any particular stories or even other outfits who were left confused by the Totally Unicorn live experience?
“(Laughing) Most of the bands that we play with somewhat know what they are getting themselves into really. I guess some international acts we have supported, although most don’t watch anyways. Maybe the ‘Hits & Pits’ tour we did with all the punk bands, that definitely had a lot of them going: ‘What the fuck is going on here?’ – actually whenever we have played with a SoCal punk band they have no idea what they are witnessing – it is actually a lot fun.”
What about the support slot with Tonight Alive?
“Yeah we did a full tour with them actually, they actually picked us to do it which was a little weird. It was cool for us because we were playing under 18 shows which is definitely not our fan demographic. It was really cool to play to a younger audience, they fucking lapped it up. Definitely the fucking weirdest tour.”
There is no doubting that the world could use some more weird and wonderful and Totally Unicorn will certainly be the first to administer the “horse hug”.