“Actually, we all hate each other, we’re like late-era Beatles, we’re together because we’re a band. We don’t like each other at all.”
Sitting in a practice room in Carney with Boston College seniors Rachel Moon, Nick Sucre, and Josh Mentzer, aka alt-rock and blues band Unit One, it's clear from their playful banter and laid-back demeanor that this definitely isn't the case.
All it took were a few strands of yellow string lights, a vibrant paisley tapestry, and an octopus pillow to transform a room in the ugliest building on campus into a small but enchanting concert space. The band performed “Shake It” and “Pikachoo,” two mellow, groovy tracks off of their debut album, Altered State, which they released earlier this month.
Moon, guitar and vocals, and Mentzer, drums, met their freshman year while volunteering at the Franciscan Children’s Hospital. They played a few open mics, jammed together, and after realizing they needed a bassist, picked up Sucre their sophomore year.
The name Unit One is rooted in the band’s philosophy.
“We go to an adolescent psych ward called Unit 1, where all three of us have a lot of volunteering,” said Mentzer, MCAS ‘19. “I think it speaks to the things in music that are most important, which is getting to share music and getting to use music as a medium to help people and reach out to people that need someone to reach out to them.”
Unit One’s process behind recording their 11-track album was unexpected.
“We had a bunch of songs that were ready [to be made into an album],” said Moon, MCAS ‘19. “We had previously written an EP, and we self-produced that, and that was a train wreck, let me tell you.”
The band put out The Unit One EP not long after their formation, but as they evolved and became more cohesive, they realized they wanted to create music that better reflected their growth. (Or as Sucre, MCAS ‘19, put it: “We needed music for people to listen to that wasn’t bad.”)
“We just came into this project with a lot more intentionality too,” added Mentzer. “We all moved out here a week early before spring semester our junior year, and we lived in Nick’s basement. We’d come here every day for like eight hours and run through session takes of this album.”
As for the band’s musical influences, Rachel described their individual tastes as such: “It’s really different for all of us, I would say, because we all come from different backgrounds. For me, I like St. Vincent... and then a lot of the indie girl-fronted bands, like Snail Mail and Forth Wanderers.”
Mentzer was influenced by punk and 90s music growing up, particularly by drummers like Travis Parker, Tony Royster Jr., and Neil Peart.
“I think I definitely take a little bit from Travis Parker, in the way that he approaches a drum kit and thinks about playing," he said.
While Sucre looks to punk bands like Mars Volta, Queens of the Stone Age, and Primus for inspiration, he’s found that his musical palate has expanded in college.
“Learning music here at BC has really opened up my classical and jazz insights,” he said. “I’m not by any means well-versed, but I’m learning more and I feel like I’m pulling more from those schools. I’m trying to make something more unique to the base because a lot of people have a boring approach to it, in my opinion.”
The group isn't sure exactly what’s in store for Unit One, considering they don’t have set post-graduation plans and hail from different parts of the country.
"We worked really hard to make this album, and [even though] we’re eager to make more music—because, at the end of the day, that is what we really like doing," said Mentzer, "we’re gonna take some time to enjoy the music we put out, play some shows, hang out, and get back to having fun before we dive into a new project.”