This is a story of fortunate chemistries, of promising beginnings and waylaid expectations. A story that once seemed prematurely doomed to a somewhat bittersweet, but wholly unfulfilling end. It is also, however, a story of soldiering on, of rebirth and great things to come.
Uncut was born a bit of a lark in Toronto in November of 2001. Roommates Ian Worang and Jake Fairley were at a party one Saturday night when talk turned to an upcoming gig Fairley, already a techno producer of some esteem, had planned - or, rather, had yet to plan - for the city's nascent Mission techno night.
He wasn't really sure what he was going to do for the show. They decided to play his cover of 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' with live bass and guitar, even though Jake had never played guitar before.
Worang and Fairley's personal tastes both ran to atmospheric guitar rock of the My Bloody Valentine, Television and Joy Division varieties as well as the hyper-modern, minimal techno espoused by the likes of Mike Ink and Michael Mayer. The two had already spent a few boozy nights discussing their shared desire to merge the song structure and aggression of punk rock with the precision pulse of modern dance music. They decided to put theory into practice.
After three days' worth of guerilla guitar coaching, Worang and Fairley began gigging as often as they could, alternating between live-music clubs and electronic events in keeping with their willfully boundary-smashing rock-meets-techno aesthetic. The Uncut watched its profile trace a steep upward arc amongst local indie-rock fans and techno aficionados. Jeremy P. Caulfield, a Toronto techno ex-pat and proprietor of the Kompakt-distributed Dumb-Unit Records, issued Uncut's early single, "Understanding The New Violence," a few months later and it remains a playlist staple amongst such discerning tastemakers as Tiga, DJ Hell and Miss Kittin to this day. Then rising Toronto indie Paper Bag Records offered to put out a full-length Uncut album after having witnessed their evolution, from the first gig in a dingy basement bar to the mind-blowing Canadian Music Week gig during the winter of 2003. Everything was falling into place. And then…
They agreed to do a full-length with Paper Bag, but were a little delayed because Jake was spending his summer in Germany. Worang left patiently waiting at home while Fairley suddenly became the toast of the Cologne techno set. Unfortunately, days before he was due home, Jake decided to stay in Germany
Undeterred and encouraged by Paper Bag's unwavering enthusiasm for the music, Worang pulled together "a bunch of guys I know" (Jon Drew, Sam Goldberg and Derek Tokar) and set about reconfiguring Uncut as a more traditional, four-piece rock band. A few low-profile gigs around Toronto quickly made it clear that this incarnation of the band was, if anything, a more formidable unit than its predecessor.
No longer reliant on an arsenal of gadgets and mysterious boxes to flesh out its sound, the new Uncut deals in a far more dynamic breed of low-slung, noise-charged menace. The overt electronic influence is fainter, although the fat, fearsome grooves and nagging pop melodies that have brought legions of tech heads and dour indie kids together on the dancefloor in the past remains. Indeed, Uncut's brooding, sharp-edged grind often recalls the last two eras where rock drew renewed energy from a dalliance with dance music: The disco-fed post-punk heyday bookended by Joy Division and New Order and the ecstatic sprawl of tech-savvy, post-rave British guitar rock.
This isn't revisionism, though. This isn't "disco-punk" or "Nu Wave." This is something decidedly now.
This is the new violence.