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Unicorns bring the one-horned pop

photo courtesy of Alien8
The Unicorns are a weird band. Just look at them: they're bathing in a tub of hair. That's weird. Catch their live weirdness at Solar Culture on March 22. And if their weirdness frightens you, remember that "Unicorns are people too."
By Jessica Suarez
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, March 11, 2004
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Give anyone three chords and they can write you the chorus and verse to a pop song. Give 'em four and you'll get the bridge as well. That's what makes pop music so good and so bad: You'll remember a good pop song after the first time you hear it, but you'll also swear you've heard it a million times before.

The Unicorns are a pop band. But they're a really strange pop band. Take the songs on their album Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone. It's like no one ever told them pop songs had to have a verse, the chorus, then another verse.

Sure, all the ingredients of a proper pop song are there; they've got hooks and melodies, and every one of their songs is catchy on first listen. But they never repeat a hook. Hardly a chorus is aired twice, and if you heard one part of a song, you wouldn't be able to tell what comes next.

It could be attributed to the way high school friends and band mates Nicholas "niel" (as he liked to spell it) Diamonds and Alden Ginger write songs.

"It's fairly arbitrary," said Ginger. "We all are very strong individuals as far as songwriting types. And more and more we're collaborating on (songs). Sometimes one of us will have a really strict vision of how we want the song to be, and we'll stick to that. It's hard not stepping on each other's toes like that, so songwriting is usually kind of tense."

Despite (or maybe because of) their burgeoning spirit of collaboration, The Unicorns are also prone to fighting and arguments, both on and off stage.

"We're good friends. You know the flaws and you fight a lot, on and off stage. (We fight) less and less, though. But with this stressful situation here, we might have to let some anger out at some of our shows," said Ginger.

The stressful situation at hand is part of the reason why Ginger was doing the interview alone. One week into The Unicorns' U.S. tour, Ginger remains in Canada, where the band is from, unable to get a work permit. Perhaps the United States is worried immigrants will steal precious rock star jobs away from American workers. Or maybe it's all Ginger's fault. After all, the rest of the band made it onto U.S. soil.

"You can blame me if you want, but I prefer to blame the anal border officials," said Ginger.

If you go:

· The Unicorns Solar Culture 31 E. Toole Ave. 884-0874 9 p.m. March 22 This all-ages show is $8

The Border Patrol has reason to be suspicious of The Unicorns. Not only do they look like trouble, but they bring an assortment of old and odd instruments with them on tour. The vintage guitars and keyboards help them recreate the juicy analog keyboard noises that start and sputter through a lot of their songs. Or maybe it's their programming prowess more than the technology itself that makes them sound so good.

"It's a bit of both," said Ginger. "We typically use fairly old gear. And most of it is analog. We use some old tube amps, old drums, old Swedish guitars. And the most prominent sounds are the Jupiter 4-Synth and the 707 drum machine."

Instrument fetishists, take note: Just owning the equipment won't make you sound as cool as the Unicorns. You've got to be able to write at least three pop hooks per song, and you've also got be able to recreate their fucked-up, bizarre lyrics. When Ginger and Diamonds aren't arguing, like the "I write the songs / I write the songs / You say I'm doing it wrong / You are doing it wrong" exchange in "I Was Born A Unicorn," they're being just plain weird, like when they sing, "We're the Unicorns / We're more than horses / And we're people too," in the same song.

What else would you have to do to be as cool as The Unicorns? You're going to have to stop looking like shit on stage. The Unicorns usually perform in stylish candy-colored shirts, ties and slacks.

"(The outfits are) kind of changing a little bit, because sometimes people steal our clothing. So I've lost a belt, and Nick's lost some shoes. We're hoping to get some actual designer to make us something that matches a little more," Ginger said.

"But I would rather wear ripped jeans and sleeveless Metallica shirts with a big old mustache."

Though Ginger might not like dressing up for shows, he did enjoy another band activity: the first video shoot. The Unicorns just recently went to Los Angeles to shoot a video for their first single, "Jellybones."

"There was a crew and a spread and someone to massage my feet, and someone with hair juice. So yeah, this was something I was unfamiliar with." Ginger said.

In fact, it's difficult to find anything else Ginger likes.

"I actually hate unicorns. I hate unicorn imagery and I hate pink. The name ╬The Unicorns' was just to appeal to a female audience," he said.

So it was just to get girls?

"No Ě well, yeah."

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