Thee Unsound: Garage rock heaven

by Landon Groves

photo by Sarah Van Houten

Musicians are tricky. They’re a rare breed, and a notoriously flakey one. When it comes to starting a band, they can be hard to pin down, but the opposite is true about Thee Unsound. They’re a collection of diehard artists, truly committed to the craft. That’s why their origin story is such a seamless one, and why they’ve endured such hardships only to emerge at the top of local bills, with their sound and fondness of each other intact. It’s that good chemistry that sets them apart from the rest, and makes them now one of Bellingham’s most prominent high-energy bands.

Casey Proctor, Anthony Navarro and Chris Williams, the band’s three members, sat hunched around a table at Casa Que Pasa, swapping jokes and poking fun at one another. Casey (bass, vocals) had parents who were both musicians, and they put her in classical piano lessons as a child. At 14 or 15, she “gave that the big finger” and started playing heavier stuff, mostly rock and metal. Anthony (drums, vocals) has a similar story, beginning in 6th grade, when a crush in band class led him to practice all summer, trying to impress her. Years later, he shirked the big band stuff in light of something more fulfilling, which, to him, was rock ‘n’ roll. Chris (guitar, vocals) picked up a guitar in high school and never put it down, migrating to Bellingham and falling in with these two only about a year ago.

The three didn’t join forces until winter of last year, at Make.Shift‘s annual Valentine’s Day Cover Show. Anthony was shopping around for a bassist and landed on Casey, who shared similar tastes and embodied some of the things he looks for most in a musician.

“You see a lot of bassists that don’t really play to the music – [Casey] not only plays to the music, she adds to it,” Anthony said. “She heightens it, in whatever part she writes.”

Later, through a hodgepodge of other musical connections, Chris was added to the mix.

“He just kicked ass,” Casey said. “I think we had four practices with him before the show, and he just got it right away. After that we continued to talk about this project and Anthony was like, well, let’s ask Chris, and he said yes right away.”

The three performed as The Hives, and the show went great – so great, in fact, that they weren’t ready to give it up afterwards. So they started playing shows under the name Thee Unsound. They couldn’t go on playing Hives covers, so they began to craft their own sound, one born out of the music they listen to, and the people they are. It was a genuine sound, teeming with harsh honesty, and one that’s very much still evolving.

“It’s lot of, like, visceral emotion,” Chris said. “Not a lot of playing the songs over and over and over again trying to tweak these different parts. We just kinda went with what we had right off the bat, and I think it turned out really, really well.”

“It’s still really new, I would say it’s still developing,” Casey said. “There are a lot of different things happening. I feel like every song we write has a different flavor.”

They’ve come a long way since that first cover show. Their self-titled debut EP was released in the end of September, and mid-November will see them whisked away on a week-long West Coast tour. But in the end, they’re just a group of people that genuinely enjoy being around each other, and that translates into the music they make: strong, impassioned songs that pummel you over the head with emotion. In a climate like this, centered around a community so accepting of different kinds of good music, one can be certain that Thee Unsound will find success in wherever this path may take them.

Catch Thee Unsound at Make.Shift on Oct. 13. Follow online at