Get ready to rock with the return of Unida this Friday night at The Hood Bar in Palm Desert. Guitarist and co-founder, Arthur Seay, says the band never really broke up or went away, they just took a break. The last time they performed together was at the benefit show last year for Isaiah Poag. Before that it had been awhile.
Unida formed in 1997 and originally consisted of members Seay, Michael Cancino (drums), John Garcia (vocals) and Dave Dinsmore (bass). Everything was going along quite well and they were enjoying success and then everything changed. “Back in 2001, we toured Europe after releasing the first 2 CDs with no label support, well indie label, but they really didn’t have any money so we actually paid for everything ourselves,” Seay said in a recent interview. “We paid for our own bus and we were really successful. The shows were sold out and we’d go over for like 6 weeks at a time and play 500-2000 seat places. So we started to get a lot of attention from that from different labels and we were talking to about 4 different ones at the time and we decided to go with Sony because Rick Rubin was going to produce it and he was the head of American Records, which was under Sony.”
Sony/ Columbia was the work horse and American was Rubin’s imprint under them and he had a 4 year deal and at the end of the 4 years he left and went to Island Def Jam. “It ended up being a big mess,” Seay said. “At the time Columbia loved us because they really wanted to build their rock and they knew who we were and what we were about. But when we had to go with Rick to Island, nobody there knew us or cared and there was a whole different vibe. And they didn’t really have much rock on their label.”
They were able to get out of the contract and had to choose the record or the money, but then manager Rick Sales (Slayer) was affiliated with the label and chose to take the money so he could get his 20% and didn’t care about the record even though the band wanted to get the record and go release it somewhere else. “We tried to trust our manager when he said “don’t worry I can get you both” but he didn’t. He just wanted his 20%,” Seay said.
American still owns the recording so they are talking to them about trying to work it out. “They say they want to help us get it out and they realize it was all beyond our control,” stated Mike Cancino. “It happened to about 10 bands back then when all the mergers of the labels happened and a lot of bands got screwed. It was horrible. One minute we’re living the dream and signed by a major label and then all that happened.”
“We were voted Most Anticipated of the Year in Europe and we were going to save rock and roll,” laughs Seay. “We were like the cool rock band back in the time of all the nu metal & rap-rock so maybe now is a better time to put it out anyway. One way or another we’re going to figure it out. Either they’ll put it out or we will, or we’ll buy it back… whatever. We’re going to get it out.”
After all of that, the band went through several bassist, five to be exact, including Dinsmore, Scott Reeder, Billy Cordell, Eddie Plascencia and Paul Gray (from Slipknot).
Their new bass player is Seay’s nephew, Owen Seay, who is only 20 years old. “We wanted a young hungry dude with no baggage. We’ve been through a lot with different bass players and we have a super positive family vibe so we just wanted someone who fits,” explains Seay.
Cancino goes on to share his enthusiasm, “It’s a really cool start over… a new beginning kind of deal. We took a long break and we’re really building things from the bottom again and everything feels great again and part of that is having a new fresh bass player.”
Back in 1997, Seay and Cancino were playing in another band that was more metal shredder type of music and they needed a singer and thought, “How about that John guy from Kyuss,” since they had just broken up. And John came and jammed with them and it fell into place and that’s how Unida came together. “Everything just worked and we all got along. We like hanging out. We laugh, we BBQ, it’s like family with us and John,” Seay said.
“All the good stuff that was around in the beginning that made it work is still there,” Cancino said.
He also says that Garcia sings differently with Unida then he does with Kyuss and that Unida has a more relaxed feel than his and Seay’s other band, House of Broken Promises (HOBP), which is more aggressive. But he says that there are also similarities because “it all comes out of the same sweaty room.”
After this show Unida plans on playing some LA and San Diego shows before heading off to Europe.
Unida takes the stage at The Hood at 74360 Highway 111 in Palm Desert (760-636-5220) this Friday night at 10:45pm.
You can also check out Mike Cancino performing with his side project Soul Sign on August 18 at The Key Club in Hollywood for the Sunset Strip Music Festival.
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This is part 1 of a 3 Part Series. Stay tuned for more on Unida, HOBP, and Cancino & Seay’s side projects.


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