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Field of Vision

The Unseen isn't adding anything new to the punk idiom. It's all been said and done before: Our president is the embodiment of evil; corporate avarice is killing the world; we're going to hell in an oil- and blood-soaked hand basket. Thing is, though, unlike the current batch of punk wannabes, Mark Unseen and his bandmates bashed Clinton back when president-bashing wasn't cool. Which makes what these punk veterans have to say infinitely more credible when compared to the swelling contingent of Billie Joe disciples mindlessly proclaiming that Bush is Satan. After all, who thinks Good Charlotte can actually explain a pluralistic democracy or that A Simple Plan possesses a collective IQ great enough to comprehend the political content of one of Billie Joe's bowel movements? We recently caught up with the Unseen's lead singer -- he adopted his nom de rock after the band was named -- who gave us insight into his band's State of Discontent.

Westword: The Unseen have made it clear they feel a lot of punk bands today have gone political just to sell records.

Mark Unseen: Every band had a T-shirt with an anti-Bush slogan and this and that, and it just seemed like a trendy thing to do at the time. In a way, it's good that people are taking awareness of what's going on and that they want to say something that has some meaning or something they really believe in. And there have been bands that have always stood for that, whether they were anti-Bush, anti-Reagan or anti-government. It just seemed for a while that there were so many bands that hadn't been involved in politics before suddenly bashing Bush. It just seemed like the cool, cliched thing to do.

Do you think we would've had this resurgence of punk without Bush, though?

I think bands like Green Day certainly helped to push that, with that "American Idiot" song and bands like NOFX speaking out against it. I think without Bush, maybe it wouldn't have been so big. Look back when Reagan was president. There were so many bands pissed off about him. Hell, there's a band called Reagan Youth. So I think when you get a really bad president, then that does help start more punk bands.

Talk about State of Discontent. What does it mean to you?

A lot of people see the name and think, "Wow, that's a really political name." That's not what I originally meant it to be. I thought it was cool because it could have two meanings, but with the artwork [an eagle that looks to be falling from flight, a fan of bullets pointing out of its wingspan], I think that kind of got lost. Obviously, it could have a political take on it. But also State of Discontent could be more of a personal thing, just any person if they're not happy with their life right now, whether they're poor, it's their job, or a loved one.

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Cole Haddon