A hard-hitting guitar riff breaks into the air, eliciting headbangs from the room. It’s soon followed by rough, grungy vocals reminiscent of the late Scott Weiland, former lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots, or, perhaps, Kurt Cobain of Nirvana fame. 

Riffage continues, breaking into slightly more melodic guitar tones, yet sound still pummels the air. This is Unknown Nobodies’ “‘Sit.”

From in and out-of-state, the Greensboro-based garage-punk duo is a hidden gem aimed at forward momentum with aggressiveness, heart and, yes, excitement. 

This trademark display of heaviness and melody shines often inside Unknown Nobodies’ DNA. “Madeleine,” a single off their The Perplexed Sky album, bears more grit and beauty. Breaking in with a string of repeated notes like a nurse carefully, and lovingly, placing stitches into skin, it’s soon followed by soft vocals reminiscent of Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl. Later on, rougher, yet still canorous vocals enter the fray. 

The track’s showcase of heaviness-meets-melody sounds strikingly like ‘90s grunge. The punk spirit swirls.

“Punk speaks to me, personally, on a very visceral level,” singer/guitarist Jack Murray said in an email. “But so do addictive poppy hooks. I think our music brings those two together. And I think our sound has evolved a bit…and is still evolving.” 

Jack Murray of Unknown Nobodies (photo by Aaron Villalobos)

Evolution in both tone and place. From Greensboro to beyond, Unknown Nobodies has weaved quite the musical tale living and breathing in places like New York and Baltimore.

Murray, who has moved around a lot, started a precursor to the band in Gainesville, Fla. In fact, the origins of the band began when he was in grad school at the University of Florida with his friend Raj. 

They played a couple shows using different names. Murray described it as “very surf punk” at that point.

“More Agent Orange and Social Distortion,”  Murray said. “But the band turned into something fully real when I moved to NYC, and we began playing a lot of shows. That’s when it became Unknown Nobodies.”

The band has opened for the likes of Smile Empty Soul, Flaw and British post-punk band Skeletal Family. And, of course, Greensboro has rocked to Unknown Nobodies. Drummer Chelsey Rená, who is the second half of Unknown Nobodies, referred to playing in the city as a “great experience” for her because she has grown up watching her favorite bands play in the area.

“… [A]nd being able to do that was nothing short of amazing,” said Rená, who had a dream about a red, shiny drum kit as a two-year-old. 

Chelsey Rená of Unknown Nobodies (photo by Courtney Breen)

The band’s new project, Fiction, is in the works, promising a new crop of sounds. Murray was “obsessed” with chorus and delay pedals on the last album. On Fiction, he said, it’s all about “the fuzz.”

Rená said she and Murray thought it would be a fun idea to mix their influences together and forge a new sound.

“I’m influenced by modern punk and stuff with breakdowns etc,” she said. “Jack’s more into lo-fi and post-punk. You put the two together and you get heavy stuff that’s still upbeat and danceable.”

Even with the new elements, the band’s upcoming sonic effort still has “the addictive melody aspect” that Murray has “perfected” since the band began, Rená said.

Unknown Nobodies (photo by Melanie Mae Bryan)

Their goal is to debut the project next summer. They still haven’t decided if it’ll be a full album or if they will break it up into two EPs. 

“Up to this point we have been a fully DIY band, but we’re going to shop this one to labels and see what happens,” he said. “We hope someone out there will be interested in covering the vinyl pressing and help with distribution.”

“We want to give you something to bob your head to,” Rená said. “My goal is for listeners to lose themselves in every melody.”

The band’s next show is at Monstercade in Winston-Salem on Aug. 19. Learn more at nobodies.xyz/music 

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