ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, JULY 27, 2000
By Steve Newton
When Blind Melon vocalist Shannon Hoon died of a drug overdose in New Orleans in 1995, the career of his popular recording group passed away with him. In fact, guitarist Christopher Thorn didn’t even know if he wanted to be in a band again. So he stayed behind the scenes, producing other acts and making guest appearances on CDs by groups such as Live. Then, a couple of years ago, the time came to get rockin’ again.
“What made me decide to get back in a band was finding an amazing singer,” says Thorn, calling from a photo shoot in Santa Monica. “You know, I had taken four years or so off to do production work, and play on other people’s records, and then I guess I missed being in a band—I missed having the bros and being on tour. But I wasn’t going to go out and do anything that wasn’t up to par, or anything I didn’t believe in, obviously. I would have rather not been in a band at all if it was gonna be an average band. But when I heard Chris sing, he was the first voice that just made me go, ‘Wow, Jesus, I would love to write songs with this guy.’ ”
The object of Thorn’s intense appreciation is Chris Shinn, whom he handpicked over scads of hopefuls to handle lead vocals in their new quartet, Unified Theory. (The group—which also includes former Blind Melon bassist Brad Smith and former Pearl Jam drummer Dave Krusen—was originally called Luma, but changed its name after realizing there was already a recording act out there with the similar-sounding name Luna.) Like Blind Melon, Unified Theory features a singer with a high voice, but that obvious similarity doesn’t concern Thorn.
“For me they’re two different worlds apart,” he stresses. “I know both of those voices so intimately that they are two different souls, period, you know what I mean? Are they both tenors? Yeah, absolutely. They both sing higher than Eddie Vedder or the guy from Creed, who are baritone, so you can make that comparison. Other than that, they’re drastically different. You know, Shannon sounded like he smoked a thousand cigarettes and was chewing on gravel in the morning—there was a scratchiness to his voice. And Chris has a very sort of pure, more angelic thing happening.”
While the music of Unified Theory is certainly more ethereal and less rootsy than that of Blind Melon, there’s no denying a strong resemblance between the two. Vancouverites can draw their own conclusions when Unified Theory plays the Starfish Room on Friday (July 28), with local guests Lily Frost.
“I think the comparisons are just sort of an easy out,” says Thorn. “Obviously, it’s gonna come up—because, hey, Brad and I were in Blind Melon—but in six months or a year or whatever, it won’t even matter. For me this is a brand-new band, and it’s such a completely different band, sonically speaking, spiritually, mentally. Everything.”