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The Unband was a hard rock band composed of drummer Eugene Ferrari, lead singer and guitarist Matthew Pierce, and Mike Ruffino (bass, guitars, vocals, keyboards). .

The Unband has been cited as a musical inspiration by some rock bands.

Beginnings; Banned In Boston

Matt Pierce and Mike Ruffino began playing together in suburban Boston sometime around 1987/88, originally with drummer (and future ABC News correspondent) Dan Harris, who departed shortly after the maiden gig, well before the band had any tangible definition, purpose, or a complete set of bass strings. Harris was replaced by Eugene Ferrari, previously Pierce's bandmate in the locally storied punk band Afghanistan Spoon Festival. Ferrari, Pierce, and Ruffino called themselves "The Un-band" temporarily for lack of a name. With the passage of time, the name stuck.

As their music owed equally to Black Flag, The Rolling Stones and Ratt, their casually unapologetic stage show used alcohol, sacks of "prop" drugs, frontal nudity and projectile vomiting. According to The Boston Globe they occasionally "lit stages on fire", and consequently few Boston venues invited the band back, while many banned them outright, such as Kenmore Square's now defunct Rathskeller (aka The Rat). Mink Rockmoore made an appearance in the band as Shotgunn Johnny on lead guitar but quickly left the group to pursue a solo career. He became a radio personality in Boston and CEO of 'Rockmoore Records'.

Roots & uprooting

Having relocated to Western Massachusetts' pastoral Pioneer Valley by the early 1990s, The Unband quickly drew provincial renown/ire for their repertoire of shamefully "inane" (The Valley Advocate) hard rock songs, their sound unacceptable to the indie rock ethos of the period. The band did manage to mobilize local press and considerable police attention due their increasingly chaotic live shows; most famously inciting a small scale riot at Northampton's Bay State Hotel in 1994.

Go West, Unband:

In 1995, The Unband acquired one-way airline tickets to Los Angeles in search of inspiration and venues. The band performed at any club that would have them, such as the Whisky a Go Go. Though the band's West Coast performances were not usually as volatile as those that preceded, they had neglected to bring instruments with them and so performed on found items (kazoos, car parts, toilets) or surruptitiously borrowed musical equipment. Eventually bookings ran dry and the band went back East.

Recording Contract

In 1996, they took up residence on Manhattan's Lower East Side and played gigs in Alphabet City.

In the Spring of 1998 the band signed a nominal contract with Royalty Records (NYC) and regrouped in Massachusetts to record a collection of songs with Mark Alan Miller, to be called "Retarder". The band delivered the album complete with artwork several weeks later. The label refused to release the album.

But the band attracted interest from TVT Records A&R man Lenny Johnson and he signed them. The band recovered their master tapes from Royalty Records.

Within weeks the band began touring, scouring the U.S. with Motörhead and Nashville Pussy, and Europe and the UK with SoCal stoner-rockers Fu Manchu. In between these more major tours the group traveled on their own playing small clubs concentrated in the Midwestern United States, often finding themselves attached to heavy metal bills opening for the likes of Dokken, Great White and Sebastian Bach.

Where the Motörhead and European audiences had been more than receptive, the metal crowds almost invariably booed or threw things, or turned their backs to the stage. The band's usual response was to escalate, and on more than one occasion they were physically attacked on stage.

Major release

This article contains weasel words: vague phrasing that often accompanies biased or unverifiable information. Such statements should be clarified or removed. (March 2009)

Their major release for TVT was Retarder.

The recording had been tracked earlier that year with Mark Alan Miller and Jon Marshall Smith at Miller's Slaughterhouse Studio in Hadley, Massachusetts. It was remixed by Kevin 'Caveman' Shirley and the songs "Too Much is Never Enough" and "We Like to Drink and We Like to Play Rock and Roll" were added.

Three tracks from Retarder were used in soundtracks. A cover of Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You" was used for Scary Movie and "Geez Louise" and "Pink Slip" were used for Super Troopers.


The band spent nearly three-years touring as an opening act for Dio, Anthrax, Def Leppard and others. When asked in 2004 to comment on The Unband's pre-show intake, Joe Elliott of Def Leppard recalled: "Nice lads. Fucking crazy."


In November 2004, Kensington Books published Mike Ruffino's Gentlemanly Repose: Confessions Of A Debauched Rock & Roller, a document of the band's risings and fallings. A full length documentary feature about the band, Gringa Productions We Like To Drink We Like To Play Rock 'N Roll premiered in June at the 2006 Modern Drunkard Convention in Las Vegas.