Have you heard of “The Unheard Of?” If you haven’t, Jim Galaxy (aka Jim Kavel) of Mayville is hoping you’ll check out the band’s new self-titled album that was released on the Sony label last week.
“The Unheard Of” is a psychedelic rock band that was formed in 1984 in the Milwaukee area. Galaxy and three other bandmates played gigs throughout the Midwest and developed a steady following. They released their first album on an independent Milwaukee label and sold it mainly at their shows.
“There was this band from Milwaukee called Plasticland and they sold records overseas in the ‘80s and I thought it would be interesting to try that,” said Galaxy. “I gave a friend some records to send over there and we heard back that they wanted more.
“The next thing I know, our music was being distributed to magazines and they were writing that they liked it. People ordered more and then record labels from other countries wanted to release our music. So we have one album out on a French label and three of them out on an Italian label.”
Galaxy has a scrapbook filled with fan letters and music reviews from European countries that he had translated.
“My address was printed on the albums and people contacted me from all over Germany, Italy and France,” he said.
Of the original band, Galaxy is the only surviving member. The others succumbed to substance abuse.
“That was the lifestyle back then and I didn’t indulge like the others,” said Galaxy. “That’s probably why I’m still around.”
Thinking the music part of his life was over, Galaxy decided to escape the harsh life musicians lead by moving to Dodge County and he began working at Mayville Engineering Company in Beaver Dam.
“I had been working in Beaver Dam for a while when one day I get this Greek magazine in the mail that had a three-page article on the band. I thought, ‘Wow, our music is still popular overseas, too bad the other guys aren’t around to see this.’”
In 2014, Galaxy received a book in the mail called “The Knights of Fuzz” by Timothy Gassen. The author proclaimed it as the definitive history of the new garage and psychedelic music explosion since 1980.
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The book included an update about “The Unheard Of,” which read in part, “The 2001 “Revoxination” album continues this U.S. band’s low-fi dark psych campaign. This is so distinctively American in nature — the murky recording, dark fuzz guitars, oddball songs and moody atmosphere are unmistakable of the U.S. garage underground. It’s a little heavier than most, but still with enough psilocybic fumes to keep the proceedings moving upward. Yes, these are the kinds of records that become legendary with time in the garage underground, and deservedly so.”
Galaxy said the book from Gassen took him by surprise and made him think about writing music and playing again. At age 56, he said he may be getting too old for physical factory work.
Last summer, a friend of Galaxy’s asked him to help him out and play with a band at Summerfest in Milwaukee.
“So I went and a guy from Summerfest recognized me from the old days. He asked if I had any new music,” said Galaxy. “He set me up with a Sony rep, she listened to the songs and offered me a contract.”
Galaxy wrote most of the songs on the band’s album, although it also features some covers.
“The song ‘Daytime Lover’ I wrote over at MEC on my idle time,” said Galaxy. “So it’s going from a factory in Beaver Dam to everywhere around the world.
“I’d be thinking of the words at work and then a melody would pop into my head and I’d work on it when I got home. Then I’d pick up the guitar and decide what key it should be in.”
Current members of “The Unheard Of” are Galaxy, Mark Chrysler, Frank Stillton and Mel Montemayor III.
Galaxy said Sony has already lined the band up for a spot at Summerfest on the Renegade Stage.
“A lot of people associate our music with ‘60s music,” he said. “We use some really vintage amps by Vox, that’s what The Beatles used, the keyboards are also Vox and that’s what The Doors used, so it has that kind of ‘60s sound, but it’s all new modern music.”
The Sony album includes eight songs and is available on Amazon and ITunes. More information can be found on the Facebook page, “The Unheard Of.”
Galaxy said he is optimistic about the future.
“I knew I could play and I could still write songs so it was great to start up again — we’ll see where it leads.”