It’s been a rapid ascent for teen guitar prodigies Rex and Zak Cox of the progressive technical death metal band Uncured. Hailing from New Jersey, the siblings, despite being just 17 and 19 years of age respectively, have been turning heads with their brand of melodic, heavy and intricate guitar work layered over brutal vocal stylings.
The band released its debut EP, “Spontaneous Generation,” in October of 2016 to strong reviews and comparisons to prog metal brethren Opeth, Mastodon and even early Dream Theater. The brothers wrote all of the music on both albums, handling all guitar and bass duties on the EP as well. The Dream Theater comparisons were natural, considering the drums on the EP were handled by special guest Max Portnoy, the son of drumming legend Mike Portnoy, former member and founder of DT.
With the release of the band’s first full-length album, “Medusa”, in 2017, the brothers, along with drummer Liam Manley and bassist Jon Kita, are laser focused on getting the Uncured word out to the masses. Rex, who showcases his vocal talents for the first time on the album, said the band knows that the key to success will be gaining new fans any way possible — especially via the road.
Late nights crammed in a van is nothing new to Uncured, having completed a 6-week spring tour as opener for Katatonia where they were introduced to America on a larger scale than ever before. Not ones to get stagnant, the band is riding the wave of momentum by hooking up for an extensive tour with DevilDriver, 36 Crazyfists, Tetrarch and Cane Hill through Sept. 22 before kicking off yet another tour with Children Of Bodom, Carach Angren and Lost Society from Oct. 31 until Dec. 1.
They may be teenagers, but they already know what they want in life — to play their music, exactly the way they want to.
“We’re doing whatever it takes to make this work,” Rex said.
The Cox brothers sat down with ListenIowa for a brief update of all things Uncured prior to their Aug. 30 stop at the Val Air Ballroom in West Des Moines.
You’ve evolved from being an all-instrumental band on your EP, to having full-fledged vocals on your new album. What was that transition like?
Rex: We’re excited to see how far our vocals can go. We’re going to keep doing what we’re doing, and we’re glad that people like it. I think a lot of people appreciate how the evolution got much heavier. A lot of bands are getting much softer. It’s not a bad thing. They’re just taking a softer approach to music as the band releases more and more albums. But I think a lot of our fans are appreciating how our records are getting heavier and heavier.
How long have you guys been playing? Your technical abilities are outstanding.
Rex: We’ve been playing seriously about six years now.
Working together as brothers has to be a unique situation. Kind of a “love each other one minute, at each other’s throats the next?”
Rex: We’ve always been writing riffs, showing each other what we’re playing. We’re always pushing each other, because we want to be the best as possible so we can have the best performance in the long run. We get along pretty well because we have a common goal in mind and want to be successful, full time musicians. We know in order to do that, there’s no room for messing around, no room for fighting.
How much backing do you get from your parents? Being so young, I imagine they’ve had some input a long the way.
Zak: Our dad is our producer and engineer in the studio, as well as our driver, so it’s a family business. Our mom even sells merch for us. You need a lot of people to get a band going.
I’ve noticed that you guys certainly do not shy away from using social media to its maximum capabilities to try to help promote the band.
Rex: Even though I believe the music can do the talking, we want to use social media to the best degree possible to promote the band, even when we’re not on tour. We do a lot of video. We’re currently making a bunch of guitar instructional videos, which haven’t been released yet.
Zak: On our social media pages, we try to have them as professional as possible. We try to keep them engaged. We want to reach as many people as possible. If anyone sends us a message, we want to respond as quickly as we can. Sometimes we get questions from people on how to play songs, and we always respond to those because we’re always happy to help other people who are enjoying our page.
You want the fans to know that you don’t think of yourselves as being “above” them.
Rex: Yes. We have a list, where, say we’re going to play in Seattle, and someone posts that they are going to see us there. When we get to Seattle, we know to look for that person because he introduced himself online, and we want to make sure we meet the in person in order to build a closer connection and to gain life-long fans.
Being a technical death metal band, the scope of radio exposure you can get it limited. It’s just the way it is. But is trying to get more radio play something you are conscientious of? Has the record company whispered anything in your ear about needing that type of exposure or promotion?
Rex: I don’t see Uncured becoming a radio-friendly band, but we do have some radio play, like on Sirius XM. We were on they Jamey Jasta (Hatebreed vocalist) podcast, so we were really psyched to hear that. No matter how big or small, anything is always a good start. But I think in the future we’ll have more 4-minute songs in addition to our usual 6-minute ones.
How do you explain your sound to someone who has never heard your music?
Rex: Uncured is a progress death metal act. Technical. Good playing, yet heavy and aggressive. Overall, it’s just unique.
Zak: We have a nice juxtaposition of clean and heavy parts, so you have some nice melodic parts that go into heavy, groovy breakdowns. So there’s a nice, wide variety of genres in our music, which makes it accessible. So no matter what kind of music you like, there’s probably something you can latch onto. We think that our music is somewhat unique, so that’s why seeing it live will usually help make a lot of fans.
Have you begun formulating any plans for the next record?
Rex: We are indeed working on new material. We have a lot of songs we’re kicking around already. We’re planning on recording it somewhere around the summer of 2018 for an early 2019 release. We’ll do the summer festival circuit of 2018, then spend a couple of months in the studio to record our next record.
For more information, see https://www.facebook.com/uncuredband.
Uncured on tour with Devil Driver, 36 Crazyfists, Tetrarch and Cane Hill:
Aug. 25 – Belvidere, IL @ Apollo Theatre
Aug. 26 – Battle Creek, MI @ Leila Arboretum* (Michigan Metal Festival)
Aug. 27 – La Crosse, WI @ Cavalier Lounge
Aug. 28 – Minneapolis, MN @ Cabooze
Aug. 29 – Sioux Falls, SD @ Bigs Bar
Aug. 30 – Des Moines, IA @ Val Air Ballroom
Aug. 31 – Wichita, KS @ Crown Uptown
Sep. 01 – Kansas City, MO @ The Riot Room
Sep. 02 – Sauget, IL @ Pop’s
Sep. 05 – Fayetteville, AR @ George’s Majestic Lounge
Sep. 07 – Louisville, KY @ Trixie’s Entertainment Complex
Sep. 08 – Dayton, OH @ Oddbodys
Sep. 09 – Clarksville, TN @ The Warehouse – TN
Sep. 13 – Knoxville, TN @ The Concourse (at The International)
Sep. 14 – Virginia Beach, VA @ Shaka’s
Sep. 15 – Jacksonville, NC @ Hooligan’s Music Hall
Sep. 20 – Houston, TX @ Scout Bar
Sep. 21 – Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Live
Sep. 22 – Lubbock, TX @ Jake’s Backroom