Albany-based Unbreakable Bloodline — from left, guitarist Dusty Ashberry, bassist Ryan Meyers, MC Jay “O-Z” Osborne, MC Tiffany “O’She Tyght” Thomas, drummer Chad Basko and MC Vernon “Chief H” Cruz — will unveil their self-titled debut album Saturday with a concert at Albany’s downtown State Theatre.
ALBANY — Things are about to change for the high-energy Albany band Unbreakable Bloodline.
A best-kept local secret for the better part of three years, UBL are going to expand their fan base exponentially with the release of their self-titled debut album, which will be available at an unveiling concert at the State Theatre Saturday.
“This album — these 14 songs — validates us,” Vernon “Chief H” Cruz, one of three MCs who front the hip-hop/rock hybrid six-piece, said before a recent UBL rehearsal at guitarist Dusty Ashberry’s Radium Springs-area home. “I listen to a playback now, and I hear each person: I’m reminded of whose idea a particular piece was, who headstronged what song.
“These songs are a timeline of all the things we’ve been through to get to this point.”
Unbreakable Bloodline’s story may not be unique, but it certainly has enough twists and turns to offer a sense of divine intervention — or at least a Stephen King novel — that brought the band members together. Chief H, Tiffany “O’She Tyght” Thomas and Jay “O-Z” Osborne were members of a local hip-hop unit that had its 15 minutes before imploding.
Bassist Ryan Meyers was playing with the hard rock band Echo Valve before running into the trio of MCs at a local function. They hit it off, and Meyers ended up working with Chief H, O’She and O-Z on an acoustic version of one of their songs, “Realize.” The four liked what they did together but decided they wanted to flesh the sound out more.
Meyers called on fellow rockers Ashberry and drummer Chad Basko, who had established a regional following with the bands Holley Drive and Drive Down Holley, and the six met up at Ashberry’s home. There was immediate magic.
“Everything with the band just kind of happened organically,” Ashberry said. “I think for all of us we pretty quickly realized that we could go places musically with UBL that we’d never gone before. We had a very small period of getting to know each other, and things just clicked.
“There’s a song on the album, ‘Fly Away,’ that’s built around a guitar riff I wrote 10 years ago. And the chorus is something O’She had written 10 years ago. When we put the two together, it worked.”
As the members of UBL discuss their album, it’s quickly apparent that the six have a deep-running respect for each other’s talent.
“Everyone brings some really amazing stuff to our mix, and you hear it on this album,” Basko said. “It’s honestly one of the most diverse albums I’ve ever heard. There are so many flavors — because of the talent of all the people in the band — that there’s something for everyone.
“I’ve been living with these songs for a long time, but I have not taken the CD (of various cuts of the songs on the album) out of my CD player for the last year. I also think it’s significant that we can put together an album of 14 hip-hop and rock songs, and there is not one cuss word and not one single use of the n-word.”
The album — which also includes such live performance favorites as “Irish Frank” (“That came from a riff I had from back when I was a kid,” Ashberry said.), “Good Life City (The Bany),” “War,” “Service,” “Blood Sweat Tears” and “La La La” — is indeed a sterling showcase of the diverse talents in the band.
“A lot of people form bands with huge intent, but they never follow through,” O-Z said. “The sticking point is they can’t get product done, can’t get their work out there. We took (making the album) as a series of challenges. We had high expectations going into the process, and as soon as we got one challenge done, we’d move on to the next.
“It was amazing the way we worked off each other’s concepts and ideas. It was never about ‘I want to be out front on this song or that.’ We were pushing each other to get things from the other band members that we wanted to hear.”
Meyers, a creative artist who designed the band’s familiar logo and the art packaging for “Unbreakable Bloodline” — as well as the unique bodies of his guitars — said the genre-defying quality of the 14 songs on the album is intentional.
“It’s a jam-up album because of that,” the bassist said. “It doesn’t matter what genre of music you generally listen to, if you listen to this album you’re going to be able to find something you like. That wasn’t necessarily planned, but that’s the way we approach our music.
“I think the thing that pleases me most about the album is that it’s one you can pop in and listen to all the way through. You might have favorites, but I think all 14 songs are quality songs.”
UBL’s album release gathering, which will include performances by opening act Another Alien Astronaut — yet another excellent local band in the final stages of preparing its debut album — and surprise special guests, will kick off at 8 p.m. at the downtown State Theatre. Tickets for the 18-over show are only $5, and copies of UBL’s album, as well as other band merchandise, will be available. (The album will also be available on iTunes, amazon.com, reverbnation.com and cdbaby.com.)
Also planned is a raffle for a new Godin Art & Lutherie acoustic guitar, provided by event sponsor Godin. Other sponsors include The Athlete’s Foot, Then & Now Boutique, Basko Tactical Gear (B.T.G.) and Xcel drum sticks. The band has inked sponsorship deals with Godin and Xcel.
“This is going to be a release concert, not a party,” Basko said. “We’re going all-out to put on a show ... lights, quality sound, everything.”
Fans who have been with UBL from the beginning will note the growth of the band as they listen to “Unbreakable Bloodline.”
“The finished product is just awesome,” O’She Tyght said. “When I take a step back and look at it, I’m really amazed at where this thing has taken us. From a hip-hop group with Vernon and Jay, we’ve been able to take our music and translate it into an entirely different arena, to become a legitimate live band. That’s really amazing from a creative and a business standpoint.
“We’ve got an album that truly is a reflection of all our talents. You can sit down and listen to all the little tidbits, everything from all six members of the band. It’s been an amazing process to get to this point, but we’re just getting started. We still have so much more we can do.”