Scoville Unit is a band comprised of guitarist/singer Gandhar Savur, Drew Isleib on bass and vocals, Kevin Shelbourne on lead guitar, and Rob Hunsicker on drums. The band has quietly amassed a catalogue of distinctive songs over its long on-and-off existence.
The band originally started as a vehicle for Savur’s songwriting and recording following the breakup of his previous band El Secondhand. El Secondhand (which also featured Shelbourne) had gained a reputation in the underground punk/hardcore scene for their explosive live shows. But after years of aggressive touring of the basements and DIY spaces throughout the far corners of the United States, the group imploded and Savur found himself bandless, burnt out, and with a desire to explore his more classic pop-leaning songwriting tendencies.
Ping ponging between the punk and hardcore bands of his youth, and a healthy obsession with the Beatles, Savur's songwriting continued after the demise of El Secondhand. Enlisting the assistance of longtime music collaborators Drew Isleib and Tony Senes, the threesome recorded debut LP Everybody Knows under fortuitous circumstances. Intending to meet up for a weekend to demo a few of these new songs at Senes' basement studio Honeytone in New Haven CT, a severe blizzard trapped the group of musicians in the studio for a week, and they exited with the basis of a full album recorded on 1/4 inch analog tape. What resulted was Everybody Knows, heralded as a lo-fi masterpiece first by the band's peers, and then also gaining high praise from the press and college radio community (hitting #1 at many college stations throughout the country). A significant pivot from his punk rock roots, the album showcases Savur's classic pop songwriting at times reminiscent of Elvis Costello, Buddy Holly and The Beach Boys, an ode to all things classic pop.
After supporting the album with multiple tours of the US and an impactful tour of the U.K, where they quickly gained a reputation as an exciting and unpredictable live act, the trio quickly began work on recording a follow up album. Closed Universe displayed a bigger and more dynamic side of the band, with a delivery colored by classic songwriters like the Cars, the Pixies, and The Smithereens. Savur's songwriting, and the production of the tracks that comprised the album, had expanded significantly; the lo-fi twee infused pop that Scoville Unit had become known for had given way to big guitars and elements of prog and classic rock.
Years later, Before It Began was released; the LP is a collection of songs which were actually written and recorded in 2002, prior to the release of the debut Scoville Unit record and before the actual formation of the band. Largely a collaboration between Savur and Drew Isleib, ex- El Secondhand bandmate turned recording engineer Brian Buccellato, and Savur's then-girlfriend (now wife) Maria Lourido, Before It Began showcases a more intimate side to Savur's songwriting, undoubtedly influenced by the guitar rock that he devoured as a teen. Due to a flood in Chumbuckets (Buccellato’s basement studio) which halted production, the nearly completed album was never finished. Buried in the archives, the unmixed tracks were unearthed, finalized and mixed 15 years after the original sessions had taken place. The album was subsequently released by Ernest Jenning Record Co. to memorialize another collection of Savur's songs representing an important chapter (or epilogue) of the Scoville Unit story. While stylistically different from the two previous albums, the songs display Savur’s characteristic songwriting.
In 2017, Savur began developing new songs, with invaluable support from fellow songwriters Greg Gonzalez (Cigarettes After Sex) and Colleen McClowry (Happy Path). Once the album was written, Savur reconnected with long time collaborators –Tony Senes, Drew Isleib, and Kevin Shelbourne (lead guitarist of El Secondhand), as well as enlisting the services of drummer Rob Hunsicker (Moscow Girls).
In late 2018, Savur entered Sine Studios in Philadelphia, PA with Drew Isleib, Kevin Shelbourne and Rob Hunsicker to record the debut album under this new and exciting configuration of the band. Hunsicker’s powerful drumming Shelbourne's blistering high energy guitar playing brought the songs to life, seeing the band forge into faster and heavier territory that marries Savur’s pop sensibilities with his punk rock roots. Production was completed in March of 2019 and the album will be released worldwide in September of 2019.