With moves like Jagger, communications student David Allen takes the stage for success


It was not uncommon for David Allen to sing after his team scored a touchdown. But not to celebrate, but as a warm-up for his next gig. Bouncing between the Rochester High School football field and a Madrigals a capella concert was just…routine.

“I would actually stop in the middle of football practice to go play at a concert,” said Allen, a communications student specializing in organization and leadership.

With a lifelong passion for English, writing, and acting, Allen’s love for musical performance began at an early age where he first met his current classmates in the Fine Arts Department. Rochester High Arts. Collectively, the band starred in the popular musical, Wretched.

“I had to give up my senior basketball season to play at Enjolras,” Allen said. But it was indeed a role that put him on the fast track to the stage. Today, Allen is the frontman of the band inspired by 90s rock, Unleashed.

“We started playing dive bars around the Springfield area on open mic nights. And those were kind of our first auditions for the biggest shows that we play now,” Allen said. “I’ll never forget the first time we booked a four-hour show. And we definitely didn’t have four hours of music! It really was the start of everything.

He said the six-man band had been burning midnight oil for several weeks to create enough new music for the show. They have come a long way since. Over the summer, UNCHAiNED performed at the Illinois State Fair, and they followed that up with their first concert at Illinois State University at the university’s biggest celebration of the year.

“It was actually really cool to bring my guys here from Rochester,” he said. “I had this opportunity thanks to a teacher I had at the School of Communication. Stephanie Duquenne mentioned one day in class that she was looking for a band to play for a Homecoming event, so I sent her a note.

UNCHAiNED takes the stage a few months later alongside Tri-Towers.

“David Allen and his band were the perfect choice for this year’s Reggie’s Substance Free Tailgate at Homecoming,” said Duquenne, Senior Director of Alumni Engagement. “They brought enthusiasm, professionalism and talent to this annual event.”

Allen said it was really cool to sing into the mic and wave to friends as they passed.

“It was a big culmination of my time here at ISU,” he said.

And the music is about to get louder as graduation approaches. This winter, UNCHAiNED will record a new album—Sunny side down.

The band UNCHAiNED, left to right: Ty Ellis, Logan McKneelen, Lucas McCafferty, David Allen, Cooper Marx, and
Matthew Meetings.

“There will be six to eight new songs, all inspired by the 90s rock era. Think Red Hot Chili Peppers, Incubus, 311 and Rage Against the Machine,” Allen said.

With plans accelerating for the release of the new album and a graduation in sight, the future is knocking at Allen’s door.

Managed by Paul Crosby, UNCHAiNED is built for success. Their latest EP, The psychedelic picnic, dropped a few days before Halloween. The band was in good hands when creating the album. The tracks were mixed by seven-time Grammy winner Vance Powell and mastered by Ted Jensen, with whom the Eagles worked on their platinum album. Hotel California.

“I’m loved. I’m thrilled. I’m on fire. That’s how I feel after every show. We have something special and I can feel the energy building,” Allen said.

But taking a step back, this Redbird reflects on his time in class and how he contributed to his group’s success.

“My main job is to sell myself as the leader of the group,” he said. “And if I can’t do my job well and connect with the crowd, we’re not going to have a good show.”

Classes at the School of Communication prepared him for this role.

“I realized that when I was in front of a crowd on stage, it was really no different than talking to my peers,” Allen said. “My classes have taught me to think critically about my audience and connect with them. Because ultimately it’s up to me. As a leader, I control the room. I control the vibe I control the environment and honestly whether or not we’re going to have fun or not.

Allen takes the role seriously. He worked hard to combine his natural stage presence with communication lessons to master the craft. He understands that a methodical approach can help him imitate his idols. For him, Mick Jagger is the leader of his personal rock and roll Mount Rushmore.

One of the benefits of a communications degree is gaining transferable skills. All students learn to communicate well in a variety of contexts. Although leading a band is not on the program, they are taught to understand what their words – and non-verbals – bring to any scene.

“Not only do I communicate with my bandmates, but I also communicate with the crowd while playing,” Allen said. “And it is for this precise reason that I chose to specialize in communication. It helped me understand and think about how to make a real connection with multiple parties at the same time.

“The classroom experience I had here at the School of Communication made me pause and learn how to work with different people, while making meaningful connections with others. It all depends on the audience and networking. This is what contributes to the success of our group. And I’m so grateful that my degree prepared me for this.

As Allen prepares to take flight and leave the Redbird nest in August 2023, the values ​​and lessons learned in the classroom will no doubt stay with him and carry on for years to come.

UNCHAiNED will next take the stage at Weebles on November 23, 2022, in Springfield, and again on December 3, 2022, at the Tin Roof in St. Louis.

Unleashed is on Facebook, instagram, Youtubeand ICT Tac.


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