Based in Blackpool, having formed from the ashes of the Tache rock club, Dischord are a four piece punk band consisting of Chris on vocals, Zowie on bass, guitarist Dave and Jake behind the sticks. With three albums under their belt and work on a fourth underway, their highly charged brand of punk is heavily informed by a DIY ethos and a rejection of the false hopes of corporate and political structures. In the following interview Chris expounded upon the rationale behind the slogan ‘Music is Dead’, the state of their hometown scene and the challenge of meaningful creativity for musicians, plus a number of other things to boot.
What was your first experience of getting into music and wanting to play in a band?
My earliest memories of music were the bands I would listen to with my Dad in the car, bands like The Levellers, The Waterboys, The Pogues and REM. All bands I still listen to now, actually. At home, my Mum was listening to stuff like The Human League and Soft Cell. This was just before vinyl fell out of fashion, so my Mum kept all her records in those plastic storage cases. We’d sit down and listen to albums in their entirety whilst I read the lyrics on the gatefolds – Stuff like The Wall, Dark Side of the Moon, 2112, Thriller… It solidified my belief that the album as an art form is a really important and powerful concept.
My stepdad was into punk; Crass, Subhumans, Sex Pistols, Anti Nowhere League, Dead Kennedys, The Damned, The Exploited… Unlike my Mum, he never took care of his records, they were in ripped sleeves and always crackled and scratched. He was fairly miserable most of the time, but whenever he was in a good mood he’d play those records at full volume, so if I ever came home to hear something like Animal or Bodies blasting through the house I knew we’d be in for a fun night. It’s kind of funny that I associate these aggressive songs with really vile lyrics with being happy as a child.
The first release I owned was Losing My Religion on 7”, which I got for my 10th birthday, but the first thing I ever bought was Wonderwall on CD single. I have this really vivid memory of being in Blackpool HMV, where you could listen to the top 10 for free on a rack of headphones. Oasis were the first band I liked who had formed during my lifetime. Everything else felt like it belonged to a different – and better – era, and modern music consisted only of Boyzone and Take That… Even as a child I had no time for manufactured music! When I put on those headphones and heard those first strummed chords I knew the only thing I wanted to do in life was sing in a rock and roll band.
Except I couldn’t sing – or play an instrument! (Still can’t!) Some of my friends were in a band – although I say that in the loosest sense of the word, we were still at primary school – and needed a drummer. I lied, said I could play the drums and they let me join. You won’t be surprised to hear we never went anywhere – although it did force me to have drum lessons.
If you had to describe your sound to someone who had never heard you before, what would you say?
I’d say that music is dead*, and we are singing the eulogy.
* A disclaimer! We were playing at 3 Chords festival a few years ago and this middle-aged guy came over to me. He said, “I’ve been given this badge,” it was one of our ‘Music Is Dead’ badges, “but I’m not going to wear it because I don’t know what it means. Music isn’t dead. We’re at a punk festival.” I told him about the bands I had grown up listening to, living in the shadow of all these legacies… Rock and Roll, Prog, Punk, Goth… All these movements. I grew up with Britpop – in a time when, even amongst all the shit, there were consistently amazing bands churning out classic albums, bands like Suede, Pulp, Mansun, The Manic Street Preachers… As a twelve-year-old I couldn’t wait to join in, waiting for our moment, our own movement and then… It didn’t happen.
People in their early-to-mid thirties now are part of this weird, void generation, in that everything we grew up learning suddenly became irrelevant once we were adults. We were the last teenagers not to have the internet. Everything I thought I knew about pop culture and the music industry suddenly changed. Social media has brought people together like never before, but the flip side of that is the death of the subculture. I was really shocked a few months ago when I went to Camden high street, somewhere I have always loved, to find there were no goths anywhere! When people were alienated and isolated, they turned to the underground for sanctuary and salvation. The modern equivalent of that is the Youtube comments section. Fanzines have become irrelevant, and even fashion to an extent. Your uniform – whether you were a punk or a mod or whatever – was your way of identifying yourself as belonging to a particular tribe, to the extent that, if you saw someone dressed a certain way or wearing a particular band’s shirt, there was a camaraderie. That kind of tribal identification is less important when you’re hiding behind a profile picture or an avatar. You can be whoever you like without recrimination from the safety of a smartphone. Gone are the generations who lived and breathed their choices, risking ridicule and often violence because of the way they looked. You don’t have to fight for it anymore.
There’s a really interesting book by Hadley Freeman called Life Moves Pretty Fast: The lessons we learned from eighties movies (and why we don’t learn them from movies any more) examining whether the films she watched as a teenager were genuinely better than what’s being produced now, or if it’s just a trick of nostalgia. It was interesting to read that basically, where film studios were once primarily film studios – and therefore invested in producing films of a certain quality – most of them are now owned by multi-national umbrella corporations. In short, the people now making the decisions and holding the purse strings are only interested in profit. I realised that the exact same thing had happened to the music industry. The Gallagher brothers and their ilk had trashed one too many hotel rooms, and the focus very much switched to middle-of-the-road solo artists, who were cheaper, easier to control but pulled in the same amount of money as an unruly band. That’s why we’ve got Ed Sheeran playing Wembley and Adele headlining Glastonbury.
I’m not saying there isn’t amazing music being made underground. There always has been. There always will be, but it’s fractured and disparate. Our generation had no great musical or cultural movement to unite us.
Put simply, whilst people are connected online, the subgenres aren’t visible. There’s no sense of unity or community. Which has its problems. I was recently speaking to a friend of mine who’s in her fifties, and most things she owns are plastered in stickers and slogans. Feminism, animal rights, anti-fracking etc. I knew some people took the piss and considered it a bit teenage. I asked her about it and she said it was all part of ‘building a culture of resistance’, and that it was important to normalise certain phrases and issues. People need to see that they’re not alone. People need to see that there are alternatives available. It’s why punks sew patches on their jackets. Because, whilst I said that alienated, disenfranchised people didn’t have groups to join anymore, that isn’t quite true. Many of those people are joining far right organisations, whose slogans about making Britain ‘great’ again are unavoidably visible. I don’t have it in me to hate them anymore. I understand why people – especially young, working class people – are angry and pissed off with the state of the country. But instead of blaming immigrants they should be focusing that anger on the authorities. Getting angry about the fact that it’s 2018 and we still have a monarchy whom we pay to have weddings in fucking castles when there are people living on the streets. Where is the counterculture when we need it most?
Crass said that when they heard the Sex Pistols declare there to be ‘no future’ they perceived that to be a call to arms, a challenge to go and take back the future the future which had been denied to them. We wrote a song called Music is Dead and made it our slogan to provoke people into changing that fact. I explained all this to the guy at the festival. He said “Thank you. I’ll wear this with pride.” And stuck it to his jacket.
Who or what would you say are your main influences?
Pretty much all of the bands I’ve mentioned above! Plus all the stuff we were collectively listening to in our later teens, Alkaline Trio, Offspring, AFI, Anti-Flag etc… It’s difficult to pin down, and probably the most influential artists are the ones we sound nothing like. The band I was listening to most whilst we were recording our first album, The Wakes, was Chumbawamba, and during Here Come The Weeds I had Lana Del Rey’s Ultraviolence on repeat, which might not necessarily come across – but the influence was there! Neil Gaiman described mythology as being compost for stories, and I think it’s the same with music. If you make music, then everything you have connected with throughout your life informs your end product to some degree. That’s why it’s really important to listen to a wide range of styles and genres, even if you’re making rap or punk rock, the more stuff you listen to the more tricks you learn. I made a sort of mood-playlist for the album we’re working on at the moment, and it included stuff like Glenn Miller and Kylie Minogue…
I know I’m supposed to just reel off a list of punk bands, but punk and hardcore is just one small corner of our collective musical landscape. We’ve always liked anything as long as it’s sincere. We felt there was a lack of sincerity when we started this band. Prior to that Dave and Zowie and I had been in a sort of goth-folk band that was going nowhere, and then I was singing in an electronic band for a few years, trying to bring a bit of punk rock energy to the EBM scene… We were sick of the apathy, and decided to do something. We never set out to be ‘punk’, we just wanted to write a great album that we could be proud of, but we were extremely pissed off at the time and that’s why it sounded the way it did!
Overall, it’s more of a ‘what’ than a ‘who’. We’re a very reactionary band. We wrote our first EP because we were pissed off that our favourite club was being bulldozed, and we wrote our last album in response to the November ’15 Paris attacks and subsequent military intervention. Marilyn Manson, an artist all grew up listening to, once said that art should always be a question and never an explanation. I think Dischord’s question is perpetually: WHAT THE FUCK??
How did you guys end up playing together?
Once Upon A Time there was a dark, grimy, sticky club opposite what was once Blackpool bus station. Dave and Zowie met each other in there, and shortly after they met a friend of mine in the same club, who soon recruited Dave to be the guitarist for our fledgling band. As I explained, it was a combination of that club’s demolition, the musical environment of the time and our own personal turmoil that conspired to make us to reunite and write an album. There was an album called The Wakes before there was a band called Dischord.
It’s often said that a band have their entire lives to write their first album. At the time, I thought that didn’t apply to us and as we’d been in bands and recorded albums before. It was only as we wrote and wrote that I realised these were the songs we had been bottling up for over a decade. They were there, simmering, waiting to emerge. I was having a quarter-life crisis at the time, too. At 25, I realised I was the same age as or older than the artists I admired had been when they had written what I considered to be their best work. We set out to write a record that would define us, that was a eulogy, a manifesto and a call to arms all at once. Don’t ask me how, but somehow we pulled it off!
Your bio says that you formed in the aftermath of a venue closing, in the time you’ve been playing since that closure do you think the scene has changed, is it healthier now or do you think things are still not looking too rosy?
There seems to be a trend for venues we love in general closing down! Whallbar in Fallowfield, The Ducie Bridge in Manchester… And closer to home, we used to play the Blue Room in Blackpool all the time. It was always the best place to be during Rebellion weekend, they’d have free fringe gigs on from Thursday to Sunday and it was always rammed. Some of the best gigs we ever played were in there and then suddenly: gone! There were fears it would become a Tesco, but fortunately it’s a listed building, so it’s been resurrected as ‘The Brew Room’. I really hope they start putting live music on again at some point.Right now, there are some great gigs on at The Waterloo in South Shore and there are always amazing Rebellion fringe shows at The (new and relocated) Tache. A couple of years ago we played the 3am slot on the Sunday. It was insane! We thought everyone would be flagging by then. Not a bit of it! They were the survivors – there was a huge stage invasion by the end. There’s a video of it somewhere. You can see us, but you can’t hear us. So yeah, for one weekend in August, Blackpool is great. But that’s possibly part of the problem. There’s so much emphasis on Rebellion that nothing much happens the rest of the year. Part Time Punks! Fortunately there is a fairly solid core of dedicated local bands such as Black Eddy, Du Pig, CSOD, The Drop Out Wives, The Polyesters and The Senton Bombs. We play for each other even if nobody else comes! There’s a great sense of camaraderie, and I think we tend to egg each other on to an extent. Not in a competitive way – it’s more of a solidarity.
One of my favourite things is when we get to go further afield with other Blackpool bands. Playing Edinburgh with CSOD will always be a particular highlight. There was crowd surfing. And tears. There have been a couple of ‘Blackpool Bastards’ gigs where we’ve played The Station in Ashton-Under-Lyne. (Which is one of the best pubs you could ever hope to play, especially if you want to be assaulted by a hurricane of all the beer mats in Greater Manchester.) There’s talk of a ‘Blackpool Bastards; tour. I hope it happens.
Your music is strongly linked to political commentary, what do you make of our current situation and what role, if any, do you think music can have in affecting change?
I make very little of our current political situation, as our current politicians make very little of me. Much as we didn’t set out to be punk, nor did we set out to be overtly political. We wanted to make our music relevant, and we wanted to use our unique perspectives rather than trying to imitate other bands, which was why we ended up writing about Blackpool – our hometown – on our first album. We wanted to examine how the minutiae of daily existence in a normal(!) UK town formed a microcosm of the political landscape of the nation. Fairly accurately, it turns out, as we ended up being labelled a ‘political’ band!
I think we tapped into the zeitgeist of the time with our track Vote For No One, at a time when nobody gave a shit about David Cameron and Gordon Brown. Of course, times are very different now, and most of the ‘anarchists’ have joined the Labour party. I still spoil my ballot every time. I’m sure Jeremy Corbyn is a very nice man, but it’s not voting for him as a person, it’s a vote for a party I swore I would never support after the invasion of Iraq, it’s a vote for a system which I believe to be inherently flawed and intrinsically corrupt.
It’s funny, when you tell people you spoil your vote, you will often receive a lecture about how important it is to vote. How YOU should use YOUR voice to vote for… Their party. I am using my voice. I am exercising my freedom. I believe in choice. I’ve been accused of being a UKIP supporter simply because I refused to vote tactically against them. (I prefer to vote with this weird thing called my conscience.) It’s at times like this you realise how right-wing the left can be. I know a lot of lefties who would happily bully or coerce you into voting for the party they believe in. Apparently, that’s democracy.
That said, we’ve pretty much given up on politics. Halfway through recording our last album, War or Peace, the EU referendum happened, and then a couple of months after it was released, Trump became president. There was a temptation to write songs about that, until we realised that we had basically said everything we had to say. With our song ‘Love’, the final track on that album, we thought, if the concept of ‘peace’ were anthropomorphised, what would it say? And when we wrote the lyrics to that song, it suddenly felt like a full stop to everything we had been saying before. “These are the hardest words. I choke as I say them: I love you and I forgave them.”
If you want to know what we think about pretty much anything, read the lyrics to our track Battlefield: https://dischorduk.bandcamp.com/track/battlefield
I know I should feel angrier about Trump than I do, but honestly… I was angry about Bush, I was angry about Obama… I’m not really any angrier now. If anything, I’m weirdly relieved. It’s like in the film They Live, when Rowdy Roddy Piper puts the sunglasses on and sees the world as it really is; all the authority figures have monstrous alien faces. That’s how I see Trump – he’s just like every other president, we’re just seeing him as he truly is: VILE. Then over here we’ve got nationalism on the rise… I’ve just read Benjamin Zephaniah’s incredible autobiography, and he talks about growing up with struggles against racism and the NF, and how organisations like Rock Against Racism rose up to combat fascism, and how it felt like times had changed until suddenly, post-brexit, he’s being yelled at in his home town to ‘go home’. The older I get I can’t help but feel like everything is in a perpetual loop of despair, and I truly believe that only fundamental systemic change can break the cycle, and it makes me more convinced than ever to spoil my votes and work toward actually making the world a better place rather than relying on someone else to do it for us.
In the wake of the Manchester Arena attack, there was a phone in on a TV show (let’s call it… ‘The Shite Stuff’) about what age was too young to talk to kids about terrorism. A child psychologist opined than, below a certain age, we should only explain troubling news items as “a bad man did a bad thing.” I’d like to extend that phraseology to apply to all ages. I think human beings are basically good. Or, at least, I believe we all have the potential to be good and I live in hope that, deep down, we all want to be peaceful, but sometimes Bad Men do Bad Things, and just like the dispossessed who turn to far-right nationalism in their desperation, most of the Bad Things are a result of fear rather than genuine hatred. Fear of a god, or fear of the unknown.
We need to work together to break down barriers and dispel that fear. I’m done with global politics, it’s a freakshow merry-go-round spinning out of control. Let it spin, right off the edge of the pier and into the fucking sea. The elite will never care about us, and so we need to start caring for each other, and looking to what we can do to help strengthen our own communities, and in that respect, music can affect change in a monumental way. It doesn’t have to be fuck-the-government political sloganeering (although that’s always fun), it just has to be art for art’s sake, something real and beautiful adrift in the sea of homogenised bullshit. Now more than ever we need local bands playing in their local venues, supporting independent businesses, supporting our arts and, most importantly, supporting each other. Nobody will do it for us, we have to do it ourselves. Surely that’s what punk is all about?
Are there bands local to you who you feel people should know more about?
Just the aforementioned Blackpool Bastards, really, who all seem to be doing really well. My favourite release so far this year is Black Eddy’s ‘Population 4’ EP. We were lucky enough to support them at the launch party. I’ve always loved Black Eddy, but that EP… Fucking Hell! Amazing. ‘It Hurts’ is my favourite track. But the band I really think people should know more about are not remotely local to us: Teddy’s Leg from Herefordshire. Their stuff on bandcamp sounds like it was recorded in a bath, but they are one of the best live bands you will ever see. You know a band are good when you watch them and they put you to shame. I remember the first time we played with them (at the Blue Room, in fact) and towards the end of their set the singer, Robin, said to the crowd: “Thanks for coming. We’re Teddy’s Leg. If you like what you hear… Then just enjoy it while it lasts, because we don’t have any merch.” That’s Zen Buddhism. And there we were with our albums and T Shirts like a bunch of bourgeois amateurs!
Robin is in another band, Vaginapocalypse, with his partner, Lu. I had their ‘Success Proof’ EP in my car stereo for about a year. I had to take it out because I was going slightly mad. Their song ‘Witches’ (which, fortunately, was not recorded in a bath) is probably the best song I’ve ever heard that’s been written by somebody I actually know.
How do you approach songwriting, is there a main lyricist or does everybody chip in?
More often than not, the writing process begins with me with a pen and paper and Dave with an acoustic guitar. I like to start with at least a one verse and chorus of lyrics and a working title before we get together to write music. It’s important that we all know what the song is about, otherwise it’s just fitting a random riff to some random words, and we treat our songs with more respect than that. Once we have the basic melody and structure, we’ll send a demo to Jake and then we’ll all get together in a studio to trash it out as a full band, and that’s where Jake’s creative input comes in, in terms of the tone and the structure.
Previously, we would practically write songs in the recording studio, learning and improvising as we went along. It sort of worked for the first two albums because I recorded the drums on both of those. Basically, the first thing we laid down would be my drums and the last thing would be my vocals. As long as I had an overall idea of where the song began and ended and how fast it was, there was a lot of room for experimentation in-between! It was then a case of thinking “Ah… Now we have to do that live!” Now that we have Jake, our writing style has evolved, and with our next album we’re talking about writing songs and then road testing them live before we set foot in a recording studio. I think that’s how most bands work, but it’ll be a first for us! There are lots of little tweaks we’ve made in our live performances over the years, and little vocal techniques I’ve learned to make things sound better, and I always end up wishing I could go back and change the album versions, so it’ll be really interesting to let the new stuff grow and flourish in a live environment, and hopefully the end product will be stronger for it.
I think it’s fair to say that I write the lyrics and Dave writes the melody, but ultimately, it’s an incredibly organic and collaborative process, which is why we just split the credit four ways and say it’s ‘by Dischord’. All of us have input, make changes, suggestions, embellishments. When you’ve known people for basically all of your adult life there’s honesty and trust. There’s no one-upmanship or fear of ridicule. Sometimes we encourage each other, sometimes we criticise each other, but it’s never personal, it’s for the good of the band. Our goal is to write good songs, not to compliment each other. Something we see all too often with larger bands are singers who’ve obviously got a bit of an ego surrounding themselves with musicians who obviously adore them. If your entourage are only out to please you and to suck up to you, nobody’s ever going to give you honest feedback, which is creative suicide. Sometimes you need bringing down a peg or two. I know that if I ever walked out onstage in a Gucci suit with diamond grills on my teeth and started singing love songs the others would say “Mate… What the fuck are you playing at? You look like a twat!”
Zowie and I recently wrote a piece of fiction together. We read it to my friend Charlie and he later said to me “You know, before tonight, if you had asked me who wrote Dischord songs, I would have said Chris writes the lyrics and Dave writes the music. I’ve only just realised how essential Zowie is to the writing process, because what you just read to me, it sounded like Dischord.” I guess he meant that it had the same vibe, it came from the same creative pallet as Dischord. It’s very much a melding of minds, the boiling down of the essence of our personalities into something tangible. I’ve forgotten what the question was.
What have been the highs and lows of playing with Dischord?
For me the high is the creative process. Having an idea for a song is a bit like incubating a Chestbuster. As soon as that fucker’s out you’ve got to kill it before it becomes a full-on Xenopmorph! Of course, when I say ‘kill’ I mean ‘record’… I think that’s why – in the past – there was always this rush to the studio. But I’ve promised the others I’ll be patient this time. Just don’t blame me if it ends in a massacre. On stage, no one can hear you scream… But that’s often because there’s nobody in the crowd, which is the low.
One gig in ten will be amazing. There will be pits and human pyramids and people singing your lyrics back at you. As a lyricist there is no greater sense of accomplishment. (Although we’re a punk band and most of the time it’s just “Fuck!” so I’m not sure exactly how proud I should be.) The other nine can be depressing, demoralising and discouraging, often made several times worse if you’re a long way from home. You start to feel like you should be doing something else with your life, and then you remember there is nothing else you are capable of doing. You start to feel that life is hugely overrated anyway, and you want to hurl yourself under a bus. To revisit my previous answer, this is why it’s imperative to be in a band with your closest friends. You will need friends at times like this. When you’re in a band it’s you against the world, there can be no room for discord within that group.
I want to say that our first drummer, Parker, leaving was a low, but it was really very amicable. He gave us an incredibly reasonable amount of notice and honoured the all gigs we had booked. His farewell show was the best we had ever played up till that point and we’re all still friends. He’s even come out of retirement on the odd occasion when we’ve needed help – although this has become increasingly harder with the more songs we write as he only really knows the tracks from our first album. The last time he offered to fill in for us, we realised we couldn’t remember how to play half the songs he knew!
Obversely, one of the great highs was Jake joining the band. We realised we couldn’t carry on as we had, with me recording drums on the albums and then finding someone to join us live (a circumstance born of necessity rather than desire) and wanted a fourth member of the band. That’s a weirder situation than it should be. It’s like waking up one morning and saying: “I’m going to marry someone today. Introduce me to everyone you know!” The three of us are very close-knit. We’re also REALLY odd. I’ve lost track of the tedious hours lost in rehearsal rooms with mediocre drummers plodding their way through Seaside Suicide. (It was Killing Christ that usually finished them off.) When we advertised I thought there was no way we would find that elusive fourth person. I remember the others messaging me and saying “Jake from Better Than Jesus is auditioning.” I said “Jake doesn’t need to audition! He’s in!” We auditioned him anyway. (He was the only person in the room who didn’t know he was in the band.)
What’s the best gig you’ve played?
That’s a very difficult question. We played our first gig in August 2012, and it’s been fairly non-stop since then. 3 Chords 2014 was unbelievable, and incredibly emotional as it was our final gig with Parker. But we’ve played so many great gigs since then with Jake on drums it seems like there have be multiple criteria for ‘best’ gigs. Nice ‘n’ Sleazy 2015, New Rose 2016… All the times we’ve played The Station and The Blue Room. I don’t know, it’s too hard. But I will tell you our favourite venue: The Banshee Labyrinth in Edinburgh, Scotland’s most haunted pub. In an ideal world, all venues would be haunted. For some reason, Jake always seems to miss those gigs! Last time we were due to play he broke his hand and Mason from The Senton Bombs stepped in to save the day. So finally playing there with all four of us is going to be something special.
If you could give any advice to a new band looking to get started what would it be?
When I started out in previous bands I followed some fairly bad advice. It was frequently spouted at the time that you had to build up a strong local following before you could take on the world. I wasted many years trying to garner a fanbase in a town where nobody really gave a shit about anything. It’s bollocks. Get out there!! Plus, if it’s terrible, they won’t know where you live. Even now we can’t fill a venue in Blackpool unless it’s Rebellion weekend. We get better crowds in Cornwall and Scotland than we do at home.
But here’s the really important bit, I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: always form bands with your friends. If you’re not friends already, spend more time hanging out than practicing. I know more guitarists than I can count. There is only one I would trust with my life.
Finally, ALWAYS split the money equally. (If there is any money, usually there isn’t.) If you started a band to make money or to get laid, you don’t deserve to be in a band.
Looking forward what are your plans for the band over 2018 and beyond?
On Sunday the 5th August we’re playing the introducing stage at Rebellion, which is going to be very strange. We’ve applied to play every year since we started and never heard anything. We thought that was fairly shitty – and were always very vocal about that – then this year we got the offer. There was a temptation to turn it down, as we’ve always supported the fringe gigs (which we will still play), but ultimately we decided to accept. Partially us, but mainly for all our friends and supporters who go every year and tell us how much they want to see us there. Plus, we get to play on a big stage. Obviously there’s an element of vanity there; after seven years we feel deserve it. When the UK’s biggest punk festival takes place in your home town and you’re a local punk band who sing songs about that town… You want a piece of that. We saw Gallows play Rebellion in 2010. They played their song ‘London Is The Reason’, except they changed the lyric to ‘Blackpool’. I think we had a collective epiphany of “Yeah… Blackpool IS the reason.” It took a few years for that concept to gestate, but a year later we wrote Seaside Suicide. You could say Dischord was born in the Winter Gardens. I love the building. It’s haunted. I got married in it. As a sandgrownun, it belongs to me. I belong on that stage.
In September we’re playing the Plymouth Punx Picnic, which is going to be immense – then in October we’re heading to Scotland. On the 13th We’re FINALLY playing the Banshee Labyrinth with Jake, the next day we’re playing Nice N Sleazy in Glasgow with the irrepressible Performance Enhancing Suppositories, then on the 20th we’re playing Punktoberfest at Beat Generator in Dundee.
Right now we’re working on our fourth album, which is really exciting. The creative aspect is always the most exciting part of being in a band for me personally, but this time even more so, because there was a period (most of last year) when I thought we would never write another song, let alone another album. It wasn’t that the inclination had gone, it was just a case of having written what we considered to be our best album, and closed it with what we considered to be our best song. After that you find yourself thinking. “Fuck. Where do we go from here??”
I wouldn’t even describe it as a creative drought, or writer’s block… I kept getting tunes and lyrics in my head, but before I could muster any enthusiasm I’d find myself thinking. “Yeah, but what’s the point? You’ve said all that before.” I’ve always approached every album as if it were our last (even the first one), but none more so than War or Peace. It was an album about war, death, love and humanity. What else is there to talk about? We dropped the mic. You can’t shuffle back onstage after that and decide to carry on for a bit.
Faced with that dilemma of having to revisit well-trodden creative territory we’ve had to seriously push ourselves creatively, in terms of what Dischord is, and even in terms of our individual roles in the band. Not only does the sound need to evolve, but the narrative has to change also. As I mentioned, ‘the album’ has always been something of a sacred artform to me. Dischord have always primarily been a band who make albums before we’re anything else. This might be ironic, because we’re frequently told that we’re much better live than we are on record. That notion, that the spirit of Dischord lives on the stage is probably accurate, but it’s the energy and intensity of our art itself that propels us to perform the way we do. We write albums which demand to be played. Our first two records were strongly thematic, whereas I would say War or Peace was our first, full-on concept album. What we’re working on now is to take that even further, to embrace that idea of the album as a whole, to the point where the words and the music and the art almost become indistinguishable, just as you couldn’t isolate random words from a poem and try to judge them on their own merit.
It’s still very early days in the writing process, and it might not work, it might be a total disaster! But I would rather push and push the band until it breaks than to let it stagnate. We owe it more than that. It’s easy for us to forget now that we were pushing similar boundaries when we wrote The Wakes. We’d never played hardcore punk before, and everyone who knew us was completely taken aback by how different it sounded to anything we’d done previously. I really hope it works. I really hope people connect with it, but if it doesn’t and they don’t then it will be the creative equivalent of smashing up our instruments on stage. I would be very content with that outcome as we are, and always will be a punk band. We do what we want, and we don’t give a fuck.