I would rather have a band put something new out every couple of months than see them play like three times a year.
I mean, that’s ultimately the deal, right? People want to hear the music!”
Brian Case, frontman of Chicago drone-rockers Disappears,
is sitting outside a South American bar on a dirty backstreet in south London’s Elephant And Castle, explaining the reasons behind his band’s phenomenal work rate.
“It was really important for us to keep our momentum going, so we wanted to keep making albums and keep doing shows, and just keep moving – because it just seems like if you stop doing this, there’s just too many
there’s too much stuff, so it’s easy to forget. “So we figured the best way for us to stay present, relevant, is just to keep making music and keep doing
shows, so we’ve been lucky that things have continued to improve.”
The four-piece certainly have stayed busy. After a series of self-released seven-inches in 2008, their debut album, ‘Lux’,
came out on Kranky in 2010, followed by last year’s ‘Guider’.
Their third album, ‘Pre Language’, came out earlier this year, and marked a distinct new phase for the band – not only is it their first recording with a new drummer
(more on him later, in case you don’t already know), it is a distinct development from the steady evolution of their first two records,
incorporating less krautrock and more raging riffs.
Tracks such as the opening ‘Replicate’ and ‘Fear Of Darkness’ are also their punchiest, catchiest songs so far.
There’s still plenty of echo here, on both guitars and vocals, but where the band once sounded like a host of other drone rockers – Suicide,
Spacemen 3, Neu!, take your pick – they’re now beginning to sound more like themselves than their influences.
As well as keeping a steady stream of records flowing, the group have been touring regularly, and tonight are playing at south London’s Corsica Studios, their only UK date so far this year.
“The tour’s been great,” explains Brian. “It’s been about twelve days now, it’s been really good and, yeah,
we’re coming back in the summer. We’re doing some festivals and some club dates too.”
While on the road, the group’s listening material has been more eclectic than you might imagine, stretching from African pop to British post-punk.
“We’ve been listening to the Lijadu Sisters,” says Brian. “They’re these two girls from Africa that made these records when they were teenagers, and they just got reissued – it’s really good, really crazy.
We listen to a lot of those Nigerian reissues, some of the Afrobeat stuff and some of the weird jazz – that stuff is always good.
“They’re trying to play James Brown music and James Brown is trying to get to the heart of Africa, so it’s like,
‘What’s happening?!’ And I don’t know, the same stuff we always listen to, like Bauhaus and Wire, all the stuff that will be on the other pages of the magazine!”
Disappears’ eclectic taste could be down to the fact that they’re not exactly spring chickens. With Case (past 30) the youngest, the group have all been around in other US groups
since the 1990s – their frontman notably in math-rockers 90 Day Men and The Ponys.
Despite not releasing a full album since 2007’s excellent ‘Turn The Lights Out’, and only an EP (2010’s ‘Deathbed +4’)
since then, Case confirms he’s still a part of the band, and that they’re a going concern.
“Yes, if The Ponys do anything I will be in it,” he confirms. “The very first Disappears recordings,
I thought they might just be demos for Ponys stuff actually, they kind of grew separately Disappears
from that so I kind of just explored that, and they coincided with this period when Ponys kept getting pushed back to work on stuff, Disappears
and there were sort of personal things going on with some of the people, so I thought, ‘Oh, I guess I’m just gonna start this other band!’”
Sounds pretty easy. “It kind of was, ha – I mean, it’s easy to start a band,
but to keep it going…”
Guitarist Jonathan Van Herik and Damon Carruesco have also played in a host of other bands, but “nothing that’s gotten too far out of the city”, according to Case.
As for the group’s new permanent drummer, who replaced founder member Graeme Gibson, he’s been pretty active over the last three decades Sonic Youth’s
Steve Shelley has been manning the sticks since the
beginning of 2011.
“He’s been in a band or two!” laughs Brian. “Graemewas doing all the production, and he’s an awesome drummer, so yeah,
[when he left] we were kind of unsure about what was going to happen. We’d gotten to know Steve so we were joking, like, ‘OK, let’s just ask Steve’,
and then he said he wanted to do it, which was pretty surprising. It’s like, ‘Ah, this is really weird’…”
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