“We Become Animals” – Exclusive interview and track from Disarm
Once upon a time, somewhat North of Watford Gap services lay a town in South Yorkshire called Mexborough. The town has produced a few things of note: the Mexborough Civic Venue, good quality sausage rolls and more importantly to underground music – a rumbling beast of a band known as Disarm.
They’ve been an active band on the road for a few years and released their debut album in 2008 which met rave reviews by the big glossies and underground press alike. However, since then they’ve been through a tough time and returned with some angrier, darker, harder, faster, fitter, stronger material.
Nix talks to Brad (vox) and Ant (drums) about the new beast of an EP that is “In The Absence of All Good, We Become Animals”, studio diaries and the state of the underground scene.
Nix: Your first release since ‘By Any Means Necessary’ in 2008. What’s prompted you to do an EP?
Brad: A couple of factors but mainly that we just needed to get something done and show we’re not actually dead. It was a right time, right place type-thing where we had some stuff ready, Lee (Redfern) wanted to record, so we just got in there and job done.
N: It’s a little different to the stuff you’ve done before. Is this a sign of things to come?
B:Yeah, definitely. Not in a big-headed way at all but I’m really proud of what we’ve put down, and I’m really excited about where we can take it from here. I honestly don’t know if to say we’ve ‘matured’ would be right at all, but I think it’s a quite bit more refined and thought out, rather than just playing everything as fast as possible. We’ve always had a heavy and slightly nasty edge anyway, it’s not like we were renowned for our heart-felt ballads, so from having a pretty shitty past year or so I guess it’s just brought that out even more. Actually, the EP title sums it all up, I guess.
I can understand perfectly some people going ‘uh?!’ but from our perspective it’s just the way things have progressed, evolved, whatever you want to call it. I mean, I was talking to Jamie (guitarist) the other day and we got around to realising that it’s been over two years since BAMN (By Any Means Necessary) was released. Two years! Thinking about it was really quite weird. But yeah, in that amount of time pretty much anyone is going to sound a bit different. I guess if someone liked ‘Bark. Bite. Scream.’ off the first album then they should ‘get’ the new EP. Anyone wanting ‘Faster, faster… KILL!’ part 2 is probably going to end up scared and crying.
B: We recorded at Redfern Studios in Sheffield with the awesome Lee Redfern. We’re friends with him from knowing his band, Tiananmen, so it was all cool, relaxed and a very laid-back affair. Production was pretty much a case of “let’s do THIS!” or “that sounds cool!” or stuff like “make that sound like booming thunder!”. Like I said, we’re friends so everything just collectively fell in to place. Plus Lee’s a great engineer too so it was safe to leave him to his own devices with all the technical stuff. But yeah, was a good experience.
N: Give us a blow by blow with each track?
B: ‘At The End Of Everything’ – The main riff and verses were actually mentally written walking back from a kebab shop in Mexborough. Make of that what you will. Um, yeah, lyrically it’s not too pretty and is basically about giving up, not caring about anything or anyone, accepting that, and not really having a problem with it. It’s quite nihilistic, really. The whole thing sounds to me like rolling and crashing waves to me so I guess that’s where the drowning element comes in to everything, as well as the Captain Ahab bits.
‘Gagged, Shagged, Body-Bagged’ – Rape and murder in the woods. I’m not going to lie or tart it up, that’s it. It’s not saying that is ok, it’s just a story. An incredibly fucked-up, slightly death-metal-esque one, but just a story. There’s no mention of male, female anyways so people can make up their own minds. Dunno, was partly kind of one last “fuck off” to anyone attempting to plonk us in with shitty bands singing about drinking fucking JD (which tastes like ass) and the Sunset Strip, when they’ve never been there. We scream about rape and murder. Not the same.
‘Death Grips & Destruction (Disarm vs. The World)’ – Lovecraftian beasts rising up and smashing heads in. Like an old Godzilla film set to an anthem to destruction. Out of all the songs this is the oldest as we’d been including it on the last tours we did a bit back. A kind of punkish number that snarls in your face.
‘A Crash Course In Strategic Dismemberment’ – We randomly demoed this song with Lee earlier in the year so it’s cool that this is what gave us a kick up the arse and got everything rolling again. I think it’s got everything in there and is a good example of ‘us’. Actually, thinking about it, it’s a contrast to ‘At The End…’ in about it’s fighting for your life and for other people (albeit in space) against ridiculous odds and never giving up. Had never thought of that. Weird! Glad to know it’s not all doom, gloom, and stranglings. There’s some bastardized lyrics from ‘Space Odyssey’ in there, too. My cheeky nod to (David) Bowie and that.
‘With A Gun Barrel Between Your Teeth, You Speak Only In Vowels’ – Cranking up the punk factor, both musically and lyrically, I suppose. It’s got fast-as-fuck bits and then hardcore-type shouting-along choruses about how life sucks and people treat you like shit. The title is a quote from Fight Club as it seemed apt to the “no function, no pain, every day is just the same” feeling. Also I was being lazy and couldn’t think of anything snappy.
N: You’ve been doing a studio diary, tell us about that? Did you enjoy the vocal exercises?
B: Yeah, the vocal exercise were ‘interesting’ but completely worth it to see people squirm. For the diaries as a whole we just wanted to document the entire process from start to finish, like literally up to the release. There’s endless amounts of footage of just playing the songs which we could’ve used but, to be honest, even I find that boring as hell so all the general dicking about seemed much better. It’s also obviously good to use it as a platform for crafty previews of what the new stuff is like and see what people think.
Ant: Well I bought a camera a good while back in attempt to get the guys to film “Boys In The Band Part II: Quest For Love, Black Mamba Strikes Back”. They weren’t really up for it, so we just film general Disarm crap! The studio diary is just a bunch of the least boring clips from our time in the studio, which is good for the memory box and as a bit of a promotion thing. The vocal exercises were pretty funny, but worked surprisingly well …
N: In your view, as a band not being bankrolled by a big label and doing pretty much a DIY job – what’s been the biggest challenge for you guys over the past couple of years?
B: Apart from old-fashioned bad luck, and ‘personal’ stuff derailing things, it’s money, plain and simple. I suppose with loads of venues shutting down, people not going out, it has been harder to get gigs, too. We’re not in the position of having any rich relatives who like having a vanity project and buy us on to massive tours so it is a massive struggle at times trying to finance things, putting petrol in the van, paying for repairs when said van breaks down yet AGAIN. But eh, sorting our own EP, releasing it, doing limited-edition, hand-numbered copies is a great feeling at the end of it all. Fuck the man, DIY is cool!
A: The biggest challenge for me has been trying to fit everything in – working a full time job, practice, gigging, promotion etc. I could do with a bloody time machine!
N: Big question. What is the state of the UK music scene at the moment?
Ant: “Br00tal” (yes that’s intentionally a dig at all the fashioncore kids). A lot of it seems to be dying on it’s arse at the minute. Again, venues are closing, people are skint so that probably has a lot to do with it, but, unless there’s something no-one’s telling me, there hardly seems to be any kind of busy underground scene like there was a bit back. It’s really odd, you think people would be pissed-off and doing stuff but there just seems to be a lot of apathy and the people who are going out, whether it’s in the metal, indie scenes, whatever, just seem to want to be, ahem, ‘fashionable’ rather than be there because they love the music. It might just be end-of-the-decade blues and – something will kick off soon but I don’t know, it’s really odd.
N: What are the plans for the future. You’ve got the EP to come out but are there any plans for another album?
B: Oh definitely! We did originally plan to get an EP done quick and be recording album number 2 at the start of the year. Hasn’t gone quite to schedule and will be a bit before we get on the album but whatever, I’m really happy to be having the EP coming out and am actually quite excited to see what happens …
Buy the new Disarm EP “In The Absence of All Good, We Become Animals” from April 4th. You can download it from iTunes, Play.com, Amazon.com and Spotify.