Sunday, June 14, 2009

Interview: Disco Assault

DISCO ASSAULT feature folks from Detroit and Windsor. That is one of the hardest borders I have ever had to cross so I don’t know how this band functions. They were down in June and this session aired on June 14th, 2009.

Welcome to the show. Tell us who you are and what you do in the band?
Matt (M): My name is Matt, a.k.a. the Ritalin Kid. I play guitar and do some back up vocals.
Paul (P): I’m Paul. I sing.
Ali (A): Ali. Drums.
Jay (J): Jay. Bass and backing vocals.
Is this the regular line up or is there some fill ins?
P: Where do you want to start?
Well how long has the band been together for?
M: Late ’05.
And how did the band develop as a unit? Who brought in who first?
M: Me and Paul basically were rehearsing for a while and wanted to do something. We recruited somebody who was just learning how to play drums.
J: Still developing, like me.
M: And Jay came to play bass and that was basically the start of it.
Has the line up changed much? It seems like the three of you have been in it since the get go.
M: Yeah, just the drummer. This is drummer number 4.
So who has drummed for you?
P: Our first drummer was Chris Keeshal. He was the original drummer. That went for about a year or two.
M: And then John filled in for a year.
P: yeah we moved on to John Bellham who has a pretty long rap sheet of bands that he has played in. Very talented musician.
M: He is on the recording as well.
P: Chris is on the first demo and John is on the 7” recording and then we had another drummer after that. Matt Fink. How long did he last for?
M: About a year.
P: He played a bunch of shows with us. Then he left. Now we have Ali from DEATH IN CUSTODY filling in or permanent. I don’t know. He keeps changing his mind.
A: I have no idea what you are talking about. I’m the permanent drummer.
P: Ali is now the permanent drummer for DEATH IN CUSTODY and DISCO ASSASULT. It is now official.
Were you guys in any other bands prior to DISCO ASSAULT or is this a first time band or are any of you in any other bands currently?
M: I have played in numerous bands being from Detroit. SCURVIES, SMOKE BOMBS, JIM ABUSIVE AND THE CIGARETTE BURNS. Lately it has been DISCO ASSAULT and GNAR SESH, which is pretty much skate-rock. A 3-piece.
P: I played in a punk oi band for a little bit called TWELVE STEP FAILURE. Never recorded or anything. I don’t even know how long ago that was or how long that lasted. It’s all a haze.
A: Prior to DEATH IN CUSTODY I was in several bands. They are not really worth mentioning. DEATH IN CUSTODY is really the first band that I am really proud of. That has been going since 2002. that is a Detroit hardcore band. I first met Paul in Toronto when the OPPRESSED came and played in 2005. Later the year after that I first saw DISCO ASSAULT. I don’t know if it was their first show or not. Probably not.
M: Didn’t we play together?
A: Yeah at the Old Miami in Detroit with FEAR CITY from Chicago and the LAGER LADS from Windsor. It was a good show. Really I was playing a lot of shows with these guys. I would see them a lot. I have always liked the band. But anyway we booked this weekend starting in Windsor and going to Montreal last night. It was supposed to be with DEATH IN CUSTODY. Unfortunately our singer’s dad died a week ago. So I have been in the band for about a month.
And how are you liking it?
A: Before this weekend I was loving it. Naw I’m just kidding. These guys are cool. I have been having fun. I love this band for some reason.
Jay, were you in any bands prior to DISCO ASSAULT?
J: No. I used to edit films for CRASS though. I occasionally did sound for DISORDER and CHAOS UK. This was in my early days but this would probably be my first band that I have played in officially.
A: I was in CRASS. I don’t remember you.
Matt, you were mentioning you were from Detroit. And Ali you are from Detroit. And you guys are from Windsor.
P: I am from Detroit also.
M: We are three quarters American and one quarter Canadian.
P: Jay is the only true blooded Canadian.
So Jay, do you commute to Detroit to practice?
J: All the time.
M: We do now with Ali because he has a jam space.
A: Yeah and the border doesn’t like me all the time.
But they must like you (Jay).
J: It’s debatable.
P: Nine out of ten times.
It’s a crap shoot.
P: It’s definitely a crap shoot with the Department of Homeland Security.
J: A passport helps as opposed to a driver’s license and a birth certificate.
P: And an attitude problem.
Where does the name DISCO ASSAULT come from?
J: There is a small room at the very bottom of Paul’s head.
P: That’s where it came from.
M: It was the only one we could agree on.
P: That was fun coming up with a band name.
M: We can agree on lots of things but coming to agree on a band name was probably the hardest thing to do ever.
Is there a story to it?
P: No there is really no story. Everyone threw out tons of different ideas.
M: I googled it as well and there was no band.
P: More so disco in the European sense of modern dance clubs. Not the old 70s genre. I’m sure somebody could hear the name and think we are a cover band doing covers from “Saturday Night Fever” and all that.
Have you been confused for that?
P: Sometimes. Up until the first ….
J: I think it is pretty obvious. It’s a rejection of popular music and standards isn’t it. Is that not your initial interpretation?
Yeah that would be a take on it for sure. But I need you guys to say that.
J: It is not an onslaught of electronic music.
That’s good.
M: It’s the exact opposite.
What was the idea behind DISCO ASSAULT when you first got started? Was there an idea of what you wanted to be as a band? I get the sense .. you guys sound like a Reagan era hardcore band. Like an early American sound.
M: I listen to a lot of stuff and that’s the energy I am after.
And if you (Paul)_ were in an oi band before that’s like a departure.
M: Look at NEGATIVE APPROACH. They had a pretty big oi influence.
P: I listen to a lot of different music. It has been successful as far as achieving the sound. We are not trying to do anything new. We are not like bands who are trying to be progressive, cutting edge, metal hardcore or what passes for hardcore nowadays.
But it is a back to roots hardcore sound.
P: It definitely is.
It’s cutting through the bullshit and making a primal attack. That’s what I get I get out of it.
J: But that developed naturally I think.
P: That is one common sound we can all agree on. We have all been influenced by it.
J: Part of that I attribute to is how difficult it can be to come up with a third and fourth riff for a song, so generally we have two, we break it down to a bridge and bullshit that as a third part to a song and people like you interpret that as Reagan era hardcore.
A: Plus the first wave of hardcore is in my opinion the best wave. It’s the standard at which all hardcore after that should look up to.
Well it was the first wave of hardcore.
A: And it was the best in my opinion.
It was for sure. People were just trying to figure things out and it came out amazing. It was the response to punk right.
J: Was it a response to or a reaction against punk?
A: I think it was the next evolution of punk.
I think it was both.
J: Me too. I often think it is very far removed from the roots of punk.
We started touching on influences. Who do you consider influences?
M: A long long list.
Go ahead. You were almost going to do a NEGATIVE APPROACH cover so can we say that they are an influence. Your vocals sound like John Brannon’s.
M: He has gotten that before.
A: He looks like John Brannon.
J: I think there is a secret desire to be John Brannon, just like John Brannon has a secret desire to be Alice Cooper.
J: Absolutely. Research it. You’ll find out.
P: You can make a distinction that a band sounds like this and chances are they were an influence. It’s not a myspace page where we are going to list tons of bands. It is pretty obvious.
Well who do you love?
J: SUBHUMANS. I love everything CONFLICT have done. Over the last six or seven years the RESTARTS have become a favourite band of mine.
Oh yeah? Well that would be counter to your sound. But you are wearing an MDC shirt.
J: I love MDC.
The early period.
J: All periods.
Who else do you consider influences?
A: I am a huge SICK OF IT ALL fan, which is not early 80’s but as far as post early 80’s hardcore they are one of the best bands from after that era.
M: I like California stuff from the early 80’s. Bands like WASTED YOUTH, BLACK FLAG, CIRCLE JERKS, MIDDLE CLASS. In New York you have URBAN WASTE. In the Midwest you have the NECROS.
Your guitar sound sounds like URBAN WASTE.
A: I like a lot of the youth crew bands too. YOUTH OF TODAY and stuff like that. I love GORILLA BISCUITS.
If you had to limit the band’s punk releases to five what would they be?
J: I’m not sure I understand the question.
Put your heads together. You are going in a van and you can only take five releases.
A: “In God We Trust, Inc.” that was the first punk thing I ever heard in my life. I love that still. FEAR “The Album”.
P: I don’t even know where to start answering this question.
Is there anything that comes up when you are driving.
A: We were listening to NEGATIVE FX and LAST RITES.
J: The “Free Souls” by CITIZEN FISH would be a choice.
That late. You didn’t like any of their earlier stuff ?
J: Absolutely. “Free Souls” was the first release that I bought.
M: We are talking about albums right? How about “This is Boston, Not L.A.” And for DC how about “Flex Your Head”?
A: Or STATE’s “No Illusions” ep. Oh and another Detroit band called FORCED ANGER that nobody has ever heard of. They had a really great demo called “Summer of Hate”.
What are some of the things you sing about?
P: I sing about religion and politics.
You have a song called “Religious Control”.
P: I think there is a lot of social commentary in my lyrics that reflect my point of view and may mirror some of the members in the band.
What would be your favourite DISCO ASSAULT song from a lyrical standpoint and why?
P: Probably “Religious Control”. “Homeland Security”. We have a few newer songs like “Beggar and the Ballot”.
Which one out of those three do you like?
P: I would say “Religious Control”.
And why do you like it?
P: I have a serious dislike towards organized religion. That reflects my beliefs and attitudes and distaste for faith.
J: For faith based groups that try to control society.
P: It’s nothing new. It has been sung about hundreds of times before by hundreds of different groups, but it is something I believe strongly about.
That’s good. Hardcore has been used by different faith groups to recruit kids into their faith. There is Christian hardcore and krshna hardcore and all these different types of faith based hardcores.
J: What do you think of Nola Lavine?
I don’t know who that is.
J: Dharma punks.
I don’t know but if they are using hardcore for their medium then they are full of shit.
J: Same with SHELTER?
Yeah. Easily.
P: I think many different types of groups use all kinds of different music to target younger, more hip kids and try and appeal to their level.
I remember if you were a hardcore kid back when SHELTER was around a lot of the krshna kids would come up to you and drop names and try and come up with a John Joseph story. It is people preying on kids.
P: I saw them play and I don’t remember that happening.
It happened here because there is a krshna temple in town. It happened a lot here. What about the rest of you? Do you have a favourite song from a lyrical standpoint and why do you like it?
M: “Broken Boards, Broken Bottles.” It’s about skateboarding and drinking pretty much. That’s what I love. That’s what I do.
J: I like “Blood for Your God”. I think the timing of it was proper.
What’s the song about?
J: The War in Afghanistan.
P: And Iraq and everything that is going on over there. During the Bush administration that is what influenced me to write that song. It’s an older song. It is one of our first.
What is the scene like in Detroit? Who would you play with back home?
A: I can only speak for DEATH IN CUSTODY and we have played with every band in the scene. From hardcore bands like HATE INCORPORATED, BAIL, BLOODY KNUCKLE COMBAT, PITBULL, PUB LIFE. We have played with HILLSIDE STRANGLERS. But Detroit has got everything really. We have a straight edge hardcore scene. We have the rest of the hardcore scene. We have a big hardcore scene. We have a big punk scene. We don’t have a very big oi skinhead scene. We used to.
J: Loads of fun. I find it mixes well too. Like the splinter genres that Ali was talking about.
P: I think if Windsor wasn’t five minutes away from Detroit it would have left a long time ago.
J: Some of the best gigs I have ever seen have been in Detroit.
A: Well Detroit is a regular stop for touring bands and a lot of bands have played Detroit over the years especially from New York.
I have only been to one show there. I got to see a 7 SECONDS show with LIFE SENTENCE way back at a Polish Hall.
A: That’s a long time ago.
I am old.
A: That is before our time.
But it was a great show.
A: I bet it was.
P: As far as the Windsor scene goes I don’t think we have anything in common with a lot of the bands.
M: Metalcore or screamo. They call it hardcore but it is more like mosh core.
J: That isn’t even worth debating.
Tell me about what you have recorded? How many recordings have you done to date? You were talking about a demo that you recorded.
P: The very first demo.
When did you first record?
J: 2006. Seven songs I believe.
Was it a self-released CD-R?
P: Yes.
Did any of those songs go onto the 7” with Schizophrenic or was that a different recording?
M: No. That was a different recording.
Was there any recordings in between those?
M: No. I don’t really think so because of the drummer issue. We tried to do something with our first drummer and that’s when things started to fall apart.
Where did you record the first demo at?
M: We did the first one at Concrete Channel in Tilbary. He is a friend of Jay’s. That was a home studio in the basement. The other recording, five songs of which were released on the 7” by Schizophrenic Records out of Hamilton entitled “Saturday Night Bleeder”. We did that with a buddy of ours who has a studio in his basement.
P: He does it for $100.
M: He knows what we want. It sounds good. It is something he does on the side. He does this because he enjoys it.
How long ago was that recorded?
M: A year ago. February of last year. We still have some songs that we didn’t release from that session.
How many other songs are there?
M: Ten originals and a bunch of covers. We did a couple of JOHNNY CASH covers. We did a benefit show for CJAM which is a college radio station in Windsor called “Cash versus Clash” and it had country bands do CLASH songs and punk bands do JOHNNY CASH songs. We did “Wanted man” and “Folsom Prison Blues”. That was a lot of fun.
P: That was on New Year’s Eve of 2008. That was a very fun show. It was fun learning the JOHNNY CASH songs which are recorded and we are probably never going to be able to do anything with them.
Did they ever release them?
M: We just got a better mix of them but I don’t think we will ever put them out other than putting them up on our myspace page.
You don’t think comps would want them because they would be great comp songs.
M: I think there are legal issues.
J: Copyrights. You wouldn’t want to cover RANCID. It is very much the same thing.
I wouldn’t want to cover RANCID period.
J: No the consequence would be the same. You would be sued is what I mean.
But I bet the covers sound good coming from you guys. What are the band’s plans coming up? You played some songs that you haven’t recorded yet. Are you going to be recording soon?
A: We are talking about doing a DEATH IN CUSTODY / DISCO ASSAULT split that would get released some time in the fall hopefully.
M: We are talking to Schizophrenic about it. A 7” because we like vinyl. We are sort of record nerds.
J: CDs are soulless, unless they come in digi packs with fold out posters.
Vinyl has been the ultimate format though. It stands the test of time. CDs are easily scratched. Records are beautiful.
P: When we were getting our 7” pressed; as a result of the resurgence in vinyl with newer bands going that route and there aren’t as many pressing plants as there are for CDs, we got put back on the list.
That’s a good sign though isn’t it. The record industry tried to kill vinyl. It’s good to see that they never accomplished that.
P: There are a lot of re-presses and it is disgusting what you are seeing on these re-presses. 180 gram vinyl for $28.99.
M: The SLAYER stuff too. $40 or $50 for that. I will buy the original.
P: At that point I will buy a CD.
J: And I never did get into downloading music.
Yeah me neither. What is the best way to get in touch with the band. What is the best way to reach you?
M: or also we have a website which has a link to it which is You can email us to at discoassault (at)
Any last comments?
P: We would like to come back this way with DEATH IN CUSTODY and do the original tour that was planned. The bands and the people in the cities that we played were just amazing. They are the nicest people in the world. If they had attitudes they checked them at the door because I didn’t see any of that crap.
A: I have seen some people in bands just get bored with seeing bands but the bands we saw were pretty amazing. Especially last night in Montreal. STRIVER and HOLD A GRUDGE.
P: Both bands were amazing.
P: The bands and the reception made us want to come back this way.
A: Check out DEATH IN CUSTODY thanks to Insurgence Records.
Was that a new release?
A: No that came out in January of 2008, “Infected with rage.” We actually recorded a CD a while ago and we are trying to figure out artwork but it will be called “The End Result”. It will be coming out on insurgence hopefully by the end of the summer. We have a new track that is coming out on a sampler that they are putting out called “Car Bomb.” Check out or
M: A big thanks from Craig for schizophrenix records for putting out the 7”. I have a pretty big vinyl collection and I finally have a record of my own to put in it. Craigs put out a ton of good stuff, check out his label at

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