Disappears – Unstoppable riffs from Chicago

The band, the van

Disappears gets a lot of run for carrying the torch of Krautrock, but there’s more to the Chicago band than that. Behind the metronome-like rhythms and droning riffs is a garage rock energy that shares the rawness of The Fall as much as the calculation of Neu! Following the release of the group’s latest EP, Guider, its original drummer quit. Then Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley stepped in not only to play the new songs live but to start a new run of deceptively repetitive sounding, absolutely addictive, and just plain ripping music. I caught up with singer, guitarist, and co-founder Brian Case and the crew toward the end of Disappears’ West Coast run with Obits.

Left to right: Damon Carruesco, Steve Shelley, Brian Case

MW: I love how the newest EP is droning but succinct, brainy but not boring. Are those sorts of struggles ongoing for the band or is it pretty effortless for you guys at this point?
BC: It’s taken us a while to learn how to cut the fat from our songs, so to speak, but it’s certainly not effortless yet. That said, the more time we spend writing and working together it becomes easier to see the final song. We usually start with a song crammed with a lot more than it ends up with, just play it over and over and simplify, extract.

MW: One song clocks in at more than 15 minutes, but I feel like any one of the others could have just as easily been expanded upon. Why “Revisiting”?
BC: “Revisiting” was the one song that we hadn’t been playing before we recorded. I think we only played it once, and it was pretty conceptual from the beginning. We wanted to have one side of the album be this piece or whatever–just try and stretch it out and see what happens. It turned out great. We used the first take, and I think we really captured something.

Guitar business in the front (Jonathan Van Herik), party in the back (Brian Case)

MW: There must be a greater appreciation for playing and touring after a band faces a possible demise. Is there a sense of mortality? A feeling of a second chance?
BC: I’ve been in lots of bands. They could end at any moment for any reason, no matter how good or bad things are going. Actually, the last two bands I was in stopped playing when things were going as good as ever! So there’s no sense of mortality or second chance; you just play and hope that people can get along and appreciate the hard work and sacrifices that everyone is making to be a part of something together.

MW: Now that Steve Shelley is in the band, would you say that there are more fans wearing Sonic Youth T-shirts at Disappears shows or ones wearing Crucifucks T-shirts at Sonic Youth shows? (You might have to ask Steve about this.)
BC: Ha ha, I’d have to ask Steve if Crucifucks ever even made shirts! There are definitely people checking out the band based on Steve’s involvement, but most of them seem to be leaving with records so it’s not too bothersome. It’d be silly for us to think that wouldn’t end up happening to some extent.

Stolen flash, someone else's bad

MW: I dig the idea of your live EPs. How do you view them? Time capsules of the band in between albums? Snacks for fans between meals?
BC: We just like getting music out there. I like the idea of not being so precious about every little thing that comes out. The live stuff is fun and easy, and it’s a nice chance to show how songs evolve and get people something that captures a very specific time and place. I suppose it serves as a time capsule of sorts. It also keeps us making music and moving forward, which is really important for us. We try to be really proactive in terms of having new material and trying it out live, so it’s a cool way for us to see the progress as well.

MW: The tour with Obits is a super cool pairing. And then there was the Psychic Paramount. Do you ever tour with shitty bands?
BC: No, we’ve never had to tour with a shitty band. Luckily, we have a say in those things and it’s been great being able to travel and play with friends and bands that we like. We haven’t even done too many shows with bands that suck. I can’t think of any off the top of my head, so they all must have been at least decent.

Disappears at Club Satellite (August 24, 2011)

If you can’t see Disappears with Obits and the Beaters in San Diego at the Casbah tonight, watch them on YouTube and buy the vinyl from Kranky. You can also stalk the band via its webpage and download their earlier works there, as well.