A few weeks back, on a grim rainy stormy night in Leeds, I headed down to the legendary Brudenell Social Club to watch one of the greatest guitar bands of the last 20 years; Built To Spill.
The bill for the show listed Disco Doom as support. I must confess that I’d not heard of them beforehand and from the name couldn’t really tell what to expect! I was rather pleasantly surprised when they took to the stage. I had a feeling they’d be good. BTS have a knack for great supports and tours.
Disco Doom are a band you should make time for. Their albums grow on you, rewarding the listener with each additional play, drawing you back in for more. They have a new album ‘Numerals’ out today in the UK (11th Dec 2015) on Exploding In Sound Records.
I was intrigued by their sounds and keen to find out a bit more about them…
“Our band was formed in the late 90s in Zurich, Switzerland, where we still are based. We started as a 3 piece (drums, two guitars and vocals). A bunch of friends playing music together and sharing the love for the same (mostly) guitar music, while in the city almost everyone else was into electro music. This was a good ground to develop our own stuff unhurriedly, and after a few years we also added a bass/keys player. Then children were born and study times were over and we got a lot of drummer changes. Now since Flo joined the band when Numerals was almost done, and with Tobi on the drums for more than a year now, it seems we’re a steady band again. ”
I must admit your band had escaped my attention (shame on me!) until the recent Built to Spill gigs, but I am very pleased I did catch you on that tour. How did that relationship with BTS come about? I understand you’ve played with them previously, is that correct?
“Yeah, we opened a show for them in 2007 in Switzerland and they liked it. After that they invited us to open for them on two European tours and three-months in the US. This was now the 3rd European tour we’ve done together. It’s still like a dream for us, but at the same time it’s actually happening!”
How did the tour go?
“The tour went really great, we’re totally happy about all the amazing response we got to our music, how much people seemed to take notice of us and it seems the band’s in good shape as well. Luckily, the BTS fans seem to like us.”
BTS seemed super supportive, I noticed Doug and Jim standing at the front watching the show in Leeds, which was lovely to see. What is your favourite memory from the tour?
“These guys are extremely supportive, It’s wonderful to see how our relationship grows every time we tour together and that they still come to watch most of our shows instead of hanging backstage. We’ve heard each other’s music more than 150 times and still we all seem to be into each other’s stuff. ”
Your music seems to escape pigeonholing and the usual classification boundaries. I am intrigued to know if this is a deliberate approach from the band or does it come naturally to experiment and create such an interesting and diverse range of music?
“It comes naturally for sure, we’re really into experimenting with sounds and structures and love to create very diverse music. That’s important for us, and also keeps our own interest in advancing our music every time. This feels absolutely natural to us – and is kind of how we listen to music ourselves.”
Is it difficult to piece together album track lists and concert set lists with such varying songs and dynamics?
“Not difficult, but challenging for sure as each of our albums sound pretty different and we change the set list for every show. We like to tell a story with it and we like to think it’s like composing a movie score. For sure we try to describe a mood which can vary a lot from one night to the next.”
What is your typical song writing process?
“That varies a lot and depends very much on the actual situation. Gabriele writes a lot of main ideas, and then most of the time we develop them together. Since we’re a full band now again, we most likely will write songs again with the whole band.”
It seems to have taken a while to get the official UK launch of Numerals. What is the story behind the delay?
“There’s Dan Goldin from our amazing US-label Exploding in Sound who supports us very much and does most of the work for us in the US. Besides that it’s all us doing whatever is necessary or possible, and sometimes it’s not possible to do all at the same time. Since the record was released we toured in the US and France, played quite a few shows and festivals in Switzerland. So it’s only a question of what is possible to do or not in which time. We’re very happy we finally also got the chance to present Numerals in the UK and we’re really happy how good people react to our shows and the record.”
The album was recorded with Jim Roth. Can you tell us a bit about that experience. How did he affect/influence the album? Did he have any ideas on how the record should sound?
“Jim recorded our previous album, Trux Reverb. So we knew how great it would be for us to work with him again. Last time we went to the Avast in Seattle, this time we worked in his own studio. It’s amazing how he works, he handles everything very un-agitated and easy going. He leaves you all the space you need to explore your stuff and at the same time he’s very attentive, so that he’s able to catch the moment and record it. Also he’s a guitar sound lover and pedal wizard and we share quite a similar thinking about such sounds. He didn’t define the sound for Numerals, that was us. But he understands our ideas and certainly is a genius to bring the sounds onto tape. We’re so absolutely happy about the work he did for us. ”
Does it feel strange talking about a record that you’ve been living with for some time?
No absolutely not – we still play the songs a lot live, they’re still a big part of our live sets. And we also still like the record.
And finally, any plans for Disco Doom in 2016?
We will soon go back to the recording process (next week, actually) to hopefully have a record before 2016 is over. Though we very often need more time than we think at first! Also we’re gonna play concerts, tour in the US and hopefully come to the UK again too.