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Escape Velocity

Oz Trio My Disco Talk Albini And Honing Their Brute Minimalism
Glen Mcleod , April 16th, 2009 09:06

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Melbourne band My Disco are the epitome of lean. Their visceral, stripped back sound has evolved from early EPs which had feet in both the Chicago post rock and Melbourne DIY scenes of the mid 90s, to their debut album Cancer. This not only documented them finding a new focused and minimal direction in their sound, but also singer/bassist Liam's battle with Hodgkin's disease.

Upon trying to distil My Disco's sound into words, the use of ‘minimal' is unavoidable. Against a musical landscape where dense, murky production is par for course, My Disco's clean lines and skeletal compositions are always going to jar. But it's the extreme to which they have taken this exercise in discipline, culminating in last year's album Paradise – an opus which demonstrated an ever more severe reduction of their sound.

This discipline is never more apparent than in their frenetic live shows, in equal parts abrasive and danceable. Upon the eve of My Disco touring these shores The Quietus caught up with Liam from the band who, thanks to a Canadian passport thief, found himself in London when he should have been completing the US leg of their tour.

Hello My Disco - can you give us a brief history of the band: what has lead you to the point of being on the other end of this interview?

MY DISCO formed in Melbourne, Australia in 2003. The band is Liam Andrews, Benjamin Andrews and Rohan Rebeiro. We've released two albums; Cancer (2006), Paradise (2008). Since 2003, we've toured all over Australia and New Zealand, regions of South-east Asia, United States Of America, United Kingdom, Mexico, and Japan. At the moment we are three weeks into a ten week tour of North America and Europe...

For people who may not have heard you, how would you describe your sound?

Reductive Rock / Minimalist Hard House.

Do most people get that your name is a Big Black reference, or do people turn up to gigs expecting to hear Italodisco?

Ha. I'm not sure. I think there's a lot of people that like our music that don't know who Big Black are, and of course visa versa. Whether or not people turn up to shows expecting Italian house or something like that I have no idea. I'd hope so…

You are in the midst of a mammoth tour - how is it going thus far?

Well, at the moment I'm in London while Benjamin and Rohan are still in North America. You see, while we were in Canada for two shows, we had two of our bags stolen at the Toronto show, one of which had a passport in it belonging to me. It turns out that British Consulate's in Canada can no longer issue passports at all, and all replacements have to be issued from Washington DC. This would take over a week. So, I was sent home (I'm a British Citizen living in Australia) which leads me to London. Because of this, I've missed the last week of shows in the United States and will be in the UK until our tour starts here… So, so far it's been a mess. Up until this though, the shows were going great as we were on tour with an amazing band from Louisville called Young Widows.

You recently played at SXSW - did you find it full of like-minded musicians or industry types?

It was our first time to SXSW, and to be honest it was just too overwhelming. You couldn't escape hearing, seeing, being around bands. It was insane. We performed three shows while we were there, two of which were great. When we left Austin I remember driving to our show in Dallas, Texas we had complete silence in the van. No-one wanted to listen to music.

You're currently in Britain - what should the uninitiated expect from your live show?

We're still touring the Paradise album, so most of our set is taken from this. We've also been performing a couple of new songs for our next record we're looking to record in the fall.

Many Australian bands relocate to Europe in order to gain more exposure. Have you ever considered the move or do you feel you have more to achieve in Australia?

Yes. We've considered it as it makes touring much easier. We've toured Australia a lot, and it's limited on how far It can be taken. I don't feel we have much more to achieve in Australia, content there. Being in Europe opens up a world of touring, and is also much closer to the United States etc. It's just easier being located there when touring is considered.

Your tour winds up in Russia - do you know of many Russian My Disco fans?

Not at all. The promoter organised shows for a friends of ours from back home. He offered to help us out. We've had a few people write to us from St. Petersburg, but from what I gathered it's difficult for them to import albums…

Your last album was recorded at Electrical Audio with Steve Albini, which seems to hold a mythical status when in actuality it sounds like a reasonably priced studio with an excellent sound engineer. Which was it for you?

The latter. There are studios in Melbourne that cost more than Electrical. Working there with Steve Albini was amazing, so relaxed and productive. We're considering going back for the next album 'cause it's going to be hard to find somewhere that's going to compare to what's going on there…

Your sound seems to get more refined and focused on each new release – is this planned?

It's been a natural evolution for our song writing, it wasn't planned in that we sat down and discussed what we would do next, this is just what came out from our studio room.

According to My Disco's Wikipedia page - 'Little is known about what has influenced their minimalist direction of the last few years': do you care to shed some light?

Ha. Well, according to our Wikipedia we were also in bands before My Disco that we weren't! I'm not sure who writes all that… I guess like I mentioned before it's just all developed without being pre-meditated. It's a reflection of music that's inspired us, and our surroundings at the time.

If you could choose a band to play one of their albums in full live - who and what would it be?

New Year's Eve just passed we performed Ramones Ramones in full. All 28 minutes. That answers that.

My Disco are currently on tour. Visit their Myspace for sounds and details. My Disco picture by Dave Ma

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