Just like their design here, Discharge are enjoying their recent makeover. Stoney quizzes Tezz & Jeff to see how the rejuvenated band are making new waves in the punk world…
Discharge has been on an upsurge that took some by surprise this year. The new line up has all but silenced any critics or nay-sayers with the brutal assault on the senses, live and with the new releases. Was there much band discussion about JJ joining, after being Broken Bones frontman on the Dead & Gone 12″?
@T: Not a big discussion really, at all. Something had to be done, so got it done. That’s about it really. No ifs ands or buts. It’s done: it’s a new era!
Does it alter things having JJ as frontman, especially lyrically? Are there any issues with an American outlook as part of Discharge for the first time in its history?
@T: Well, JJ does what’s asked of fans of the band and stays to the formula but I’m sure, as the band moves on, he will show more of his own talents.
Personally, I hear little bits of Cro-Mags/Sheer Terror style NYHC and other less UKHC sounds in some of the new trax. Obviously Tezz has a long history of being in Battalion Of Saints, Ministry and with JJ being in Dead Heroes back in New Jersey before he came over and ended up in Wasted Life before Broken Bones. Is it something you are aware of, or just a growing of the Discharge sound in general?
@T: Well, what can I say? Now it seems that we’re all just in this rut of everybody sounds like someone else, because let’s face it, all the good riffs are already done. It’s a bit harder coming up something that sounds like it’s yours and yours alone, so saving the best for last, I think.
[picture courtesy of Keith Harrison]
How did the change from 4 piece to 5 piece with Tezz adding crunch on second guitar come about?
@T: Well, I wanted back in, so I put it to the band and it took a while, but eventually it happened and it makes a world of difference.
Having heard the demo versions of 3 or 4 of the End Of Days tracks it was obvious to me and a few other lucky folks that the new album and line was on to something monstrous. Were Nuclear Blast in the frame from off? Was Discharge already out of contract with Candlelight at that point?
@T: The first demos were funded and done by the band, looking for a new deal. No Nuclear Blast, until they heard it. Just like that! Booosh!
@J: We had no contract with anyone at that point. We self-released “New World Order” as a video just on YouTube, just to get something out there and to show what we were about. Next thing, we were approached by Nuclear Blast then a few other labels contacted us that wanted to put out our new album…. we were pretty undecided at that point what to do, especially with such big labels contacting us but in the end, we decided Nuclear Blast was the best choice for
Was the West World deal in place for the back-catalogue re-issues in place before End Of Days took off, or was it a something that was being sorted out as the snow ball effect of what is clearly the success story of 2016?
@T: No deals. Oh, yeah, we spoke to some London label; just words, that’s about it.
@J: None of us were even aware about the Westworld releases or had any idea the entire back catalogue was being rereleased until I had an email from them one day sending me a jpg image of an ad for the releases and asking if we’d post it on social media for them. We haven’t seen anything from that, not even a single copy of one of the albums.
It’s fair to say the success of End Of Days has been one of the biggest things in UK Hardcore in years. What’s been the best part about the whole thing for you so far?
@T: The best thing to come out of it so far is the gigs: the fests, the new faces, the old faces. It’s all coming. It’s all part of the build. It’s great. The fans have stuck by the band: it’s great!
@J: I’d have to say Discharge finally getting the recognition it rightfully deserves and being a part of it. Everyone’s copied the style or covered the songs and became successful from it… apart from Discharge.
[picture courtesy of Keith Harrison]
There’s been a lot of stuff written since the album’s release putting it squarely at the same level of intensity as Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing. How do you lads feel about that? It’s interesting to get your perspective on it, especially with Tezz being back in the D-beat mix again, how do you think the new stuff compares from a writer’s point of view?
@T: Well, there again, it is what it is. Me and Bones have this gift and to share it is the best. To share these insane ideas with our fans is just great. And as far as Bones and his ideas on it, he don’t say a lot but I’m sure he thinks the same as me on that. We just want to give the fans what they want, so there’s a lot on the cutting room floor.
@J: I don’t think it’s much different at all really. Same war but different battles. Hear Nothing reflected on the Cold War and Nuclear Holocaust and what was happening at the time. End Of Days is reflecting what’s happening in the world today, but it’s still the same anti-authoritarian point of view.
The UK and American political scene at present is in meltdown, what with “Brexit”, the Labour party committing suicide and the US presidential campaigns. What’s your take, and does it at least give lyrical inspiration?
@T: It’s just fucking shit! We don’t tend to let it touch us. Me and Bones, that is. The others deal with things their way. Jeff puts things into words. Fuck pollatiks – can’t even spell it well!
What’s in pipeline for Discharge over the next few months? Obviously the re-arranged U.S. gigs are coming up. what was the issue with previous dates? Visas and the like I’m guessing?
@T: Shit went bad for me as far as going to the USA. Could not get in. So: fuck the USA. Hopefully next year, as I spent the biggest part of 20 years living there, so as you can imagine I was gutted not to get in.
There’s a very obvious Discharge influence in the New Orleans sludge sound to my ears. Are you looking forward to doing shows with Eye Hate God?
@T: Discharge has touched all stars in music. As far as that sludge sound, it’s probably due to how the band used to tune, as there was nothing to be had like a guitar tuner. So, we made our own tuning. Now the funny thing is all well most bands in this pocket have all tuned down just as we decide to tune up. It’s funny, weird, if you think about it, hee hee.
How do you see the next 12 to 18 months panning out? The right wing has been rearing its ugly head, and political events are giving them an excuse to be more vocal/ What’s your take on it all?
@J: It’s a sad state of affairs. As the saying goes: “Those who don’t remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Mankind is its own worst enemy. Donald Trump’s just been elected and with the whole Brexit thing, it’s given the right wing a green light to come out openly about racism as its suddenly become acceptable. I think things will get worse but I hope it doesn’t.
How’s the Hagstrom deal working out? Having had a play on one of Tezz’ Swedish beasts I know they are tasty “meat n potatoes” axes. Did Rainey take some persuading to rest the Kramer?
@T: Hagstrom: great guitars. Awesome. Love ’em. Plus, I got Seymore Duncan pickups in them, so no fucking prisoners! And, Rainy loves his and that Kramer is fucked: needs a lot of working on!
[Rainey got his Hagstrom Swede bass recently and has been using it to great effect at the last few gigs before the recent American Tour. Karl Morris (ex-Exploited/Broken Bones/UK Subs and Billyclub guitar wrangler stepped in to cover bass duties, due to Rainey not being allowed in.]
[picture courtesy of Keith Harrison]
Bones and Tezz have gone through a ton of different guitars over the years. Any that have got lost or sold that you wish you’d kept?
@T: I had an old Gibson Les Paul Goldtop. It was a gift to me. It had P 90s in, but like an idiot, I put a humbucker in it. It was awesome, but lost the value.
What’s your top 3 tracks to play off End Of Days?
@T: Oh, well, my fave? We don’t do yet, as we don’t practice enough. ‘Infected’ is good, ‘Broken Law’ anf the other one – I can’t remember the name as I don’t listen to it – always working on new stuff!
@J: At the moment: ‘Killing Yourself To Live’, ‘Raped And Pillaged’, ‘Broken Law’.
While we’re at it, favourites from the older material?
@T: Old stuff: State Violence, and as a band, we now play ‘Protest and Survive’ and ‘Hype Overload’ which runs into our first single but now vamped up ‘Realities Of War’. As I was the drummer who invented (well, not invented but you know what I mean) and now I’m up front doing what I want to do in the first place, it’s fucking great!
JJ with Huggy did with artwork for End Of Days, obviously using the superb art by John Heartfield as a source. Is that something you felt was part of the Discharge heritage and kept a continuity running through the artwork that Cal did in the 80’s and onto now? I know JJ has a passion for Pushead’s art (same here!). Did Pushead ever get back to you about supplying some artwork?
@T: As far as the artwork, that crying angel is great. I don’t see too much TV, so I don’t get the Doctor Who thing [ie the similarities of the angel] and my bro Bones knows nothing, really, for that. It got the brush.
@J: John Heartfield was a great anti-war artist and his art really captures the feel of Discharge’s music….and as the saying goes “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Although we didn’t use his art on The End Of Days we used it on the single for the New World Order 7″. We did try to get in touch with Pushead and it was really hard trying to get a contact for him.
We talked to Gerardo from Nuclear Blast about it and he was gonna try and help us find him…. funnily enough a few days after we spoke about it he LITERALLY bumped into him crossing the street in NYC, they discussed it. He said he was a huge fan of Discharge but he was just too tied up to get involved in anymore projects at the time.
On the subject of artwork: what’s everyone’s favourite piece of Discharge art, be a 7″, 12″ or shirt? Obviously, the band graces the backs of any number of jackets, walls and every punk or hardcore kid on the planet owns or has owned a Discharge shirt at some point just abouts. Usually several! 😉 Not to mention any number of major players in thrash metal and the crossover scene.
@T: Yeah, as far as logos/shirts, it’s always great to see and yes, we we still hold the same look to our logos. It’s our thing – every band has their thing and yes that’s ours.
@J: Probably the Discharge “face” logo… and we just recently found out who it was after all these years but we’ll keep it a secret!
Are there any plans for anything from Broken Bones? Or is it in park for the foreseeable future? Obviously, Discharge is full steam ahead right now, but it’s a fair question since 4 of you are in both bands.)
@J: Seems a bit pointless really doing both bands with the same members… but we’ve got too much on our plate with Discharge at the moment to do anything with other bands.
After over 35 years of being at the forefront of UK punk, spawning an entire genre (sorry, but I tried to not mention D-Beat n failed!), what’s the one thing about the band’s illustrious history that stands out?
@J: Probably…. the dark and mysterious side of the whole Discharge image.
Want to read this offline? Download Anger Burning Issue 3