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My Disco

by Fiona Killackey in Culture on 10 February 2009

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Labeled everything from "post-hardcore/math rock," "minimalist Melbourne DIY" and "reductive art-rock," to put it simply, My Disco is a Melbourne-based trio that transform basic rock instruments into a chaotically organised synthesis of sound. Effortlessly fusing the spectacularly disciplined drumming of Rohan Rebeiro and the frenetic sharpness of guitarist Ben Andrews, with the mechanical bass and hauntingly precise vocals of Liam Andrews, My Disco creates the type of live set that leaves your chest heaving, ears bleeding and your mind unsure of what you've just witnessed. On the cusp of an international tour that will see the band perform everywhere from Baltimore to Barcelona, Liam caught up with CH to talk creating, cancer and keeping up relationships.

Why the name "My Disco?"
The name is taken from Big Black, a punk band from Chicago, IL, that were active through the '80s and their song "My Disco" was the opening song to their 1987 Headache EP.

How and when did the band form?
In the summer of 2003 we formed the band after Benjamin had been living overseas. He was in Melbourne for about a month, I think, in which time we wrote/recorded/released a five-song cassette tape and performed our first two shows, one in a cafe and the other in front of a record store.

In 2008, My Disco recorded Paradise with Steve Albini. How did that come about and what was the experience like?

Continue reading...
Since the onset of this band we'd discussed—or more so dreamed about—recording at Electrical Audio, Steve Albini's studio in Chicago, so I kind of think we all knew it would happen at some point. It was a simple process, we made contact, we booked our recording dates. Steve doesn't need to hear demos of a band. He's just running his studio as a business and told us during our time there that it's self-funded bands like ourselves that are the financial backbone to Electrical. The studio itself is amazing and Steve and all the staff there made us all feel as if it was our home. We even slept there for the week of recording. Steve has built an apartment within the studio for himself. He never leaves!

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What are your day jobs?
I work for studio in Richmond called Bakehouse Studios. Rohan somehow manages to work full-time at a warehouse. I'm not sure what he does there, aside from driving a forklift without a license! Benjamin floats between odd jobs: painting hotel rooms, live sound engineering, hanging with the "kids," etc.

If you had to describe your music to someone who was deaf, using visual cues, how would you do it?
I remember a quote from one of our live shows once that went something like, "Is that guitar feedback or a Tibetan horn blowing into the Himalayas?"

What has been your favorite place to tour so far?
Japan and Indonesia. Japan was flawless. Flawless! Made me wish I was Japanese. On our last visit to Indonesia we traveled in a van with a driver who was in his sixties, didn't speak a word of English, never slept, never ate and never seemed to need to use the toilet. He's kind of our hero. Although we never did get his name.

Do you get nervous before shows?
I still do. I think we all still do. Ben can't eat a meal a minimum of six hours before we're due on. You should see him at the end of the night; he puts down two kilos of kebabs. It's disgusting.

Which bands do you listen to?
There's a great compilation called The Edge: David Axelrod at Capitol Records 1666-1970. I saw Michael Gira at the recent ATP Festival at Mt. Bulla where he was selling a CD-R of 2001 home recordings he made that I just can't turn off. I was also introduced to the music of Psarandonis at ATP, who's a Greek singer/composer from Crete.

Where do you draw inspiration for the lyrics?
It depends. The Cancer record (2006) was written during a period where I was undergoing treatment for Hodgkin's disease. I spent a lot of time in and out of hospitals and debilitated at home. I found it difficult to write much after Cancer, so writing became more abstracted and shorter. For Paradise, it was more so about a visual idea I was expressing. I also felt I needed to be more considerate to the music we were writing, which was taking a single idea and exploring it through repetition with the intent of mesmerism.

Is it difficult to maintain relationships when you're always going off on tours?
Well-timed question. I had a recent ending to a relationship that, I guess, was related to this. I find that I'm most at peace while traveling and performing, the further or more detached from home the better for some reason. You have to compromise a lot doing what we do as often as we do it and so commitment outside of this band at the moment is difficult. I believe we're all single right now.

If you could play with anyone in the world who would it be?
Jimi Hendrix.

How would you classify My Disco's sound? How about punk?

How far do you think you guys are from living solely off My Disco?
Far, but we're hopeful. I mean the band sustains itself through touring Australia and almost bankrupts itself touring overseas, which is what we most love doing. I think these things take time and the harder we tour, the closer we come. That's how I like to see it.

Do you find it difficult to keep motivated week in, week out?
Yes. Just like most people, it's difficult. I find that there are a lot of distractions in life that hold me back from being as focused, as I'd like. We all work to be able to live and that side of life is tiring, which can make it hard to remain motivated when allocating time to writing music or booking tours etc. There's so much involved, and as a band we control and organize almost all of what we do.

What has been the biggest obstacle to date in getting the band out there?
Getting out there meaning touring, right? Well then, the lack of finance.

What's been the greatest advice you've received?
"Shoot for 20."

Where can we catch you next?
We'll be in New Zealand for a weekend next month, and then in March we start an 11-week tour of North America and Europe, including two shows in Russia! It will be our first extensive tour of mainland Europe, which I can't wait for. It's the longest tour we've booked, being some 55 shows.

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