Wisconsin Rockers Disq on Their Debut Album and Being a "Buzz Band"

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Wisconsin Rockers Disq on Their Debut Album and Being a "Buzz Band"

There’s an aggressive purity to Disq’s music. The Madison outfit filters sincere, bittersweet songwriting through vast guitars, and the result is a whiplash of good-natured pop. The five-piece band, whose members range in age from 19 to 24, have generated noticeable buzz off the back of just one seven-inch single for Saddle Creek’s Document Series. After being profiled by Stereogum and tipped by NPR, Disq made their South By Southwest debut earlier this year, which drew praise from Paste, among others.

Disq was formed by two Wisconsin teens, Isaac deBroux-Slone (vocals, guitar) and Raina Bock (bass, backing vocals), who both grew up in artistic households on a steady diet of bands like The Beatles, Todd Rundgren and Weezer. They self-released and self-recorded a mini LP, Disq I, in 2016, but their new Saddle Creek single, “Communication” (backed with “Parallel”) is their debut label release and more representative of their current sound. Disq rounded out their lineup with three new members, who also pitch in on writing and recording duties: Brendan Manley (drums), Logan Severson (guitar, backing vocals) and Shannon Connor (guitar, keys).

After supporting acts like Whitney, Twin Peaks and Jay Som, Disq scored an opening slot for Shame on their recent U.S. tour. Paste caught Disq’s set in Atlanta, where they matched the sonic magnitude of their sturdy SXSW showing. Their new live material is anything but monolithic—you’ll find traces of feverish psych-rock, lustrous jangle pop, noisy post-punk, and bouncy twee pop—though you’ll notice a consistently vociferous energy thanks to their propulsive guitar triple threat.

Paste chatted with Disq about their origins, forthcoming debut album and their reaction to being called a “buzz band.” Read the Q&A below, which has been edited for clarity and length.

Paste: How did you all meet?

Shannon Connor: Brendan and I have been playing music together for 12, 14 years or something. We’ve been in bands the entire time we’ve known each other.

Isaac deBroux-Slone: [Raina and I have] been friends for life pretty much because our parents are close friends. I went to school with these guys.

Raina Bock: And we lost to them in Battle of the Bands!

Do you guys remember the first song you learned on guitar or drums?

deBroux-Slone: The first song I learned to play was “Band on the Run.” I learned how to play the chords for the second part, the 12-string part.

Logan Severson: I learned how to play “Daytripper” with my mom and we just sat there and played the song and each note we would pause and learn it.

Bock: I don’t remember the first song I learned on bass, but the first song I learned on guitar was “Pinball Wizard.”

Connor: I think the first one I learned was a fake version of “Smoke on the Water.”

Brendan Manley: I performed “I’m A Believer” on the drums in kindergarten.

Connor: I was actually a part of that performance. I wasn’t actually doing anything. I think I was just playing tambourine.

Manley: I was really the star of that show.

Connor: [Manley’s] mom propped us up to support him.

Isaac and Raina, you guys have known each other since you were infants. Do you feel like you’re on the same personal and musical wavelength?

Bock: No.

All: [laughs]

deBroux-Slone: I think we understand each other in more ways than other people.

Severson: Y’all definitely have a synergy.

Bock: There’s a deep understanding but we’re very different people.

Connor: I think Raina and Isaac are the most different personalities in the band.

Bock: Which I think also plays to our benefit. Different perspectives.

You played SXSW for the first time this year. What was that experience like?

deBroux-Slone: It was really crazy. We took a lot of meetings with some interesting characters.

Severson: I think it was definitely, at least in my experience, my first introduction into actually witnessing the music industry in a real way. That was pretty eye-opening. But mostly positive.

Bock: That was one situation where I didn’t like the image of being a band. We’ll be walking around and it’s like “Fuck!” You see all these groups of boys in Dickies. It’s like, “Oh god.” [laughs]

What can we expect from the debut album?

deBroux-Slone: I think it’s gonna be pretty diverse. Not like it’s spanning a ton of genres but all the songs are pretty different. Some more acoustic stuff going on. More guitar-focused. More personal lyrics about personal struggles.

Bock: More unconventional song structures this time. Getting away from that verse-chorus-verse-chorus thing. The stuff we’re playing now with Shame is a little more uptempo and it’s the aggressive rock ones.

Severson: We’ve been listening to a lot post-punk stuff so that kind of comes through on some of the harder stuff. There’s also just stuff that we always liked and that comes through like The Beatles and ’60s melodic stuff and ’90s punk rock.

Bock: I feel like this time around the influences from the first album are still there but they blend together a lot better. It would be harder to point to one part and say this sounds a lot like a really ’60s keyboard part.

Did you bring in a producer this time around?

deBroux-Slone: Yeah. We worked with Rob Schnapf this time who did Elliot Smith’s Either/Or, Figure 8 and XO.

Severson: Some of our other favorite records as well.

Connor: Tokyo Police Club’s second album, which I’m a big fan of personally, or I was in high school.

Did you know you wanted a third guitar player at a certain point?

deBroux-Slone: My mentality for it was that I should be able to play a guitar solo and there would be a person playing chords but then there could be another person also playing chords or another line in the song or somebody playing keyboards. We don’t have to be as limited in recording, thinking, “How are we going to do this live?”

Severson: And it’s just fun and loud.

Connor: Everyone playing the same chord is probably my favorite part.

Do you feel the weight of being a buzz band or almost buzz band?

All: [laughs]

Bock: We’re totally just trying to figure it out. We’re not a buzz band. [laughs]

deBroux-Slone: We were just called a buzz band though. That’s the first step. [laughs]

Connor: I personally think, even before any of that, the idea of recording an album with a producer and money being involved and all this stuff is so new to me. The smallest things about this band are crazy to me.

deBroux-Slone: Yeah being a buzz band is cool for now.

Connor: We’re the number one buzz band. [laughs]

What do you guys think of social media? Not just from a band marketing perspective, but in general?

deBroux-Slone: I’m probably addicted to social media. I like it for a lot of things. But it definitely negatively affects my self-esteem and mental health. I think I definitely want to be on there for positive reasons, but frequently it’s easy to start looking at things that make you upset.

Severson: I’ve definitely taken some month-long breaks. Raina just straight up owns a flip-phone and is probably the best of us at staying away. [Raina pulls out flip-phone]

Woah. Is that a Razr?

Bock: When I first switched to a flip-phone, I got a pink Razr but they’re not in production so they’re really bad and so I got the LG Exalt. When I was in high school, there was a student technology ban that the students enforced along with the administration, so you couldn’t have a phone or you couldn’t really have a computer unless it was specifically for a class. At first I was so angry about it, but then it made me look at my behavior a lot and right away, I noticed a huge difference in my life. Best decision I ever made for sure.

Communication b/w Parallel is out now on seven-inch vinyl via Saddle Creek