One version of an article about Disconnect would simply be a list of all the bands that these four guys are former or current members of.
Unfortunately, that version of this article would run a little long for the space, so I’ll just mention a few: This Computer Kills, Tate-Labianca, The Spotlight Syndicate and Bafabegiya. If you’ve never heard any of these bands, fret not, because Disconnect is more than just the sum of its affiliations. However, the band’s prolific collective resume is a testament to the tireless dedication of these musicians. They describe themselves as a “potluck band,” where every member brings something different to the table. This partly explains how they’re able to bring in the best aspects of different underground sounds without being limited to any particular genre conventions. It’s not tough-guy thug hardcore; it’s not self-obsessed crybaby emo, and it’s not pretentious, arty noise rock—but it should appeal to fans of all three. The emphasis is on tightly wound, high-energy ensemble playing that makes a serious racket without ever devolving into either unstructured noise or mindless chugging.
Justin Morales’ thick, melodic bass lines drive the songs. Guitarist Jeff Baer plays for texture and atmosphere as often as riffage (though his riffage doesn’t disappoint), and drummer Josh Hageman doesn’t just plow ahead but plays atypical polyrhythms. Ty “Fighter” Williams sings with an urgent, careening yelp. Williams plays guitar in the pop band Pink Black and recently has been coloring some of Disconnect’s songs with his melodic guitar playing.
The only influence all four members agree on is the legendary Washington, D.C., band Fugazi. The band members are quick to contend that this influence is not musical but rather philosophical. (However, the attentive listener may also note a distinct musical influence.) Fugazi are purveyors of the do-it-yourself ethos that inspires Disconnect.
“We book our own shows, lift our own amps and put them in the van,” says Hageman.
The self-described “demo warriors” have recorded and released innumerable demo tapes and one “official” self-titled LP. Hageman did the album artwork, which features what appear to be either humanoid trees or shrubbery people. The album artwork has a cutesy, peacenik quality that, though appealing in its own right, belies the ferocity on the vinyl. The album isn’t all hardcore intensity, however. One of the best songs, “Burn the CD, Record the Record,” almost sounds like a Morricone Spaghetti Western theme.
Williams, who’s fond of making nonsensical statements like “I write lyrics from the grave,” wrote a good chunk of the lyrics while depressed and bumming around Holland. While the first sound on the LP is a rallying cry of “revolution!” and the lyrics contain multiple references to burning things down, the words are mostly more personal than political. A good example is the opening refrain from “Converse and Soymilk": “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry/I’m sick of saying I’m sorry.”
A unique thing about Disconnect is that all four members are proficient in all four traditional rock instruments: guitar, drums, bass and vocals—which begs the question: Do they ever trade off instruments?
Hageman gets excited. “Well, I think now, because of this interview, we’re going to start.” The band members are comfortable with this kind of flexibility because, as Hageman says, “We’re basically 20-something versions of 14 year olds jamming in some basement.”