Every album, live show, poster and piece of cover art associated with My Disco seems to be a flawless representation of whatever the hell it is they’re going through at that time. Their general themes can be somewhat impenetrable but for those who have stayed on board from album to album, their music becomes more of an atmospheric experience, a poignant entity that almost defies the need for analysis. I pored over some of the band’s history with drummer and gentleman Rohan Rebeiro.
David Sullivan: So you’re living back in Melbourne now?
Rohan Rebeiro: Yeah, I’m kind of the only one in the group who hasn’t gone anywhere.
David Sullivan: Really? What are the other guys up to?
Rohan Rebeiro: Liam I think has been living in Europe between London and Barcelona for about two years. I think we went on a European tour and he just sort of never came back. Ben’s been going back and forth from Melbourne to Indonesia.
David Sullivan: Wow, Indonesia, why there?
Rohan Rebeiro: I think he’s just into the culture and the food, and the weather. He’s got a few friends around there who he kind of met through touring Southeast Asia. So I think he can just set up camp and hang out there a while. But I think he’s back for a little bit now.
David Sullivan: You guys have some show coming up right?
Rohan Rebeiro: Yeah, we’ve got some shows and the album release… I think we might all be more or less in the same country for the next year although I haven’t actually really talked to them much recently.
David Sullivan: Do you think you’re drawn to Australia? Have you considered moving overseas?
Rohan Rebeiro: Well it would be awesome to move overseas and pick a place and set up, but I think Australia’s really good because you can find work and try out all sorts of musical things and it’s not as much of a stress. The world’s so connected, it’s so easy to send music overseas and get opportunities that way.
David Sullivan: I feel like all your albums, especially Paradise and Little Joy, feel intrinsically Australian, which is great because I sometimes have trouble finding how art and music connects to the notion of what being Australian is these days… I feel your music is in some way a good example of modern Australia.
Rohan Rebeiro: Hmm, I’ve never really heard an observation like that before but I feel like I can understand it… With Paradise, I guess the artwork and the ruggedness of the guitar, and the kind of deep droney twang and spacious drums had a desert vibe… And I could see how that could carry on with Little Joy.
David Sullivan: I get a different feeling from Severe, it feels quite detached.
Rohan Rebeiro: I think we were just thinking of a certain kind of emptiness, or blackness; space. We never really talked about what we were trying to achieve but I think we were all going for something apocalyptic and otherworldly; the darkness.
David Sullivan: I think you guys succeeded pretty well in that.
Rohan Rebeiro: It’s the first time ever we’ve all separately had an idea and it’s worked altogether. We’ve been together for so long but we all have such different influences, sometimes you can make a song and one person is imagining it one way and another person is imagining it another way and it can tie together but somehow doesn’t really gel as a body of sound. I feel like the new one is glued together, it blends into a whole unified sound.
David Sullivan: Mmm it does sound like a big wash of sound at times…
Rohan Rebeiro: Yeah and it feels good to play live as well. The hits are all together, the big washes all happen together and then the pauses and the sustain, when you hit the symbol and hear the overtones and it’s all blending with the guitar overtones and suddenly a big thundery sound comes in, it feels like it’s all coming from an individual.
David Sullivan: Yeah wow I saw your most recent show at GoodGod and I felt that it was one big wall of sound coming at me. You guys played all new material at that show, which is quite normal for My Disco, but I remember a few years ago I saw you, again at GoodGod, and you played a bunch of old stuff, including Perfect Protection which seemed quite rare, what was the reasoning behind that?
Rohan Rebeiro: I think that was our ten year anniversary show. We’re not like strict about things like that, I think we had just rehearsed it and played some of our favourite songs for those shows. I think we’ve been together for about 13 years, sometimes it’s just fun to bust out a jam and not take it that seriously, just even to see if we can remember how to play it.
I think in general we all just want to keep making up new stuff and feeling like we’re going somewhere, it sucks to have the feeling of struggling to find new things, or rehashing old techniques.
David Sullivan: True. It was cool seeing you play that song though, I remember seeing you guys at a gallery space in Sydney called Black & Blue, it was around when Cancer came out and you didn’t even play it then! I was talking to a friend about it that show recently and she recalled it got broken up by the cops. Do you remember that?
Rohan Rebeiro: Yeah I remember that show was awesome and chaotic as well. I think we got through the set before it got broken up. So many things happened that night… Our regular sound engineer came to the show, and that day his first child was due to be born. So mid set he just bounced to the hospital. Then the cops were out the front, I think people were being a bit cheeky and there was a bit of a scuffle then people got arrested…
Then we went around to pick up the van to collect all our gear and the van had been busted into and a bunch of bags had been stolen. It sucked so we decided to gaffa tape the window and drive back to Melbourne overnight, then in the middle of the night we’re hooning down the highway – brakes screech and we hit this massive kangaroo and it put a huge dent in this 12 seater HiAce or whatever. We had to return the van and try and explain it all. It was intense.
It was an amazing show though, I remember the bands there would back onto big glass windows overlooking the city.
David Sullivan: Yeah you played with Dead Farmers if I remember correctly. Great show. From the start, it seems like you guys, as a band, your vision was so focused and strong. You’ve obviously progressed but there’s still this uncompromising, somewhat minimal aesthetic you’ve retained the whole way. Can you recollect what you were thinking right back at the start?
Rohan Rebeiro: Hmmm, I guess in the beginning we were kind of obsessed with tightness, I think that’s in our personalities, slightly perfectionist… Which definitely has its downsides as well. I think we just wanted to make everything as accurate as can be. Get everything to snap and be crisp and tight, I guess we were playing heaps of shows and it was all about nailing it live and being really intense. It was almost like the tightness was more important than anyone’s happiness.
Some sort of accuracy or punch through a sound system is something I think we all share an interest in.
David Sullivan: Would you agree that this vision you had continues now?
Rohan Rebeiro: I think so. I think with the new album, all of the spaces are just there for the moment when we all play a sound and come back in together, it really accentuates it. It’s not all operating at a million DB, it’s chopping the dynamics and trying to get more intense and suspenseful.
David Sullivan: Do you have a preferred crowd reaction? Another friend of mine was saying that he saw you in Melbourne and people were hooting and hollering, he thought this was almost unacceptable (laughs). Do you prefer kind of quiet reverence compared to loud appreciation?
Rohan Rebeiro: Well, I guess it would be nice if people waited until the end of the song to make noise. Especially back when we were obsessed with making a bunch of noise and then stopping and being silent, people would try and take that opportunity to yell out, even to be cheeky or whatever. Like maybe they’re not engaging completely with the music, it’s just their Friday night out. It can kind of soften the intensity. We’re in a pretty intense zone so it doesn’t affect us that much but maybe it would affect other audience members.
David Sullivan: Mmm I can think of something like Land off Paradise, which is a bit quieter, if people are yelling out through that it could really break the moment
Rohan Rebeiro: Totally. A silent audience is nice. The last few years I’ve gone off on tangents of drum solos, and people are cheering because you’re doing like a wild man drum solo, it’s kind of weird. It’s good to have that support, and it’s probably mostly my friends who are yelling but you kind of wanna do things really quietly as well, like just rubbing my hand across the snare or something, I love exploiting that dynamic, but if people are cheering it makes it harder.
But I mean really it’s not up to me to say.
David Sullivan: The new album is definitely dynamic, I thought your drums were mostly quite sparse on it.
Rohan Rebeiro: I don’t think about my drums on it, I really appreciate the whole sound. I don’t feel I have any ego attached to the drum performance, there’s no chopping out in there, it’s all very much just reinforcing all of the other instruments. I feel like it’s the worst when you can hear that that’s the way you play drums, kind of like hearing your own voice… On this album there’s different effects and echo though…
David Sullivan: How was the digital recording process?
Rohan Rebeiro: Yeah we did it with Cornel Wilczek, who’s more of a digital music producer, composer, so he’s got a bunch of ideas. He was easy to work with. So to get that kind atmosphere going, to make it a little bit more abstract, create that more otherworldly feeling, potentially digital is good for that because you’ve got access to processing… I guess the Albini recordings were super pure… I dunno what he’d think but I like the idea of messing with the reverb or changing the sound of a drum and the space that it’s in to create more of a mood and weirdness. It’s not necessarily a straight rock album.
David Sullivan: How were the Albini recordings comparatively?
Rohan Rebeiro: It was really fun playing drums in that room. All of the takes we’d basically just bash out the tracks and then that’s it. The microphones and Albini captures what you sounded like at that moment and that’s the sound for the whole album. What that floor tom sounded like on the first track is the exact same thing that it sounds like on the last track. If what a band wants is to have the most awesome representation of what they sounded like done then, that’s when tape is probably the best, it just does cool things. Whatever mistakes or things that happen on the tape, that’s always good. With Severe it’s going for more of an atmosphere and playing with the ambience.
David Sullivan: It even sounded a little soundtracky at times. This is kind of an odd comparison but there was a moment where it sounded like a part of Neil Young’s Dead Man soundtrack…?
Rohan Rebeiro: Hmm maybe that’s the only thing we really talked about as a band. At the time we were vibing on the John Carpenter kind of thing, we were going for almost sci-fi atmospherics… Big, distant drums… Definitely soundtracky though…
David Sullivan: Anything else you’re interested in musically at the moment?
Rohan Rebeiro: Umm, are you familiar with A Colourful Storm?
David Sullivan: No haven’t heard of it
Rohan Rebeiro: They’re a Melbourne group, they’re doing amazing parties, and their programming is awesome, you can listen to their mixes. They do a really good crossover of like punk/industrial and techno kind of stuff. It’s weird and it’s really good to go to a club, the night starts at 11 or so, they’ll have punk and techno, good electronic stuff, then have a live set at around 3 o’clock, where it’s not a typical live set, it’ll have elements of noise and just kind of seeing where it goes. A Colourful Storm are really good at programming really interesting sounds to listen to at 3am. I like being confronted with something that’s really challenging for like an hour when you’re either really tired or really wasted and you’re caught off guard. Just hearing things in really strange contexts. It’s really exciting.
My Disco ‘Severe’ is out through Temporary Residence.
NOVEMBER / DECEMBER AUSTRALIAN TOUR
Friday 13 Nov – ANU Bar – Canberra
Supports: Automat (Germany), Agency (ACT)
Saturday 14 Nov – At First Sight Festival, Carriage Works – Sydney
Friday 20 Nov – Crowbar – Brisbane
Supports: Cured Pink, 100%, Multiple Man (DJ set)
Saturday 21 Nov – The Shadow Electric, Melbourne
Supports: Friendships, Regional Curse, A Colourful Storm (DJ set)
Saturday 28 Nov – Paradise Music Festival, Lake Mountain, VIC
Saturday 5 Dec – Crown & Anchor – Adelaide
Supports: Spark Spitter, Doe
Friday 11 Dec – The Rosemount – Perth
Supports: Sabre Tooth Tigers, Alzabo, Self Harm
Saturday 12 Dec – Mojos – Fremantle
Supports: Erasers, Mei Saraswati, Malgnolias Late Night Live