Perth grunge-new wavers The Disappointed are set to unveil their long awaited debut album Escapism with a launch show at The Sewing Room on Saturday, October 5. The album is the culmination of seven years and three EPs together, with the five-piece channeling their diverse musical influences and recording experience into a bigger and bolder sound. BRAYDEN EDWARDS spoke to guitarist/vocalist Michael Strong and keyboard player/vocalist Andy James Bartlett to find out how the album is also the result of personal journeys and a statement about the anxiety and nihilism of modern society.
Listening to your new album, and basically all your music to date, it’s clear that your style has been influenced by a diverse range of artists. Was that intentional or just something that came about naturally because of what each member brought to the group?
Andy: It’s definitely something that happened naturally. Over the years it’s been both a blessing and curse but we’ve really learnt how to harness it for this record. Something amazing seems to happen when one of us is playing a style we know and love and it connects with something someone else is doing from a totally different decade and genre. Learning how to make that work seamlessly has taken a long time to figure out, but it happens much more naturally for us now.
A lot of our readers might remember you best from your song I Disagree With Myself few years back, but it seems your sound has evolved a lot since then. What do you think is the biggest difference between the band of today compared to then?
Andy: Having access to our own studio equipment and the knowledge of how to use it. That’s given us the ability to demo and record with time as an ally as opposed to an allocated pressure or enemy. We’ve been able to work on different arrangements during extensive pre-production to get the best versions of every idea.
It’s incredibly satisfying to be able to perfect details that would have otherwise been missed, and having the freedom for sonic experimentation has made the record much more interesting and complete than previously possible. I Disagree With Myself was a very different time and process, but the biggest difference between the band then and now would have to be much more neatly trimmed facial hair.
The themes explored in the songwriting seem to have grown a lot too, especially on the first single We Don’t Dream. What’s the message behind the song and what inspired it?
Michael: It’s a bit of an exploration of our cultural nihilism. When we were abandoning the weird dreams our spectacularly successful society was founded on, we might have made a mistake? Maybe we can’t live on material rationalism alone. It’s somewhere around that cluster of ideas. I kept it pretty vague and numinous, as is my way at times.
It’s kind of well summed up by the whole ridiculous climate strike thing that’s been going on this month. It’s pretty hard to dream for your future if you believe the world is ending in 10 years. Not a great message to feed our young people.
And is that something that runs throughout the album thematically as well? I thought the name Escapism might tie in with that somewhat?
Michael: Yeah, for sure. A lot of the record delves into the more personal manifestations of these issues, the obligatory anxiety and depressions. I think the nihilism that had so infected me since I was a teenager was in its death throes while we were writing the album. It was like it was that personality’s final chance to have it’s say before I killed it and made a much better one, founded on far better ideas.
What’s the main message of the album closer Stalemate? It feels like the internalisation of some of these issues and a frustration with a lack of clear resolutions?
Michael: Stalemate outlines my frustration with my internal shadow voice. It’s always talking trash that guy. For a while I thought it was going to be an eternal battle, that I might have to kill myself to stop it, like with the lyrics “do I have to kill you to earn a second of peace.” Turns out that wasn’t true, I just had to burn down the infrastructure of my personality and completely abandon 95% of what I believed. Now everything is way better.
With so many instruments and layers on the record did you have to rethink how you went about playing these songs live on stage?
Andy: Yes and no. Most of these songs originated as live pieces that evolved slowly during the studio process. We’ve been able to bring some parts of the record to life on stage through the magic of sampling, but for the most part the audience will get to hear the songs in their original raw form with maybe a few tweaks here and there to cover the most important studio additions.
What can you tell us about the other acts playing at the album launch on Saturday, October 5 and what kind of night can we look forward to overall?
Michael: Dolce Blue are an awesome young band, nice and poppy. And we got another amazing act announcing soon. It’s gonna be a great night, we’re super excited about it! We’ve been working on this album for literal years at this point, so it’s going to be cathartic to launch the sucker.