“It’s been pretty sobering how our lyrics are still valid”. Interview with DISAFFECT.

Having played for just a few years back in the 90’s, DISAFFECT were super active and released 3 EPs, 2 LPs, not to mention the discography compilations, and toured Europe quite extensively. Through their activities and lyrics they have definitely left a mark on punks all over the world. 28 years since their first gigs DISAFFECT are back! And it looks they are not just back for a few gigs. Not even in a week time, you will have a chance to see them live in Glasgow (13.12), London (14.12) and Bradford (15.12) with other great bands that shaped punk in the 90’s. Their first European gig is in Warsaw at 161 Fest 20-21 March.

When I spoke to Brian in Berlin at the Quarantine reunion gig in 2018 and asked him, jokingly, whether DISAFFECT was next, he just laughed and said, “definitely, not possible”. Never trust those bands. See what Brian (guitar) and Joe (vocals) have to say a few days before their big return to the scene.

SP: Can you recall why it all stopped back in the day? Was it just people going their own ways or had you had enough?

Brian: It was probably a case of the band just ran its course at the time. There wasn’t any drama, no fall outs etc. It just stopped. We played our last gig at the venue where it all started. Some of us then went on to do other bands etc. Lynne relocated to Liege and time kept ticking along.
Joe: I think it was a bit of both for some in the band. For me I was fed up with some of the stuff going on and had had enough. We played our last gig and that was it. I don’t know if we intended to go out with not much notice but that’s what happened and that was the end of that chapter.

SP: DISAFFECT is a 6 piece band, 2nd guitar came later I guess. I must say this sounds way more in your face and you were quite a crowd on small stages in squats across Europe.

Brian: Haha, true. Yeah, you don’t think about the logistics of such things I suppose when you start playing together. It’s problematic that we all don’t fit in the one car or we end up on top of each other when we play gigs but the good always outweighs the bad.
Joe: Yeah we started off as a 4 piece band and after our first, unexpected gig, Lynne joined and that was the line up for the first 2 years. Billy joined on 2nd guitar in our final year. Billy had been with us for most of the time, driving us to gigs and around Europe and was already considered the 6th member. Having the 2nd guitar does boost the sound by a lot and gave us a larger sound. I think we have a better, tighter sound on small stages, where the crowd is in your face. You feed off of the energy better with that. That applies to my 2 other bands as well. I feel on big open stages you lose something. Although it can be rather cramped with 5 or 6 folk on a stage the size of a couch.

SP: How should we take DISAFFECT now? There is way more social media activity from you than when QUARANTINE reunion was in preparation. Looks like the band wants to come back for more than a few reunion gigs.

Brian: From my own perspective, QUARANTINE wasn’t a reunion. We agreed to play a gig for our friends 40th birthday party in Berlin, that’s why there probably wasn’t as much advertising for it at the time. I hope people take DISAFFECT in the spirit and intention of those in the band do. We personally all believe that we still have something to offer and since we’ve been back rehearsing the energy and enthusiasm to do it is still there and that’s essential! There is already talk of other gigs in 2020, and it looks like we’ll have a pretty busy year if it all pans out (well, busy for me at least). My hope is also that we will try and get some new stuff together too, but we’ll see how it goes. One step at a time!
Joe: I think folk will need to take us as they find us and maybe not expect too much, like you said it has been 25 years and I don’t think any of us has given the band much thought in that time. As for more gigs, we will wait and see how the upcoming ones go. We should be ok, it’s just 3 years worth of songs in 6 months, lol, what could go wrong?

SP: Are you also planning to re-issue some of the older records, like the EP’s, for instance?

Brian: Stevie at Ruination Records is going to be doing a discography release on double vinyl, CD, download. It’s been remastered by London Bomb Factory, so hopefully people will be happy with what we have tried to do with the production of the original recordings. There is also the intention of putting some of the Demo songs on the vinyl release (there isn’t enough room on the CD). This is different from the previous 1 in 12 Club benefit CD we released in the 1990’s
Joe: The complete discography is being re-issued by Ruin Nation Records on double vinyl, CD and digital, probably by the start of next year, I think.

SP: You are probably rehearsing old stuff only. When are the new songs coming?

Brian: One step at a time. We’ve got to get the old grey matter focusing on the old stuff first. We’ve also got Lee and Jim doing drums and bass now, so we’ve been concentrating on all our previous stuff for the current gigs coming up. That’s not to say that we won’t be writing new stuff in future. I think we’ll get our current commitments over with first, before we sit down and discuss where we go from there.
Joe: I’m still trying to re-learn the old stuff without worrying about new songs. It has been talked about a couple of times but I think about other bands that have got back together and did new albums and been slated for it because they sound completely different from their older songs. Folk want new stuff but they also want it to be like the old stuff and not realising that the folk in the bands are listening to and being influenced by different bands now so songs are going to be different in sound and style. I think we will see how getting back together goes first and if it’s not just a flash in the pan then look at doing new songs.

SP: What gigs are already planned for DISAFFECT and what are the plans for tours or gigs?

Brian: So far we’ve got Glasgow, London and Bradford in December 2019 and Warsaw in March 2020 confirmed. There are also plans afoot for Berlin, Croatia, Canada and Gran Canaria. We’ll see how it all pans out I suppose. I’d personally love to go to Scandinavia as I never got the chance to play there at the time.
Joe: Yeah, we have those 3 gigs coming up on 13, 14 and 15th December. We then have the weekend in Warsaw at the end of March and a weekend in Pula in Croatia at the end of July beginning of August. We have nothing else confirmed at the moment. We have been offered other gigs and fests but due to family/work/other band commitments we have had to say sorry but no. I don’t know if we will be touring as much or for as long as we did back in the 90’s as most of the band have kids and family. And now we are all working that gets in the way with the limited number of holidays you can take in a year. And also other bands who also want to tour and do gigs.

SP: 25 years on from where you left off, looks like nothing has changed when it comes to the right wing threat, greedy politicians and the exploitation of the planet. Your lyrics are still, unfortunately, very valid. There are lots of young punks to the scene who might come to your gigs. Any message to them from DISAFFECT mothers and fathers?

Brian: Yeah, it’s pretty depressing that what we were singing about 25 years ago is still, if not more, relevant today. Since the band started up again I have been going through the lyrics, typing them up etc. and it’s been pretty sobering how they are still valid. I don’t think I could have imagined when we wrote “Can’t See the Woods” that we would be in such an environmental emergency just 2 decades down the line, or “Storm Coming”, when the storm of fascism is getting even stronger and indeed a part of the mainstream thinking. This is especially the case after the likes of Brexit and the election of right wing political parties throughout the world. What would I say to any young people who would come to our gigs now? I don’t know. People are perfectly aware of the threat to the environment, the rise of fascist ideology, the pain and misery people experience from capitalism etc. On a personal level from my own experience of going to and playing gigs in Glasgow, there are a lot of politically active young people in the scene, with the same political outlook as my own. So it’s good that people are still active. This is evident with the rise in veganism, people trying to call for safer spaces at gigs etc. So I think the political ideology of punk is still alive within the younger people in the scene. All I can do is to support what people are doing and hopefully still be able to positively and pro-actively be involved in the scene.
Joe: Yeah its like the saying, the more things change the more they stay the same. It is horrible to think that stuff we were screaming about 25 to 28 years ago is still happening. The right are a bigger threat now than they were then, whale hunting is still going on, huge swathes of forests burning in Brazil and Australia. We are still sleepwalking into an ecological and ideological nightmare. The general population only complain when their favourite reality tv show is interrupted or they can’t get pissed on cheap booze. For the younger punks coming through now with some amazing bands just keep doing it, keep pushing, keep demanding answers and don’t accept being pushed aside. It’s their future they are fighting for.

SP: Most of you are also pretty busy with other bands. BRAIN ANGUISH, SEDITION, CONSTANT FEAR etc. Will it be doable, matching all the commitments?

Brian: I am not going to lie. It’s difficult for me personally to find the time to do it all, so it’s a balancing act between family, music and work. However, I love doing this and can’t imagine spending my free time doing anything else, so I try and make it work as much as I possibly can. I’ve only played in bands with friends, so it’s good that we understand our own personal circumstances and we do the bands around these things.
Joe: I think over the whole band there are 7 or 8 other bands mixed in there so it can be a bit of a juggling act to get everyone for a practice. For me, the other two bands I’m in are pretty quiet at the moment so I manage no too bad.

SP: Those first 3 gigs in UK coming in a week. Do you already have sleepless nights, haha?

Brian: I have sleepless nights whether there’s gigs’ coming up or not. I’ve got really bad insomnia. However, to answer your question, yes, I am nervous about these gigs coming up. You want to do something that is good and not half arsed, so we’ve been rehearsing quite a lot to ensure it’s as good as it can be.
Joe: Not really, I just don’t want to fuck it up by forgetting words or when to come in. Anyone that saw us back in the 90’s know I used to have a big red book with all the lyrics in it and use to take in on stage with me. My memory was bad then and 25 years later is even worse.
I recently listened to a copy of a demo one of my first bands made in 81, I’ve not listened to it since it was made but I knew all the words and all the songs as soon as they started. But for some of the DISAFFECT songs I am really struggling to remember.

SP: OK, so what are the words to all the people who will come and see you soon and have fun with you?

Brian: Being a part of the DIY punk scene is my life I suppose. I have met and made all my life long friends through this. There are lots of friends coming to these gigs coming up, some travelling a long way and that’s pretty special. So doing these gigs is worth it just for that alone. The punk scene is a community and events like these make it a great occasion to meet up again with old friends.
Joe: Buy all our merch before we play????? Lol.