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Disappears Add Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley, Press Forward

Jan. 26, 2011
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Disappears work fast. Consisting of members from various other Chicago groups (most notably The Ponys), the band have been relentlessly active over the last two years and shows no signs of slowing down. Shortly after forming, the band put out a series of 7-inch releases and garnered new fans giving away their music for free online. After a brief stint with Touch & Go, they moved to Kranky Records to release their debut full length, Lux, in April 2010. That year Disappears found the time not only to tour and promote Lux, but also to write and record the new Guider.

“I’d much rather be writing songs and putting records out than touring all the time,” says guitarist Brian Case, and apparently putting out two records in quick succession hasn’t taken a toll on the band’s creative energies. “We’re already working on new songs—writing is just more rewarding,” Case says.

This relentless forward drive is reflected in the music, with heady shoegaze guitars draped over an unstoppable motorik rhythm. The most enduring contribution of the German Krautrock movement, motorik is a propulsive 4/4 drum sound that creates a tangible sensation of movement (unsurprisingly, given its origins, the go-to metaphor involves speeding down the autobahn). Case and company are upfront about the impact of this music on their own work (even their cover art recalls Can and Neu!), saying they find it a helpful tool. “That’s something we’ve been focusing on, getting songs down to their bare essentials, focusing on the main ideas. Krautrock has always been simple and direct music, so it made sense to work in that vein.”

After the recording of Lux, drummer Graeme Gibson left the band to pursue other opportunities, and Disappears scored a major artistic and publicity coup in recruiting Steve Shelley, longtime member of Sonic Youth. According to Case, adding one of their idols to the lineup was both organic, and a bit surprising. “We had done some recording a year earlier, we had a mutual friend so we got in the studio and messed around a bit,” Case says. “When Graeme left, and we were looking for a new drummer, I said ‘I’m just going to call Steve,’ thinking he wouldn’t say yes, but he did… it’s a little weird.”

If there was any adjustment period at all, it must have been brief, because Disappears got right back to their hectic schedule, which included heading back into the studio. In typical fashion, things progressed quickly, with nearly all of the songs on Guider being nailed in one take. Case explains, “We had just come off tour and we were about to go on another one, so we were playing well together. We didn’t go in thinking we were going to get everything in one take, but it just sort of happened. We got off tour and literally loaded into the studio and started working.”

As if to definitively say out with the old and in with the new, the Guider sessions were recorded directly over the Lux tracks. It would be tempting to read something more philosophical into this, but, according to Case, the decision was motivated by something much more practical: money. “It was just cheaper and it made a cool story,” he says. “I mean, the other tapes are backed up digitally, so it’s not like those recordings are erased from the earth. Tape’s just so expensive these days, it made sense to re-use them. It’s just more economical.”

Whether or not Disappears can maintain their incredible momentum, especially amid the musician’s other ongoing projects, remains to be seen, but at this point, there’s nothing but more on the horizon, including both a Midwestern and a European tour.

Disappears play a 10 p.m. show Friday, Jan. 28 at the Cactus Club with Call Me Lightning and Death Dream.


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