Who Are These Idiots?
Death Before Disco is a band. Actually it’s several bands. It was a techno band in the early 90’s in Europe that made one or two techno songs and then dropped off the face of the earth like most techno bands of that time. It’s also a band from Belgium who seem like pretty nice people. It’s also quite a few punk and rock bands. Whatever the case, we're the American one. We've recorded literally hundreds of songs since 1992, most of which aren’t covers. Oh yeah, we also recorded eight or nine albums, played a bunch of live shows, nearly broke up three times, became the biggest band in upstate Vermont for about a week, played live with an Elvis impersonator who hit donut holes into the audience with a golf club, and convinced the nearby town of New Jerusalem that Bill Gow was indeed the mayor of Fleetwood, PA.
The band was formed in 1992 by Bill Gow and Anthony Volpe. Bill was Anthony’s boss at a supermarket. Go figure. The day Bill was transferred to Anthony’s store in the beginning of 1991, he taught him Barre chords and agreed to lend the poor bastard his 4-track cassette deck. A few months later he returned with it, having created a thoroughly dreadful rap album called Eat This. For some sick reason, Bill not only continued to talk to Anthony, but agreed to make music with him.
The band was joined by bass player Kaci Crooks two years later. Due to college priorities, she took the wise path and left the band shortly afterward.
The band's first two albums, Concrete Jungle and No Raincoats Required, were completed at the end of 1994. Jungle was written almost entirely by Anthony Volpe and was more or less a pretentious, hot-headed, gloriously self-righteous attempt at a heavy metal album. On a positive note, it yielded two of the band’s best live songs: "Generation Zero" and the infamous "Heard It All Before." No Raincoats Required was a collection of twelve new-wave songs Bill originally performed with Billy Flash and the Raincoats, a band he fronted between 1985 and 1987. "It's Never" and "For Your Love" were the two big live numbers from this album.
Death Before Disco’s 1995 album, the uninventively titled Death Before Disco III, is their most cohesive album despite being eclectic to the point of overkill. Originally this was meant to be a collection of outtakes from the first two albums and this ended up being the best album of the three. "Mother" and "Here Come the Bombs," two Pink Floyd knockoffs which are more successfully arranged than anything on the first two albums, are considered to be two of Anthony’s best songs. Frankly, they pale in comparison to Bill's efforts. "Anthony Volpe" and "Drinking of You" are by far two of Bill's best songs, live or recorded. They're loud, bombastic, and hilarious. In contrast, "Tarnished Angel" is more subdued, but has an unusual chord structure made even more compelling by Anthony’s attempt at an orchestral arrangement, with a sax and a muted trumpet thrown in for good measure.
At the end of 1997, Death Before Disco completed two more albums, Wannabeatle and Until Death Do Us Party.Wannabeatle was meant to be a collection of Bill's 50's and 60's-influenced songs with Anthony arranging nearly all of them to give them some new life. After their first attempt at this album in late 1996, DBD trashed all but eight of the songs on the album and Anthony added eight of his own. "Modern Day Romeo" and "Be My Love Tonight" are two obvious Beatle tributes. Anthony decided to imitate Elvis Costello on "Club Paradise" and Don Henley on "I'm Tired of Love." Oh well. Until Death Do Us Party is a more modern effort with more aggressive (and abrasive) 90's influences, evident primarily on "Smile," "Negative Vibes," and "Potential Lunatic."
Their sixth album, Broke, Disgusted, and Can't be Trusted, has 16 songs and was a more straightforward rock album with considerably less of the electronic noodling and oldies-influence of the past records. The two "singles" from the album were AC/DC knockoff called "Asskicker" and a cartoonish song called "Monsters" which was originally meant for a children's album. It was co-written by Bill Gow and his daughter, Sarah.
The next several years served as a bit of a hiatus for the band. They played scattered live gigs, put out a best-of CD, and pretty much ground to a halt several times while Anthony put out a techno album under the name Impaler Squadron, a two-disc solo album called 15211 West Main St., and a 9-song EP called Disastrophe.
In an effort to kid themselves into thinking they were still remotely relevant, Death Before Disco released a free album of outtakes and cover songs called Garbage, Inc. in 2005. A sequel was released in the summer of 2007 containing nearly all of the cover songs the band performed live during the 90's. Volumes III and IV were released in early 2009, containing 37 outtakes and demos dating as far back as 1990.
Death Before Disco returned to active duty in 2006 and recruited a third member, Mare. The three finished their 10th album, And Then There Were Three, during the Christmas of 2007. They are currently at work on their 12th album, Growing Old Disgracefully.
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