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Disq found ‘Someplace Quiet’ by adding more voices to the mix

Disq is a band built on a spirit of playful familiarity. It’s in the lifelong friendships between members. It’s in the name of the group’s latest album, Desperately Imagining Someplace Quiet (hint: look at the first letters of each word). It’s definitely present throughout my recent interview with them.

In the not-so-distant past, aforementioned lifelong friends Isaac deBroux-Slone (guitar/vocals) and Raina Bock (bass/vocals) — whose song “Cujo Kiddies” you’ve heard on 88Nine’s airwaves — handled most of the writing. Now, Logan Severson (guitar/vocals) and Shannon Connor (guitar/keys/vocals) contribute as well, a side effect of writing during a pandemic.

As Pitchfork’s Lizzie Manno commented in her review of the new album: “Having four lead singers only adds to the impression that you’re hearing the exasperations of several distinct individuals. It widens the scope of the album, but keeps it grounded in specificity.” 

Isaac, Raina and Logan took the time to sit down with me right before their first headlining tour kicked off to talk about the new record and how it came together, the story behind “Cujo Kiddies,” and whether fire-breathing will be part of their hometown show in Madison this Saturday.

You can hear and read all of that in the audio and Q&A versions below. But there’s plenty more in the full interview, which you can find in the YouTube version at the bottom of the page.

Disq’s latest record is available on their Bandcamp page or at your favorite local record shop. More information about their upcoming show Dec. 10 is available on High Noon Saloon’s website .
Interview with Disq

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Erin Wolf: What does it mean to each of you to be the headliner on a tour?

Raina Bock: It’s really exciting. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it. There's something really great doing a support tour where you don't have to carry the stress of, like, “Oh, what if nobody shows up?” It's not really on you in that way. 

Also, it's usually a majority of new people that haven't heard your music before, so it feels like there's a lot of room to expand when you're playing those shows. But it's not that often anymore. In recent years, we haven’t gotten to play a longer set; it's mostly been 30-, 45-minute sets. So now we get to really kind of think about more of an arc of a show and how we want to do that. 

We’ve got some funny visuals to put behind us. We get to work on all the little details of stuff that typically is just not really in play when you're doing a support tour. So that's really exciting. It's been a long time coming. We had a big headline tour planned in 2020 that got canceled and rescheduled and canceled and rescheduled. So this is our first big one. 

You play High Noon Saloon in Madison on Dec. 10 to finish out your tour. Do you have a history with the venue? I know you've played there before, but is there anything super special about High Noon for y'all? 

Isaac deBroux-Slone: It’s special ’cause it's kind of like the only place in Madison that we can really play now, unless we want to play Mickey's or do a little house show or play at a bar or something. It's kind of the only place that's made sense for the last, I don't know, however many shows we've played. 

RB: Yeah. Since The Frequency left

Logan Severson: We've played there a lot. Even regardless of the connection of having played there a lot and living in Madison, I think even from an outsider perspective, it's a really great venue. It always sounds good. It’s got a nice vibe. It's one of my favorite places to play.

Collector came out the week of the pandemic pretty much. How did that affect things for that album and also for this current one that you just wrote and put out? 

IDS: Well, it was pretty bad.

But you made it through. You got a lot of accolades for that first record, so it seemed like it turned out favorably overall.

IDS: It certainly could have been worse, it had a pretty negative effect on it. I think it kind of happened where we had a really kind of good buzz built up at that point, and instead of taking that all to the next level, it kind of stayed at that level. It wasn't super bad, but was definitely a lot of potential that was lost there.

LS: It was a net negative for Collector, but it was a positive for the new record ’cause it allowed us more time to flesh out a record that we could be very proud of.

Yeah, that's what I figured — maybe it gave you more breathing room to approach something new with a lot more , and kinda absorb what you just put out and get into the new thing. 

IDS: Yeah. Things would definitely be very different, not even saying for better or for worse, if the pandemic hadn't happened. I think the band would be a pretty different thing right now. 

I imagine, like for a lot of bands, writing new records during that time felt like a necessity just to get through the day to day.

IDS: Yeah, it was hard. I don't know about for everyone else, but it was like I had a very hard time doing anything creative during the pandemic. I was really just on my day-to-day survival thing, just like not really even focusing on that at all. And the three songs of mine that ended up on the album are three of probably five that I wrote that whole time. 

So, yeah, it was very different, but I do think it was also nice — though this could be taken as a bad thing depending on how you're thinking about it — because it kind of gave us all a shot to really develop stuff pretty fully on our own, each of us who were writing the songs. Then we kind of brought them all into the group versus us all working on them together or something else. I think that definitely affected the way the record is in a pretty huge way.

LS: We all brought fully formed songs to the table. We all have very active imaginations and know exactly what we want out of a song. So a lot of times, the demo that we presented to the band is already most of the way there. For this record anyway, that's how it was.

Then we whittled down the pool of songs, and then we had a couple big rehearsals where we played the songs all together. And that would slightly change some things; once we were playing with a band, that would just shift things a little bit. People would bring their own flair, so that's kind of fun.

With this record, that’s just how it needed to be in a way because it was different. It used to primarily be Isaac who was the singer and songwriter for the band. Raina did a lot of the co-writing and co-production on those first records as well. But then this record, there was kind of a conscious effort to be like, “Well, we're all here, and we're all part of this, and we're all songwriters.” 

So I think, in a way, me and Shannon feel that way — like we really wanna insert ourselves and make it known that we can do this thing, too. In the future … I think we wanna be a lot more collaborative. Certainly for me, I just wanna write a song just with me and guitar and whatever, and then bring that to the band and be like, “Let's figure this out together.” ’Cause we all bring different things to the table, and I think interesting things could come out of that.

We've been playing “Cujo Kiddies,” which is a Raina song. Do you have anything you can tell us about the song, the title? What does it all mean? Give us a little backstory. 

RB: I wrote that song living out in the desert in Arizona — really, really isolated for I think it was like three months. Just didn't know anybody else there, didn't speak to anybody else, which was the best thing I've ever done and also hard in other ways. But it was incredibly necessary. It was the only way I was going to get these songs for this record out. 

The song’s kinda got three sections, three movements, and I wrote it chronologically start to finish with a break of a few months — if not longer — between the different sections when I wrote them. Each section isn’t so much a response to the section before, but just an update on where I was with the same kind of issues and things that I was chewing over when I started the song. 

So the first section I wrote from a really, really awful dark place, but I wrote it to kind of cheer myself up, you know? That was kind of my goal with all my songs in this record. I didn't really wanna make any sad songs. 

I figured out at some point during the pandemic that it actually just does make you feel better if you listen to happy music when you're sad. And it does make you feel worse if you listen to really depressing music while you're already down in the hole.

So I kind of wrote the first section to try and boost myself out of that. And then by the time I got to the last section, I kind of realized that I had made it out of that place. Yeah, I like that song. I like it. I like that you guys like it and you're playing it. 

So if our listeners are watching this, give 'em your best reason why they should come hang out with you on Dec. 10 at High Noon

RB: Me and the drummer are gonna fight live on stage. How about that?  

LS: I'm gonna kiss somebody. Either Isaac or Shannon. I don't know who yet. 

RB: Isaac, what are you gonna do?

IDS: I don't know how to top those things.

LS: You should learn how to breathe fire. 

IDS: OK. I hear it’s not actually that hard. It's more about getting over the fear. I could do that. All right. We'll see if we have time to learn on the road, ’cause it'll be a quick journey back. But, yeah, I'll try to breathe fire. We'll see. 

Expect some hijinks at that show. 

IDS: Dark hijinks.