Monday, 9 May 2016

The Chronicles of Dis (Part 10): Thisclose "Burnin' anger" Ep, 2013

This is the final chapter of the Chronicles of Dis and I must say that this has been really fun and challenging to write and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. To wrap up this D-Beat odyssey (pun intended), I decided to talk about a genuinely humorous band. The very first part of the Chronicles of Dis dealt with the "Does Dis system work?" mixtape that had the following statement at the bottom: "This bootleg compiled in April '95, with respect to DISCHARGE and everyone that takes them seriously (but NOT TOO SERIOUS!)". This last post will be exactly about that: Discharge love from a tongue-in-cheek perspective.

Love is a multifaceted thing and there are several legitimate ways to love the same thing. You can be extremely serious, passionate and devout about it, like Disclose were, or you can try to pay tribute to your love through a very precise reenactment of its object, like Disaster. But you can also, in an act of self-reflexivity and self-awareness, satirize it, not out of contempt or derision, but as a means to disclose your love, like Thisclose. Of course, Thisclose are a mock D-Beat band but there is a genuine and knowledgeable love for Discharge in their music and in the end, they laugh more at them and us (the Discharge-obsessed punks) than at Discharge. Their music is well-meaning and very witty and all in all, it is also a breath of fresh air to have punk bands that are able to laugh good-heartedly at our collective obsession and in so doing, if anything, they re-assess the validity of Discharge as a whole. Besides, one should keep in mind that their concept can be seen as coming from a very old tradition of comedy, parody and caricature that has been a meaningful part of British popular culture for centuries. And more importantly perhaps, Thisclose have released several strong records.

The conceptual framework of Thisclose is actually very similar to Hard Skin's, and to some extent, the former is to D-Beat what the latter is to Oi music (with the fundamental difference that Hard Skin had never been part of the Oi scene). Both bands are made up of old-timers paying tribute to beloved bands while having a lot of fun doing so in the process. Thisclose, as the moniker already demonstrates, is an intertextual orgy of monstrous proportions, with an outrageous, almost grotesque, abundance of Discharge references and their strength lies in their bold parodic stance. In fact, they remind me of the backcover of Active Minds' Ep, "Dis is getting pathetic" which represented a picture of Discharge with a blank space instead of the members' faces and the words "Your face here". And, 20 years later, this is EXACTLY what Thisclose are doing. They don't merely try to copy Discharge music or sound "just like" Discharge. Their artistic stance, which almost pertains more to drama than it does to music, is to BE just like Discharge and to be honest, it resonates deeply with the unashamed punk nerd inside me.

The philosophy of Thisclose

But there is an added twist with Thisclose as they don't only focus on the 1980/82 era of Discharge like everyone does. They are openly trying to blend "good Discharge" with "bad Discharge", namely the dreaded post-1983 years and the horrendous "Grave new world" Lp. And this move is more daring than it sounds. When I was a teenager, it was almost forbidden to mention for more than two minutes "Grave new world" or anything post-"The price of silence" (I remember that even this Ep was a bit of a touchy subject). On that level, Discharge were exactly like Blitz. It was almost blasphemous to acknowledge some of their records and although nowadays everyone seems to like Blitz' new-wave records, 15 years ago it would have been cause for some serious arguments and possibly the loss of a few good friends. Basically, you just had to pretend that Discharge or Blitz never really recorded their "non-punk" garbage or that it wasn't really them since the guitarist had left or whatever. And even since, there have been very few bands taking influences from 1984/1986-era Discharge - and mostly for good reasons in my opinion - with the notable exception of Deathcharge who pulled it remarkably and with the utmost seriousness on their "Hangman" Ep. But Thisclose go much further as they are proudly mimicking the vocal style and the cheesy, vaguely glam-rock metal songs of "Grave new world" while injecting it with the hardcore-punk energy of early Discharge.

The band's lyrics and aesthetics are replete with references to 1983/86 Discharge. From their claim to play "Grave new beat" or UK86, to their use of the cover of the "Warning" 12'' changing Thatcher's with Cameron's face and that of the "Ignorance" 12'' with the singer and bass player of Thisclose posing just like Discharge's at the time, to the inverted Clay logo... Everything is highly referenced and I strongly recommend you all see their fake documentary about their first London gig in 1986. This is genuinely fun. I know many people don't really get Thisclose or think they are just being silly (which they purposefully are) and that D-Beat should be done seriously and I mostly agree. I am generally not one for comedy punk at all (it usually always falls into lame jokes about booze and sex), unless it is done with taste and wit (pretty uncommon, I'll give you that) and strongly rooted in punk subcultures. One may not like Thisclose's high-pitched heavy-metal singing but I feel it is problematic not to recognize the cultural validity of Thisclose and how they celebrate everyone's favourite band through humour.

As for the music? Side A contains the song "Burnin' anger" twice, the second track being the "Extended version" (genius and even worse than the first version), and it is not far from "Anger burning" but with crunchier guitar, sexy vocals and an impeccable headbanging potential. The first two songs on side AA are absolute scorchers, devastating D-Beat numbers with top-notch "Hear nothing"-era riffs and a groovy, bouncy vibe. The last song, "Leaders decievers", is probably my favourite, with a great Broken Bones riff that wouldn't have been out of place on a Disbones record. The sound is good here, energetic with a spontaneous feel that gives the songs a raw edge. This is a very nice Ep and love it or hate it, but Rodney Shades can really sing. It was released on Antisociety Records in 2013, there were, apparently, five test pressings and the band even made a music video.


  1. Thanx a ton for "dis" and the others!

  2. Thanks for this. Really interesting post.
    As far as bands trying to mix d-beat and humor, I've always had a soft spot for the Disfleisch: Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing New 7". I don't know anything about this band or who was involved, but I think they were German. Parts of it fall squarely into the "lame joke" category you mention in your post (example: a cover of Dischange's "After War Scars" called "After Beer Farts"), but some of the humor is subtle and referential enough that it's actually pretty funny. Musically, it's better than you might expect, and I always liked the snare sound on that EP. There are a few songs on Youtube if you haven't heard them.

    1. I had never heard of Disfleisch and, as you said, some songs sound decent enough in the witty comedy department, while others... well, the Macc Lads having a go at discharge really! ha! And it is indeed better-sounding than I feared as well, with a proper 90's feel.

    2. I had a chance to download/listen to the Thisclose EP after I posted...and I LOVED the a-side. Could not stop laughing out loud. The b-side, on the other hand, kind of annoyed me! Thanks again.

    3. Also forgot to mention that I located the list of Kawakami's top d-beat bands from Game of the Arseholes issue #5. It is a list of five bands:

      "5. Jezus & the Gospelfuckers/Genocide Express/Agent Orange

      4. Diatribe

      3. Eu's Arse split EP and demo

      2. Fader War

      1. Skitslickers."

    4. I understand why Thisclose can be a tad unnerving hahaha but I agree, the a side rocks, in a cheesy way.

      Thanks a lot for Kawakami's top 5 by the way!

  3. i have disfleisch ep, but i dont think they were dis bad, more hccrust in classical sense?
    musically this ep kills.