Today we are going to talking about the band Discharge. The band didn’t just inspire other punk bands, but they were hugely influential on the metal bands that would go on to dominate the 80’s and 90’s. It was the band’s debut record Hear nothing See Nothing Say nothing that would unite once sworn enemies, punk rockers and metal heads.
Influential metal musician Steve Von Till, frontman for the metal band Neurosis reflected on the influence of the band’s debut record saying “I’ve realised how much I’ve been influenced by what I call ‘The Discharge haiku’. It’s like a strange style of poetry – these short images of war and political deception. Unlike their earlier records, most songs were four lines, tops, but they say so much. It makes it epic, and you can apply them to your own time.” He would go on to say: “I was into metal at the time,” “This was before I found punk. But when the punks started telling us metal guys that we should listen to this album, we were intrigued” he’d add.
Discharge would form in 1977 in the English town of Stoke on Trent, the same town where Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash and Lemmy from Motorhead were born in. During the early days of the band no one thought the band would make such an impact on the punk and metal scene. Even by his own admission guitarist Tony ‘Bones’ Roberts would reveal how they were inspired by the bands who came before them and wanted to simply play music revealing to metal hammer “We Just listening to the clash and sex pistols and were having a go at doing that” he’d say.
Like pretty much every rock band Discharge went through a lot of lineup changes during their formative years. In addition to the lineup changes they would also release a number of straightforward singles and EP’s, but the band soon found a base with the small but loyal anarcho punk scene of the 1980’s. Drummer Garry Maloney would reveal what was so exciting about the scene the band was involved in saying “It was like a lifestyle that was different, exciting,” Likeminded people hanging out and going to gigs. It was brilliant. From my first show, seeing The Damned at Barbarella’s in Birmingham, to a few years later watching Black Flag soundcheck sitting on my flight case, I loved it all.” Prior to recording their debut record the band would settle on a lineup consisting of the classic members of bassist Ryston Wainwright, drummer Gary Maloney, Anthony “Bones” Roberts playing guitar, and vocalist Kelvin “Cal” Morris. As the band entered the studio to record their debut record, they had no clue they’d create the blueprint for bands like Metallica, Sepultura and Napalm Death.
Bones would reveal in an interview “We really hit on something around that time,” “We had gone from sounding like a normal punk band into sounding like something else. It was all natural, though. We never tried to sound a certain way; we just started writing sounds about how we felt, and we felt like how that record sounded.” Discharge would sign a record deal with local label Clay Records who also housed the other hugely influential punk band GBH. Since they were signed to an independent label the band wasn’t given much time in the studio and most songs on their debut album were done in one or two takes, but it didn’t matter. The results speak for themselves and Hear Nothing would combine elements of punk and metal. The songs on the group’s debut album shocked fans. The songs were bite sized pieces no longer than 2.5 minutes featuring the famous D-drum beat synonymous with punk and metal.
The album tackled the horrors of war, capitalism, nihilism, paranoia, political deception and violence. It’s important to remember that these songs were written during the Cold War and during Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s time in office. The threat and paranoia of a nuclear war with Russia would create a great deal of mistrust of the country’s government with the title track featuring the lyrics ‘Lied to, threatened, cheated and deceived / Hear nothing see nothing say nothing / Given what’s going on in the world the album’s themes are still relevant today and it seems like mistrust of the government has only grown larger with time. Drummer Gary Maloney would add “The threat of war and government law is still out there,” “They are threats that keep us all in line.”
The band didn’t expect many people to pick up on the album, but John Peel of the BBC played the band on Radio 1. And from that point on the band members started to get some attention from the public and they bridged the divide between Punk rockers and metal fans who were typically adversarial. Discharge would go on to influence countless bands who would try to copy the band’s style and going so far to cover the band’s songs including Metallica, Anthrax, Sepultura and Machine Head. Bones would tell metal hammer “There are some of our records that I can’t listen to,” “Not this one. It’s just got something about it, hasn’t it? A magic that you can’t explain… it’s timeless.” he’d conclude. Buy discharge tees from bootlegteeshop.com