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Spawning out a Long Island music scene that introduced a number of cutting edged bands at the time, Vision of Disorder was part of an era that introduced a modernized version of hardcore and heavy metal that helped shape a sound that eventually morphed into what is now known as the metalcore genre.
Raze To The Ground is the band’s latest album (out now via Candlelight Records) and following the release of their 2012 comeback record, The Cursed Remains Cursed, the band channeled their energies into crafting a record that brings out the aggression and heaviness longtime fans have followed over the years.
Bassist Mike Fleischmann explains how this record came together and whether any new methods were input towards creating the songs.
“We did the same thing we always do, which is we lock ourselves in a dungeon like studio and everyone brings in ideas for a song and work on it. Usually the music’s first and then Tim [Williams] comes down and sees what he can do on it. If it sounds good, we keep it. If it’s not going anywhere, we toss it. That’s how it’s been since the beginning. That’s the way we work on songs.”
Pure angst has played a huge role in their sound over the years, and Raze To The Ground is no different than past material. Channeling their inner aggression, the band has stuck to a formula as on past recordings and is felt throughout the album and rarely letting down along the way.
“Right now we all live boring lives. It’s about bringing excitement to our lives and playing music. We’re all similarly taking our frustrations out on our instruments. Tim channels that energy into his lyrics and frustrations pent up stuff. I think that’s our thing. That’s how it comes out. We don’t purposely set out to write any kind of style. It’s just the music that comes out when we all get together.”
With Williams being the lyricist in the group, they chose the album title based on the state of the world and the negativity surrounding it all. Fleischmann explained how all of that factored into how the album came out.
“Tim does all of the album naming and the song naming, and it has to do with the title track, which he felt summed up the inspiration for this album. They took a lot of inspiration from recent news and the turmoil going on, which is still going on unfortunately! The past couple of years you see the news is flooded with civil unrest and rioting. I think he felt that summed up the feel of the record and a lot of the lyrical content.”
Aside from the music, Vision of Disorder did face a lineup change with longtime guitarist Matt Baumbach bowing out of the band. While over the past few years he was missing from some of their live shows, the band decided to move forward to record the album without him.
“This time Matt our longtime guitar player – he doesn’t want to do it anymore. We were making another record and we moved on without him,” he explained about the departure of Baumbach.
“We weren’t really sure whether he was going to be there. He was in and out. When you’ve been in the band this long, you can always come back at any time. After 20 years, if you’re having a bad year then you might as well have a year off. Until we were making the album and he wasn’t there we were like already he’s really not doing it.”
While the band recorded Raze To The Ground as a four piece, they employed Josh DeMarco for live shows. A familiar face within their scene, he became an obvious choice for Vision of Disorder and filled the shoes nicely.
“We didn’t have anyone replace him on the album. Live we’ve been playing with this guy Josh DeMarco who’s in a couple of other bands and he used to play in adayinthelife in the 90s. We toured the US with them and he’s also in a Long Island hardcore band called Mind Over Matter. He’s a very skilled guitar player. We were lucky he was available and he used to help us out sometimes roadie wise. I used to play in a band with him back in high school so I go back 20 plus years with him as well. We’re lucky to have a guy on deck that’s still a good guy that we all get along with and can step right in.”
Prior to the release of the new album, their 1995 EP Still was reissued by Dignified Bastard, and for Fleischmann, he is still surprised how much their fans have loved a recording that marked the early era of the band.
“It’s crazy that people care about a little seven inch that came out in ’95. People still talk to us about it so we knew some people would be happy that it came back. We pretty much have kept a lot of those songs in the set over the years so we know people are familiar with it over the years. It’s still crazy. That’s what we did before we got signed – before anything we did that Still seven inch. That was one of the first things that put us on the map. The first time we played in New York City the shows we played was based around that.”
He shared his memories of that era of Vision of Disorder and what that time period meant to him. Being that the Still EP was their first attempt at recording songs towards an actual recording, hard music fans from that era became hooked over a raw sound that helped shape a generation of hardcore metal.
“We did our first attempt at touring. We bought our first van and it broke down on the road – so many memories from back then. The New York City shows playing at Coney Island High and Wetlands, and playing with bands like Crown of Thornz and 25 Ta Life, and doing a lot of tri-state area shows and VFW Halls and skate parks. We weren’t playing real venues then. They were all makeshift Sunday matinees shows. It was totally different then what we ended up doing just a couple of years later.”
Vision of Disorder was one of the bands who took part on Ozzfest in 1997, in support of their self titled full length album. While this became a high profile exposure for the band at the time, Fleischmann had mixed memories about that experience.
“Unfortunately the first memory that always jumps out is the very first day of the Ozzfest we got kicked off the tour,” he said, with a laugh. “Our manager at the time rented us this RV, which wasn’t ready to go until the morning of the show. At that time in ’97, the side stage bands played twice a day. You could play two 20-minute sets. You’d play once at 11 am and then once at 3 or 4 o’clock would be your set time.”
“So we picked up our RV and raced down to Washington DC, where the tour started. We were the first band to play on the first day and missed it, so Sharon [Osbourne] kicked us off. We did a lot of crying and begging and they let us back on.”
Aside from the rough start, he recalled some other surreal stories about bonding with a variety of musicians he never imagined to be bonding with during a tour. The Ozzfest experience became a life changing moment for the band.
“That tour was crazy. We were hanging out every day with Neurosis, Pantera and Downset. We were all friends with them. Every day was crazy. We were watching Black Sabbath play every night. It was surreal. It was like a heavy metal summer camp.”
“Every day we’re walking through the cafeteria and we would see guys like Pete Steele or Vinnie Paul eating lunch and we’d feel like ‘what are we doing here?’ We were all 20 years old. It was crazy.”
While his stories about Ozzfest sounded positive, he recalled some of the troubles the band encountered at the same time, including communication issues with their record label and management. Despite those flaws, they survived it and lived to share these stories.
“We had problems from the get go with our first album. We really didn’t like how it sounded and we still aren’t happy with how it sounds and how it came out. From the very beginning of the Ozzfest, the day before, we couldn’t have even been there that first morning. They met the day before. They had a whole soundcheck and a whole meet and greet our manager didn’t even tell us about. We went on Ozzfest without a sound man, which was insane. We were already making mistakes.”
“We were on the Ozzfest and Tim is hooking up this microphone directly into the delay pedal and the speakers are feeding back. So we got no help from anyone. Everyone was holding their ears,” he said, with a chuckle.
Over 20 years have passed since the EP was released and the band has come full circle since then. Some of their peers from their era are still going strong and some others have returned after time away from the scene, but Fleischmann was happy where Vision of Disorder stands within the current scene.
“It’s great for a lot of the bands that we played with are still around, like Earth Crisis and Candiria is making another record. [They were] a lot of the bands we cut our teeth with are still around. It’s great.”
“We went to Australia a few years ago. We did the Soundwave Tour and we got to play with Madball and Sick Of It All, and we did side dates with them too. It was like on our off days we were in hotels and in planes with Madball and Sick Of It All.”
As for current live dates, Vision of Disorder try to play out live as much as they can. Due to personal lives and job reasons, they have a brief Southwestern US run in February and an appearance at Hellfest 2016 in Clisson, France scheduled at this time.
“We really don’t play very often. We all work full time and we have family stuff. It’s hard to get away. I would say it’s more of an older crowd. I don’t think there’s too many younger kids. We don’t play with too many bands that would draw them in either. I think we’re playing for our longtime fans. There are definitely some new people in there but I would say these days we are more playing for our fans that have been around for a long time. I think the percentage of people discovering it now is pretty low. I mean of course we’d appreciate it but we don’t really do the things that would take to get discovered by new people like hitting the road. It’s tough for us,” said Flesichmann, about the realities of balancing music and real life.
“We’ll try to do what we can do with that. It’s got to be worthwhile. We try to do weekends and try to do some international stuff. For five guys with different schedules all to get time off of work at the same time for the same amount of time, it’s tough. It’s harder than we thought it would be for it to get things together.”
Lastly, Fleischmann and Williams launched a podcast called Dead Bloated Morrison in 2013, where the two of them attempted to delve into talking about all things music. While they temporarily set aside this during the writing and recording of the new album, Fleischmann said they may try to do new episodes in the near future.
“We’ll probably end up doing it again. When we got serious about writing the record, we did that when we were bored in between. So when we got serious about writing, we had to use a lot of our free time on VOD. The podcast ends up being work. We’ll get together, schedule people for interviews, do some research…we had to figure out our priorities and do the band at the time. We’ll end up doing it again I’m sure. I’m sure when we go away and do some shows on tour we’ll get some good stories to include them.”