Over the course of several years and albums, Disappears has delivered incredible songs that incorporate everything from experimental, jazz fusion to grungy lo-fi shoegaze. The band does it all, and continues to be one of Chicago's most buzz-worthy bands. Epitonic caught up with frontman Brian Case to discuss everything from musical influences to creepy TV shows.
Let's get the basic information down. What instruments do you play? Can you give me a bit of info about your fellow band members -- maybe a fun fact about one of them?
My name is Brian Case; I play guitar and I sing. Jonathan plays guitar. Damon plays bass and Steve Shelley is our drummer. An interesting fact about Steve is that he was the drummer in the reunited band Raincoats.
Do you have a preference for the kinds of venues you play?
I think it’s easier to connect to people in smaller places, which, in my opinion is the whole point of playing live. That said, maybe being able to connect to people in a bigger space is the point. It’s easy to feel comfortable in smaller places where you're a little more secure that people came to see you -- or that they have nowhere to go while you're playing.
What do you bring to a barbecue?
I’d bring something from Paulina Meat Market for sure.
Were you “cool” in high school?
I went to an all-boys Catholic school with the same 100 people from 7th-12th grade. No one was cool.
Prince, David Bowie, Marc Bolan of T. Rex...let's say all of them have asked you to tour with them in their prime. Who would you choose to tour with?
Definitely David Bowie -- with conditions: no Reeves Gabriel on guitar. That would solve it really -- [except] maybe [don't play anything] from the 90’s albums? Who knows, it’s Bowie. I’d be happy just to see that guy walking down the street.
Robots versus Dinosaurs?
Robots. Or dinosaurs.
Strangest venue or gig you’ve ever played?
I’ve played on a few boats; that's always a little weird to me. One of my favorite shows ever was in this tiny cave/cellar thing in Bordeaux, France. It was probably 1,000 years old or something. I did a show where a band member’s hair was on fire and they didn’t know until we told them. That was actually the weirdest I guess.
What are a few essential items in your “tour survival kit”?
Bring a trash bag for dirty clothes -- makes a world of difference. Also have a shirt that you just wear for shows; then you don’t have to bring nearly as many things with you. I’m pretty into this bag my wife bought me; it’s called The Weekender, so you know it’s pretty business.
Rifling through the old dusty records in your childhood home's basement, did you ever dig in and find some gems? Are there any that still influence you today?
All I really remember from this era is that Chicago song “25 from 6 to 4”. That’s such a weird song. I still love it though. I used to dance around with my parents in the basement -- that’s where the first stereo was. I still have my Mickey Mouse Disco record from then, too; my son listens to it, which is pretty funny.
Do you have any stories from your excursions on the road?
We’re pretty sedate really. We definitely have a lot of fun but I’d say we’re tame. Our driver on our last tour said we were his first “adult” tour so whatever that means.
If you had to communicate using one word only, what would it be?
What is your day job?
I bartend and do graphic design. Very 90s.
What can we expect from the band in the future?
More music. Same clothes.
Hypothetical Scenario: you find a Craigslist missed connections ad written about you. What does it say?
“Guy shouting but I couldn’t understand what you were saying....”
With festival season drawing near, as a performer do you stress out before your set, or are you cool, calm and collected?
It’s always fun to be in that kind of environment. I’ve been lucky to play a few really cool ones and they feel good for sure. Whether it’s more effective than playing in a packed club is hard to say. Attendance-wise, [festivals] can be tricky; I usually just go for a few bands and leave. That said, the first Lollapalooza ['94] I ever attended is where I first saw Pavement, Lush, and Nick Cave because I tried to see every band.
Disappears received many nods to Sonic Youth, even before [former Sonic Youth drummer] Steve Shelley joined the band. Was it coincidental or is there a story behind it?
Kind of the same story most bands have: you meet someone with similar taste and musical style, so you become friends and start a band. Steve just happens to be in one of the bands that [was my conduit for] bonding with a lot of people.
What's the creepiest kids show from your childhood that still haunts you today?
"Family Feud" always gives me the same depressed feeling that it did when I was younger.
Video for "Replicate" shot and edited by Guitarist Jonathan Van Herik.