The brief history of Dysphoria is one of a chance meeting at a mutual gig 1998, of James (then of ‘Ewigkeit’ and also drummer for then notorious Brighton punk band ‘Sperm ov Doom’) Neil (a molecular biology student, very occasional guitar-player and contributor of the odd riff to ‘Ewigkeit’ catalogue of albums) and vocalist John (psychotherapist by profession, bassist for Brighton rock / punk band Geronimo Arkwright,, and all-round stoned hippie type).

After discovering a shared love of old Death Metal and cannabis, they set about rehearsing at the long-gone legendary R.M.C studios ; a damp, ill-equiped rehearsal room below a reggae record shop in Brighton, used for making early recordings by Ewigkeit, Old Forest, The Meads of Asphodel’s demos and Dysphoria (amongst many others).

What were to become memorable sessions (at least for those involved) occured over a short period of a few summer weeks, and the unkown totally raw and rough classic ‘Listen to the Smoke’ demo was pieced together in a haze of beer, bongs and ill-gotten gains from the Co-op store at the 7 dials. It's as rough as f**k and the playing is all over the place - but if that bother's you, then perhaps you just dont "get" it.

Although the three members remain musically active to this day, little has become of Dysphoria - although ‘Journey To Ixtlan’ was re-recorded by Ewigkeit for their Earache records debut 'Radio Ixtlan' (including vocals and original lyrics by John). A follow-up demo was planned and a few more songs pieced together, but they were never fully finished. The instrumental versions are included on this release for posterity.

Dysphoria did not exist as a band as such - it was a moment in time captured on minidisc to enjoy later on when the jamming musicians had sobered up. There was only one interview ever done - that was recently found rotting on a hard-drive whilst clearing Mr Fogarty's parent's basement along with other old stuff from yester-year. Here, guitarist Neil answered some questions from an unknown and very probably extinct paper fanzine way back in 1998...

You say you play ambient death metal what exactly does this mean?

I have to confess that dividing music into categories does not really interest me, however people like to have music categorised for them so they can presuppose something about the music produced by a band. The term ambient death metal was something we coined without much thought because it loosely describes our music if this phrase appears something of an oxymoron then it is because we are not interested in limiting ourselves through categorisation. The term is intended only as a reference point for people as they want music to be described as something however I find it depressing when bands categorise themselves merely to follow something which has already been established this seems to be a fairly redundant way of making music. Dysphoria was a band formed solely for the music and for the aim of having a good time, as the band have no expectations we feel free to create whatever we like as long as it suits us at the time rather than trying to follow some bullshit, theatrical, one dimensional image we have imposed upon ourselves. We coined the term as it was the most apt way we could be bothered to describe ourselves, it wasn't something we thought too deeply about but if it helps people get a handle on our sound and progress with us with an open mind then great, we don't care to have a label for ourselves where people can have expectations of what we "should" do. Far too many bands (especially on the serious underground scene) are far too willing to be boxed in by a label which dictates to their creativity when they then try to change direction naturally then they are accused of selling out.

Do you not feel though that ambience and death metal are polar opposites of each other and therefore ambient death metal is almost a contradiction in terms?

Yes of course it could be said that the two things are if not polar opposites then perhaps mutually incompatible. However all music relies on certain things such as rhythm and melody to create mood the question is merely which mood you wish to create. I cannot say that we are a traditional style death band and I hardly believe the term has any relevance anymore except for certain retrograde bands that wish to recreate a certain period of music. However to someone who has not heard the music it is the easiest way to describe ourselves. Also I believe that our music contains contrasts which make it neither strictly brutal nor ambient create something with the feeling of both. By contrasting things it becomes more interesting than trying to maintain one thing all the time. For example, brutality is totally relative. When one describes a piece of music as brutal in one sense it's bullshit as no piece of music can be rated as brutal or evil or extreme or dangerous (if one places much credence in this concepts) alongside, say, the events occurring in East Timor. Furthermore if all ones aim is to be brutal than by lack of variety one becomes less brutal. This is what has happened to death metal, the bands who relied simply on brutality had to become faster, have sicker lyrics or whatever until they became a parody of themselves. After a while anything without variety becomes the norm and cannot stay extreme indefinitely, even a soldier in a trench in the First World War must have got used to the shelling. What is brutality or extremity but the absence of less brutal/extreme conditions and without the contrasts how can anything remain extreme? These things are not absolutes that can be obtained but instead can only be maintained via contrasts in styles. This is how we like to use our music to attain feeling which can be bounced off of ambience or extremity as and when we feel like it and to heighten these feelings. Finally! It is stupid to imagine anyone lives in anger or whatever constantly even in a minute a huge variety of emotions address us and it is simply more interesting and true (which perhaps go hand in hand) to reflect this in ones music. (Phew)

 


Where does the front cover for the demo come for the demo 'Listen to the smoke' come from, as it is pretty darn weird?

It is from a book owned by our drummer James (the rest of the band cannot read) called "witches" - if you give a toss you can contact the publishers for this tome. The picture is supposed to be a representation of the foul and mysterious art of alchemy. Incidentally, Emperor also stole a picture from this book, which was used on their 'As The Shadow's Rise' 7" EP.

I noticed that the sleeve says this demo is dark 002 have the band done another demo?

No we have not but James produces albums and demos for other bands (see contact address if interested) and had previously designed an demo cover from the British underground black metal goblins Old Forest which was released as Dark 001.

It is apparent that the band takes pleasure in all things green and leafy, in what way if any does this affect your music?

Well it makes a pleasant change from the difficult labour of being drunk all the time and can give a different slant on things to booze. The magic weed has obviously influenced the album to some extent as much of the writing and recording was done under the influence. However, I couldn't say how far it influenced the demo as I was too stoned at the time.

 


One of the highlights of the demo for me was the use of bongos mid-song, especially as they are used alongside the main riffage rather than as a token gesture, what inspired this ludicrous yet effective idea ?

The demo was generally written and recorded in various forms of intoxication, which combined with our willingness to try anything in the music led to experiments with bongos etc to improve the sound. Basically the bongos were around when the demo was recorded we were drunk or stoned enough to think they would be a fine addition and so we put them on. If we had sobered up and thought they sounded shit they would have been dropped but as you say it worked. As for using the bongos alongside the main riffs what the fuck would be the point in sticking them on the end or whatever. If you're going to bother with something it may as well be used properly.

There is a myriad of styles at play within your music, at times I am reminded of black metal, others katatonia or more bog standard death metal and then all of a sudden it reminds me of the ambient fork arcana or melodic death metal. Does this eclectic approach reflect the bands listening habits and how do you make these various influences come together to form a cohesive whole?

However we are all influenced by extreme metal from both the black and death sides or whatever as well as more laid back groovy stuff and more retro stuff that was responsible for extreme music whether it be classical jazz or blues. I tend to think anything goes with music and when writing try to draw on whatever influences (consciously or unconsciously) that appeal to me at the time. I think it is a mistake to deny yourself listening to any from of music as any form can inspire you. Even bollocks in the charts is based on older and better music and if people can still get some of that through the sanitised version palatable to them or even become aware of better music through it then that is fine.
As far as current bands we enjoy listening to go I would say we all been recently enjoying the likes of Opeth, In The Woods, Therion, Katatonia and In Flames to name but a few as melody in music is something we find essential.
As far as forming a cohesive whole is concerned we don't worry too much and just let the music take its course we know what we like and play what we like and if this appeals to others that's good.


Has the band played any gigs as of yet as I've not heard the name banded around much on the gig scene, so what's the story here then?

The band hasn't gigged yet for two reasons firstly because we all have other commitments which means that we only dedicate part of our time to the band and secondly we are lazy bastards who can't be bothered with the hassle.
Gigging is a great reward for the effort you put into music but at this stage of the band we are more interested in defining the bands sound more cohesively and releasing a couple of ever improving demos to allow us to grow musically.
Also the scene where we live (Brighton) is so shit we'd stand more chance of getting decent gigs if were a George Formby covers band than an oh-so unfashionable metal band. Travelling to London to play gigs for a couple of drunken punks (with exploding cabbages/corpsepaint/Elvis suits) doesn't appeal when we think about the effort involved either. At the moment we are concentrating on writing and recording and we will allow the live stuff to happen when the time is right and we have established ourselves more deeply in the national psyche.

How has the demo been received so far, any good reviews or label interest etc?

Yet again our supreme laziness has let us down here the demo was recorded in the summer of 98 and we have done little to promote it as we recorded the first mainly for the music. However we believe in the music we are writing and have another demo written which are working on for release by the end of the year. We haven't pursued labels or pushed the demo much as we are keen to write more and most importantly get a better recording before committing ourselves too much.

Is Dysphoria the opposite of euphoria? and what made the band choose this name?

Dysphoria is basically a clinical term for unhappiness or mild depression. Our bassist john who is a mental health worker thought up the name. The rest of the band agreed to the name as it has a nice melancholic ring to it yet is derived from a clinical term.

What do you think to the UK underground at the moment? Is it thriving in your view or does it lack any sort of a fanbase from which to develop?

I think if there were no fanbase then there would be no fanzines like this running, however it does seem that extreme music is less able to win any form of mainstream respect in this country which reflects itself on a smaller and less committed underground scene. There is no mainstream magazine, which reflects the underground any more, but there are many committed fanzine writers and high quality English bands that deserve respect.
However, I guess there's is no point in whining about the lack of support as this is the reality of any underground scene.

ROCK ARD ROCK EAVY ROCK ANIMAL.



Unfortunately, Dysphoria do not have a myspace page (shock ! horror!)
When this demo was recorded, people still listened to tapes for f**k sake !
If anyone seriously has a genuine interest to set up and maintain a myspace page,
then get in touch with us at www.deathtomusic.com...