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INTERVIEW: Jeff Janiak – Discharge

Contrary to their explosive sound, DISCHARGE have been the silent influence to the development of heavy metal. METALLICASLAYER and ANTHRAX have all cited the Stoke based punks as major influences to their sound, demonstrating DISCHARGE‘s stamp on heavy music. Nearly four decades later, the band are preparing to unleash album number seven, End of Days, their first record after signing with Nuclear Blast and the first record with latest singer, Jeff Janiak (JJ). We talk to JJ about the new album, signing with Nuclear BlastDISCHARGE‘s influence on heavy music and future touring plans!

So you’ve got your new album End Of Days coming out at the end of April, are you looking forward to the release of that record?

JJ: Yeah! Well it’s kind of like, it’s old news to us now, you know what I mean? We’ve been listening to it non-stop. But yeah as far as the release goes, I’m looking forward to it and I think DISCHARGE fans are going to like it so should be good!

The lyrical content of this album, what sort of message are you trying to bring across?

JJ: I wouldn’t say it’s so much a message, it’s just stating some facts and whatnot and just opening people’s eyes up to certain topics that normally they wouldn’t pay attention to. So it’s not really sending a message so to speak, we’re like a mirror reflecting what’s happening in the world today.

And how do you feel it stands up compared to the bands back catalogue?

JJ: Yeah great! I mean, me personally, I’d put it right up there. And I’m not just saying that because of you know I play on the album but you know we are really happy with how it came out. I keep listening to it over and over trying to pick out faults but I’m really happy with it. I’ve recorded things in the past; I’d be the first to admit that sounded like shit! You know what I mean? And you know when you’ve recorded something good and you know when you’ve recorded something that’s shit but I have to say, it is a good album!

Yeah because this is the first album you’ve appeared on with DISCHARGE since you joined in 2014? Was there a certain pressure when you joined the band to be able to stand up compared to people who’ve been in the band before?

JJ: Yeah I suppose there was a bit; it was a hard decision for me. Because I know when Rat was singing I know he got a lot of shit off people basically just because he wasn’t Cal really. And I really didn’t want to put myself in that situation at first. So I was asked to join, they had some gigs lined up already and they asked me to join and that first gig was like two weeks later and it was in front of 20,000 people at this massive festival over in Europe. So I had two weeks to learn the songs and I learned them and I wasn’t really sure whether I was going to make it a permanent thing at that point, I was just kind of doing a favour and filling in. But once all the videos went up and once the word got out there and what not and people actually heard it, all the feedback from it was great. I was literally getting messages off DISCHARGE fans from around the world saying “please stay in the band!” so that kind of made the decision for me really. How can I say no to that for a band that’s been going for so long? It is hard to replace, especially being a singer, it is hard to replace original singers but luckily I’ve been accepted so happy days!

As you’ve just mentioned the band has been going for so many years, when it came to recording the new album, were there any difficulties trying to avoid the trap of repetition?

JJ: No not really because that’s what DISCHARGE is really about is repetition musically. But Discharge, the last so many albums they’ve done were so different; all of it was so completely different. I think the main thing with this album is we just really wanted to cut it down to basics and just keep it short and simple and that was the whole basis behind this album really, we just wanted to do a hard core punk album.

This is the first time DISCHARGE have been acting as a five piece band. What have been the benefits to this kind of change to the make-up of the band?

JJ: It’s really improved as far as playing live. If you’re familiar with all the DISCHARGE stuff, listening to it is like a wall of sound. Playing that live and trying to capture that sound live is always difficult but having a second guitar player with Tezz who was the original drummer but has moved in on second guitar, has really filled it out a lot and just beefed up the sound loads as far as playing live.

So would you say in your mind this is the strongest Discharge have ever been?

JJ: Definitely things are happening at the moment, the live sound is there, the interest is there, the album is coming out and it’s a great album. We’ll see how it goes; in my opinion it’s a strong point for the band but ultimately it’s going to be up to the fans as far as how the band will be remembered.

This process with the new album kind of tied in with Discharge being signed by Nuclear Blast. I’m interested to know, what was the process behind signing with this particular record label?

JJ: It was weird, we wanted to put out a new album so we recorded three songs which were supposed to be demo tracks but they came out really good. One of those songs was New World Order, I don’t know if you’ve heard the song or saw the video?

Yeah I have seen it yeah, pretty chaotic!

JJ: Haha! That actual recording was just supposed to be a demo track but it came out sounding really good so we released a video for new world order just to get something out there, just to give people a feel as to what we’re doing and next thing we got contacted by two labels, one of them was Nuclear Blast! The owner of the label is a big DISCHARGE fan, he has been for years. We’ve got friends and stuff that play in bands that are on Nuclear Blast records and they’ve all just said really good things about the label and Roger Miret from AGNOSTIC FRONT was like “Dude!! You’ve got to do it! You need to sign with Nuclear Blast!!” So we did! And we’re glad we did because they’ve really been pushing the album and doing their share of promotion and whatnot so it will be an album that gets heard at the end of the day really.

And that’s exactly what you want really…

JJ: Yeah I mean there’s the whole thing with Punk Rock with all these DIY labels and stuff but the thing is if you work with DIY labels the albums basically just vanish into obscurity really. It’ll be good to be on a label that will actually get the album out there and it’ll be heard. But even the 2002 DISCHARGE album was a great album that was Cal’s last album that he sang on and there’s still a lot of people that don’t even know about that album because when it came out on the label, they basically just shelled it as quick as it came out so there’s still a lot of older DISCHARGE fans who do not know about that album! But that’s what we didn’t really want to happen, we just want to do a good album and have it be heard.

Well Discharge are kind of interesting in extreme music, I mean you’ve got bands like ANTHRAX and METALLICA and SLAYER citing DISCHARGE as a major influence. With that, is there a certain kind of pressure to push the boundaries of extreme music?

JJ: I wouldn’t say there’s pressure, we’re not trying to outdo ourselves and we’re not trying to outdo any other bands. We just do what we do really at the end of the day and like I said, if it stands up, it stands up, that’s up for other people to decide. We’re not trying to prove any kind of point as far as pushing boundaries or anything like that. I think with a band like DISCHARGE it’s hard to outdo yourself really but you know all you can do is play and if what comes out is good, so be it!

Just to close this interview off, you’ve got the album coming out at the end of April. Can UK fans expect to see DISCHARGE at any festivals or a national tour along the lines for the rest of this year?

JJ: Yeah, yeah we’re playing all over the place! We’ve got random gigs booked in all over the UK. We’ve got a few tours in the works; I don’t want to confirm that at the moment because they’re all still being worked on. We’re playing Hellfest in France with BLACK SABBATH; we’re doing the Maryland Deathfest in the USA, Rebellion Festival in Blackpool which is a great weekend. Yeah there’s loads of stuff! We keep making the announcements as we book them so we’ll be playing in a town near you soon!

End of Days is set for release on April 29th via Nuclear Blast Records.

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