Thursday, August 03, 2023

In conversation with School Disco: from their creative influences to the "proggier elements of the band"

Formed in Brighton in 2016, psych-rock band School Disco is known for blending psych-rock, indie rock, pop, post-punk and hard rock, to create a DIY sound that screams to be witnessed. And for good reason.


The band’s latest single ‘Feelings Coming’ adds to their daring and vibrant discography with horror-like vivid imagery mixed with the heavy loudness of Black Sabbath, and the post-punky vibes of Joy Division, all while trying to ‘out-pixie the Pixies’.


The track veers away from the melodic tones of previous tracks like ‘Echos’ to delve into a more frenetic energy. Which is most likely what we can expect from their upcoming album ‘Denton Rock’.


We had the chance of speaking with Rory Lethbridge, guitarist/vocalist/multi-instrumental performer and one of the original members of the band, about their creative process and everything that makes School Disco’s sound what it is. 


Let’s start with the meaning behind your name, where does it come from?


There isn't a particular meaning. It was just a name we thought was cool. I do, however, quite like the fact it’s almost the opposite of our sound! 


How long have you played together and what type of music can people expect from you?


The band has been going since 2016/2017 but in this version of the line up it's been going for about a year. People can expect heavy riffs, some proggy bits, lots of jams, heady soundscapes, and long psychedelic jams.


Do you remember the moment you realised you wanted to make music?


I can't quite remember why I wanted to play music, but it grew and grew. I think the big moments and artists for me were Johnny Cash, Black Sabbath. 


What’s the best show you’ve ever played?


I think my favourite show I've ever played was a flat party we played in 2017 - It was a blast, super loud, super rowdy. Nothing beats a house show! We also met some really great friends that night - our good pals Tinnedfruit who are one of the best garage bands the UK has to offer. They defo deserve more attention! Some highlights also include any Acid Box Brighton show, supporting Bo Ningen in Falmouth, Lewes Psych Fest, and Kozfest! Honestly, every show is great, and we have a lot of fun with it, it’s so hard to choose! 


What inspired you to write your latest piece Feelings Coming?


Musically, I was inspired by trying to out-pixie the Pixies (an impossible task I admit) by doing a loud/quiet song that was heavy like Black Sabbath, then post-punky like Joy Division. Lyrically it was inspired by Horror films and specifically Body Horror films like ‘The Fly’ - the sort of grotesque nature of those things and the really vivid imagery they can produce.


How has your music and writing process evolved from your previous work? 


Heads Still Here was defo a lockdown album, written mostly at home and overdubbed everything over the demos to a click - whereas Denton Rock was worked out by everyone and played live together in a room which is my fave approach to making music as a band, and playing as a band, everyone listening to each other and feeling things out. Makes things super spontaneous and a right laugh!


What's the project you're most proud of and how did it come together?


Honestly, I think I am most proud of this record. It was written very collaboratively, which for me is invaluable as everyone in the band contributes ideas that are amazing and keep things fresh. Eliot Chord's work is incredible, Harry’s ability as a sound engineer and drummer is fantastic, and Tim’s off-the-wall influences really helped add some of my favourite parts of the record via his basslines. We also had a few guests on the record! Harpist Eva Lunny adds an ethereal layer to a few tracks that really elevates it and my stepbrother Brennan laid down a Killer Sax solo on one track


 We also recorded and mixed the album ourselves with no external engineer or mixer and I did the artwork for the cover and inside and outside of the vinyl! I'm really proud of that too! 


What did you learn during that process that you brought into 'Feelings Coming'?


I think I learned that sometimes keeping it simple is really good, because of the proggier elements of the band and the way we jam live, we sometimes get quite far away from 2/3 min songs. However, I think this track really holds its own on the record! 


Has your creative process had to change or adapt once you signed with your current labels?


It's not been adapted at all - Both Callum (Copper Feast Records) and Paul (Krautpop!) are really happy and supportive of whatever we do or however, we decide to do things that are amazing and so fulfilling as an artist. I'd imagine they'd be happy to give opinions if we wanted them, but they are happy to let us do our thing and are really receptive to the results. I'm super grateful for all their hard work and investment and it's great to be a part of their musical families!  


School Disco’s album ‘Denton Rock’ will be available to stream this 15th of September and it’s available to pre-order now via Bandcamp and Copper Feast Records’ Webstore. Stream ‘Feelings Coming’ now, on all platforms.



Susanna Borio


 Image: ‘Feelings Coming’ Official Single Cover

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