The Disarmed forge fantasy with the times they live in. Through line-up changes and directions in sound, this group has become a reckoning force by its own measure. With charged vocals and devastating lyrics accompanying instrumentals that edge on balance, there is a diaspora of work that can be explored in awe. This is their latest album, What We Leave.
Their opening track is Idle Hands, a venting of frustration in helplessness. These are moments, shards of life that we all have experienced, but not as clearly crystallized. The Disarmed go the extra step with their poetic lyricism, adoring dystopia and the parallel worlds lived. It is a virtual projection of what might be, and the moments that comprise it. The bullet like chorus has the desired impact, and we are underway for a very special experience. Bobby Kooiman and Doug Hair from the band talk to us about the journey so far.
It’s been a long journey since Human. What do you think is the biggest impact on this metaphorically new leaf?
BK – Our new guitarist Morgan is probably the secret spice we needed to make this thing really pop in comparison to our other material. His style and input has been the most cohesive and compatible that we’ve had.
DH – I think we’ve also gotten better as musicians and composers over the years. Add Morgan into the mix, and we’re just all-around better.
Filtering a new sound
Moment In Time parcels in the same aggression, the instrumentals and vocals working in tandem to drive home the message. The mix really differentiates between the vocals, layered perfectly above the ocean of sound coming from the rhythm section. Unique chorus factions merge into the verse sections with an ideal flow. There are breakdown sections that characterize what this band can do in an all out jam, with creative freedom.
Would you say What We Leave is the making of a sound that The Disarmed was always about?
BK – Totally! I think we’re just growing and maturing in our own sound. The dreams of ‘Human’ have started to become the realities of ‘What We Leave’. Our sound has changed a bit, but I think it’s mostly due to our abilities–being able to do what we envisioned for the sound all along. Between the changes on our side and the production from Jeremy Schaeffer at All Poetic Audio, this album is our strongest one yet–100%.
DH – I think you’re also hearing more influence from the rest of us on this album. Morgan came in writing straight off the bat, but I’ve been really pushing myself to be more involved with that. It’s fun to hear how all of our influences and styles commingle.
Holy Ground uses the hard rock straight attack javelin to go into a fast-paced verse section. The vocals really stand out in the harmonies, powerful arrangements and bridge sections bringing everything together cohesively. Fake, on the other hand, builds to a moment from where paths diverge, the drone leading your brain somewhere, while the sludge riff keeps you hooked. The beat changes and riffs bringing a massive wall of sound make this sound something perfect for a headbanging session.
Reflecting reality in themes
What inspires your unique lyricism? Has the current global scenario had a planar shift in your choice of themes?
BK – It’s a combination of the global climate and life in general. While songs like ‘Rest Easy’ are taken directly from events in my life, other songs are more like pieces of advice or thoughts I have about life. Some are advice from the pitfalls of life that I’ve had. I try to think about what I want to share with the world that can outlive me, and that is the spirit of what ‘What We Leave’ Is supposed to mean.
Dispersing into a different kind of sound, Fear of Fading Away looks at a softer touch. The observation is poetic, and the instrumentals reflect the general dissection of the views, designed so precisely. The right amount of freedom is given to the vocals before the instrumentals cocoon the strong verses. As if to counter this energy, Where You Hide shifts to a combative riff with highlight drum work and the guitars swaying in with the same energy. The breakdown is a cone of energy, building to an intense crescendo.
Your title track for this album has been the most popular listen. What do you think it is about your music that people find a sanctuary in?
BK – I think it’s the dynamic of soft and soothing to driving and epic that hooks people into ‘Idle Hands’. It’s a song about perseverance and the hindrances of depression. To think that anyone would find sanctuary in any of our songs is cool to think about.
DH – Honestly, this is the first time I’ve thought about ‘Idle Hands’ as the title track, but that totally works.
Hubris minus hostility
Source of Anger channels the hostility that’s been capped off to create a hard rock anthem, sourcing from some delicious riffs. The lyrics are relatable, they flow between melodic and fury funnelled growls that reflect the very emotional backwash of this track. The solo does a fantastic job of spelling out the same, with the same kind of attack. Rest Easy is a beautiful acoustic account with sweet melodies and an immense shift in sound. Shows the band’s dynamism, their camaraderie with the new member and the range and styles they like to encapsulate. The vocals shine on account of the minimal instrumentals, making this an accent in their album.
Sunblind Eyes is their closer, and it knows the weight it carries. With a galloping beat, the riff enters with a charisma that can only be understood. The progression is capable of goosebumps, showing precisely what this band can do as a unit of destruction, thought and creativity. The tonal shift is unique and gives a different temperature to the album as well. A superb track to close with, apt for the messages that have been projected via this album.
The projected future
This album came after a long break. Is your next project going to be just as intensive, or are you already on the path
BK – I highly doubt that it will be as long of a break, but you never know what life will throw at you, haha! The last break was a combination of line-up changes, recording studio changes, practice space changes, and of course everyone’s favourite pandemic. I would like to think that we won’t have as much adversity in this next chapter of the band. We have one track that’s nearly complete that we can’t wait to share. A few other ideas and pieces have been starting to form for others as well. Just a matter of time!
DH – It’s crazy to think that it’s been five years since ‘Another Fleeting Reason’ came out. It’s hard to believe because I don’t think we were just sitting around doing nothing for any of that. I’m really excited about the new stuff that we’ve been working on. As a musician, I feel like I’m only getting started!
There are a few bands that come back stronger than they started. Wear and tear don’t seem to chip the zeal this band has off their shoulder. They return as a prodigy, of progress and carrying lessons. The Disarmed bring a complete classroom to town, so get prepared for functional schooling with the lessons of life.