1977, England. One of the new breed of "Punk" bands amongst the oncoming onslaught of NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal, who included such luminaries as Motorhead, Diamond Head, and Mercyful Fate) whose racuous sounds were pumped-out regularly by many U.S. college radio stations' airwaves (as my radio show "Three Hours of Hell on Sunday" on WMWM 91.7 FM in Salem, MA were one of those a year or so later.) The turntables seemed to be dominated by one band's endlessly spinning vinyl black circles which emitted the gutteral sounds from Britain's most visual, thunderous and influential reigning kings who broke Hardcore's soundbarrier: Discharge!
Consisting of: Cal(voice,) Roy 'Rainy' Wainwright(bass,) Tony 'Bones'(lead) and Terry 'Tezz' Roberts(Bones' twin on drums, who originally was on vocals during their inception, replacing the skinsman named Hacko.) They formed in '77 by the two brothers with Rainy and a couple of thier friends(although no recordings of the earlier line-up exist,)n which they played local gigs around the Stoke- on-Trent area. When Cal joined, Tezz moved to playing drums, Rainy went from 2nd guitar to playing bass which all the songs previous were scrapped, and they began to work on new material, for which Cal wrote the lyrics. Nothing much happened until Mike Stone moved from Stoke from London. He owned a record shop and a label when he came to see their first gig at Northwood Parish Hall, Stoke- on- Trent. He stated they had no musical ability, but got off on the intensity of their performance and thought it might be interesting to have a group like them on his label, so they were the first band to be signed to Stoke-On-Trent label Clay Records in Feruary of 1980. Influenced by The Sex Pistols, The Clash and The Damned. The name Discharge was chosen before Cal joined the band, because it was obnoxious. They released their first EP "Realities of War" in March1980, because Stone didn't have a distributor, he sold it to shops out of the boot of his car. Remarkably, it got into the Top 10 of the Indie chart in 'Sounds,' using minimalist propaganda-like photos, artwork, ransom-note style cut-outs combined with b/w typeface typical to the genre. Discharge single-handedly created the musical equivalent of sniffing glue while at the same time enlightened audiences by blasting sonic titles about the realities of war & power. The now rare 4 song 7" disc (recorded in 3 hours) first caught my ear the year it was released while still in high school. To this day, I still enjoy their aggressive, under-appreciated raw 'metallic' style. But, there was something atypical about them... unlike most of the bands left in the undertow of that early underground, Discharge would itself influenced many, including the infamous SSD (friends from Boston,Ma.), Crucifix (from S.F.Ca.), and the almighy mega mondo popular Metallica (check out guitarist Kirk Hammett's T-shirt on the back of 'Ride the Lightning') with that same particular brand of aggression. Later that year they released an EP, 'Fight Back,' which also reached the Indie charts.
Discharge played their first gigs away from Stoke(one I believe which included a gig w/ then 'Next Big Thing' band U2, where Cal bummed out vocalist Bono by vomiting onstage during their opening set) in which they played Leicester, Preston and Glasgow. Their next record, still in 1980, was 'Decontrol,' Tezz leaving to play guitar in several local rock bands then releasing a 12 " EP 'Why ' with with replacement drummer Bambi during their national 'Apocalypse Now' tour. Only later to be replaced by drummer Garry Maloney, it wasn't until late '81 that the killerwatt qualities of Mike Stone produced the anthematic 'Never Again' which he first recorded with. Boldly displaying on it's cover the now famed "Impaled Dove" artwork (from an W.W. II anti-war poster) to become synonymous with the band even today, and not only did well in the Indie chart, but actually got to No. 64 in the national chart. This was the predecessor to the most memorable of all their discs driving many people into a thrashing frenzy or fleeing into the streets covering their bleeding ears. That behemoth is now known as their legendary first album 'Hear Nothing, See Nothing, Say Nothing' (one of the late, great Metallibassist Cliff Burton's fave albums.) 14 bludgeoning, relentless cuts which to me resembles listening to Tobe Hooper's
"The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" at full volume while attending an Anti-Nuke rally. It again charted nationally, where it got to No. 40 and stayed there for five weeks. At this point they were approached by a major label, but they decided to stay loyal to Clay, because Mike Stone had given them their first break, and was frowned upon for bands such as themselves to sign to a major at the time. About that time they had started touring abroad, in Italy, Yugoslavia and Holland. Playing also at the time of1982 in Sweden and Finland, they did their first tour of the US(in which they had no records released, just imported) and Canada.
After this they returned to England, Discharge seemingly would never would stay the same again... bored w/ the "same old ,same old" Bones left the band to form Broken Bones, with ex-member and brother Tezz (now on bass, later to join other such luminary acts as the U.K. Subs, Ministry, Battalion of Saints, presently in Billyclub,) during his last single recorded with them released in '82' 'State Violence, State Control.'
Replaced by Peter 'Pooch' Pyrtle, Discharge changed their attack somewhat, instead of the relentless churning chainsaw chords to Rainy's bass-lines almost resembling Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler tooting crystal meth. They took on a streamlined full-on metal punk approach with (Cal's 3 note shouting range now diminished to half-singing football chants) during this era, their first 12" single 'Warning:-Her Majesty's Government Can Seriously Damage Your Health', they returnred to the US and Canada. While on tour another single 'The Price of Silence,' was released in '83 after which both Pooch (forms a metal act called Hells Bells)and Garry left, which meant that Discharge was just Cal and Rainy. They'd recorded another track, 'The More I See,' at the same time as 'Warning...,' which was remixed and became the next single( these are my all-time faves, )and a few months after that a complilation album of singles and EP tracks, 'Never Again' was released in 1984. Discharge still hanging in the balance, used a couple of friends, they release the last single 'Ignorance' in '85 with guitarist Les (the Mole) Hunt and drummer Nick Haymaker before releasing their swansong, if not albatross LP of all time...
'Grave New World' 1986 on Clay/Rock Hotel/Profile is a great production effort, but alas the band re-invents itself once again with a more mainstream Mtv-like metal posture. Garry had rejoined, and recruited Stephen Brooks. No more the soaped-up spikerod hairdos, 4 paragraphs of lyrics of anti- war sentiments, short song legnth, or members using only first names. Discharge's crowning achievement, the 'creme de lacreme;' the unveiling of a higher falsetto 3 - note range for the now Kelvin Morris! Reminding me of Mercyful Fate mated with AC/DC, inbred and raised by a heroin-addicted Led Zeppelin, this was a sad note to a tight original unit which play a near-riotous gig in New York... Hardcore fans not content with hearing older hits performed in this newer 'Sold Out' manner hardly let the nightmare continue... during the release original member/ bassist Roy Wainwright leaves Garry Moloney and Kelvin with new guitarist Stephen Brookes. Discharge soon fall apart due to musical differences and in the early months of 1987, Kelvin/ Cal was thrown out of the band.
Nothing much happened until both 'Never Again' and 'Discharge 1980- 1986'' were released by Clay. By the end of '89 they released a live album recorded on tour during the second US tour US tour, 'Live At The City Gargen, New Jersey' and another live CD 'The Nightmare Continues' during the first half of the 1980's at Tunstall Town Hall, Stoke-on Trent.
In 1991, Discharge once again banded together and released new material : 'Massacre Divine' and 'Shooting up the World' w/ith Cal's vocal gymnastics sporting an Brian Johnson (AC/DC) ability this time. By late 1997 Discharge comes full circle and reforms with it's old line-up featuring: Tezz, Bones, Cal and Rainy, although they have not yet played any shows - stay tuned.
For the uninitiated, there is a collection of singles & LP tracks re-mixed from their glory days called 'Discharge 1980-86' and the primer 'Never Again.' There is also a host of re-released Clay material now available on CD, including all the singles, albums and the older 'live' material affore-mentioned. A great sampling of the various eras is available (excluding the excrutiating 'Grave New World' ) called 'Vision of War' (a Recall 2 CD release.) There is also a tribute album called 'Discharged' featuring Discharge-influenced bands like Anthrax. Metallica has released a re-release plus of 'Garage Days Re-Revisited' called 'Garage, Inc.' a 2 -disc smorgasborg of them doing various and sundry cover tunes which will feature 2 Discharge songs, 'Free Speech For The Dumb' and 'The More I See.' But I myself prefer the originals...