The Disco Biscuits Change The Anthem

By: Brian Bavosa

The Disco Biscuits
It's only hours before the lineup announcement for Camp Bisco 9 as I speak with bassist Marc Brownstein. A world-renowned festival hosted by The Disco Biscuits which originated in 1999, the annual event has seen its share of evolution over the years. Built slowly upon the roots of a regional party, big name artists like Snoop Dog, Nas and Damien Marley have made recent appearances. Maybe that's the reason Brownstein is bubbling with energy and excitement during the duration of our hour-plus phone chat. As he gushes in his notoriously raspy, smoky drawl over this year's Camp headliners - Ween and LCD Soundsystem, along with the Biscuits - he explains, "[We] had been trying to get [these bands] for years." For a festival steeped heavily in the jam/live-electro scene, the inclusion of artists like these speaks to the Biscuits' commitment to change and evolution.

"If you don't change, you get left behind," says Brownstein.

Nothing represents this notion more than The Disco Biscuits' latest studio effort, Planet Anthem (released March 16 through Diamond Riggs Records) (JamBase review). In many ways, Planet Anthem is an extension of the mentality of Camp Bisco and its lineage over the past decade. Brownstein, with bandmates Aron Magner (keys), Allen Aucoin (drums) and Jon "Barber" Gutwillig (guitar), started Camp Bisco over a decade ago. Once a small affair held on the farmlands of Pennsylvania's countryside, Camp Bisco has developed into arguably the preeminent electronic-related music festival in the country. The first fest to allow - and encourage - both "jam bands" and DJs on the same stage, Camp Bisco has seemingly found a home in Upstate New York at the Indian Lookout Country Club, where it's been held since 2007. In fact, Camp was where Simon Posford, a producer on the new album, made his first appearance into the jam scene, winning over a legion of fans with his Hallucinogen in Dub set and returning the next year with his Younger Brother live band.

This year's festival will be held from July 15-17 and will again feature multiple stages. Brownstein feels it is by far the best lineup yet. When talking about LCD Soundsystem and Ween, he says, "We didn't expect to get both of them, but then we got both of them. So, when that happens you take them both!" He's also quick to point out similarities between the Biscuits approach to Planet Anthem and LCD Soundsystem. Both acts have been searching for ways to incorporate a wide mix of styles without loosing their electro edge.

The Disco Biscuits at Camp Bisco 2008 by Vann
Brownstein explains how Planet Anthem, a labor of love that also began in 2007, shaped up the way it did.

"We made four albums while we were making this album! We very carefully chose the songs while we were making this album. Out of 50 songs [these 13] were all chosen for a reason. They were chosen because as time went on it was a two-and-a-half-year-process, and when we got to the end of the two-and-a-half-years these were the songs that stood the test of time," he says, "songs that are still relevant in 2010. Shit is changing fast in the music world, and being relevant in 2010, the only way to do that is be aware of what kind of music is out there and be influenced by it. That's the key!"

Planet Anthem draws on a multitude of genres, from rock to hip-hop to electronica to everything in between, and that's one of the reasons it's so daring - or may seem confusing to casual or even experienced Bisco listeners. It's all things Bisco delivered in a very un-Bisco-like package, featuring guest singers, new arrangements and heavy production. Another difference on this album was the decision to not road test the material and instead record new songs largely unheard by fans. Brownie promises "Big Wrecking Ball," a true rock song at heart, will make heads roll when the fans hear it live.

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